Author: Samantha Miller

Villas under construction

Let’s Talk Acreage

What is it about the Sunset Marquis that has made it such a Hollywood safe haven for musicians, artists, actors, and moguls? At the risk of sounding arrogant, we can think of a few (dozen) reasons. However, if we distill the reasons down, there seems to be a single throughline: spaciousness. 

The thesis behind the Sunset Marquis can be summed up beautifully by George Rosenthal, whose initial vision founded our hotel: “I wasn’t going to build a standard hotel room,” he described in Entrepreneur Magazine’s article “The Secret Behind This Legendary Hollywood Hotel’s 50-Year Run” by Jason Ankeny. In the article, Rosenthal continues, “I didn’t want to have a hotel operation where you had to sit on the bed to talk to somebody. Typical hotels had more than 90 percent rooms and less than 10 percent suites. This building was the first all-suite hotel that I know of. It was a place you could come to, and it would be like your home.” So even before the hotel was built, Mr. Rosenthal knew how to sweeten his guests’ experience: impeccable suites that held the luxury of a vacation but the comfort of a home away from home. 

Original lawn area – Now Cavatina

But to not be a box hotel like the rest of Hollywood, Geroge had to think outside the box. The Garden of Allah, a West Hollywood mansion-turned-apartment owned by silent film star, Alla Nazimova, was the inciting inspiration behind George Rosenthal’s vision for the Sunset Marquis. The Garden of Allah was originally a 2.5-acre estate called “Hayvenhurst” that in 1913 William H. Hay, a real estate developer, turned into his private residence. In 1919, Nazimova acquired the property, added 25 villas around the residence, and converted it into a residential hotel in 1926. These opened as the “Garden of Allah Hotel,” which proved the concept of a paradise for film, art, and music icons. Legends, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart, Cole Porter, the Marx Brothers, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Marlene Dietrich – to name a few – all stayed or lived there. It was a space for creativity to be inspired in nature (that was just off Sunset Boulevard). A space for artists to collaborate serendipitously. A space for genius minds to relax in a lush environment with their peers. 

Unfortunately, the Garden of Allah was demolished in 1959, but it had already firmly planted the seed of inspiration in George Rosenthal. By transforming 3.5 acres of West Hollywood concrete jungle into a new lush oasis, George not only memorialized Nazimova’s proven concept, but he also welcomed the next generation of art and artists to West Hollywood. Namely, rock ‘n’ rollers. 

However, like Rome, our infamous WeHo oasis wasn’t built in a day. The Sunset Marquis vision unfolded in stages, organically developing – a process that can be felt at our hotel today. The way our lush outdoor pathways, our “hallways,” wind through nature, suites and pools and restaurant and villas appearing naturally amongst greenspace, is as much an homage to our Hollywood history as the iconic photography that adorns our walls. 

Our “Rome” began being built in 1963 when the Sunset Marquis was what we now refer to as “the main building” and housed 102 suites averaging 529 square feet each. To put that space in perspective, that’s about 1.5 times the size of most hotel rooms. Throughout the Sunset Marquis’s history, renovations were made to accomodate the needs of our regulars – whether that was The Keith Richards’s Gym or a chorus of superstars wanting private entrances to their villas. Come 2004, the main building was renovated and expanded. Bar 1200 (previously The Whisky Bar opened in 1996) was close behind in its renovations and reopening in 2005. The property upgraded and grew to include 40 world-class villas, a 3,000-square-foot Presidential Villa, high-end Spa, and soon-to-be award-winning Cavatina Restaurant. In the words of George Rosenthal, again in Entrepreneur Magazine, “I can enjoy what we’ve done here, but I’m always looking for something we could do or could add.”

Fast-forward to today, and the innovative and inspired vision for the hotel is that of Mark Rosenthal, George’s son. The Sunset Marquis is being updated again, with state-of-the-art technologies, luxuries, and sustainability. Right now we are 154 suites, 52 luxurious and recently renovated villas, our two refreshing pools, the beloved Bar 1200, Cavatina Restaurant teaming with foodie regulars, crowd-pleasing koi pond, an underground parking lot with room for two tour buses, and a labyrinth of lush gardens to bind it all together. It makes you wonder, where will the owner’s inspiration take the hotel next? 

Morrissey - Photo by Sterling
Morrissey – Photo by Sterling

We give our guests suites that are sweeter than other luxury hotels because they are 50% larger on average and filled with cultivated comfort. Our property has 10-20 times more space than other West Hollywood hotels. Our Presidential Villa is truly fit for a President – nearly four times larger than the Oval Office itself. The architect behind our recent villa renovations, Eric Rosen Architects, said it best in our recent “Sunset Marquis Villas: Your Home Away from Home” interview, “The hotel is uniquely comprised of all suites and villas in a garden environment making the hotel in its entirety an oasis… In addition to the hotel’s unique garden environment, the layout of each of the villas at the Sunset Marquis Hotel is highly varied, and the overall hotel’s design is far from the typical big box hotel prototype of a single room concept assembled into long rows down a corridor and stacked into multiple floor plates… Spacious multi-room plans, custom-designed furniture for living and dining, generous closet space, and the connection between indoor and outdoor environments contribute to the comfortable guest in-room experience… while the energy of Sunset Boulevard and so much that West Hollywood and surrounding Los Angeles offer are just footsteps from the hotel property.” While other hotels are restricted to building up, we’ve had the pleasure of building out. They’re talking square feet; we’re talking acres. 

Ozzy Osbourne - Photo: Ross Halfin
Even Ozzy is impressed – Photo: Ross Halfin

The Sunset Marquis’s spaciousness has the convenience of being in the middle of Los Angeles, without the inconvenience of being in the middle of Los Angeles. So have you figured out our secret yet? It’s our acreage that makes us the one and only. Our acreage has allowed us to create our luxurious Hollywood oasis. Our acreage has allowed us to have not just one, but two pools. Our acreage has allowed us to not cut corners on the guest’s in-room experience while also creating lush garden pathways for guests to wander through during their out-of-room experience. It’s the 3.5 acres that make the Sunset Marquis, well, the Sunset Marquis.

Tesla parked at the Sunset Marquis

Call Us the Cutting (Edge) Crew

The Sunset Marquis means so many different things to so many different people, and we think that’s part of our magic. Our esteemed founder, George Rosenthal, shared in Entrepreneur Magazine’s article “The Secret Behind This Legendary Hollywood Hotel’s 50-Year Run” by Jason Ankeny, “[The Sunset Marquis] was purposefully built as a hotel for the entertainment industry… a wonderful gathering place for the exchange of ideas for writers, musicians, people in the film business… Rock and rollers were tearing the hell out of hotels, but they weren’t tearing the hell out of ours.” Keeping our guests deeply satisfied by fulfilling their every need – whether culinary or creative, relaxing or reinvigorating – has always been our mission. In order to achieve that goal throughout our now nearly 60-year history, we’ve consistently challenged ourselves to reimagine our possibilities and evolve with our clientele – while maintaining what’s classically Sunset Marquis. In other words, our key to success and longevity is the simultaneous commitment to staying cutting edge while retaining that beloved familiarity that guests expect when they return to their “home away from home.”

From our earliest days, George Rosenthal strove to keep his finger on the pulse: “I’m always looking for something we could do or could add… There’s a certain amount of joy, but there’s always concern. Are the plants cut right? Is the light right? Is the heat lamp correct? People look, but they don’t see. I wish I could get everybody to look and understand that every aspect is important,” he continued in Entrepreneur Magazine. The team at the hotel has cultivated Rosenthal’s spirit of reinvention since the very beginning. So what does “cutting edge” mean to us today? 

Tesla Friends
Tesla Friends

Imagine you are on your way to the Sunset Marquis for a much-anticipated staycation. Your driver pulls you into our private, underground garage. A glint around the corner catches your eye. There, glistening beneath the fluorescent lights, are six new Tesla Charging Stations and two Universal Charging Stations. Taking care of our guests is our top priority, and when we can do that while also staying committed to environmentally-friendly initiatives, that’s our happy place. We’ve all enjoyed the acres of lush gardens throughout our grounds, and what says “fans of Mother Nature” better than having gardens everywhere.

Flying into Los Angeles and not sure what these new charging stations mean for you? Right now in summer 2022, guests who book our “Electrified” package will not only stay in one of our deluxe, one-bedroom villas, but they will also enjoy a complimentary Tesla Model S during their stay. If the urge to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway strikes your fancy, you’ve got no excuse not to go. This package also includes complimentary overnight parking, (of course) complimentary car charging in our private underground parking garage, as well as a daily breakfast credit at Cavatina for two people. Fuel up – at breakfast. We’ve got the power – electric. And we want you to enjoy both of those things. 

Villa Livingroom

You’re parked so now you enter our lobby, which is decked out in iconic photographs from the Morrison Hotel Gallery. You stroll past our first cool pool, and through our green outdoor hallways to discover your newly-renovated villa tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The villa beckons you to enter. Or rather, you key-card in. Throughout our recent renovations, the extraordinary architects and designers at Eric Rosen Architects strove to and succeeded in maintaining “the unique and special character of the garden environment, the unusual variety of floor plans, the culture and history of the hotel and its clientele,” which they relayed to us in their “Sunset Marquis Villas: Your Home Away From Home” interview. 

As you enter, you notice that this villa is not your everyday, vanilla villa. It’s high-tech and high-end. Automated lights mean you don’t even have to lift a finger to see where you’re going. Automated heating and cooling mean you’re always comfortable. You’ve got all the control to light and heat and cool your home away from home to the very specifications you enjoy back at your real home. The state-of-the-art Smart TV might be so enticing that it inspires a night in. If so, the “drybar” cabinet with refrigerated and unrefrigerated storage drawers will keep all your snacks and drinks chilled for the evening. 

Again, when your luxuries make us more environmentally sustainable, that’s what we call our favorite kind of win-win. We’ve included low-flow fixtures in the bathroom to limit water waste, high-efficiency LED lighting to keep you beautifully lit, automated sunscreens to beat the heat, and blackout shades for sun control and a great night’s sleep. Run your fingers along the new Archoterra wall panels made from recycled paper. Take in the view from your window looking out at our flowering oasis and let out a sigh of relief. You’ve arrived. 

