Marilyn Monroe hung out there, while Dennis Hopper hosted infamous orgies in its rooms and Led Zeppelin rode their motorbikes in the lobby. This is the house of Hollywood vice – the Chateau Marmont.
Built in 1927, the Chateau was modelled loosely on a castle in France’s Loire Valley and was initially intended to be an apartment house. However, high rent and the Great Depression kept the punters away and in 1931 it re-opened its doors as a hotel.
Its prime location just off Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood means it has always been within easy reach of the stars of Tinsel town, and being at the far end of the Boulevard’s classy stretch means prices have always been reasonable.
Errol Flynn was among the first A-listers to embrace the wonders of the Chateau Marmont. He bedded his three wives in quick secession then moved on to Marlene Dietrich and a series of under-age nymphets, without anyone saying anything, according to the Daily Mail. Clark Gable and movie co-star Jean Harlow got down to business in one of the hotel’s many suites while she was on honeymoon with her husband Chuck McGrew. He didn’t suspect a thing.
But even Gable wasn’t enough for the insatiable blonde. She would hang a sign saying ‘Gone Fishing’ on her bedroom door when she ventured out onto the Sunset Strip to find some handsome younger model to bring home.
An undiscovered Marilyn Monroe frequently hung out in the hotel’s corridors and Judy Garland sang by the lobby’s grand piano during a party thrown by director George Cukor. Really, the list of greats to have frequented its rooms is endless and their enthusiasm unparalleled.
The Mail cites Academy Award winning director Billy Wilder as once saying: ‘I would rather sleep in a bathroom there than at any other hotel.’ And he apparently often did as he tried to get away from his over-excitable roommate of the time, character actor and drug addict Peter Lorre.
Other showbiz stars who have partied hard at the Chateau Marmont include British rock band Led Zeppelin, who famously rode their motorbikes in the hotel lobby to a cheering crowd and only causing modest damage. Easy Rider star Dennis Hopper hosted orgies attended by up to 50 girls and recorded them on camera.
The Doors legend Jim Morrison’s love of mixing Jack Daniels with LSD nearly led to his death as he dangled from a drainpipe trying to enter his room through the window.
In 1982, John Beluschi did meet his end at the hotel, dying of a heroin overdose. The late Batman star Heath Ledger was seen snorting cocaine at the Chateau shortly before his death of a drug overdose in 2008, according to the Mail.
A young Scarlett Johansson was apparently so taken in by hotel’s heady vibe in 2004 that she couldn’t wait to get upstairs with actor Benicio Del Toro and ripped his clothes off in the lift.
So why is it so easy to get away with misbehaviour at the Chateau? According to the Daily Mail, the secret lies in the hotel’s layout, which makes it difficult for management to monitor exactly what is happening round the clock. Usually guests have to pass by a hotel’s reception to get to their rooms, but at the Chateau they can take a lift from the underground car park straight to their rooms. Those inhabiting the garden bungalows even have their own keys.
But even the Chateau has its black list, which apparently features Britney Spears, according to Exec Digital. The pop princess was reportedly banned from staying at the hotel after bizarrely covering her face with her meal at the restaurant, prompting many diners to demand her removal.
Over the years, the Chateau Marmont has become such a cultural landmark, that it has served as an inspiration for many showbiz stars. The Eagles iconic song “Hotel California” is thought to be based on it and the hotel was most recently featured in director Sofia Coppola’s new film “Somewhere”, which follows the life of a depressed Hollywood actor living in the Chateau.