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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What 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.
The 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!