New York and London both claim their fair share of rock ‘n’ roll hotels, but Los Angeles arguably claims the most legendary history when it comes to rock star-trashed rooms. Ironically, the craziest stories often involve Brits like the mad men in Led Zeppelin, though east coast transplant Jim Morrison certainly knew how to freak out the hotel staff. Many more places deserve to make this list, but below are five hotels in the City of Angels that can claim rock ‘n’ roll glory.
The Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards dropped a television out the window in room 1015, and some say The Who’s Keith Moon followed suit on a later visit. Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant screamed “I am a Golden God” from a hotel balcony, while drummer John Bonham apparently rode a motorcycle through the hallways. Lemmy Kilmister wrote the song “Motorhead” on a balcony using the acoustic guitar of Roy Wood (Electric Light Orchestra). Little Richard lived for a time in room 319, and a party scene from This Is Spinal Tap took place on the hotel roof. These are just a few of the legends that make Andaz West Hollywood a rock ‘n’ roll landmark. The hotel, which attracted touring artists wanting to be near the live music clubs (e.g., the Whisky, Roxy, Troubadour, etc.), has gone through several name changes in the last half century, but people called it the Riot House during its heyday.
The Gothic-inspired Chateau Marmont opened its doors on Sunset Boulevard in 1929, and though originally an apartment complex, a new owner converted it into a hotel two years later. Named a cultural landmark in 1976, the castle-like structure epitomizes mid-century Hollywood glitz and glamour, and its rock star history is legendary. The Doors singer Jim Morrison, who once hung from a balcony, lived at the Chateau briefly in 1970, while actor John Belushi famously died of a speedball overdose in Bungalow 3 in 1982. Author Charles Bukowski references the Chateau in his book Hollywood, as do several songs including Lana Del Rey’s “Off to the Races,” Father John Misty’s “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” and the Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway.”
Images (left to right) Andaz West Hollywood, Chateau Marmont, Sunset Marquis, The Ace Hotel, United Artists, the Cecil Hotel and a Cecil Hotel poster.
Last year, a member of the PRØHBTD editorial staff had dinner with two chart-topping rock stars at the Sunset Marquis, and everyone vaped cannabis at the table without the staff saying a word. No wonder rock stars love this place. Throughout the Mediterranean-style complex, the hotel adorns the walls with signed rock star photos often shot on site, and photographer Timothy White curates the Hotel Morrison Gallery collection. Sunset Marquis, which offers a paparazzi diversion service, often hosts live acoustic concerts, and artists like Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith and Slash have recorded in its NightBird studios. Like the Andaz West Hollywood, Sunset Marquis is conveniently located near the West Hollywood music clubs.
From New York to New Orleans, Ace Hotels are always rock inspired, and its downtown L.A. location is no exception. The Ace Hotel DTLA opened in 2014 in the historic United Artists building, a near century-old space in the Broadway Theater District. Crowned by a rooftop pool and bar, the hotel boasts a wide range of rooms, including the 633-square-foot Ace Suite with an Ace x Rega RP1 turntable, an acoustic Martin Guitar and a vinyl collection curated by Amoeba Records. For parties, concerts, movie premieres and other events, The Theatre at Ace Hotel is a restored three-story complex with 1,600 seats, a vaulted ceiling and thousands of glimmering mirrors. Though an L.A. newcomer, the Ace is already the rock star of downtown.
The oldest hotel of the bunch is rock ‘n’ roll in an entirely different way: the notorious Cecil Hotel inspired the 2015 season of American Horror Story: Hotel. Since opening in 1924, the once-opulent hotel has been plagued by murders and suicides, which in turn attracted frequent guests like Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez and Austrian serial killer Johann “Jack” Unterweger, who once strangled a woman to death with her own bra. The most fucked-up death, however, occurred in 2013. Hotel guest Elisa Lam disappeared (after becoming possessed, some say), and her body was found three weeks later in the rooftop water cistern. This means guests were probably drinking and bathing in water tainted by her decaying corpse. Many people also believe the place is haunted, hence features on the hotel in both Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. With this type of press, it is no wonder the Cecil renamed itself Stay on Main a few years back.
(Editor’s note: We can’t write about the Cecil Hotel without mentioning the 19th-century Barclay Hotel nearby where Otto “The L.A. Ripper” Wilson and Vaughn “The Skid Row Slasher” Greenwood both committed grisly murders.)
David Jenison (email@example.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.