Workout bench delivered to your room
Workout bench delivered to your room

After settling in, you want to do two things: get cozy and stay fit. The rich, soft fabrics of your room, the plush and luxurious bed, the squishy couch cushions, and the perfectly-shaped table chairs prohibit discomfort. Try on the softest fluffy robe and slippers that Aisling Bea officially made famous on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Then, if you booked the 2022 “Treat Yourself Well” package and make a quick call to the front desk, our staff will bring the new one-of-a-kind THROWDOWN F.X.D. “all workouts in one” workout bench right to your villa. This package also includes SOLU Speakers N.O.W. Tone Therapy system for energizing in-villa meditation. For those of you who prefer to flex your muscles with an audience, we have complimentary guest passes to Equinox, located only a four-minute walk from the hotel. We are also currently redesigning and building a new on-property gym, for those who want to flex their muscles only in front of a Sunset Marquis audience. Keep an eye out on our social media for updates about our new gym! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of the new innovations happening at the Sunset Marquis, and we encourage you to visit us soon to take in our newly renovated property for yourself. Sixty years of transformation is a lot, but we’re committed to continuing to do the work. We promise to never change, and we promise to always evolve.

Chef Luis Morales

Check-in with Top West Hollywood Chef: Cavatina’s Executive Chef Luis Morales

Executive Chef Luis Morales’s “Blind Date” with the Sunset Marquis

Tell us again about how and when you first got acquainted with the Sunset Marquis.  

It was the summer of 2013 when the Sunset Marquis and I basically had a blind date! All I knew was that I was going to L.A. for the first time to consult and that I was staying at a famous hotel. I knew someone was picking me up at the airport, but I didn’t expect a chauffeur with my name on a poster and limo waiting… so Hollywood! I remember the mystery building up as we were driving up this residential street to a tucked away building. This wasn’t a main street with lots of lights and fanfare – was I being taken to the right place? The staff that greeted me were so friendly and down-to-earth I immediately felt comfortable. I was asked if they could help me find my room, which I thought was funny, right – don’t I just take the elevator up and follow the signs? Oh no, little did I know there was this big oasis beyond the main building, with villas, the restaurant, spa, another pool, and a lush maze of gardens! What a gorgeous surprise, best blind date ever!  

      

We know you love your hometown of Boston so what convinced you to join the West Coast? And specifically, the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood?  

Haha, certain things were very appealing to me, the diverse food, the weather, the produce… but honestly it was about a girl! Being offered and accepting a position at the Sunset Marquis Hotel was really the icing on the cake. You can’t deny the energy that exudes from this hotel. The property itself provides a great venue for a chef. The entrepreneurial spirit and support of the ownership and General Manager Rod Gruendyke is really hard to beat. It’s just a very creative and special place that I wanted to be a part of. 

Over the past couple years, you’ve developed your own personal recognition here at the hotel. You’re a mini-celebrity, dare we say. People come up to you at the restaurant and know your name, say hello, and tell you how much they love your cooking. What’s that like? Does it affect the dishes you create?   

It’s really nice to hear, and it makes me proud of the team, and I usually run and tell them right away. It does affect the way we create and perform – positive reinforcement can be a great motivator. Plus the added connection to our guests makes that much more special. 

Cavatina’s Famously Ever-evolving Menu

Cavatina’s menus are always changing, keeping guests on the edge of their dinner seats for what is new each week, month, and season. What summer dishes are you particularly excited about right now?  

Peaches, nectarines, and plums might be my favorite family of fruit. We are doing a savory Peach Salad with Sungold tomatoes, whipped goat cheese, and pistachios that is perfectly simple, sweet, tart, creamy, crunchy, and dressed with a honey thyme vinaigrette. Everything summer is coming around right now, and to me it’s all about simple, light, and healthy preparations bursting with flavor.  

Although in Los Angeles it is warm enough to be poolside all year, summer is, of course, peak pool time. What went into crafting your poolside menus to ensure the ultimate guest experience?

Easy to eat, lots of fun, and refreshing are the goals! 

What is your favorite dish to cook? What dish receives the most “compliments to the Chef”?   

I could close my eyes, smile from my heart and soul, and think about making, cooking, and eating pasta. However, believe it or not, the chicken entree and its seasonal variations get the most praise for its crispy skin, seasoning, and juiciness. 

Cavatina

In your opinion, what sets Cavatina apart from other restaurants in West Hollywood and in Los Angeles?   

The style of food at Cavatina can be eclectic with some comforting dishes involved and great service in a unique and beautiful setting. Plus, there aren’t too many places in L.A. that make you feel like you’re in a lush tropical garden and not at all in a city. 

The Sunset Marquis is many guests’ “home away from home,” and Cavatina plays a big part in that. Our regulars return to the restaurant again and again over the years hoping to dine on some of our infamous dishes, such as the Togarashi Potato Chips or the Ahi Tuna Poke. How do you set these “classics” apart? 

We could have an enormous menu with requested classics that never change, but there are also many people that want constant change. We’re very careful about what we take on and off the menu, and there are a couple of things that won’t go away – but they may take a vacation. Special exceptions, accommodations, and requests are made, when possible, for those who consider us their home away from home, spend a lot of time here, and we consider family.  

Speaking of classics, you recently changed one of ours, the Marquis Burger, and added the new Marquis Veggie Burger and Sunset Wagyu Cheeseburger to the menu. How much do people love these new burgers?  

People love the new Wagyu Burger just as much as the original, and it’s a little more versatile, modification-wise. The Veggie Burger patty and condiments change seasonally. The current one is a throwback to the old Marquis Burger so you can switch out the patty if you want to reminisce. 

Renovations

Cavatina recently underwent some spectacular renovations that opened up the floor plan and turned the restaurant’s interior into a cozy lounge. What changes were you most excited about before the renovations started?  

A larger bar opens up the possibility for more people to work behind the bar and an expanded cocktail menu and service. Mixology has been a hobby of mine for a while, and I was excited to have a great bar team to collaborate with on flavor ideas, pair a bar menu with, and enjoy the space to do it in.

Cavatina’s stunning indoor-outdoor layout is more than just a restaurant and functions as a stellar music venue and event space. The latest renovations have brought this multi-functionally front and center. What has been your favorite use of the new restaurant space so far?  

We had a group of guitarists with some serious chops playing together one night, and you don’t get to see something like that very often. The restaurant being that close in a small intimate venue… awesome perk of my job. 

Cavatina

As Executive Chef, what feedback do you get from guests about the new space?  

People coming back after being away for a couple years due to the pandemic are so happy. The space draws in people who want a more casual experience that provides a much larger lounge and bar area. 

The Space & Events 

Cavatina services a wide range of Hollywood events, both on property and off, and your cooking gets creative in order to best cater to these events’ needs and styles. What event offering has been the most satisfying and fun for you to design?  

In general, it’s easier to impress with a high priced, high quality protein, but that excludes a growing group of people whose diet is plant-based. For recent events, my goal has been to create a dish with all natural ingredients and no chemical or molecular manipulation that will satisfy all guests. The completely vegan, meatless meatballs with a spicy tomato ragu last go-round were very well-received. 

Recently, what has been your favorite off-property event in which Cavatina and the Food & Beverage team have participated?  

The CA Winemasters’s Cystic Fibrosis Foundation event at Warner Bros. Studios. They put on a great event for a good cause.

Cavatina’s Future

Has the Sunset Marquis’s history affected your work as Executive Chef?  

Absolutely! I’ve learned to broaden my focus and skill set as a hotel chef vs. a restaurant chef, and I take into consideration a group of creative and influential people that have been visiting this hotel longer than I’ve been alive.

In 2023, our historic Los Angeles Hotel, the Sunset Marquis, will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Are you excited for Cavatina’s participation in the anniversary? Do you have any dining ideas already in mind?  

Oh yeah, I was here for the 50th and had an amazing time. We’re planning to top that event, but I’m into surprises so you’re going to have to wait and come to the party! 

Villa Pool in Color

The Ultimate Summer Splash

The Sunset Marquis is designed for indulging in the summer months. And every year as it warms up, we get excited for the waves of WeHo first-timers, giddy vacationers, and, of course, our happy-to-see-you-again poolside regulars. While many an urban hotel will flaunt its rooftop pool, we prefer providing our guests with options. That is, two pools both woven into our 3.5-acre garden oasis. Because we believe you should escape the concrete jungle while in your bathing suit. However, it’s not just about having two pools on property that separates us from other hotels in Los Angeles. It’s also our rich history and the iconic moments ingrained in everything from our poolside tiles to our lounge chairs. 

With our infamous history with the rock ‘n’ roll community, it’s no surprise that some of the most iconic names in music have escaped to the Sunset Marquis for a dip, a lounge, or some poolside mischief (simply imagine Flea cannonballing off our rooftop and into our main pool if you need to know what we mean by “mischief”). As the rock ‘n’ roll genre rose to power, the Sunset Marquis quickly became the watering hole of its musicians – and our main pool became the backdrop of so many iconic photoshoots with musical legends. 

Gary U.S. Bonds
Gary U.S. Bonds relaxing by the pool

As L.A. stations blasted his hits, “Seven Day Weekend,” “School Is Out,” and “New Orleans,” you could find Gary U.S. Bonds (photographed by Richard Aaron) soaking up the sun at the main pool here at the Marquis. Turn the dial to the 70s, as “One Way or Another” and “Rockaway Beach” vied for the radio waves, Blondie (photographed by Armando Gallo, 1978), Tommy Ramone, and Joey Ramone (both photographed by Danny Fields, 1977) enjoyed bliss during poolside moments at the Sunset Marquis. Doing the Running Man over to the 80s, you could find Joe Strummer of the Clash (photographed by Bob Gruen, 1980) pulling off the all-black poolside fit. Our second pool – known as the “villa pool” – has also kept up this tradition, showing up behind beloved bands, such as Green Day (photographed by Ross Halfin), and emerging artists, like The Native Howl (photographed by Bryan Beasley). Iconic musicians and iconic photographers – lucky us. 

