Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles

Chateau Marmont: Where Luxury Meets Hollywood Debauchery, Scandal, and Death

The Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles, California has been a landmark hotel since it opened its doors on February 1, 1929. This Gothic Chateau inspired building was designed by architect Arnold A. Weitzman and William Douglas Lee when construction was ordered in 1926 by Fred Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz was a known Los Angeles attorney who chose the location of the hotel site at Marmont Lane and Sunset Boulevard to build an apartment building, which of course later was renovated into a hotel.

The Marmont Bar and the easy to remember, The Restaurant, features an intimate indoor dining room as well as a tranquil garden terrace. These two dining options at the Chateau Marmont Hotel are the perfect spots to catch some of your favorite movie stars in their natural habitat.

The Chateau, as Angelenos refer to the hotels’ name, has been a hot spot for many celebrity stories from James Dean jumping through the roof of Bungalow Number Two while auditioning for a film to Billy Idol trashing his room because the French fries that he ordered came with truffle oil poured over them rather than on the side as he had requested.

Castle in the Hollywood Hills

This majestic hotel on the busy Sunset Boulevard may make you look twice when you see the striking castle look as if it came directly from a storybook. The hotel’s design was inspired by Fred Horowitz’s recent visit to France when he visited the Chateau d’Amboise, which was a royal retreat in France’s Loire Valley. The Chateau d’Amboise was one-time home of Mary, Queen of the Scots and it was assumed to be Leonardo da Vinci’s final resting place. While Mr. Horowitz was visiting the Chateau in France, he was so overtaken by its beauty that he wanted to replicate that beauty and turn it into an apartment building in Los Angeles. When Mr. Horowitz came back to Los Angeles, he brought along the many photographs that he took of the Chateau in France and showed the photos to his designers for the layout of the building. The final designs that Mr. Horowitz decided on were for the building to be seven stories with an L-shaped building, which replicated the Chateau that he visited in France. When it was time to name the building, Mr. Horowitz was stuck between, Chateau Sunset and Chateau Hollywood, but after further thinking, he decided on the name Chateau Marmont by the street running across the front of the building.

When the hotel opened on February 1, 1929, local newspapers were thrilled and described the Chateau as, “Los Angeles’s newest, finest and most exclusive apartment house, superbly situated, close enough to active businesses to be accessible and far enough away to ensure quiet privacy.” The Chateau Marmont became an official Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Landmark in 1976.

From Apartment House to Hotel

The apartment building only lasted as an actual apartment house for only 2 years before it was turned into a hotel. Due to high rents and the depression during this time, Fred Horowitz decided to sell the apartment building to Albert E. Smith for $750,000 in cash. The Chateau was officially turned into the Chateau Marmont Hotel in 1931. Since the building was going to be converted into a 63 room hotel there were many changes that needed to be made such as turning all the apartments into suites with living rooms and kitchens, along with refurbishing the building itself.

The Chateau Marmont Hotel was built to be earthquake proof and it has proven to be so surviving major earthquakes in 1933, 1953, 1971, 1987, and 1994. In the 1930s, nine Spanish style cottages were added to the property, along with a swimming pool. 1956, Craig Ellwood designed two of the four bungalows. Each of the four bungalows features a unique style and size ranging from 1,500 square feet to 3,800 square feet. The price per night in 2018 ranges from $2,500-$5,000, again that is per night! In case you may be wondering about your precious pets, the Chateau does welcome your furry friends for a $150 non-refundable deposit. Now those prices might sound intimidating, but to movie stars its a steal! Each bungalow is completely private, you even get a private entrance along with a fully enclosed private garden with direct access to the pool. Intimate meals are delivered directly to your private bungalow and the entire hotel menu can be ordered by room service.

If a bungalow is not in your budget you can experience one of the many suites ranging from $575-$1,800 per night. Each of the 63 hotel rooms at the Chateau Marmont Hotel oozes elegance and perfection and when night time arrives, you can look out your balcony and see the twinkling lights of tinsel town.

In the 1990s, Hotelier Andre Balazs purchased the hotel and guided it through a light restoration with the intention of maintaining it’s original charm and classic good looks. Old appliances were replaced with vintage-looking appliances, gorgeous antiques were added to the rooms and the lobby area, fresh paint brought new light to the walls, and new carpeting was laid out. In a 2016 interview with Travel + Leisure magazine, the late Anthony Bourdain, who was a regular hotel guest said, “I love that hotel above all others.”

