It’s the hotel so famous they made a movie about it… Sofia Coppola’s film Somewhere is set in – and heavily features – the Chateau Marmont, a place at which she frequently stayed as a child with her father.
Built in 1929, in the style of a French chateau, it’s steeped in Hollywood lore and a magnet for movie business types. The beautiful and the damned of Hollywood have long flocked to the Chateau. Greta Garbo wanted to be alone here; James Dean and Natalie Wood met on-site in the 50s; The Beatles were once in residence; in the 80s Jay McInerney moved in to write his first novel; Johnny Depp and Kate Moss conducted their love affair within its walls, and in more recent times Lindsay Lohan and Scarlett Johansson have caused respective commotions.
But a large part of the appeal is how discreet it feels – it’s not flashy or showy-offy and is set back off the road, on a hillside, aloof from the nearby strip of more glossy, see-and-be-seen West Hollywood boutique hotels. The grounds are packed with dense foliage, which puts a stop to the worst of paparazzi excesses, and the interior space is moodily lit and full of cosy nooks and crannies. The staff are friendly but not overbearing, and you can access your room without having to parade through reception.
This all makes for a surprisingly peaceful, low-key stay, even though you’re slap-bang in the middle of the city, in a place with a reputation for partying. The junior suite is homely and retro, rather than chic, with its dark-wood panelling, white walls and Art Deco furniture. The bed is huge, the linen crisp, and the scented candles and iPod docking station are nice (21st-century) touches.
- Feeling like you’re a part of movie (and hotel) history
- The tranquil, laid-back pool area, obscured by palms – you have to be in residence to use it, so it’s thankfully not peopled by passing Hollywood poseurs
- The pitch-perfect service – polite but not obsequious
- The mysterious lack of bathroom beauty products – no shower gel, shampoo or conditioner, simply a tiny bar of cheap white soap
- The outrageous room phone charges
Need to Know: Chateau Marmont
Number of rooms: 63
Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 12noon
Room service: Yes. 24 hours
Swimming pool: Yes
Dogs welcome: Yes
Eating and drinking: Various options – you can take lunch and drinks in the alfresco courtyard and flop into the battered armchairs that are dotted among the plants. There’s also a more formal restaurant and the casual, scene-y Bar Marmont next door to the hotel, which specialises in martinis and Hollywood hedonism. What’s more, some suites include a well-equipped kitchenette, and there’s prompt 24-hour room service.
Near to? The Chateau is built into a hillside above the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, a perfect spot for those who want to be in the centre of things. It’s a 10-minute drive to the shopping meccas of Rodeo Drive (posh) or Melrose Avenue (grungy) and 30 minutes from the sea air of Santa Monica.
Getting there: Chateau Marmont is 40 minutes from (LAX) Los Angeles International Airport. If you don’t want to hire a car, be prepared to use a lot of cabs – LA is famously not a walkable city and public transport is sketchy.