Chateau Marmont has a presence like a film canister harbouring a 35mm motion picture reel – it’s not just an object or a building, it contains a Hollywood story. If you are lucky enough to sink into a lounge here, Aperol Spritz in hand, The Birth of the Cool playing, you begin to star in your own melodrama or film noir. Next door to the hotel, at the Bar Marmont, patrons become bit players in your unfolding story, murmurs of laughter and chinking of glass – the soundtrack. A palpable buzz in the air, you’re in one of the hottest celebrity haunts in town. This is LA.
It’s a place for dreams and folly. The hotel’s cast list of guests reads like a who’s who of the beautiful and those in a free fall from grace. The indomitable hotel has been a playground for everyone from Greta Garbo, James Dean to Johnny Depp and Kate Moss, and continues to host international players, emerging songstresses and the film elite alike. A fine balancing act has seen the hotel seem at once a place of privacy, while artfully courting the limelight.
Standing regal and whimsical on a hill in West Hollywood, the Marmont, though built in the late 20s, is modelled on a castle in France’s Loire Valley. Initially slated to be apartments, the hotel rooms retain a home-away-from-home feel, sitting back from Hollywood’s hypey main drag while the luscious garden setting shields guests from paparazzi lenses. The focus of the 63 rooms is on retro styling that isn’t derivative but in keeping with Hollywood’s golden era. From junior suites to poolside and garden cottages, expect to find a luxuriously nostalgic nod to style – Deco good looks with modern amenities like iPod docks. Service is discreet and unobtrusive, as befits A-lister guests. When you indulge in some poolside lounging to soak up West Coast cool you won’t need the Instagram app to give your holiday snaps that dreamy vintage overexposed look. This is it.
While the Marmont’s walls have been a sanctuary for screen giants, Bar Marmont restaurant and bar is unabashedly balls-to-the-wall Saturday night Hollywood. The fabulously gothic edifice houses a tall, dark, handsome bar that spans the length of a wall. Soft red lamps set the mood to hedonism while the cocktail menu sparkles with innovation and fresh fruit. Try the Mediterra with vodka, honey and fresh fig purée, or the Sun Goddess (Belvedere vodka, Lillet, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint and muddled grapes). The Havana-style Mojito has a kind of Hunter S. Thompson Rum Diaries vibe: American finesse takes on Caribbean flair.
With a traditional California menu comprising farm-to-table ingredients and a simplicity that references the best of New York and Europe, Bar Marmont delivers dishes with an anytime-of-day appeal. Chef Carolynn Spence (formerly of Spotted Pig, New York) has a New Jersey bred no-nonsense attitude and along with other chefs, is slowly transforming the food scene in Tinsel Town. Health consciousness gives way to big flavours here. Bar snacks include the intriguing sounding bacon-wrapped bourbon apples and brussel sprouts and truffled pecorino. Small plates run from classics such as oysters, and mac’n cheese, to the wonderful rabbit rillette with cornichons. Share plates continue the subtle old world European feel with a charcuterie board, inventive salads and cheese plates that showcase the myriad ingredients grown in California’s predominantly mild Mediterranean climate. Seafood is a big component of Pacific coast fare: Bar Marmont’s seasonal menu features several pescetarian mains. And of course, what’s an American menu without a Damn Good Burger? With homemade tomato ketchup and ‘fries n’ fixins’, it could make a raw-food vegan turn.
From room to bar, Chateau Marmont’s ethos is simple: live a little.
L.A is home to more artists, writers, directors, actors, and dancers than any other city on earth, at any point in history, and Chateau Marmont offers a window seat to the goings on in the ‘Creative Capital’. This is a well-worn stage that continues to delight and inspire creative imaginations (Sophia Coppola shot the 2011 film Somewhere almost entirely on the premises after an extended stay). As the sun sets, west of the west, splashing long shadows of towering palms across hot boulevards, this fabled hotel is also a place to come home to, to a favourite nook or poolside spot.
8221 Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, California, USA
Tel +1 323 656 1010