Mischievous Hollywood Stories at The Chateau Marmont Hotel

The stories this hotel could tell would put every entertainment magazine into bankruptcy. There are many stories that we do know that did indeed happen at the Chateau Marmont Hotel, but beyond the confirmed stories lie the rumors that only the hotel walls would know. Most of the Hollywood stories of celebrities have mostly been of the trouble that they have caused here. It all began in the 1930s when Greta Garbo was known as a frequent partier at the hotel. It is said that in the 1950s James Dean jumped through a bungalow window to audition for Rebel Without a Cause, only to find the movie’s director having an affair with an actress named Natalie Wood. The Doors’ Jim Morrison jumped off the roof while in an altered state of mind. Helmut Newton, who was a famous fashion photographer died after crashing his car on his way out of the hotel’s driveway in 2004. It wasn’t until the 2000s when a lot of Hollywood royalty began causing an even larger ruckus amongst the Chateau.

In 2005 and 2006, actress Lindsay Lohan lived in one of the bungalows, reportedly spending $1 million on nightly fees. Lindsay went back for another long stay at The Chateau in 2012 earning herself a $46,000 hotel bill. Lindsay failed to pay this large bill and was then eventually blacklisted from the Chateau! In 2007, singer Britney Spears was publicly behaving inappropriately and was then blacklisted as well. So far, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are the only celebrities to make it to the exclusive blacklist.

Lindsay in front of one of the most iconic Chateau Marmont rooms.

When actress Jane Fonda was living at a bungalow while filming her movie Georgia Rule, her consistent partying habits and frequent late arrivals to the films set caused the movie’s producer to send a written letter to her room at the Chateau, in which he named her a “spoiled child” along with other choice words. One of the strangest stories of all the celebrity stories told that happened at the Chateau would be about Howard Hughes. Howard Hughes allegedly, whenever he was in Los Angeles, would rent Room 64, which was a two bedroom room featuring a straight shot view of the pool which he would spy on women sitting at the pool.

Comedian John Belushi died from a speedball injection while staying at the Chateau on March 5, 1982, in Bungalow Three.

John Belushi Death at Chateau Marmont

It was rumored that F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack at the Chateau in 1940, but it was actually across the street, at Schwab’s Drug Store. In 1956, actor Montgomery Cliff had a near-fatal car crash and was nursed back to life at the Chateau by legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor. Mrs. Taylor, who was at the scene of the crash, had saved Mr. Cliff from choking on his own tooth by picking it out of his tongue. Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures said, “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.”

The Setting For Films and Music

The Chateau Marmont Hotel has had its fair share of screen time for being in films such as La La Land, and Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere. Singer Lana Del Rey refers to the hotel in her track Off to the Races when she lived at the hotel in 2012. The Grateful Dead mentions it in “West L.A. Fadeaway” along with Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman, Anthony Kiedis who has written many hit songs while staying at the Chateau. The hotel has been home to many artists and writers who have taken the influence of the Chateau and have even put the hotel into their work, these people include; Billy Wilder, Hunter S. Thompson, Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Tim Burton.

Mia’s Hotel in La La Land

The hotel features in The Big Nowhere, the second of James Ellroy‘s L.A. Quartet novels. It is also mentioned in Charles Bukowski‘s major work Hollywood and Father John Misty‘s song “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins). It is also mentioned in the song “Chateau” by Australian indie pop duo Angus & Julia Stone and in the song “Trigger Bang” by Lily Allen. The hotel makes a brief appearance in the 2016 musical film La La LandThe famous Eagles track, Hotel California pays homage to the Chateau Marmont Hotel with lyrics such as, “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

A Hotel To Remember

It cannot get any more Hollywood than The Chateau Marmont Hotel on the famous Sunset Strip. Los Angeles is a city full of historic landmarks and locations to venture to, but when you want to experience a historic hotel that is nothing like its kind, the Chateau Marmont is ideal. From the hotel’s famous celebrity stories to its all-suite rooms and bungalows the size of a home, you can experience something only one can dream of. You can spend your days lounging out in their exclusive pool and then spend your evening having a romantic dinner either in your room where you will be overlooking Hollywood or by enjoying a top-notch meal at their fabulous restaurant. But whatever you have planned for your visit to this one of a kind hotel, let it be known that it will be a lasting memory for you to visit again and again.

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