Our two pool decks have housed not only musical artists but also art. Insert a round of applause for the one and only Timothy White who curates our ever-changing main pool rock ‘n’ roll photography exhibition. Starting in 2018 with a mural by street artist, Elle, our poolside exhibition evolved into an homage to our rich rock ‘n’ roll history and is now a revolving display of great musicians and photographers. Currently Tina Turner invites all our guests past the lobby with a “simply the best,” while previous installations have showcased Robert Plant (Henry Diltz, 1975), Blondie (Henry Diltz, 1977), The Doors (Henry Diltz, 1969), Jimi Hendrix (David Montgomery, 1968), Run DMC (Danny Clinch), and Keith Richards (Henry Diltz, 1979).  

But it doesn’t stop there. Our pools aren’t only a historic backdrop for previous musical generations. Now they’re also the stomping grounds for amazing current events featuring contemporary musicians. In fact, there’s almost always a rhyme behind our reason for what art is displayed, and it usually involves an event. For example, our Run DMC installation oversaw the real Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Kelis’s live performances at Morrison Hotel Gallery + Equinox’s Music’s (Second) Biggest Night celebration Jan 23, 2020. Less than a month later, The Doors’s photo was installed because the 50th Anniversary Celebration of The Doors’s famous Morrison Hotel Gallery 1970 album cover was celebrating that historic image – right underneath its exhibition. And who can forget Miley Cyrus and Robby Krieger’s performance of “Roadhouse Blues” that night?

Even more recently, John Oates, Keb’ Mo’, Jared James Nichols, Eric Gales, and Jeff Barry came together for the Ultra Rare Celebrity Jam, Joe Bonamassa’s benefit that raised money for kids with ultra rare diseases. Fine dining and a silent auction were held on our villa pool deck, and both our villa pool and our restaurant had the privilege of transforming into stages for musical performances during the event. And while we’re “on” the villa pool deck, we’d be remiss not to mention our beloved Live at Sunset Marquis summer concert series, which saw nine great years of musicians play at our villa pool, bringing together our favorite things: music, parties, and summer pool time. 

Our pool decks have housed so many rich musical memories, art, events, and performances over the decades that they’ve become a tourist attraction in their own right. But in addition to being the perfect photo shoot location, outdoor gallery, and party venue, our pools at their core are simply the best spot for the quintessential Los Angeles summer experience. They are the heart of our WeHo oasis, delighting guests with a refreshing reprieve from the hot L.A. sun. Our mouth-watering poolside menus are in full swing this summer too! Classics, like our Togarashi Potato Chips with spicy onion dip or the Ahi Tuna Poke with mango, jicama, cucumber, and Avocado, are balanced out by Chef Luis Morales’s ever-delightful and changing specials. Trust us, you’ll be thanking Chef for his unforgettable summer dishes.

In the spirit of pools and summertime, we welcome guests to enjoy our 2022 Summer Indulgence package, which includes a Cavatina, Bar 1200, or poolside dining credit for dishes and drinks with your two-night minimum stay. You only have one difficult decision to make when you get here: do you order your poolside food first or jump into our cool waters immediately? 

Couple walking through breezeway

Last Minute Travel Guide: West Hollywood & Beyond

You dreamed about booking your trip to West Hollywood. You imagined all the awesome things you could do in WeHo (as insiders fondly call our city). You booked your trip. You traveled. You even checked into the Sunset Marquis. But hold on a minute. Do you have concrete plans that make the most of our City of West Hollywood, every moment of every day? Or instead, do you hear the B.B. King lyrics, “From Hollywood and Vine, to the Sunset Strip, there’s so much going on, you can lose your grip,” playing in your head right now? 

Whether you’re traveling last minute or leaving your plans open-ended, we’re here to help you explore WeHo and Los Angeles beyond. We know all the spots, and we’re going to take you through the interests that can be found in our city – starting with music. 

Music

WeHo has a rich history when it comes to late night spots with killer lineups, and the Sunset Strip is home to a lot of that history. The Roxy Theater is only a half-mile from our hotel, has been around for almost 50 years, and has welcomed to its stage everyone from Neil Young to Cheech & Chong, The Temptations to Jerry Lewis, and many more stars. They have performances most nights, and your ears will be thanking you. 

From The Roxy Theater, a three-minute walk east – yes, only three minutes! – will take you to another extremely iconic music venue: Whisky a Go Go. Legends such as The Doors, Janis Joplin, and Led Zeppelin have reverberated off the walls there. So it’s no surprise that “the Whisky” was the first ever live music venue to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. 

Are you ready for this? A mere three hundred feet east of the Whisky and you reach the Viper Room. If you’re in the mood for a setting that’s a little more intimate, the Viper Room is your spot. Styled after the great jazz clubs of the 1920s, the Viper Room has seen a broad array of international superstars from Johnny Cash to John Mayer, Queens of the Stone Age to Bruce Springsteen, and many, many more. The venue is most lively Thursday through Sunday nights, and you’re bound to meet some cool people while you’re there. 

Heading down to Santa Monica Boulevard, the Troubadour is just a 1.3-mile walk from our front awning. The famous club opened in 1957 and is known for helping to launch the careers of some of the most legendary musicians. Tom Waits, Elton John, and James Taylor – to name a few heavy hitters – are among the musicians who played the Troubadour early in their careers. 

Viper Room

While we’re on the topic of music, let’s venture east to the hills of Hollywood and the Hollywood Bowl, which is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year. The centennial celebration officially started in June, and the lineup this summer is phenomenal. Whether you’ve never been to the Hollywood Bowl or you are a regular, it’s one of those venues and experiences that gets better and better every time you go. 

Lastly, another hop, skip, and a jump east, you’ll arrive at the Greek Theater. Nestled in Griffith Park a little below the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theater is both trendy and historic. With the stunning backdrop of Los Angeles greatest park, the Greek Theater hosts musicians of the highest caliber and world renown. 

Comedy

If you prefer laughs to lyrics, you’re in for another walk east – this time a little over a half-mile from our hotel to the Comedy Store. Founded in 1972, The Comedy Store was the first all stand-up comedy nightclub in the world. With huge name comedians always on the roster, this place guarantees laughs. 

Walk another half-mile east from The Comedy Store, and you will arrive at the Laugh Factory, which opened in 1979. USA Today called this club “the #1 comedy club in the country” – meaning, Sunset Boulevard has some competing comedy venues. Only you – our laugh-expert Sunset Marquis Hotel guest – can decide the best place for stand-up on the Strip. So buy tickets to both the Comedy Story and the Laugh Factory, and we’ll tell our staff to get ready to hear your re-telling of all the jokes. 

Shopping

Between music and comedy, we’ve got your nights covered. But what about Sunset before sunset? There’s more than enough to keep you busy around here, especially if you love to shop. 

If you’re looking for specific stores, nearby shops, or luxury shopping, we have a fantastic Shopping Guide on our “West Hollywood and Beyond” page. Gems like Book Soup – a bookstore, which claims to be a “Bookseller to the Great & Infamous!”- are on our Shopping Guide and are perfect places to spend extra L.A. time. 

Fred Segal

If you’re an “outdoorsy” Los Angeleno (or visitor), that might simply mean that you love a great outdoor mall. And The Grove in West Hollywood is one of the most famous of its kind. Boasting some of the best shopping, The Grove’s sprawling outdoor setup replaces potential shopping claustrophobia with gorgeous fountains and seasonal outdoor activations. Adjacent to The Grove is WeHo’s almost 90-year-old Original Farmers Market. Over a hundred gourmet grocer booths have been keeping shoppers satiated here since 1934. 

Yet, sometimes we all just want the comfortable and classic mall experience, and the Beverly Center has you covered. Right outside the West Hollywood city limits and adjacent to Beverly Hills, the Beverly Center’s eight-story structure is brimming with the stores you’re looking for and the food to fuel your shopping. We recommend a ride on the six-story series of exterior-facing escalators for the scenic portion of your shopping experience.

A short walk up La Cienaga, and you’ll find the famous Melrose Place. This intimate shopping destination is for the fashionista, and it might ring a bell because of the eponymous 90s show set in this area. Gorgeous storefronts and architecture make the experience beautiful from start to finish, and the beloved Alfred Coffee will round out your shopping with wonderful caffeine and snacks.

If you’re the more indie shopping type, check out the Melrose Trading Post on Sundays. This fabulous swap meet turns the Fairfax High School parking lot into a treasure trove where you can find vintage fashion, artisan goods, exceptional art, one-of-a-kind furniture, and great bites. You’ll also feel good being there. Not only because Fairfax High School was the meeting place of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but also because a portion of admission and vendor fees go to supporting students, funding field trips, teacher programs, theater productions, and more. 

Historical

Unbeknownst to some, there is a Historical District of West Hollywood, and our hotel exists right on the edge of it. Some quick googling will have you trotting around WeHo on foot, looking up at the former abodes of Marilyn Monroe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The City of West Hollywood website and other Historical Districts websites, like that of the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, will help you dig into our city’s past. 

While history is the topic, we must mention the recently reopened Greystone Mansion. It’s a mile and a half from our front doors, and just a half mile outside of WeHo and into Beverly Hills. Meaning, this vision of Los Angeles history is incredibly walkable from the Sunset Marquis and West Hollywood. 

Greystone Mansion has a storied past, sits on 18 acres, and became a Beverly Hills public park in 1971 and a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The 46,054-square foot mansion has everything your inner child’s heart could desire: a movie theater, bowling alley, 55 bedrooms, tennis courts, stables, swimming pool, hidden bar, you name it. Not only does the property have a rich real history, but it has also been the set of major film and television shows that give it a rich fictional history too. In addition to being Chilton Preparatory School in Amy Sherman-Palladino’s hit series, Gilmore Girls, Greystone Mansion was the backdrop for scenes in The Big LebowskiDeath Becomes HerBatman and RobinThe BodyguardThe Witches of EastwickThe PrestigeX-MenThe Social Network, and many other filmed stories. It’s safe to say that Greystone Mansion is “behind” a movie or TV show on everyone’s Top 10 list. 

