It doesn't get much more Hollywood than the Chateau Marmont hotel on Los Angeles' iconic Sunset Boulevard, a luxury retreat built in 1920 with plans from a Loire Valley castle. Between its kitted-out poolside and hillside bungalows and the decadent main chateau, the architecture and grounds make quite a first impression, topped only by the salacious and hedonistic stories of previous guests. Indeed, it’s not unreasonable to say that virtually every famous actor and rock star has, at the very least, stopped in for a drink. It’s pure La-la land – glamorous, luxurious and seriously decadent.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine, cookies freshly baked by the chef and, subject to availability, a late check-out
Sixty-three, including 23 suites and four bungalows.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability; late check-outs are charged at half-day rates until 5pm; full room rates apply thereafter. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $465.00, excluding tax at 15.75 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast, from US$19.
In-room beauty treatments and spa therapies can be arranged at the drop of a face-shielding sunhat – this is the land of the beautiful people, so you can expect your treatments to be top of the range. They’ll even arrange a personal trainer, should you so wish. If you’re bringing a stupendously large wardrobe of red-carpet dresses, supersized rolling racks (that’s a garment rail, if you’ve more Baftas than Oscars) can be added to your suite for US$30 a day.
At the hotel
Gardens and courtyard, pool, gym, music and movie library, free WiFi throughout, laundry, valet parking, concierge. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD and CD player, iPod dock, minibar with free bottled water, fluffy bathrobes and cashemere throws, Kiehl’s baths products.
Our favourite rooms
Standard Rooms have garden views; go for one of the Suites – even the modest Junior Suites feel like mini-apartments with fitted kitchens but the Premier and Two-Bedroom Suites have large balconies or patios overlooking the pool. Hillside Bungalows offer the coolest mid-century decor, kitchens, working fireplaces, private street entrances and carports, and direct access to the pool from a private walled garden; Poolside Bungalows have more classical decor and are a shade larger (no private parking spot, though). Go totally A-list in Room 64, the two-bed Penthouse with wraparound terrace and polished marble hallway.
The chic oval outdoor swimming pool is heated and flanked by hide-me palm fronds and a perfect-for-posing patio.
Red-framed Ray-Bans; iPhone chock-full of LA contacts; Liza Bruce bikini.
Pampered pooches and fancy felines can stay for $150 a night; they're welcome everywhere except for in the restaurant and the pool. Food, water bowls, two kinds of treats and pick-up bags are provided. Just let the hotel know when booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Los Angeles.
Extra beds or cots – dressed in Frette baby linens, no less – can be added to rooms on request for US$30 a night. Nannies can be drafted in with 24 hours’ notice.
Extra beds or cots – dressed in Frette baby linens, no less – can be added to rooms on request for US$30 a night. Nannies can be drafted in with 24 hours’ notice.
Two-Bedroom Suites are ideal for families; twin beds in one room, plus a generous living area, fully fitted kitchen and giant retro fridge. Hillside Bungalows are also a good choice as they have private, enclosed gardens.
There’s the pool for splashy play (bring some inflatables or water wings), and a ping-pong table for older kids. Your best bet is to hit the town though – LA is a surprisingly child-friendly city if you know where to look. Popular family attractions include the La Brea Tar Pits, Santa Monica Pier, Graumann’s Chinese Theatre and Warner Brothers Studios.
There is a shallow end in the heated outdoor pool, but you’ll want to keep on eye on your little ones, as there’s no lifeguard and it’s a fairly adult playzone.
Kids are welcome in the restaurant at any time, and though there’s no special children’s menu, there are high chairs and staff are happy to heat up milk or baby food for you.
Nannies can be arranged with 24 hours’ notice – costs vary depending on age and numbers.
No need to pack
Steamers/sterilisers can be rented for $30 a day. As you’d expect from the movie capital of the world, there’s an extensive selection of DVDs to choose from; but if your kids can’t live without Barney/SpongeBob/Hannah Montana, make sure you bring it.
Chateau Marmont’s staff are great and will try to help you out as best they can with any other diddy diva demands.
Food and wine is seasonal, organic and locally sourced wherever possible; and the hotel tries to conserve water, recycle and reduce waste.
We love the soft velvet banquettes in the white plasterwork alcove at Bar Marmont; if you’re dining at the restaurant, make a beeline for a table in the garden to make the most of California’s balmy climate.
Channel your inner diva and don vintage chic, rock-star cool or movie-mogul slick.
Spotted Pig star Carolynn Spence turns out imaginative Med-infused Californian haute cuisine at the renowned Chateau Restaurant: we loved the roast bass and crispy rock shrimp risotto, and the black truffle arancini with wild mushrooms. You can also eat at the buzzy poolside restaurant during the day, people-watching beneath crisp white parasols and screened by lush foliage.
