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Guide To Los Angeles' Oldest Hotels

ambassador hotel 610
(credit: Subsven/wikipedia)

Everyone has heard the idiom "if walls could talk, you can only imagine the stories they'd tell." Well in the case of historic Los Angeles hotels, you really would want to hear the stories from the legendary guests who stayed and frequented these locals. From Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to legendary musicians like Jim Morrison and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, celebrities have frequented and partied at these historic hotels. Along with legendary stories that ooze through the walls, walk through these old hotels and you are enraptured with the decadent decor of fashion and luxury with a touch of modern amenities.

B_H_Sportsman_Double_Pool_View_ll - Sportsman's Lodge
(credit: Sportsmans Lodge)

Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel
12825 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 769-4700

The original Sportsmen's Lodge opened its doors in the 1880's and thrived due to its proximity to San Fernando Valley's river, canyons and watering holes. No other landmark hotel in Los Angeles pre-dates the conception of the Sportsmen's Lodge and the rich history of the Sportsmen's Lodge reads like a classic-Hollywood movie script as many celebrities from Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne are rumored to have taught their children to fish there. In addition, Robert Kennedy stayed at the Lodge the night before he was assassinated in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in nearby downtown L.A. The Sportsmen's Lodge remains a popular location for events, with a variety of outdoor spaces featuring six acres of gardens, water features and towering redwoods, dining and lodging and features the largest swimming pool in the San Fernando Valley. Guests can choose from 190 versatile guest spaces including executive rooms and suites and enjoy drinks and dining at any one of their historic on-site restaurants.

The Langham Huntington (2)
(credit: Los Angeles Public Library and The Langham Huntington, Pasadena)

The Huntington Hotel
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 568-3900

The hotel which dates back to the Gilded Age opened as the Hotel Wentworth in 1906, but only one year and closed its doors in 1907. In 1911 railroad tycoon Henry Huntington purchased The Wentworth and reopened the hotel in 1914 as The Huntington Hotel. After a few other renovation projects, the hotel was rebuilt and renovated to its original quality and splendor and reopened as The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel in March 1991. And in January 2008, the hotel was re-branded The Langham Huntington and since then has seen an upgrade into sustainability methods and property enhancements such as updating The Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse, The Tap Room, Chuan Spa and five of the hotel's cottages. Situated on 23 acres in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, the 380-room property is located in Pasadena, just nine miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Beverly Hills Hotel (old)
(credit: Beverly Hills Hotel)

The Beverly Hills Hotel
9641 Sunset Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 276-2251

Opened in 1912 by developer Burton Green, the Beverly Hills Hotel commissioned the sprawling hotel in Mission Revival and named it after Beverly Farms, his home in Massachusetts. The hotel was built before Beverly Hills was incorporated as a city in 1914 and since then has had a few facelifts and ownership changes. The 1940s were a captivating time for the hotel as then owner Hernando Courtright renamed El Jardin Restaurant the Polo Lounge, the exterior was first painted distinctive pink in 1948 among other changes. Since the 1940s, the hotel has seen a few ownership changes and restorations and is affectionately known as the "Pink Palace". The 208 room hotel with private bungalows in a tropical garden setting has long catered to the rich, powerful and famous and even inspired The Eagles' hit song, Hotel California.

Bel Air Hotel 1961 Front Entrance
(credit: Hotel Bel-Air)

Hotel Bel-Air
701 Stone Canyon Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 472-1211

Nestled in the canyons of Los Angeles, Alphonso E. Bell created Bel-Air Estates in 1922 after acquiring a 600 acre plot, and it has been a luxury hideaway ever since. Bell envisioned the area to become an exclusive and upscale neighborhood and for the next few decades Bell's dream flourished. In 1946 hotel entrepreneur Joseph Drown purchased 18 acres and hired architect Burton Schutt to convert the buildings and construct the 62 rooms of what was to become Hotel Bel-Air. The hotel was transformed with lush gardens, adding Swan Lake and the hotel quickly became a favorite of the rich and famous. Now managed by Dorchester Collection, Hotel Bel-Air closed for two years in September 2009 for its most recent refurbishment which refreshed the elegance and glamorous charm of the historic hotel.

Biltmore - Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (old)
(credit: Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles
506 S Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 624-1011

The Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles opened on October 1, 1923 and was known in its early days as "The Host of the Coast." The hotel was designated a cultural landmark in 1969 and his home to the Crystal Ballroom, featuring an original ceiling painting reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel and is famous for hosting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 1927, at which the concept of the Academy Awards was founded. Currently undergoing a multi-million-dollar guest room refurbishment, the 683-room Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles has continued to serve discerning guests, dignitaries, celebrities and presidents, with timeless elegance and modern elegance. The popular venue for social events, weddings and meetings also offers dining choices which include the casual Bugis Street Brasserie, featuring Singaporean-Asian cuisine; Smeraldi's for Italian-influenced and Continental cuisine; traditional Afternoon Tea in the Rendezvous Court; and the historic Gallery Bar, serving classic cocktails and light fare.