Museums

As a historical Hollywood hotel celebrating its 60th anniversary next year, how could we not be fans of museums and the history they represent. A 12-minute Uber from our hotel to Miracle Mile, and you’ll hit LACMA – our Los Angeles County Museum of Art. LACMA is the largest museum in the western United States and presents more than 6,000 years of global art objects. The 147,000 piece collection needs days to be fully consumed. You love art? You’ll love LACMA. 

Right next door and less than a year old is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It’s so new that most Los Angelenos are still trying to go see it for the first time. It is the largest museum dedicated to moviemaking and its artists, arts, and sciences. The memorabilia, the artifacts, the theater showings, and so much more make this museum a Los Angeles must. 

On the same Miracle Mile block are the La Brea Tar Pits for kids and science buffs alike! Did you know there’s a bubbling vat of tar in the middle of Los Angeles? Believe it when you go see it and all of its fossils. 3.5 millions fossils to be specific – and the digging continues! 

And across the street is the Petersen Automotive Museum, which is a blast for anyone a) obsessive with film and television and b) car lovers. Those who are both a) and b) will be in heaven. 

While there are tons and tons of museums in Los Angeles – and we do encourage people to check them all out! – The Getty is a shockingly stunning location. Both the art on the inside and the eye-popping views looking out at Los Angeles are not to be missed. A quick 20-minute drive west from our hotel, and next thing you know you’ll be on a tram up and up to the museum. Renowned for its permanent collections, the museum houses a spectacular display of European, American, and Asian art. 

Come See Us

What is it about warmer weather that gets the world excited to travel? Is it that we are ingrained from elementary school to link “summer” and “vacation”? Is it the influx of three-day weekends that starts in late spring? In the sunshine of Southern California, we love any and all influxes of travelers, especially the travelers who are eager to explore Los Angeles’s crown jewel, West Hollywood. Whether traveling last minute or finding yourself with free time, we hope these ideas spark a whole new adventure when you’re staying here at the Sunset Marquis.

Sunset Marquis Villa, @jacordovaphoto

Meet the New Sunset Marquis Villas: Your Home Away from Home

By: Audrey Wooster
Edited: Sam Miller

At the Sunset Marquis, one often overhears guests describe our 3.5-acre property off Sunset Boulevard as their “home away from home.” As with any home, our regulars will tell you which of the 152 rooms is “theirs” – a declaration of ownership often followed by stories of past late nights and relaxing weekends. And if guests have been with us for a long time or are historical-buff-super-fans-of-the-hotel, those guests can likely tell you about our property’s metamorphosis over the decades too. “Remember the astroturf on the main pool deck?” “Back in the day, I loved the red and white striped awnings.” “I made so many memories at ‘The Whiskey Bar,” and when they renamed it Bar 1200, I got to make those memories all over again!” “Who else remembers the first time they walked into the hotel and saw the art above the pool? Because I remember when it was Robert Plant!” 

While the exterior of the hotel has evolved over the years, the heart and spirit of the Sunset Marquis have remained the same, always providing guests with a simultaneous sense of escape and homecoming. So when the Sunset Marquis was ready for its next round of physical transformation – we’re talking about our much anticipated, brand-new renovations! – it was important to work with the best of the best, and we were thrilled to partner with Eric Rosen and Lesley Graham of Eric Rosen Architects. Their team has preserved the ethos of our hotel while also giving our guests new favorite rooms to claim as their own.

We had the pleasure of asking Eric Rosen some questions about his experience working on our renovations, and we hope you love his thoughtful, intelligent responses as much as we do. 

What inspired your design of the new villas?

All of our work is contextual, and the way we think about making spaces is rooted in the experiential. For the Sunset Marquis Hotel villa project, the context was not only the existing buildings themselves, but the unique and special character of the garden environment, the unusual variety of floor plans, the culture and history of the hotel, and its clientele. We began by questioning everything about what the hotel experience is and what it could be. The basic idea was to balance the idea of the Sunset Marquis Hotel as a place that is “unique even by Hollywood standards” with the idea that the spaces should feel like a guest’s home away from home.

Villa Livingroom
Photo: @jacordovaphoto

What themes were central to the design of the new villas?

Our primary goal was to create an enhanced guest experience capitalizing on the relationship between the interior spaces and the outdoor garden environment. Effort was made to maximize natural light during the day, and the reconfigured layouts maximize views of decks, patios, and the garden outside. In the evening, strategically placed eco-friendly dimmable LED lighting gives each guest the opportunity to either brighten the spaces or create a more intimate environment with ambient lighting washing across textural surfaces. Cabinetry was designed to float and feel integral to the space; furniture was designed to be ultra-comfortable and welcoming; materials were carefully selected to be tactile and inviting; and the entire room concept was intended to be both dynamic and timeless.

How was the experience of renovating our famously historic villas different from working on a brand new hotel? 

There is an excellent book called If These Walls Could Rock – 50 Years at the Legendary Sunset Marquis Hotel” by Craig Williams and Mark Rosenthal that beautifully describes the history and stories of the hotel – a history that includes, among others, notable actors, artists, comedians, filmmakers, fashion models, and of course a long list of legendary rock stars. Yet all the while, the family-owned hotel has been an almost hidden gem, or secret garden, where every guest feels safe and comfortable. The challenge for us was to channel that history in order to maintain the spirit of what the hotel has always been while at the same time rethinking the guest experience and designing for something fresh and forward-thinking. As George Rosenthal once said, “Coke doesn’t change the formula. They change the can.” 

Shifting from preserving the past to preserving the future, how do you adapt to today’s ever-changing technological advances? How do these affect design? How much new architectural technology caters to the sustainable traveler?

Technology can be tricky because it is always changing and evolving and thus can become outdated quickly. We worked carefully and closely with hotel operations and ownership to integrate technological advances in ways that support the modern guest while also maintaining user ease. Automation in lighting, heating and cooling, and shade controls enhance the guest experience. An all-new hotel property management software system provides hotel operations with the technological back-end support for their notoriously friendly, guest-centric, and high-level in-person services. An enhanced entertainment platform provides an array of options for a guest’s experience within their room and throughout the hotel.

Some new hotels use materials that are refurbished or otherwise earth-friendly. What is your thinking about those initiatives? Are there other environmental initiatives that you have taken into consideration while designing the new villas?

Travelers are savvy, and we hope that sustainability is something that becomes ubiquitous to how we all think and live. A few examples of earth-friendly initiatives for the new villas include: low-flow fixtures, high-efficiency LED lighting, automated sunscreens, and blackout shades for sun control are just a few of the responsible room amenities. A highlight material in the rooms is Archoterra, a textured wall panel made from recycled papers. 

When designing the new villas, how did you keep the traveler experience in mind? 

The hotel is uniquely comprised of all suites and villas in a garden environment making the hotel in its entirety an oasis. Guests can arrive, slow down, relax, and stay put for as long as they like so making the rooms as efficient and comfortable as possible was important. Spacious multi-room plans, custom-designed furniture for living and dining, generous closet space, and the connection between indoor and outdoor environments contribute to the comfortable guest in-room experience. The refreshed Cavatina – the on-site bar/lounge/restaurant – is a short walk away through the garden paths, and the energy of Sunset Boulevard and so much that West Hollywood and surrounding Los Angeles offer are just footsteps from the hotel property. 

Villa Livingroom
Photo: @jacordovaphoto

What makes the design of these villas distinctive from other projects you’ve done?

Our projects include custom single-family homes, as well as high-design commercial projects such as restaurants, retail environments, audio and video post-production spaces, and creative offices. While many aspects of the design process apply to all building types (the way we question carefully, think critically, and problem-solve creatively), designing for a hotel is distinctly different in that there is an opportunity for repeatability without compromising creativity. The cabinetry was designed as components that could be assembled in a variety of configurations depending on the floor plan of any particular villa. In the living rooms, a custom-stained wood frame organizes and contains an eco-friendly textural wall panel made from recycled paper along with state-of-the-art smart TVs and occasional mirrors. Another framed component contains a large mirror as well as a “drybar” cabinet with refrigerated and unrefrigerated storage drawers clad in a solid-surface surround and specialty high-gloss decorative drawer fronts. In the bedrooms, floating components include framed TV cabinets combined with dressers in a similar solid-surface surround with the same specialty high-gloss decorative drawer fronts, and a separate component is a makeup vanity.

How does the Sunset Marquis’s new villa design stand out and compare to the rest of the hotels in its class in West Hollywood?

The villas at the Sunset Marquis Hotel are far from a typical big-box hotel with stacked floors of similar room types. Lush, outdoor garden paths instead of enclosed hallways lead to the 7 different buildings that contain the 40 villas. Between the variety of multi-room floor plans and the first-floor and second-floor experiences, not one villa is like any of the others. Once inside, all new millwork, furniture, materials, and fixtures were selected to make the guest feel as if they were in their home away from home; an oasis; a haven. As designers, we design from both the outside in and the inside out. If we can imagine what and how we want a guest to feel while they are sitting on a sofa, relaxing on a patio or deck, reading a book, or resting in bed, we can easily make decisions about textures, colors, proportions, and scale to support the vision.

What part of the project were you most proud of?

In addition to the hotel’s unique garden environment, the layout of each of the villas at the Sunset Marquis Hotel is highly varied and the overall hotel’s design is far from the typical big box hotel prototype of a single room concept assembled into long rows down a corridor and stacked into multiple floor plates. The exciting challenge on this project was to develop a repeatable system that could be applied to a series of villa layouts that were almost entirely unique. The concept was to design a system of components that could be arranged and assembled in different configurations to fit each of the different floor plans thus creating unique layouts while still capturing economies of scale. Because we were tasked with both the design and construction of the new villas, we had to choreograph the sequencing of the work in an operating hotel, during a pandemic, while minimizing the number of times rooms were out of service for the refresh. I was particularly proud of the team we assembled for the design and construction of this project and the way we and the hotel staff were able to work seamlessly together to create something special for the hotel guests.

What design elements of the villas do you think guests will be most excited about?