Saucy saloon-like Bar Marmont mixes up Mr & Mrs Smith’s dream cocktail menu of perfectly poured, cleverly modernised classics: nuzzling up to the fresh peach bellinis are Plymouth gin Negronis and Ryka vodka, honey and fig puree concoctions. Gastro bar snacks cater to every appetite, from nibble-friendly cheese boards and heirloom tomato salads to tuck-right-in oxtail bruschetta and self-styled Damn Good Burgers.
Bar Marmont winds things up around 2am; the restaurant serves its last delicious dish at 11pm.
LAX is 45 miles from the hotel. British Airways (www.ba.com) and American Airlines (www.americanairlines.com) both fly there.
The nearest train station is Downtown, 25 minutes away by car.
You'll find the hotel just north of Santa Monica Boulevard. Onsite valet parking is $42 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
West Hollywood is the place for boutiques and retail excess, particularly on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. Santa Monica and its fun-filled pier are a short drive from where you are; Third Street Promenade is also good for browsing. For something a little more boho, head to the independent shops on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice; we like Japanese emporium Tortoise and purveyors of vintage beach wares, Surfing Cowboys. Drop by for a super-healthy brunch made with artisan ingredients at Axe (+1 310 664 9787) while you’re there. If all that arugula, bran and buckwheat noodle broth looks too worthy, opt for bacon and eggs followed by a brownie or home-made ice cream instead…
Sushi fans will want to get themselves to the best sushi bar in LA: Matsuhisa (+1 310 659 9639) at 129 North La Cienaga Boulevard – open weekdays for lunch, and every day for dinner. Fans of Cecconi’s in London can now sample its trademark classic Italian fare at 8764 Melrose in West Hollywood (+1 310 432 2000) – check out the cicchetti and dolci on the midnight menu, available for night owls from 11pm–1am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Definitely book a table at either Osteria Mozza at 6602 Melrose Avenue (+1 323 297 0100) or Pizzeria Mozza at 641 North Highland Avenue (+ 1 323 297 0101), the hot new Italian eateries from a triumvirate of dedicated foodies: Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. Worship at the altar of meat at Boa, a celeb-studded steakhouse with good looks and potent cocktails at 9200 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood (+1 310 278 2050). Get one or two of your five daily portions from Ammo, an organic restaurant with a fruit and veg-heavy menu at 1155 North Highland Avenue (+1 323 871 2666). The restaurant works closely with local farmers and supplies, and the warm, woody decor reflects its natural philosophy. Head to Katana at 8439 West Sunset Boulevard (+1 323 650 8585), for traditional Japanese food cooked on a charcoal grill, served with a tasty trio of dipping sauces – ginger, ponzu and soy mustard.
Urth Caféon Melrose (+1 310 205 9311) is where West Hollywood’s locals head for their organic tea and coffee fix.
Check out the deco styling of The Terraceat Sunset Tower Hotel’s Tower Bar (+1 323 654 7100) and have pre-dinner drinks on the old-Hollywood-style terrace.
The giddy anticipation begins as we leave LAX, set for Sunset Boulevard. Having flown in from Las Vegas, we needed a place that was less Hollywood cliché and more European retreat. Perched on the hills above the hustle and bustle, this folly bourgeois has all the rambling corridors, vaulted colonnades and palm-fringed pools we could hope for – thrown in with a decent measure of mod cons and mid-century design to temper its original 1930s Arts and Craftsiness. Its idiosyncratic pseudo-Norman architecture shines out across LA from high in the hills like a Disney castle gone bad; its turrets and towers a siren call to playboys and their perfectly coiffed muses. You know the script – Led Zep roaring through the lobby on their Harleys; Jean Harlow bunking up with Clark Gable; Johnny Depp and Kate Moss romping in every room – it is time for us to write, direct and star in our own off-screen version.
James Dean, Greta Garbo, Helmut Newton, Jim Morrison, John Belushi, Chateau Marmont... It's rare when a hotel's name itself sits so comfortably in a roll call of Hollywood greats and rock ’n’ roll legends. That's what this hotel has become – great and legendary – since it first opened in 1929.
The entrance is so discreet we feel we’re being led into a private house. In fact, the first person we meet is the valet guy, since the path to the front door passes the garage. He’s keen to carry our cases up to reception and doesn’t even hang around for a tip – perhaps he was trained in Europe?
Reception is low-key, relaxed and no one makes much of a fuss. Given the hotel’s clientele, it’s unlikely much would faze the folks working here. The staff is even more stylish than the guests – none are in a typical uniform. The only giveaway someone might be on the payroll? A mannered French pronunciation of ‘chateau’ that sounds like ‘shut-o’.
Our room not quite ready, we’re offered a drink in the lounge. A no-camera policy enhances the off-duty mood, and people are all actually talking to each other. Conversations seem more social than business, although we earwig a ‘shopping’ and ‘script’ dropped in the same sentence. This lobby is one of the inner-circle hangouts by night, alongside the terrace and restaurant, all within view of each other. As next door’s Bar Marmont is open to all, we take advantage of our exclusive chance to dine here, and make a reservation in the hotel’s restaurant later.
