West Hollywood’s celebridoodle darling is no stranger to scandal. Opened in 1927 as a luxury apartment building, The Great Depression saw its conversion into a hotel frequented by old Hollywood glamouratti such as Monroe on a balcony, Bogart in the garden or Bacall at the bar. The acting out of guests at the “no-tell hotel” is as legendary as that of their day jobs. LiLo checked in for months. Brittany was told to check out. Jim Morrison made a vertical splash from his room, while John Belushi made a horizontal last exit from his. This is the stuff of timeless, behind the scenes, smudged mascara reality – not Reality TV…From the desiring-discreet trysts of Clark Gable and Jean Harlow to the not-even-trying-to-hide-it bedrocking of Depp and Moss, the walls have seen it all and don’t need to talk. Everyone else does.
Like many open admirers who came after him, William Holden was told, “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau.” Stars come to the sanctuary of the castle on the hill to disappear, but not from each other…
After its star fell slightly from sumptuously seedy to decidedly shady, hotelier Andre Balazs (The Standard & The Mercer) bought the Sunset Blvd grande dame in 1991 and succeeded in “bringing it to life without imparting the feeling that it’s changed.” LA’s elite would agree, and in spite of, or perhaps due to, the boutique’s perfect imperfections of its shabby chic style, she’s still got it.
Unexcited about having two back-to-back overnight flights on my journey from Polynesia to Peru, I cheated on my dedicated year outside the country and extended my unavoidable LAX connection by a day, stealing a night in Hollywood sheets between two humdrum seats. Hello gorgeous!
And if I had to get myself in trouble, I might as well do it at the Chateau, right?
The Gothic haunt was designed after the Chateau Amboise, a royal residence in France’s Loire Valley. The non-entrance is tucked behind a small alley up the hill and walking into the dimly lit lobby with its Moorish mahogany, caged elevators and ghostly glow, I had a twilight zone memory of being a wide-eyed girl at Disney MGM’s Tower of Terror ride. The 63 rooms, bungalows and cottages are proudly “rough around the edges”, like velvet that’s been crushed but never truly tires.
My first reaction when I entered the generous premier one-bedroom suite (a lucky, dimple-induced upgrade) was, “Oh doll, you could use a little love.” That was until I heard the rat pack preset to play upon movement in the room. Those voices were the enzymes I needed to “sway” with Martin back to a time when the low couches and tables, 50’s GE kitchen appliances, jeune and cream tiled bathrooms and pitch iron balcony furniture were the cat’s meow. The only modern plushness is the heavenly white bed. The movie set leftover appointments are minimal with VIP views, the fridge packed full of champagne and chasers, making it perfect for extended stays and impromptu night caps…for 30.
I spent my 36 hours mostly jet lagging between tea in the dark parlor and cocktails in the bright, popular terrace restaurant or at Sean Macpherson creation Bar Marmont, while enjoying the people watching in the company of my out of place day pack and broken in flops. Abby Spencer, a Gulf Breeze native and frequent TV guest star, holding a girl power meeting…Selma Blair cooing to her new baby over breakfast…Jane Adams and posse ordering dessert at 3pm with their feet up on the table…Oh, Hark Count Adhemar, I mean Rufus…Justin, where’s Jen?
Photos of any guests are a strict faux-please leave.
Depending on the season rooms start at $600-$800, but as of last fall you can be a guest of the Chateau for the price of a Netflix rental. Sophia Coppola cast the hotel opposite Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning in 2010’s indie film Somewhere, a morning-after look at the hollow life of an actor living in the hotel. Many memories as a girlhood guest with her father Francis Ford combined with the frequent press Sunset’s siren gets as a backdrop for tabloid gossip, Coppola saw it as the natural, nay only, choice for a movie about a movie star.
She could have held auditions from within, the staff each perfectly cast for their roles in this yank version of Upstairs, Downstairs. An aloof waitress/aspiring actress just as beautiful as those she is serving. The bubbly co-star concierge Linda who just moved to town, her face still fresh with promise, her nose still friendly straight ahead. The recklessly good looking agent-turned-jaded bellhop and the tall, dark and handsome front desk manager offering you Vogue, VF, People or Rolling Stones upon arrival. The experienced restaurant manager with a clipped accent and classic double-breasted suit chatting with his duo host/hostess team of a flamboyantly fabulous Glee soundalike and indie wall flower with her permanently stylish slouch and on-trend pixie cut. Awards season is fast upon us, and they are discussing the boss’s arrival the next day.
Mr. Formal: You will need to dress up tomorrow. Look good.
Mr. Fabulous: Is there ever another option?
This article is dedicated to the Webbe sisters and to Miss Maggie Cohen. You have style. You have Hope. You have heart. You shine.