These new villas are incredibly comfortable. It is easy to settle into the soft cushions, throws, and pillows on the custom-designed sofa, and to relish in the natural light, the connection between the interior spaces and the gardens outside, and the composition and materiality of the floating cabinets. 

Do you have a favorite villa and why?

I have many! Villa 51 is quite special with high ceilings, exposed beams, and floating decorative panels along with a fireplace, piano, and kitchen. Villa 1007, though smaller than some others, has perhaps the most amazing light flowing into the room during the day. The patios in Villas 1105 and 1106 are both very large and private, and the living rooms have special bar seating. Villa 63 has incredible views of downtown. Villas 92, 93,1002, and 1003 have special cabinetry with murphy beds that fold down over the sofas for an additional guest, and Villas 90 and 91 both have murphy beds and an extra powder room. Sitting on the sofa in Villa 71 feels like you are floating in a treehouse. I could literally go on about each villa and how special it is. I hope guests will come back repeatedly and try many different rooms before settling in on their favorite(s)…

We couldn’t agree more with Eric’s final sentiments – and all of his sentiments for that matter. However, as with everything at the Sunset Marquis, the real litmus test is our guests, and we appreciate all of the reviews we receive at the hotel, we see online, on social media, and beyond. For example, a wonderful guest, Harvey Lewis, recently told us: 

“My wife and I stayed in one of the villas last weekend. It was truly incredible. Magnificent! I used to stay at the Sunset Marquis for many years on commercial shoots. I wanted to go back for my birthday and the nostalgia. It lived up to all my memories and hopes for it. I had never gotten to stay in a villa. What a wonderful weekend of memories!!!” 

We are thrilled to hear such glowing feedback, Harvey, and we encourage everyone to explore our renovated property. Here’s the challenge: we dare you to try to pick just one favorite villa.

A huge thank you to Eric for taking the time to answer our questions. And thank you to Eric, Lesley, and the whole team at Eric Rosen Architects for their impressive, excellent work. 

Instagram: @ericrosenarchitects
Facebook: @ericrosenarchitects
Twitter: @erarchitects 

Anti-Shopping Shopping Blog

The Anti-Shopping West Hollywood Shopping Blog: For Those Who Shop For The Experience

By: Samantha Miller and Audrey Wooster

We created the Sunset Marquis to be a haven for its guests. A legendary Hollywood enclave that our A-listers never had to leave – because it was an escape, a hideaway. A place where Bar 1200’s brooding and electric atmosphere; the irresistible, turquoise waters of the pools (plural!) on our 3.5-acre property; and the lip-licking, jaw-dropping bites of Cavatina Restaurant are happily and satisfactorily your entire world. You may ask: when you’re already staying in the complete, luxurious world of the Sunset Marquis, why would you leave the property? 

In our pristine and total paradise, a Marquis guest lounges in ripped jeans, studded boots, and a perfectly aged leather jacket – the “just rolled out of bed, is it really 2:00 pm?” look. As it turns out, that look is not so easy to come by. Or maybe it’s the stunning evening gown that shimmers iridescently as a statuesque hotel guest cascades through our many gardens. We all know that look is not easy to come by. It’s our humble opinion that guests leave the hotel to go shopping so that they can come back to our grounds looking their most fabulous. 

It’s our more quantifiable opinion that our guests leave our grounds to go shopping because West Hollywood, CA, boasts one of the most impressive and fun shopping scenes on the planet. It’s not about the Carrie Bradshaw gene. It’s not about a single fashion guru or thirst to shop ’til you drop. It’s that WeHo’s variable, subtly chic, and original collection of brick-and-mortar are ineluctable. They’re the best of the best. And if a guest is staying with us, we already know they only want the best. 

So it’s about looking and feeling the coolest. It’s about the shopping being the best. Maybe you yawn and don’t believe us, but we have another insider tip. Come closer. Are you ready? You can do all this shopping in a single day. West Hollywood has that many options and is that efficient to get around. A day of different neighborhoods and vastly different styles, all within the West Hollywood city limits. 

Like all of our days, this day begins at Sunset Boulevard.

Cavatina waterfall
Cavatina waterfall

Exiting our hotel on Alta Loma, you are feet away from the iconic Sunset Boulevard. Extremely fashionable stores await at Sunset Plaza. And by “fashionable,” we mean on the level of Zadig & Voltaire and H. Lorenzo. There’s also Calleen Cordero, our en vogue playground for footwear, handbags, and accessories. And whether you’re having a staycation moment – and your real home isn’t too far away – or you’re down to ship the fruits of your shopping labor, Osklo makes it almost too pleasurable to buy furniture. With home design, interior design, and furniture design, you’ll be ready to be featured in Architectural Digest’s next issue.

Now, if you head east on Sunset Boulevard, this famous street will take great care of your feet. Kith is where you must go for all of your sneaker needs and beyond. And Kith is pure cool – aka Sunset Marquis approved. Or maybe some leather studded boots and fringe jackets are more your style. We know, you “don’t care” about your look, so Boot Star will “care” for you. That name, need we say more?

Zadig
Zadig

Now, if you head west on Sunset Boulevard, the boulevard takes care of your need for inspiration. With Viper Room, Whiskey a Go-Go, The Roxy Theatre, and more, Sunset spews both history and current tunes, and it’s a music lover’s dream to meander this way. Another favorite is Book Soup, a sacred spot for all bibliophiles. They currently have color-coded books sparkling in their windows, and this reading rainbow opens books and minds, as well as LeVar Burton does.

And in case you aren’t aware, our hotel is less than a mile from another very famous street: Melrose Avenue. The Melrose. Home to hip new stores, insanely delicious restaurants, arguably the trendiest vintage apparel shopping in L.A., and the eminent Sunday Melrose Trading Post swap meet at Fairfax High School where the high schoolers who would later become the Red Hot Chili Peppers met! 

Amanu
Amanu

Melrose has infinite shopping opportunities. Clare V. is a Euro-inspired boutique that will transport you to Europe’s snow-lined shopping districts around the holidays. Anna Sheffield’s has jewelry design by way of sculpture; it’s that Palm Springs meets Southwestern vibe. Amanu is where you’ll find truly unique sandals, flats, and shoes. Really unique, like, each is handmade, so there are no two that are the same. Plus, they’re sustainable too. Welcome to California.

The Great, launched by Emily Current and Merrit Elliott – the denim pair known for “Current/Elliott” – it’s a beautiful store to meander through, even if just for the architecture and design. Speaking of design, you won’t want to miss Maxfield. They’ll have your high-end apparel, fragrances, and accessory fixes. Meaning, you’ll find everything you need for everyone in the family while also getting that Getty Museum vibe from their killer architecture. For shopping on Melrose, all we can say is “etc., etc.”

West Hollywood also claims The Grove and The Beverly Center, both fantastic places to shop. And at this point, this blog feels like we want you to only ever visit West Hollywood by, sort of, crushing any competing shopping districts in L.A. So be it. Want a stylish, “boxy” look, head to Noodle StoriesDetox Market has safe cosmetics and the detox your skin needs. Tesoro offers endless crafts, gifts, and trinkets, and West Hollywood doesn’t forget about the kids’ needs either with sleek, fun stores like Eggy that are just for them. 

Noodlestories
Noodlestories

And as resident experts, we have a new page on our website called Know WeHo that tells you all about our City of West Hollywood in Los Angeles. It’s got sections on Cafes, Restaurants, Bars & Lounges, Clubs, Activities, and introducing the newest section: Shopping. This page is not only our best and most personal recommendations but also highlights spectacular businesses that have smaller internet presences and are thus harder to find. 

Roseark
Roseark

Mud Australia & Vistoe, with their handmade, beautiful pieces, will make your home truly look like a work of art, and Roseark for their rings, necklaces, and other rocks you want to rock. They are a little off the beaten WeHo shopping path but still worth discovering on North Crescent Heights Blvd. 

And when your arms have no more space or strength to carry all of the treasures you’ve gathered, well, our hotel will be waiting for you. Us, your favorite Cavatina meal, and a “how’d you know I’d love this” cocktail. You may have guessed it, but that’s our favorite part of shopping: returning to the Sunset Marquis to kick up our feet at “home.”

Thanksgiving Feast

What we are ultra thankful for this season

We at the Sunset Marquis love this time of year: The Holidays. Yes, we know all the non-West Coasters scoff at a SoCalian expressing this sentiment. Because it’s true, the classic emblems of the changing season – vibrant fall leaves, frost-covered walkways, and children dressed like extra puffy, neon-colored Michelin men – only exist on production sets here in our city. However, it’s impossible to argue that we don’t have the other core pillars of the holiday season locked down: eating and gratitude. And in a discussion about eating and gratitude, you have to start with Thanksgiving. We’re going to start by recapping our November menu for you so that you’re begging for a Christmas dinner reservation. Shall we begin?

This year we were humbled by how many families chose to spend their Thanksgiving with us at our Cavatina Restaurant. In the eyes of Szymon Piechaczek, our new Food & Beverage Director and in-house sommelier, each year more and more guests join Cavatina for this special night simply because of the “quality menu, great ambiance, and relaxed atmosphere.” And even with new faces joining our regulars, a full house under the Cavatina roof always makes us feel like the entire family is back home together.

And it was a packed home at that, with “208 guests being served,” shared Executive Chef Luis Morales. Remember that Shopping Blog you read on our website? Well, skip the new leather pants or tight jeans, because simply reading about Chef Luis’s multi-course Thanksgiving masterpiece will have you placebo-undoing that top pants button. Look, we still feel stuffed. Just thinking about it. And we’re loving that for us.

A few reasons to love feeling stuffed: a perfectly cooked turkey with confit turkey leg hash, sweet potato puree, and brioche herb stuffing. How about, tender braised short ribs in a port wine reduction with haricot vert and pomme puree? Creamy Yukon Gold potato puree? Would you like a local burrata and persimmon salad with warm pear focaccia and pomegranate? Pumpkin cheesecake, carrot cake donuts, and mini toffee puddings? Are you drooling yet? Because we’re standing in a puddle of it.

