The castle on the Sunset Strip sits the inimitable fortress of Hollywood; the Chateau Marmont hotel. Within its neo-gothic walls, the biggest stars throughout the last 90 years of film, fashion, art and music history have left behind wild stories of opulence and scandal – enough to fill an unofficial biography of Los Angeles itself.
Chateau – as it is simply referred to by its loyal clientele – is the only place to hide in plain sight as a recognisable figure; away from the prying eyes of spectators and photographers alike. As Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures famously said in the 1950s; “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.”
It is the place where unabashed tales of decadence are carved into the very foundation of the building; where Bette Milder set her room on fire (twice), Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles through the lobby, Howard Hughes spied on starlets from the penthouse, James Dean jumped out of a window to impress Rebel Without A Cause director Nicholas Ray, John Belushi overdosed, Helmut Newton crashed his car into the building and died, The Door’s Jim Morrison jumped from the roof, F Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack in the lobby after a Hollywood flop, Dennis Hopper had a 50 woman orgy and Billy Idol destroyed his suite during a celebration of White Wedding’s success.
Dating back to the 1930s, the hotel was built to withstand earthquakes – outlasting many of the buildings from the era as some sort of indestructible monument to decadence. However, after nearly a century of surviving scandals and natural disasters – COVID has been the first real threat to its existence with the hospitality industry under severe threat around the world. With profitable events halted across California (the hotel famously hosts album and film launches as well as industry parties for the Oscar’s, Golden Globes and Grammy’s) and room stays at an all time low, the hotel is looking at revamping its business model.
Owner Andre Balazs who has had the property since 1990 is proposing to shut the hotel down all together and restructure it as a member’s only hotel. Announcing his plans this week in an interview with The Los Angeles Times he states that the transition in fact would be an easy one as 70 percent of guests are repeat visitors.
For the first time in history, members would be able to own a share of the property and pay fees that will go towards maintenance and management costs. In return, they will get a personal butler, private dinning rooms, as well as the right to store their belongings there for extended stays. Should they later have a change of heart; “members will be able to sell their shares back to the management company or other approved members, as they would with any other real estate investment,” a spokesperson said.
Should the scheme go well, Balazs is considering extending the membership to his London property Chiltern Firehouse and The Mercer in Manhattan. This could end up being the new Hollywood rockstar equivalent to the Soho House Group. Exciting times ahead…