Saturday, 24 September 2011

HOTEL REVIEW: A Night At Chateau Marmont...

Chateau Marmont is basically the most famous hotel full of famouses in the world, ever, and if you don't believe me, go to your local bookshop and look for the section marked 'famous deaths and celebrity affairs' and you'll probably find every autobiography ever written about countless film and rock stars who did something (or someone) they shouldn't be doing in the hotel, while in the midst of a cocaine x vodka cocktail frenzy which ended in heartache (and divorce), trashing their room, or dying there.

From "Last Night at Chateau Marmont" written by Lauren Weisberger to Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere" starring Steven Dorff, which tells the story of a rock star struggling with addiction while trying to be a Father - the Chateau Marmont has seen it all and more, earning itself a reputation as the place people go to misbehave - yet it still retains that air of a discreet witness who says nothing.

Founded in 1929, the hotel is shrouded in well-placed foliage and sits above the iconic Sunset Boulevard, designed as a reproduction French castle inspired by the Château d'Amboise in the Loire Valley. 
Over the years, everyone from Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh and Rudolph Valentino have stayed at the legendary institution, including an undiscovered Marilyn Monroe who hung around its corridors in the 50s, while James Dean jumped in a window to audition for "Rebel Without A Cause".
Rock Hudson stayed there with his first live-in lover Kenneth G Hodge before Hollywood discovered his talents, and fast-forward to the 90s where Lindsay Lohan lived in the hotel for a short period (while on her first round of rehab), as did actor Johnny Depp, who boasted that he made love to ex-gf Kate Moss in every room there - I hope they paid those poor chambermaids overtime.

The hotel has also become the last resting place (kind of) for celebrities who were frequent guests inside its secretive walls, including legendary fashion photographer Helmut Newton, who died in 2004 when he crashed into the car-park wall outside.
Actor / comedian John Belushi also came to a shock end in one of the hotel's garden bungalows in 1982 after taking a 'speedball' - a combined injection of cocaine and heroin.

No hang-out for famouses would be complete of course without a few rebellious rock n rollers too, which is why members of Led Zeppelin rode their motorbikes through the hotel's lobby, and Doors frontman Jim Morrison ended up with a nasty back injury after trying to climb a drainpipe from the roof into his hotel room window - he ended up on a cabana roof instead. That's what too many JD's and LSD can do for you.

But one of my favourite tales of naughtiness at Chateau Marmont - recounted to me by Allison Wagner, who heads up the hotel's PR office - has to be the story of Clark Gable and movie co-star Jean Harlow's secret canoodling, while Harlow was actually on honeymoon with new husband Chuck McGrew. The insatiable actress later hung a sign on her door which read ‘Gone Fishing’, as she ventured out onto Sunset Strip to find more hot young bucks to seduce - Sex and the City's Samantha was surely based on Harlow?!

As I walked the corridors of the hotel with its gothic vaulted ceilings, I couldn't help but think of all the Tinsel Town starlets whose footsteps I was re-tracing, such as Greta Garbo clad in her Ferragamo heels of course. And the screen sirens who applied lipgloss in the hotel's antique beveled bathroom mirrors, before they returned to their table in the garden restaurant to sip a Martini, as the scent of night-blooming Jasmine carried gently on the balmy breeze.
The oriental rugs, dim flickering lights and brass candelabras also give off a nostalgic aesthetic within the hotel, creating a brooding and decadent atmosphere.

As the bio for the hotel says, it's "a folly in the land of make believe", not just steeped in history but also now the go-to hedonist hangout of modern day famouses, all looking at you while you try not to look at them - and if you do, it's considered terribly passé, so maybe think before you insta that selfie of you in front of a bush with Leonardo Di Caprio's shoulder in the background. 

There are plenty of wannabes too, the sort who believe you should probably recognise them because they a) once dated an actress and you can do a search for their name on, or b) they know Lindsay Lohan, not that it's ever been cool to know Lindsay Lohan, who returned to the hotel in 2012 for a shoot with photographer Terry Richardson to try and revive her career. Sigh, where to start....well, it didn't. The End. 
The celebs who go-to-not-be-seen-but-really-want-to-be-seen at the hotel today, just don't cut it like the celebs of yesteryear, and frankly the drinks menu in Bar Marmont is probably more interesting to look at. 

But after a day and night at the iconic hotel I can understand why it's still such a jewel in Hollywood's glittering and gritty history, however, it needs more bad ass stars swigging whiskey from the bottle, puffing cigarettes and shouting profanities at the paparazzi outside if you ask me, and a happy hour would also be good.

There are most likely still unheard tales of debauchery, greed and self-destruction at Chateau Marmont that we'll never know about, stories which will remain locked inside its walls forever, mostly due to the reliable 'tight-lipped' staff policy. 

As Harry Cohn, head honcho of Columbia Pictures once told film legend Glenn Ford, “If you're going to get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” 
Just don't do a 'Britney' (in the height of her very public breakdown), and become so intoxicated you end up smearing food all over yourself in the restaurant - not only is it a waste of good food, but you'll also be banned, just like Britney. Oops, she did it again.


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