Thanksgiving

Lounging in our food coma, we couldn’t help but reflect on how many things we have to be grateful for at the Sunset Marquis. First, we’re grateful for a healthy, safe, and full house at Cavatina Restaurant for Thanksgiving 2021. We’re thankful for our guests, who over the decades became our family. Our amazing and dedicated staff, who continually goes above and beyond to make sure the guests of the Marquis feel, well, like marquises.

But there was one event that we were ultra grateful to host this year. An event that really embodied the spirit of “giving.” The Ultra Rare Celebrity Jam. Hosted by none other than the legendary Joe Bonamassa himself, Ultra Rare Jam partners with Columbus Children’s Foundation to bring together world-renowned musicians to benefit kids with ultra-rare diseases. “It’s a way to celebrate the lives of these children and to accelerate hope for life-saving genetic medicine,” reads the Ultra Rare Jam website.

poster - ultra rare celebrity jam

Over the course of the three-day event, jam seshes included legends: John Oates, Keb’ Mo’, Jared James Nichols, Eric Gales, Adam Chester, and Jeff Barry. For those of you who are more the “faces over names” type of people – that’s multiple Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Songwriters Hall of Famers, multi-Grammy Award winners, Guitar World Magazine rankings, and Billboard chart-toppers. Rock ‘n’ roll classics were played, and we even got a group Happy Birthday song in there for Keb’ Mo’s birthday. Along with a delicious candle-lit cake. The moments between the music were MC-ed by one of our favorite repeat guests – not to mention critically acclaimed actor, filmmaker, and musician – Billy Bob Thornton. As with many nights at the Sunset Marquis, it was truly filled with “stars.” Underneath the stars, we held a not-so-silent silent auction, a live auction, and a presentation from the Columbus Children’s Foundation, one of the top leaders in the advancement of gene therapy clinical trials for ultra-rare genetic diseases.

Put quite simply, the Ultra Rare Celebrity Jam rocked, not only in the literal sense but also in that it reminded us how immensely critical gratitude for health is. Especially after the past couple of years. It reminded us how thankful we are for children. For life. For music. And for this great hotel that brings us all together meaningfully (and also just for fun).

As we continue through our cruelly ironic, sunny winter holiday season, we want to share our thanks and gratitude to all of you: our guests. You make events like the Ultra Rare Celebrity Jam, Thanksgiving at Cavatina, and good ol’ Monday through Sunday at our hotel, always, the best.

By Audrey Wooster – Edited by Sam Miller

Villa Pool

Night On Us

We will fill your days with sunshine and a complimentary night on us. Book a 3-night stay and you’ll enjoy the 4th night with us.

  • Stay 3 nights and get the 4th night free
  • 4-night minimum stay required
  • Package valid from May 15th through December 31, 2022

Relaxing at the Villa Pool

Seasoned Spring Breakers

Here at the Sunset Marquis, one can effortlessly tell when spring is about to, well, spring. It’s one of the perks of having 3.5 acres of lush and vibrant gardens for hallways between our rooms. Our suites and villas look out onto luxuriant blooms. Our open-doored lobby smells sweeter in spring. But it’s not just the property’s budding flowers that loosen up come springtime. Spring break beckons a wave of travelers to the West Coast who are coming to us to loosen up too.

Now, we know what you’re probably thinking. Spring breakers mean one of two things. One: a cluster of parents herding sugar-hyped children through amusement parks, praying to the Disneyland gods that the kids only leave with one souvenir. Two: the more notorious spring breaker masses of college students, herding themselves through sheer debauchery and making cities their own “parent-free” amusement parks. (And many of us, especially in Hollywood, may remember a third spring breaker: James Franco with grillz, cornrows, and tacky Hawaiian shirts.)

Spring Green Salad from Cavatina
Spring Green Salad from Cavatina

But don’t panic. Type Two Los Angeles spring breakers are boarding buses to Coachella. Type One are really cute at Disneyland. And Type Three might give you an autograph.

At the Sunset Marquis, we prepare for Type Four: the seasoned spring breakers. These spring breakers are guests who don’t want to wait in lines at clubs, but instead, they want to work on lines – tan lines, that is – at our main pool and our villa pool. They are guests who want to luxuriously dine on Executive Chef Luis Morales’s delectable Cavatina Restaurant menu. Guests who want the ease of a Bar 1200 nightcap – just minutes away from their bed – after a night of music and dancing out in West Hollywood. They are guests who prefer to “get out of the city” without ever leaving it, soaking up palm tree paradise in our Sunset Marquis oasis off Sunset Boulevard.

And while you’ll never get sick of our property, you still might venture out, and Los Angeles offers a host of stimulating things to do. Our new Academy Museum is currently displaying a brilliant Hayao Miyazaki Exhibit that’s guaranteed to inspire (and kids go to the museum for free on weekends!). We are back to the LA Phil playing the Walt Disney Concert Hall, musicals at the Ahmanson Theater, and music and comedy at the Hollywood Bowl. There are comedy shows all up and down the Sunset Strip within walking distance of our suites that are prepared especially for you. In fact, the Know WeHo page on our website is a great guide to the above and more.

Cavatina Interior and bar

Our website also has incredible offers for booking your Spring Break trip to see us. You could be an “In League with Legends” person – with its complimentary “If These Walls Could Rock” coffee table book and breakfast (and coffee!) credit. Maybe you’re a “Night on Us” person, which is our new package that offers you a fourth night free when you book a three-night stay. We also recommend many mini spring break weekends, and our “Weekend Retreat” package would be excellent for this – a 20% off daily rate discount with a minimum two-night stay required. Every weekend is spring break weekend?

While we love the coziness of winter here at the Sunset Marquis, your winter – wherever you are – might have been, actually, cold. And cold is not something we’re personally interested in. Whatever your winter season experience, it’s time to move on to spring with us. Sunshine, fabulous hikes, sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, Hollywood museums, exceptional dining, and West Hollywood sits in the middle of all of it. Meaning, we at the Sunset Marquis sit in the middle of all of it. Let’s break spring together.

Oscar's at BAR1200

The Oscars: Our Favorite Production(s)

In Los Angeles, “voting season” doesn’t mean what it means everywhere else. We look to stars rather than to candidates. “Voting season” is when screeners upon screeners get mailed out to comrades in the entertainment industry. Movies, television shows, and their studios seek votes for awards with billboards on Sunset Boulevard. We think all day every day about the films and TV productions that moved us most in the past year.

And all of that culminates in Los Angeles’s Grand Awards Season. After the polls are in. After the tallies are made. After the tuxes are pressed. Then the red carpet rolls out.

Sunday, March 27th, 2022, marks the 94th annual Academy Awards. With nearly a century of ceremonies, the Oscars continue to be a surprise show. It isn’t just the opening of envelopes that draws gasps and cheers. The Oscar stage itself, which has been the location of so many heartfelt, humorous, and unexpected moments, becomes the draw.

Oscar Bar1200

Remember Marlon Brando’s non-acceptance of Best Actor by actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather, as a protest against Hollywood’s racist portrayal of Native American people? Another year, Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn iconically tied for Best Actress and both won (for the record, there was no Soloman-style splitting of the trophy in half). Sally Field reminded everyone, “You like me, right now, you like me!” Greer Garson gave a seven-minute acceptance speech, which would instigate the infamous musical or lights dimming time limit for speeches. However, when the cast and crew of Parasite needed more than 45-seconds to finish their acceptance, Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron were there to chant “up, up, up,” bringing the lights back up for the rest of the speech. Alfred Hitchock needed no timer at all with one of the shortest speeches ever made: “Thank you.” We all loved Leonardo DiCaprio’s overdue win for The Revenant – his sixth nomination. And there are moments leading up to the stage that is cemented in our memories too. We’ll always admire the grace and humor Jennifer Lawrence maintained after tripping up the stairs to accept her award for Silver Linings Playbook. We should all take a page from her playbook on playing it cool.

This year, some Academy Award surprises are revealing themselves early – before the show even begins. For the first time in its history, there will be not one, not two, but three women hosting. Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes will be taking the stage and walking us through a slightly different schedule. Eight of the twenty-three categories will not be presented on-air, and those speeches will be edited for the live telecast. If you’re a loyal viewer like us, don’t worry, your broadcasting will still be feature-length – just not hitting the three-hour mark as in past years.

At the Marquis, we’re eagerly awaiting new iconic moments that will inevitably come from this year’s show. Will Dune or ​Netflix’s The Power of the Dog – which has earned the most nominations, 10 and 12 respectively – sweep the awards? Or will other big contenders, such as West Side Story, Belfast, and King Richard, stake their claim? While most of Hollywood has placed its bets, it is impossible for us to make any predictions. With nominees and winners as regular, beloved guests of ours, making predictions is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. (And while Sophie’s Choice got five nominations and a Best Actress win for Meryl Streep, we’re not picking!)

Instead, we keep our doors open – ready for winners, nominees, and the full cast of characters who make the Oscars such an incredible show. With such amazing productions nominated, it’s easy to forget that each Oscars show is its own production here in Los Angeles. A production with hotel rooms, delicious L.A. dining experiences, glamor, and luxury. It’s a production that those of us in hospitality think we know the plot to… but each year continue to be surprised by.

What will the Oscars bring us onstage this year? Or better yet: what will the Oscars bring us at the Sunset Marquis this year?

By: Audrey Wooster – Edited: Sam Miller

Electrified

Enjoy our Deluxe One-Bedroom Villa

  • Drive a Tesla Model S during your stay.
  • Complimentary overnight parking.
  • Complimentary car charging in our private underground parking garage.
  • Daily breakfast credit at Cavatina restaurant for two people.

B.B. King, John Lee Hooker & Willie Dixon, Sunset Marquis, 1991 by Paul Natkin

Black History Month From a West Hollywood Lens

This year marks the 46th formalized, national observance of Black History Month. For nearly five decades, February has been dedicated to celebrating the great achievements of African Americans and the strides made for equal rights. It has also been a time to reflect on, discuss, and work toward the progress that still stands ahead of us.

