Art Deco was one of the most popular design styles of the early 20th century. Following on the heels of the Art Nouveau movement, it flourished in the period between WWI and WWII, and in many ways went hand-in-hand with the joie de vivre of the Jazz Age. Art Deco buildings are sleek in style, often painted in bright colors, with dramatic expressions and geometric motifs. Los Angeles is home to many fine examples of Art Deco, among them these historic hotels.
The Millennium Biltmore opened in 1923 and was so popular in its early days that it was commonly referred to as “the Host of the Coast,” despite its Downtown location. Though the building itself is more of a blend of Renaissance Revival and Beaux Arts styles, the basement pool area is very much Deco-inspired, thanks to its ornate, original, hand-laid Italian tile work.
506 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213.624.1011
The Hollywood Roosevelt is another hotel that though it was founded during the Art Deco era, favored a more traditional design scheme. In this case, it’s a rather dramatic Spanish Mission-style; however, touches like the wrought iron railings on the stairs are indeed Deco. While on the topic of design, we would be remiss not to mention the David Hockney-painted mural in the hotel’s pool; despite the fact that it was added much later, it is still significant.
7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.466.7000
This Leland A. Bryant-designed property debuted in 1931, and is the epitome of the Zig Zag Moderne style of the Art Deco era. It’s one of the most dazzling examples of period architecture, and resembles a mini-skyscraper, with its “wedding cake” tiers. Even details down to the guest room windows and frames were created with unique metal encasements and reverse-painted glass.
8358 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323.654.7100
Opened in 1933, this beautiful, bright blue hotel looks straight out of South Beach, but is distinctly Southern Californian, with the wavy pattern in the ironwork meant to mirror the Pacific Ocean that is just steps away. Aside from the vibrant hue, the hotel is basically rectangular in form, but certainly with distinct touches, such as the font of the hotel’s name and the moldings on the lower front of the building.
1415 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, 310.395.9945
Plans to build this now legendary Cunard Ocean Liner began in the mid-1920s, at the dawn of the Art Deco design age, though she didn’t take her maiden voyage until 1936. While there are Art Deco aspects all over the ship, one of the most notable features is the general Streamline Moderne curvature of the vessel itself—not just for aesthetics, but also for improved velocity. Other examples include the Queen’s Salon’s carved gold and silver leaf “Unicorns in Battle;” the Main Hall’s “Sport in Speed,” a plaster relief depicting the evolution of transportation and movement; and the Veranda Grill’s etched glass. According to the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles President, John Thomas, the ship’s holdings are “easily the largest collection of Deco art in the world in terms of being in its original location."
1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 562.435.3511