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Samantha Miller explores Sunset Marquis Hotel West Hollywood

My First Visit to the Sunset Marquis Hotel – A West Hollywood Icon

Strolling into the Sunset Marquis Hotel, I was only mildly aware of the lore and mystique surrounding this most coveted, private luxury hotel in West Hollywood. I have a healthy relationship with the Hollywood social scene, and yet in the three and a half years I have lived in West Hollywood, I had yet to visit the Sunset Marquis. A business lunch proposal and several excited exclamations later, and there I was.

Joe Strummer 1979
Joe Strummer, 1979

An Unpretentious Introduction

Most hotels have a certain grandeur upon entrance, which, as with other things in life, is often disappointing as one pushes further. The Sunset Marquis immediately proves its uniqueness with its unpretentious introduction. The cozy lobby is the perfect opener to the luxury, space, and novelties within. I thought, “It’s like a Bob Dylan song!” In its relaxed understatement, I immediately felt at home, while the hotel reminded me that nothing “cool” is every proving its coolness.  I think Joe Strummer would agree!

Under The Bridge?

Upon direction from the lovely, smiling hotel concierge, I waltzed past the first pool (yes, the first), “under the bridge,” as directed, and into a lush, unreasonably spacious garden. Trickling stream, cobbled path, foliage, and flowers were the heralds of Cavatina: Sunset Marquis’s chic restaurant nestled in this hidden Eden.

Samantha Miller explores Sunset Marquis Hotel West Hollywood

The warm air pleasantly billowed and breezed around my lunch companion and me. I satisfied my nearly insatiable appetite with delectable food and enjoyed fabulous company, while gazing up at the magnificent Timothy White print of Aretha Franklin in a billowing, luminous yellow gown on the grounds of what appears to be Versailles with a grand Steinway piano waiting for her in the background. Ultimate Hollywood lunching.

A Tête-à-Tête in Cavatina

When a certain A-Lister walked by for a tête-à-tête in Cavatina, my companion commented that this guest was a regular and wrote much of his music at the hotel. And then we were off for a tour of the hotel’s suites, villas, and cabanas that are so popular within the entertainment world.

The hotel sits on three and a half acres of land that George Rosenthal started purchasing decades ago. An upside to this being a family-owned establishment is that all of the hotel’s beloved intricacies and nuances have not been crushed by a corporate machine. Every room is distinct! Every path leads to an unexpected, plush haven! Every space tells a story.

Villa at Sunset Marquis Hotel
A Villa at the Sunset Marquis

Villa Dreams

As we strolled past gardens and villas and another pool, I was struck by how quiet it was. The bustle of Hollywood was unheard, and I merely listened to the whispers of leaves and petals and history. There were private driveways, vistas, and lounges; the discovering felt endless.

The world famous BAR 1200 at Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood
The World-Famous Bar 1200

We returned to the lobby and made a sharp left into Bar 1200 – the original Whiskey Bar. I could feel the aura of past cocktails and music legends. I pictured it alive with musicians and artists and flirtatious glances and dancing. A strong desire to return for piano night – every Tuesday! – has not left me.

The Art of Rock ‘n Roll

The Morrison Hotel Gallery is directly across from Bar 1200, to the right of the lobby entrance. The gaping continued as I swiftly witnessed fabulous prints of the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and a seemingly teenage Jay-Z weighed down by bling only the late ’80s could have thought up.

The NightBird Recording Studio

The cherry on top was heading down a hidden stairwell, tucked away near pool number one. Winding into the earth, we visited the NightBird Recording Studio. I slowly spun around and around, washed in purple light, taking in more of this mellow glamour wonderland. Grammy-winning records on the graffiti-painted walls and carafes of candy made it obvious that this was the perfect place to make music.

Nightbird Studio, Photo by Mike OlsonWhat a sparkling afternoon at the Sunset Marquis. The hotel has a “glow” about it; the “glow” Angelina or Kobe are fabled to have – a special energy and presence, the remembrance of past grandeur, present specialness, and future spectacular. It glows with the laid-back, casualness of greatness.

Samantha Miller explores Sunset Marquis Hotel West HollywoodThe Sunset Strip

West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip – home to the Viper Room, Whisky a Go Go, Chateau Marmont, and much more – has always been a prized home for rock stars of all artistic varieties. The Sunset Marquis has been their secret hangout. Haunted by legends past and present, the future of Sunset Marquis Hotel will continue to prove that tranquility and rock-and-roll are highly compatible.

By the way, my name is Sam and after three years of living in West Hollywood, I just realized that I’m just down the street from the Sunset Marquis Hotel.  So, I’ve found my new muse!  Join me as I explore the past and present at this gem on Alta Loma.  I just started reading their book, If These Walls Could Rock, and will share the best nuggets with you in my next blog.  See you on Sunset!

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Dear Friends,

For every single one of us, these are challenging times, both personally and professionally. The economic burden we all are bearing is difficult, and our hearts go out to all those who suffer adverse health issues from Covid-19. While we wait to hear news and updates from around the world, it is uplifting to learn about the positive things people are doing in our communities to help those unable to help themselves. It is humbling to see a warm spirit of humankind shining through during times of struggle.

At the Sunset Marquis Hotel and Villas, we appreciate your support and patience as we endeavor to provide the service and support for our staff and guests. For now, the hotel is open with limited services. We have closed our restaurant and bar in keeping with directives of government officials, but room service remains available, and we hope to offer take-out food service shortly. Our current operations follow the explicit guidelines set forth by the CDC to ensure the safety and welfare of our employees, our guests and their families.

While the road ahead will be difficult, one thing is certain; this, too, shall pass. We are optimistic and hopeful for a speedy end to this global crisis and confident that we will persevere by working together, coming together as a global community, and being patient and kind to one another. Thank you for your patronage, and we look forward to welcoming you back to a vibrant and lively Sunset Marquis very soon.

Very Truly Yours,


Mark “Marquis” Rosenthal
Raleigh Enterprises