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Billy Gibbons at the Sunset Marquis - Photograph by Ross Halfin

From Open Doors to Moments with The Doors

The Sunset Marquis’s role in the history of rock ‘n’ roll is no secret. For decades, our hotel has welcomed musical legends – offering an escape, a home, or quite frankly a party. Some of these legendary moments go down in rock ‘n’ roll history by making a big splash. *Queue* Flea’s rooftop cannonball into our pool. While other musical memories have a more subtle presence, decorating our hallways and rooms in beautifully simplistic black frames. This photography on our property transports guests to intimate moments with musical geniuses: stuck in a cab with The Beatles, staring straight into Joni Mitchell’s heart, or rockin’ out on our astroturf poolside with Dee Dee Ramone.

It’s no surprise that the art curated around our hotel still sings to the soul of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. And it’s even less of a surprise that the collections are curated by our partner, the Morrison Hotel Gallery, which infamously represents over 125 of the most highly acclaimed music photographers. Just six years after we opened our doors in 1963, the Morrison Hotel Gallery’s eponymous photo of The Doors was taken. They did it behind a camera lens, and we did it behind the Sunset Marquis walls. But we both did it – celebrate, support, and capture the stories of creative genius. And we’re both still doing it.

Joe Strummer
Joe Strummer of The Clash at the Sunset Marquis. March 1980. © Bob Gruen

Fifty plus years later, the iconic moments archived by the Morrison Hotel Gallery have continued to induce a ripple effect on our property, inspiring our guests to recreate those moments. Joe Strummer poolside at the Sunset Marquis in 1980 meet Joe 2.0 in 2020. Same pose, same pool, less astroturf, 40 years later.

Legends can also inspire legends. ZZ Top hanging his head out of the window of a classic car in front of our entrance was recreated by Billy Bob Thornton. Compare those photos. Beyond the missing beard and hat, can you spot even six differences?

Cyndi's Garden
Cyndi’s Garden

But the boomerang of infamous snapshots extends beyond our big pool deck and entrance awning. It’s the intimate moments captured within the hideaways of the Sunset Marquis’s property. Some happening behind closed doors or in tucked-away gardens.

These feel especially profound (especially for us). We’re thinking of Morissey’s Sunset Marquis Bath in 1991. Cyndi Lauper[3] ’s iconic checkered pose conclusively determined that spot was “Cyndi’s Garden.” A multitude of guests have made their way to Cyndi’s white iron bench to pose, ponder, and praise[4]  one of the queens of pop. And since we mentioned Flea’s rooftop cannonball earlier, we’ll add that we’re grateful some iconic moments have been rethought and redirected. Backward poolside plunges[5]  are preferable (because… safety). Clothes obviously included.

Video by Kyler Clark @cerealkyler
Video by Kyler Clark @cerealkyler

These moments captured at the Sunset Marquis, whether framed on our walls or framed on your social media, remind us why we created our hotel in the first place. Why partnerships like ours with the Morrison Hotel Gallery and NightBird Studios are essential to our ethos. Music is our history. Artists are our history. Our West Hollywood hotel is a shoutout to all the creatives who have made, listened to, or screamed for the hits over the years. Our hotel is a place to create new memories and also relish in and often recreate past iconic moments. To be poolside, garden side, or curbside with some of the industry’s GOATs. Here’s to another 50 plus years of iconic moments – whether or not you have a camera ready to capture them.

Villa Walkway

Grounded on the Sunset Marquis Grounds

Villa Gardens Walkway

The Sunset Marquis has been referred to by many as Los Angeles’s hidden “oasis.” An infamous hideaway for rockers, artists, and celebrities. Inconspicuously tucked into the heart of WeHo, it’s difficult to imagine the extensiveness of the property unless you see it firsthand. When you enter the Sunset Marquis and start to explore the lush grounds, it is easy to feel as though you’ve stumbled off a desert path and fallen victim to an alluring mirage. Over 3.5 acres stretch out before you, decorated with various palms, bamboo, vines, and flowers. We prefer that hallways are gardens rather than wallpapered tunnels. Between the two pools, a mesmerizing koi pond awaits the eyes of wandering guests. A bridge crosses overflowing waters. A jungle landscape in a concrete jungle? Wild, lush, and expansive. Seemingly impossible yet somehow made possible.

Well this oasis, like many beautiful creations, began with a vision. That of the hotel’s founder, George Rosenthal. He “wanted to emulate the Garden of Allah, the environment they had there, at least psychologically. It was a regeneration of what I’d only read about: a wonderful gathering place for the exchange of ideas for writers, musicians, people in the film business.”

And over the years, the Sunset Marquis has been a watering hole for creatives, in more ways than one. The hotel did become that “home away from home” it set out to be since its conception in 1963. Numerous stars such as Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Joss Stone, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Blondie, U2, Joan Jett, Joe Strummer, Bob Marley, Billy Bob Thornton, and many more have escaped to the Sunset Marquis. A haven amidst the flashing lights. Privacy and freedom. Some, such as Steven Tyler, describe the more wild side of the green jungle: “[The Sunset Marquis] is where we’d come in the old days… we never went to bed… and if we did it was down by the pool… And if you hung out at this pool in the 60s or 70s, you made sure you had nights you didn’t remember with friends you never forgot.”

But the Sunset Marquis has continued to beckon not only the rock ‘n’ rollers and celebrities but also guests who are craving their own, unique getaway. A staycation that transports them to another country without the need for a passport, for example. Between the endless foliage and the Mediterranean architecture, the Sunset Marquis accomplishes just that, and seamlessly too. As soon as you walk onto the property – along the stone pathways etched with memories of lightened feet – or walk uninterrupted through the pendulous palms, the city around you melts away. Leaving the gentle hum of meandering relaxation. A positive “Hotel California” effect, guests ask if they can never leave because they find themselves immediately feeling at home when they check into our hotel.

This “right at home” feeling was a pivotal element of inspiration in the newest updates of our 40 villas. Eric Rosen and Lesley Graham – the architect and designer behind the renovations – shared that their inspiration was “balancing the idea of the Sunset Marquis Hotel as a place that is ‘unique even by Hollywood standards’ with the idea that the spaces should feel like a guest’s home away from home.” They mastered this by “capitalizing on the relationship between the interior spaces and the outdoor garden environment,” maximizing the natural light during the day and reconfiguring layouts to elevate views to decks, patios, and the garden outside. Even the “eco-friendly dimmable LED lighting gives the guests the opportunity to brighten their space or create a more intimate environment with ambient lighting washing across textural surfaces,” shared Eric. Like many elements of the Sunset Marquis, the goal of the villas’ renovation was to design something “far from the typical big box hotel prototype.” Eric Rosen Architects did just that, ensuring each villa is unique and incredibly comfortable.

When asked which villas were their favorites, we had both Eric and Lesley stumped. It was impossible to land on just one: “Villa 51 is quite special with high ceilings, exposed beams, and floating decorative panels along with a fireplace, piano, and kitchen… Villa 1007 has amazing light flowing in… The patios in Villa 1105 and 1106 are both very large, and the living rooms have special bar seating… Villa 63 has incredible views of downtown… Villa 71 feels like you are floating in a treehouse.”

Before they spoil all of the villas’ secrets, we challenge you all – our Sunset Marquis family – to discover which villa is your favorite. Which villa will become your “home away from home.” After all, we created grounds that are designed to leave you grounded. So whether that means feeling more centered than when you arrived or Steven Tyler-style face-down sleeping on the ground next to our pool, the Sunset Marquis has the space and design to be whatever our guests need

Cavatina Restaurant

Spotlight on Cavatina’s New F&B Director Szymon Piechaczek

Szymon

Welcoming in a New Year at our restaurant, we welcome in new faces. New guests. New luggage. New WeHo first-timers. New Cavatina diners. And more. But this year there is one face in particular that we’re so happy to welcome in every day: our new Food & Beverage Director, Szymon Piechaczek.

Originally from Poland, Szymon grew up with an established – maybe even inborn – need to be around food. Early on he was inspired by the desire to “connect people and create memorable moments.” (Serendipitously, that phrase is very similar to the unformalized ethos of Cavatina too.) Having been in the Food & Beverage industry for 30 years, Szymon is still as much in love with his job as when he first started. So, what keeps that spark alive, we wanted to know. Szymon’s answer was simple: “Sharing my love for food, wine, and the enjoyment of meeting new people.” Impossible to argue with that.

Maybe it was that desire to meet new people that brought him to a stunning, 3.5-acre luxury hotel in West Hollywood. The hidden, Los Angeles creative elite haven. With its perfectly manicured garden escapes from the concrete jungle that surrounds it… alright yes, we are talking about ourselves. Can you blame us? Settling our curiosity, Szymon said that it was “a sense of exploring and desire to exceed expectations” that brought him to the Sunset Marquis Hotel and Cavatina. Exploration and Exceeded Expectations. A perfect pairing right there.


Again, we are only the most recent chapter in Szymon’s multi-decade journey in Food & Beverage. Prior to joining our team, Szymon worked in Paso Robles where he ran the hospitality center for a premium Central Coast winery. He loves all wines, so we won’t make him name the winery and have to claim “zinfandelity.” Yes, Sommeliers take their wine relationships very seriously. And yes, Szymon is a Sommelier with the best of them. With his immense love for food and wine, becoming a Sommelier was fated. In fact, Szymon remembers the first wine he ever loved: “Edi Bikevar, a Hungarian Red Blend.” Is it just us, or do you also hope to see that first love on the Cavatina menu someday soon? Nowadays – with so many amazing wines out there – Szymon narrows his “favorite” wine to a phrase that encapsulates what he’s looking for: “a balanced wine, with a sense of place and minimal human interaction.” This way, drinking Szymon’s favorite wine one night might involve a couple of different bottles that all fit this description.

Cavatina Wine Cellar

Szymon only enjoys “minimal human interaction” when it comes to wine. When it comes to crafting the perfect experience for our guests, Szymon’s approach and guidance is “let us take care of your senses.” This is why for the recent holidays, our guests enjoyed the “perfect balance of ingredients and terroir” as they relished Chef Luis Morales’s four-course feasts and Szymon’s hand-selected pinot noirs and champagnes. Looking ahead into this year, Szymon has been busy at work with our updated menu, filled with “food-friendly” wines that have a strong sense of place.

