The famous Hollywood hotel, Chateau Marmont, a favourite for celebrities for decades, is to become a private members-only club.
The coronavirus pandemic had led to a decrease in guests and Balazs believes customers would be comforted by the idea they knew who would be coming and going at the hotel on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.
“There is something to be said for knowing people. You can chat with them, you know where they have been,” Balazs told the Wall Street Journal .
Modelled after a French castle, Chateau Marmont opened on 1 February, 1929, as apartments. Penthouses rented for US$750 a month, which equates to US$11,000 today, adjusted for inflation.
A new owner took over in 1932 and converted the building into a hotel, hoping to draw tourists for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. They came and left. But then the Hollywood stars and wannabes began to wander in.
In the Golden Age of Hollywood, movie stars learned an essential rule of publicity: If you want to be seen, go to the Beverly Hills Hotel. If you don’t want to be seen, go to the Chateau Marmont.
Stars liked its casual vibe and prized its privacy even more. The pool was also a great place to get noticed.
“Howard Hughes leased a suite simply to spy on the flesh available at poolside,” Shawn Levy writes in The Castle on Sunset. “Led Zeppelin rode motorcycles through the hallway. Scarlett Johansson and Benicio Del Toro hooked up in the elevator on Oscar night.”
Del Toro responded to the claim stating: “The Chateau Marmont only has eight floors.”
“I would still be struggling out of my leather jacket by the second floor.”
If you seem to recall the name. Chateau Marmont was where actor and comedian John Belushi, an original member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, was found dead in a room on 5 March, 1982.
Balazs bought the hotel for US$12 million in 1990. Actor Lindsay Lohan was booted out when she refused to pay her bill. Jay-Z and Beyoncé gave a to-die-for party in the garage. Fashion photographers used the architecture for spreads.
Balazs, who also owns Mercer in Lower Manhattan, New York, and the Chiltern Firehouse Hotel, in London, UK, is reportedly wanting to expand into new cities with members-only properties, even possibly selling ownership stakes to members.
Chateau Marmont has been fairly inaccessible in recent years. The on-site restaurant requires reservations, often with a recommendation from a regular needed, or a room key. And Bar Marmont closed for a renovation in 2017 and remains shut. Sushi diner Chateau Hanare opened in a bungalow on the edge of the hotel in 2018.