(credit: Automobile Club of Southern California Archives)

Hotel Figueroa
939 S Figueroa St #930
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 627-8971

Hotel Figueroa was built in 1925 as a YWCA hotel and opened in 1926 as a hotel serving traveling women and their families. At the time, it was one of the largest women-owned real estate investments in the United States and housed 400 guest rooms. In the fall of 2016, the new owners of Hotel Figueroa are poised to unveil a comprehensive revitalization that includes a restoration of its original 1920s Spanish Colonial beauty. The renovation project of the 268-room property will include updated contemporary guest rooms; signature culinary venues; an expansive, enhanced pool area among other amenities. Located just across the street from the L.A. Live entertainment complex in Downtown Los Angeles, the hotel provides an oasis in the heart of downtown's dynamic city center.

Exterior Casa Del Mar Shutters-on-the-Beach
(credit: Hotel Casa del Mar)

Casa del Mar
1910 Ocean Way
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 581-5533

In 1926, brothers Jack ant Til Harter debuted their visionary "palace by the sea" sparing no expense with fine furnishings from floor to ceiling. Designed by architect Charles F. Plummer in an Italian Renaissance Revival style, Casa del Mar is featured on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1999, brothers Edward and Thomas Slatkin, founders of the boutique hospitality group The Edward Thomas Collection, acquired the property and restored it into a luxury hotel. In 2014 the brothers enlisted celebrated designer Michael S. Smith to transform the property, updating many of its public spaces including the new Terrazza Lounge. Located adjacent to the historic Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade, the beachfront destination offers 129 guestrooms, including 17 luxury suites; an eco-minded Sea Wellness Spa; the private, guest-only Palm Terrace Pool; and a variety of dining options that explore Southern California's seasonal, farmers' market-driven fare.

Beverly Wilshire - Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
(credit: Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel)

Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
9500 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 275-5200

The iconic luxury hotel located on the intersection of Wilshire Blvd and Rodeo Drive opened its doors January 1928 on the site of the Beverly Auto Speedway. The Beverly Wilshire began with only one building but added the Beverly Wing in 1971, along with the Mediterranean-style pool modeled after Sophia Loren's private Italian villa, and was soon added to the National Register of Historic Places, on June 12, 1987. The 395 room hotel, 137 being suites, is no stranger to fame as it was the central location for the movie Pretty Woman  and has been home to high-profile celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen. A few of the many amenities at the Beverly Hills landmark include: an 8,000 square foot spa, the only Spa in the United States with the Natura Bisse Diamond Life Infusion Facial, and located on the private, key-accessed 14th floor of the Beverly Wing, the Penthouse Suite is the second largest guest room space in the city at 5,000 square feet.

Hotel Roosevelt Ext.-1940
(credit: Hollywood Roosevelt)

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 856-1970

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's rich history began in 1929 when it hosted the inaugural Academy Awards and since then has welcomed countless illustrious icons through its doors. Offering 298 guest rooms and suites, guests can choose from a variety of accommodations ranging from poolside cabanas to the new-look Tower Rooms, which recently went through $25 million of renovation, with stunning views of the city and Hollywood Hills. Spaces within the hotel such as the Library Bar and prohibition-era style cocktail lounge and hand-crafted bowling alley appropriately titled the Spare Room, which provide a welcome respite from the bustling Hollywood neighborhood. To top it off, the hotel's heated outdoor swimming pool provides guests the only locale in the world where they can swim on top of a multi-million dollar mural painted by acclaimed artist David Hockney. Both the hotel and the pool have been designated Historic-Cultural Monuments by the City's Cultural Heritage Commission.

The Georgian Hotel
(credit: The Georgian Hotel)

The Georgian Hotel
1415 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-9945

Looking to make her mark on the Pacific coastline, business-woman Rosamond Borde opened The Georgian Hotel in the spring of 1933. Built as an intimate seaside hideaway for the exclusive Hollywood set, the hotel continues to attract Hollywood's elite and local, national and international visitors seeking a distinctive boutique hotel experience set in an architectural treasure along the Pacific Ocean. The 84 room hotel boasts expansive Veranda where guests can enjoy the Santa Monica sunset with cocktail in hand and is proud to be one of the most pet friendly hotels in Santa Monica. With its charming and classic decor, the hotel gracefully represents a classic style hotel entwined with contemporary chic.

Sunset Marquis
credit: Ross Halfin and Sunset Marquis)

Sunset Marquis
1200 Alta Loma Rd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 657-1333

Located just off the world famous Sunset Strip, Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood offers 152 luxurious suites and villas intertwined within a 3.5-acre oasis of gardens and private retreats. Named after his son Markey, George Rosenthal opened the hotel's doors in 1963 and since then it has been a hotspot for rock legends, filmmakers, writers, actors and discerning guests from around the world. Some of the featured guest amenities include Nightbird Recording Studios, home to many Grammy winning artists, and Morrison Hotel Gallery, featuring a collection of some of the most renowned celebrity photography, of which more than $1 million worth lines the walls and corridors of Sunset Marquis. In 2008, the hotel expanded to include a world-class restaurant now called Cavatina, two heated outdoor pools, the iconic BAR 1200, and a full-service spa that's open to local and out of town guests.

Article by Jarone Ashkenazi
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