If walls could talk, we can only imagine what they’d say about the guests who have stayed at the historic hotels in Los Angeles. These are the hotels where Marilyn Monroe and Jim Morrison spent their nights and where authors like Hemingway and Fitzgerald churned out literary masterpieces. It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to jump back to the 1920s, when LA’s hotel boom ushered in an era of celebrity, fashion and luxury. Today, these historic hotels still retain their distinctive features while boasting modern amenities — perfect for a quintessential LA visit.
Best known for its richly appointed lobby, complete with frescoes and gold columns, the Millennium Biltmore is one of LA’s greatest testaments to how history and luxury can blend in seamless fashion. The hotel’s Italian-Spanish Renaissance style has caught the eyes of presidents and movie stars, and with a long stint hosting the Academy Awards during the 1930s and 1940s, it’s no surprise why the Biltmore is one of the most visited hotels in LA.
Yet another LA hotel built in the 1920s, the Figueroa Hotel was first a YWCA. After the Great Depression, it was turned into a hotel and has now become a popular choice for visitors staying in Downtown. Its proximity to STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE make it an attractive option, but the Figueroa’s Moroccan theme is the hotel’s main draw. Starting with a spacious Spanish Colonial lobby, the hotel plays with Persian decor throughout all its rooms: Moroccan-inspired rugs, billowing drapes, grain sacks, deep bursts of color and detailed tile work.
Named after Theodore Roosevelt and financed by a group that included Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Louis B. Mayer, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel first opened its doors on May 15, 1927. It cost $2.5 million ($33.5 million in today's money or dollars) to complete the Spanish-style hotel, which features 300 rooms and suites. It is now managed by Thompson Hotels. The Roosevelt hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929, inside its Blossom Ballroom. Marilyn Monroe was a resident at the Roosevelt for two years when her modeling career took off. Her first magazine shoot was taken on the diving board on the pool behind the hotel. The Gable Lombard Penthouse is named after Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, who began their infamous affair in this duplex on the top floor of the hotel.
The Beatles, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Hunter S. Thompson: the list of celebrities who have visited the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows — better known as the iconic “Pink Palace” — is a long one, and its star-studded heritage is no coincidence. Opened in 1912, the hotel has long catered to the rich, powerful and famous who were looking for a secluded haven from the world, most likely why it inspired The Eagles' hit song, “Hotel California.” Today, the wonderfully restored hotel features the same Olympic-sized pool and Polo Lounge, along with picturesque and luxurious touches to its suites. For extra seclusion, the hotel’s bungalows offer tropical scenery in a garden setting, and the Spa by La Prairie’s treatments have been acknowledged to be some of the best in the city.
Built in 1928 in an Italian Renaissance style, the Beverly Wilshire has catered to the jet set who come to Rodeo Drive for diamonds and luxury shopping. With an elegant clientele, the chandeliers and marble are no surprise, nor are the shiny cars lined up out front. Today, it’s the home of CUT, Wolfgang Puck’s LA-based steakhouse, and well-appointed rooms featuring top-notch amenities.
Built in 1933, The Georgian is a hard hotel to miss, and even better, 100 percent of its rooms have a view of the ocean. Its Art Deco (and bright aqua) façade is as distinctive as the celebrities it has hosted, which include Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. But its history is ultimately more intriguing than the celebrity stars who have visited: the hotel was actually one of LA’s first speakeasies during the prohibition, drawing infamous characters like Bugsy Siegel and Fatty Arbuckle. It was also one of the first to feature modern facilities like a beauty parlor and barber shop.
This 1926 historic landmark hotel in Santa Monica has built a fabled reputation over the last 75 years. The Casa del Mar boasts Art Deco touches and incredible views of the ocean (it is, after all, the sister property to the famously luxurious Shutters on the Beach). Its location has drawn high-profile visitors since its debut, when it opened as a members-only resort. After a $60 million renovation in 1999, Casa del Mar is poised to continue attracting the rich and famous.