Name dropping galore….
Joaquin Phoenix, coolly deflecting approaching strangers at a poolside bungalow party hosted by Flaunt Magazine.
The director Sofia Coppola rolling press interviews in the lobby while her publicists watched from a distance.
As for the rest — a motley assortment of writers typing away on laptops, Italian tourists in neon footwear, Hollywood moms toting babies, agent types buying meals for actor types, and fashion people eating salads on the patio — they pretended diligently that the celebrities were not there at all. As one diner, surveying the lunch crowd, whispered to a friend: “It’s always such good people-watching here. You just have to remember not to stare.”
It’s impossible to write about the Chateau Marmont without name-dropping. It is, after all, a hotel so dense with celebrity sightings that it probably should have a column devoted to it in Us Weekly. But for the hotel regulars — both its occupants and its local habitués — it is so much more than a star hangout. It’s a shadowy hideout amid the klieg lights of Hollywood, a meeting place for the high-profile in search of the low-key, and a place with a past in a city that fetishizes the new.
Its history has mirrored the last century of the entertainment industry, from Hollywood film colony to gritty rock ’n’ roll dive to pricey fashion hangout. But it has always been a beacon for Los Angeles’s artistically inclined.
“Sometimes I’m there every day of the week,” said Lisa Love, the West Coast editor for Vogue. “There’s nothing precious about it, it’s just a huge bohemian scene. It is like an extension of your living room.”
Nearly 20 years after being bought by the hotelier André Balazs and revived from near-dereliction, the Chateau (in local parlance) is enjoying the peak of its own celebrity. It is the undisputed star of Sofia Coppola’s new movie, “Somewhere.” Portrayed as the residence of Johnny Marco (played by Stephen Dorff), a dissolute movie star whose pill-fueled life is circling the drain, the Chateau Marmont has so much charisma that it occasionally outshines its human co-stars.
“There’s no other place like it,” Ms. Coppola said recently, as she sat on a couch in the lobby with her daughters playing nearby. Her own family history with the hotel goes deep (her father almost bought it at one point), and she recalls using the hotel as a party pad when she was a student at the California Institute of the Arts. The parking attendant, who still works there, would sneak them into the pool. “When I started writing my script I thought of this bad-boy character, and thought, ‘Of course he has to live at the Chateau.’ ”
THE Chateau Marmont may not be the Los Angeles area’s most expensive hotel, nor its most elegantly appointed. But it is its most storied, a hotel whose name is rarely seen in print without “legendary” tacked onto it. Tucked away just above Sunset Boulevard, the seven-story Chateau — designed after the Château d’Amboise in the Loire Valley — was built in 1929 as a deluxe apartment building, just in time for the Depression.
The apartments were swiftly made into hotel suites but retained their kitchens and living rooms, making them useful for long-term residency. Later, the 63 rooms were supplemented by 9 tiny Spanish cottages and 4 poolside bungalows — the latter built in part by the midcentury architect Craig Ellwood.
From inception, the Chateau was a hangout for Hollywood’s most glamorous. Harry Cohn, former head of Columbia Pictures, famously exhorted his actors, “If you are going to get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” Visitors included Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne. But by the time Mr. Balazs bought the hotel in 1990, the orange shag rugs were being held together by duct tape (thanks, perhaps, to Led Zeppelin’s motorcycle rides in the halls). “It felt like a very neglected, abandoned soul,” he recalled.
LINK: Hollywood Dreaming.us
LINK: The Corsair
"THE first question people always ask when you tell them you’ve visited the Chateau Marmont, the great gothic pile of a hotel on the Sunset Strip, is ‘Who did you see?’ For the record, during my sojourns there last month, I saw, in no particular order: The stylist Rachel Zoe wearing fur, dining alfresco with a table of European fashionistas smoking cigarettes. The musician Joel Madden, huddled on a lobby couch with his 2-year-old daughter, eating a grilled cheese and fries. Amanda Seyfried, Keanu Reeves, Debra Messing and Carey Mulligan. Not together. Joaquin Phoenix, coolly deflecting approaching strangers at a poolside bungalow party hosted by Flaunt Magazine. The director Sofia Coppola rolling press interviews in the lobby while her publicists watched from a distance. As for the rest — a motley assortment of writers typing away on laptops, Italian tourists in neon footwear, Hollywood moms toting babies, agent types buying meals for actor types, and fashion people eating salads on the patio — they pretended diligently that the celebrities were not there at all. As one diner, surveying the lunch crowd, whispered to a friend: ‘It’s always such good people-watching here. You just have to remember not to stare.’"