Keys are handed to me with the fantastic news I’ve been upgraded to a top-floor suite with a terrace. Merci, Marmont. Suites are individually furnished, and beyond the array of vintage furniture and parquet flooring are two headline acts – a bedroom and a kitchen. In attention-grabbing cameo roles come Kiehl’s products, old-fashioned keys and ‘do not disturb’ signs, as well a killer CD library and free mobile phones available at reception. The kitchen has a huge American-size fridge – no minibar nonsense here – and it’s filled with virtually everything for all tastes. A 1950s-style diner is definitely the place to invite friends for drinks to and it proves a fun place to start and finish a hedonistic evening with friends, with dinner in the middle.
Supper is, as expected, delicious and lively. Call me unadventurous, but I plump for the spaghetti bolognese. It’s rare for this to be a standout dish, but it more than lives up to the restaurant’s reputation. Accompanied by a good French red from an excellent list, I could see this becoming a habit. We secretly hope we get to meet the Executive Chef, Carolyn Spence, who’s behind the Chateau Marmont and next door’s Bar Marmont’s restaurants. Not just to thank her in person for such a great meal but also because secretly I I’ve heard folk marvel at her arms tattooed with foliage as lush looking as out in the garden.
And so to the pillow talk: the bed itself proves to be the most comfortable ever, sorting out my jetlag in eight relaxing hours. My carpeted boudoir couldn’t have been cosier, helped along by a scented candle that the chambermaid lit as part of the turndown service. If Chateau Marmont is an American take on a French castle, it’s certainly got the styling, decor and vintage furnishings correct.
In the morning, we sneak a tour of the infamous bungalows. Each is terribly private and begs more than a night’s stay. Designed as second homes/private party places/city retreats/illicit affair rendezvous* (*delete as applicable) – as per the inscription of producer Harry Cohn’s quote, ‘If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont’. Shrouded in amazing gardens, the bungalows allow for very VIP-fit entrances and exits.
Jasmine blossoms and eucalyptus leaves lend an exotic aroma, and our stroll conjures memories of a romantic island holiday in the Maldives. Given that the pool is heated all year, it’s a little patch of year-round tropicality. It’s hard to imagine that only a wall and some very well landscaped trees and plants stand between this sanctuary and traffic-packed Sunset Boulevard.
While louche Sunset Boulevard may not be the sexiest address in town for everyone, the Château makes it a true destination – you can even spot buses of tourists pulling up to photograph that signature neon sign. Deserving of its iconic status, this hip but homely hideaway is an antidote to the over designed tendencies seen in Tinseltown. Here it is easy to relax and drop a gear, knowing that you’ll be treated with the same attitude whether rich, famous, or neither.
Now I have a confession to make. I know I’ve been saying ‘we’. It is kind of the royal ‘we’. Truth is, I’ve been here on my own – but I didn’t want to bust the Mr & Mrs Smith vibe, as this is a place made for times as a twosome. Next visit – and there will definitely be a next visit – upgrade or not, I’m bringing my wife. Not only will she love this hideaway, she also says ‘chateau’ in that alluring way that only French women can.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Chateau Marmont’s Guestbook below.
The hotel and grounds have a wonderfully chill atmosphere. The piano bar was really comfortable and the garden (pool area) was very relaxed with fantastic service. We ended up playing ping pong in the garden and the hotel keeps plenty of balls and new paddles. In fact, we only left the hotel once in 36 hours for a drink at a club. The hotel was so relaxing that we just wanted to lounge around and use room service. I've only ever wanted to do that at a beach resort before. Do book the cottages instead of the hotel main building.
Don't expect too much noise or many activitiy options.
Stayed on 7 Jul 2019
I liked that the pool was heated and felt absolutely lovely.
Don't expect quiet if you're in a garden suite, which I was. But I was exhausted so passed out anyway.
Stayed on 25 Jun 2019
The hotel is magical, incredible grounds and very thoughtful hotel staff. We stayed in a cottage, and though dated, it was so clean and felt like you stepped back in time. The pool was wonderful and never too busy. The lobby bar areas were always lively and comfortable to enjoy. Visit Runyon Canyon for a hike, Night Market for thai food, and enjoy walking along Sunset Blvd.
Great service at the restaurant. Though the setting is lovely, the service was slow, disjointed and did not match the experience of the rest of the hotel.
Stayed on 13 Jul 2018
The complimentary upgrade and champagne in celebration of our honeymoon! The suite was exceptional – especially the terrace overlooking Sunset Blvd – and we had a wonderful stay. We enjoyed the Griffith observatory.
Sunshine...sadly it rained, so we didn't get to enjoy the glorious pool.
Stayed on 20 May 2018
The service was particularly great this time.
Stayed on 12 Apr 2018
I always stay at least one night at the Chateau when I am in LA. I adore everything about this place. The Griddle for pancakes down the road; No Vacancy speakeasy up the road.
Stayed on 10 Apr 2018
There's a fantastic atmosphere at the hotel. Feel throughout is of an old traditional style with a very cool and high standard. There is so much to do and see around the corner.