Where The A-List Hide Away
Chateau Marmont, LA. Photograph by Mr Nikolas Koenig, courtesy of Chateau Marmont
Five legendary hotels loved by the great and the good.
“I love hotels to which, at 4.00am, you can bring along a midget, a bear and four ladies, take them to your room and no one cares about it at all.” Mr Leonard Cohen was succinct when summarising his love for New York’s famous Chelsea Hotel. A mecca for artists, musicians and designers, the 12-storey building was where Mr Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road, where Mr Arthur C Clarke wrote the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey, and where Madonna posed for Mr Steven Meisel while shooting her 1992 book Sex. It’s these fascinating snippets that lead journalist Ms Tessa Williams to write her new book Hotels Of The Stars: A-List Haunts And Hideaways. The tome reads like an encyclopedia of the world’s most glamorous hotels, with their famous – and often scandalous – histories, alongside glossy imagery. These are the kind of hotels where you can hire a Rolls-Royce, dine alongside the work of Mr Joan Miró and Mr Marc Chagall or catch site of a canine wedding (The Beverly Hills Hotel, of course). We’ve picked five of the best. Buy the book to discover the rest and then make a reservation – if you can get one, that is…
Photograph courtesy of Claridge’s
More than 200 miles of corridor snake around Mayfair’s 203-room Claridge’s and it’s about to get bigger: plans have been green-lit for a 20,000sq ft basement, housing a spa, pool, bakery and chocolatier. The hotel began in 1854 as a single building, before owners Mr William and Ms Marianne Claridge merged it with the hotel next door, added five more buildings and reopened it in 1856. It has been called the Buckingham Palace “annex” for its impressive list of royal guests – Prince Charles and Princess Diana held their wedding reception here – and it’s a popular stop for Arab royalty and the partying Metropolitan elite (Ms Kate Moss’ wild 30th birthday afterparty was in one of the suites). It’s worth putting in requests on booking: the hotel has been known to replace baths with hot tubs, transform bedrooms into kitchens and repaint rooms for valued customers.
Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles
Photograph by Mr Nikolas Koenig, courtesy of Chateau Marmont
Mr Harry Cohn, co-founder of Columbia Pictures, once said: “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” The vast mansion, based on a gothic building in the Loire Valley, is perched high up in West Hollywood, with a discrete entrance and impressive privacy. The hotel has a no-camera policy and has been known to ban guests who take to social media to blather about raucous behaviour. Thankfully, over the years, the following gossip has surfaced: Led Zeppelin’s drummer Mr John Bonham rode his motorcycle through the corridors, Mr James Dean auditioned for Rebel Without A Cause (and may have jumped through a window in the process) and Ms Lindsay Lohan managed to rack up a $46,000 bill, and was kicked out for failing to pay.
Gstaad Palace, Switzerland
Photograph courtesy of Gstaad Palace
There are several ways to reach Gstaad Palace, but we suggest taking the two-hour Golden Pass train, which departs from Lucerne and whizzes through magnificent Swiss scenery before delivering you to a station near the hotel. By hotel, we really mean castle, complete with sprawling grounds, a sparkling Olympic-sized outdoor pool and cavernous spa. Madonna, Ms Elizabeth Taylor and Mr Michael Jackson have all been enamoured with the hotel, where its three-bedroom penthouse suite, with a sauna in the turret and expansive views of the Alps, has top billing. There is also Walig Hut, a ridiculously pretty off-grid mountain cabin dating back to 1786, where a team will deliver you food and wine – and anything else you require – while you pretend you’re an 18th-century hunter-gatherer.
La Colombe d’Or, France
Photograph courtesy of La Colombe D’Or
Nestled in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the south of France, La Colombe D’Or began life as a cafe in 1920. During WWII, fleeing artists began to arrive and savvy owner Mr Paul Roux saw an opportunity: he allowed them to stay in the rooms above in return for their work. The result is a hotel bursting with pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in a national gallery. Pieces by Messrs Matisse, Picasso and Chagall hang without fanfare and while the hotel now has 25 rooms and an outdoor pool, it retains its rustic charm – albeit with a Calder mobile swaying above the pool and priceless art in the dining room. If you want a room here, you’ll have to request one via email or in writing. Note that it closes in October and opens again for Christmas.
The Algonquin Hotel, New York
Photograph courtesy of Roads Publishing
It’s a special hotel that had Mr John F Kennedy lament: “When I was growing up, I had three wishes. I wanted to be a Lindbergh-type hero, learn Chinese, and become a member of the Algonquin Round Table.” The latter was a lunch club founded in the early 20th century by several key journalists, including Ms Dorothy Parker, and it launched The Algonquin as a hot spot for creatives. Round Table member Mr Harold Ross founded The New Yorker here and Messrs Lerner and Loewe wrote My Fair Lady in one of its suites. Today’s fans include Messrs Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino and Hamlet, the 12th feline resident of the hotel, who has his own Instagram account and annual birthday party in his honour.