But we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises that Szymon has up his sleeve for 2022 and beyond. Trust us when we say: you’ll need to experience it for yourself. Szymon has worked in Food & Beverage at various establishments around the world, and when we asked him what makes Cavatina stand out, he paused – almost as if assessing an invisible glass of wine… “It’s easy. In West Hollywood, (Cavatina) is an essential California oasis. In Los Angeles, it is a place where stories are alive and you’re sure to find the best al fresco dining.” Now then. We’ll have your table ready and meet you here. 

Sunset Marquis Loby

Home alone or home away from home this holiday

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” We tend to agree. No surprise L.A. knows how to rock a holiday that’s centered around lights and spotlights. Whether it’s the Enchanted Forest of Light at the Descanso Gardens, the L.A. Zoo LightsHoliday Road in the Santa Monica Mountains, or the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, Los Angeles knows how to get “lit” for the holidays.

Holiday Dinner

So we may not be “caroling out in the snow,” but we can nestle up “by an open fire” with the best of them… of course, that fire is a bonfire on the beach after sunset. Because L.A. does holidays our own way. And a big part of that is that, as of December 1st, Hollywood becomes: The Place That Gives You Christmas Movies. And what’s more holiday than binging the Christmas classics.

So, iconic holiday films light up our homes and yours! The Parkers unpacking their new, prized leg lamp in A Christmas Story. George bursting into his home, wildly embracing his four children and Mary in It’s a Wonderful Life. Buddy, whispering to fake Santa that he sits on a throne of lies, in Elf. Hugh Grant’s unforgettable moves as the prime minister in Love Actually. And of course, every impressive booby trap devised by Kevin in Home Alone. We don’t care if you’re naughty or nice, it’s irrefutable that our sunny Hollywood has helped craft the coziest holiday seasons for decades.

While we adore the classics like Home Alone, we prefer to make the Sunset Marquis a Home Away from Home for the holidays. We give Buddy the Elf a run for his money when it comes to decor, and then we step it up a notch or ten when it comes to dining. Cavatina Restaurant is curating another unforgettable four-course Christmas menu this year. And we’re advising you to make your reservation right this second.

Holiday Tree

Your Cavatina Christmas experience will begin with a Marquis Relish Tray, composed of pickled local vegetables, olives, smoked salmon deviled eggs with trout roe. We challenge you to try and pick only one-second course. You could go coastal, with Oysters and Poached Prawns in a Meyer lemon and champagne mignonette. Or you could go “cozy,” with a Mushroom and Chestnut Bisque topped with charred pearl onion and crispy sage. Or finally, Chef Luis’s delectable Local Winter Green Salad with a black truffle vinaigrette.

Whatever you choose, leave room for Chef’s third course, which we’ve been calling “the main event.” The third course is your choice of either a Tender Braised Veal Shank (with creamy saffron potato puree and baby root vegetables); Sonoma County Duck Breast (with hidden rose apple, creamy parsnip, brussels sprouts, maple syrup, and rosemary); or Maine Diver Scallops (with celery, le puy lentils, lardon, and Meyer lemon).

If you’re finding it impossible to even conceive of making a choice between all of those mouth-watering options, you’re not alone. We asked our Food & Beverage Director Szymon Piechaczek what his favorite holiday dish is this year. His answer? “I love all of them!” What will you choose, if even our stellar F&B Director loves them all? Do people get coal from Santa when they give others an impossible dilemma? We guess Chef Luis will find out.

But the decision-making gets easier for dessert: Chocolate Buche de Noel with orange meringue, cranberry, and macaron. It’s so iconic there is no other option. And if you’re not quite the eggnog type, we have our Sommelier Wine Pairing options or Bottomless Bubbles available. Now we’re back on the “nice” list, right? After dinner, we recommend walking around our property. We have lights strung up to ensure the grounds feel like one giant Christmas tree. And we have two Christmas trees to remind you that, in fact, we’re a hotel – that’s simply well-decorated. If you’re properly letting the holiday spirit compel you, treat yourself to a post-feast night at your home away from home here at the Sunset Marquis. The distractingly exceptional Cavatina menus almost make you forget… we have gorgeous, luxurious, and cozy rooms for you too.

By Audrey Wooster – Edited by Sam Miller

Gary U.S. Bonds

West Hollywood – The 1960’s & Life on the Sunset Strip

Discovering the Sunset Marquis felt like the final unturned stone in my efforts to become an expert historian of West Hollywood and the infamous Sunset Strip. As a self-proclaimed (and also fairly bonafide) nerd, I have thoroughly walked the Historical District of West Hollywood, accompanied by various blogs and other unofficial “historical walks” I scoured the internet to find.

WEST HOLLYWOOD HAS HISTORY

Samatha and Corey recreate the iconic Gary US Bonds photo

I have become so good at my own historical district of West Hollywood walk that various family members, friends, roommates, and roommates’ mothers have requested I lead them on my tour. I gladly do! It’s a blast.

Deeply surprising to find that the Sunset Marquis had avoided my penetrative internet searches and remained an unknown historical location to me, until recently. However, that is one of my favorite things about West Hollywood!

Despite having outstanding historical gems like the Tara House and former home of F. Scott Fitzgerald, West Hollywood doesn’t want its neighborhoods to be flooded and keeps these buildings’ profiles covert. The Sunset Marquis achieves this best, keeping its history and presence very private for its guests’ enjoyment.

THE HISTORY OF THE SUNSET MARQUIS HOTEL

In looking for historical information on the Sunset Marquis, I didn’t have to look further than “If These Walls Could Rock,” a thorough, heartfelt coffee table book, brimming with anecdotes, loving quotes by your favorite rock stars in music and film, and photos – stellar photographs!  One of my personal favorites is the shot of Barry U.S. Bonds poolside so we decided to do a new version!

Excitedly, I am going to share a history of the Sunset Marquis with you! Decade by decade. As with “If These Walls Could Rock” and history books alike, we are going to start at the beginning, the hotel’s first decade: the 1960s.

THE 1960’S

The Sunset Marquis opens in the same year that Martin Luther King Jr. is imprisoned, President Kennedy assassinated, The Feminine Mystique published, “Beatlemania” coined, and a new band, The Rolling Stones, is signed for the first time; it is 1963, and the inter-related sociopolitical and cultural zeitgeist is experiencing its full-blown 1960s revolution.

GEORGE ROSENTHAL’S VISION

If these walls could rock – book cover

George Rosenthal, a self-made man from a meager background, built his life and successes around his individualistic entrepreneurship. From creating his first company Raleigh Construction Company, which would bloom into Raleigh Enterprises as the decades boomed on, to pitching himself as the man to build the Playboy Club and Hotel, Rosenthal’s business mind was highly intelligent and gutsy. After audacious decisions allowed him to foster a personal relationship with Hugh Hefner, the men infamously turned down a twelve million dollar loan from Jimmy Hoffa for the construction of the Playboy Club and Hotel in West Hollywood. While the Playboy offices moved in with Raleigh’s, Rosenthal’s vision of a hotel on the Sunset Strip for the club’s guests and performers only became grander and more passionate. This vision would become the Sunset Marquis.

THE GARDENS OF ALLAH INSPIRATION

Rosenthal’s dream menagerie looked like The Gardens of Allah, a now demolished personal home turned apartment-style hotel for artists and ghouls of the Sunset Strip. “It was a no-holds-barred kind of place where everyone there was part of this family. That’s how I wanted the Sunset Marquis to be,” said Rosenthal. “Family” has been the cornerstone of the Sunset Marquis for the past fifty years.

West Hollywood is an almost two-mile stripe of Los Angeles County that was unincorporated until 1984, thus allowing extraneous, outrageous, antithetical lifestyles to flourish. The Sunset Strip is the mile and a half trek through this alternative land, and the Sunset Marquis stands exactly halfway – 0.75 miles – between Crescent Heights and Doheny Drive. The hotel is literally and figuratively in the middle of it all!

$19 A NIGHT

In 1963, the Sunset Marquis opened. At $19 a night (or whatever a young artist could pay), Rosenthal began corralling the 60s musicians into West Hollywood’s first purpose-built, all-suites infantile hotel.

The three-year-old hotel’s first run-in with history was The Sunset Strip Riots of 1966. While West Hollywood cajoled its community into and through the riots, Rosenthal’s response was expansion. Four new villas were acquired, including the home of dance partners Valor & Yolanda, as well as a pool and villa that were part of the original Barrymore Estate.

Rolling Stones, Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, CA 1969. Photo: Henry Diltz
Rolling Stones, Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, CA 1969. Photo: Henry Diltz

While the novelty celebrity – rock stars – were cascading furniture on LAPD out of the windows of other Sunset Strip hotels, the Sunset Marquis became a home for established musicians; “Rock and rollers were tearing the hell out of hotels, but they weren’t tearing the hell out of ours” remembered Rosenthal. The Sunset Marquis was the place for talents, such as Billy Gibbons, Tiny Tim, and David Montgomery, to find quaint, personalized privacy amidst the kaleidoscope of characters that made up the Los Angeles music scene.

AN HISTORICAL DESTINATION

The Sunset Marquis: West Hollywood’s premier Historical Destination – is that the first tagline that comes to mind when thinking of this luxury hotel? In fact, is “historical destination” at the forefront of anyone’s mind when planning a visit to Los Angeles? As you are coming to learn, the resounding answer should be: YES.

It’s natural to be inundated with flashy, sparkly dreams of celebrities and red carpets when thinking of L.A., but as with many things twentieth century and also historical – Apollo 11, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Marvel Comics, and more – our recent past most directly and powerfully influences the now. The stimulating history of West Hollywood is wonderfully mirrored in the Sunset Marquis’s past fifty years of presence and prominence in the entertainment industry community. And the 60s were just the beginning!

If your travels include Los Angeles, pick West Hollywood as home base and check out some of this history in person. This postage size city is exploding with creativity and the Sunset Marquis is still very much in the middle of it all so I’ve now adopted this as my second home.  As an aspiring writer, this is the place where my next project will be born so stay tuned for updates!

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