Chateau Marmont - Welcome to the Hotel California

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Sofia Coppola's new film is set in LA's Chateau Marmont, scene of scandals from Harlow to Depp. Gillian Orr checks the guest book

Last weekend Sofia Coppola won the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for Best Film with her much-anticipated latest offering, Somewhere, which stars Stephen Dorff as a jaded but successful movie star called Johnny Marco. He is a man coasting through life, one who has fallen victim to the hedonistic side of Hollywood celebrity, his days filled with parties, drugs, girls and loneliness.

And where else should Marco be living out this debauched existence but the Chateau Marmont, naturally? The famous hotel, located on Sunset Boulevard, is a Hollywood institution and, in a fickle town like Los Angeles, it remains one spot that has never really gone out of style, despite its many different incarnations.

Coppola says of Somewhere: "I started with this character of Johnny Marco. I thought, 'he lives at the Chateau Marmont', because it seems like every young actor I've talked to has a story about living at the Chateau. They've all done a stint there: 'oh yeah, I lived there a year', or, 'I lived at the Chateau for a couple of months'. It's kind of a rite of passage; it's so linked with making it in Hollywood while showing that you're still down to earth." She has even described the chic yet shabby hotel as the third main character in the film.

Chateau Marmont was opened as an apartment block in 1929 by a local attorney, Fred Horowitz, but high rates kept renters away and it was turned into a hotel in 1931. Because of the large suites and full kitchens that feature in many of the rooms, as well as the numerous bungalows and cottages in the grounds, it makes sense that someone shooting a film, writing a book or recording an album would stay there.

Balazs took over the hotel in 1990 and has said: "The hotels I love inspire excess in human behaviour. Hotels unleash passions in people. "

For Somewhere, Coppola thought that Chateau Marmont would capture her lead character's alienation from the world. Some of the most revealing moments come "when he's alone with himself at the Chateau; that moment of having to look at yourself, which is always scary for anyone."

On any visit to the Chateau Marmont you are guaranteed to spot a star enjoying some lunch in the sheltered courtyard, a swim in the pool, or maybe a cocktail in the bar, perhaps being serenaded on guitar by one of the elderly and much-loved members of staff. It is frequently referenced in Entourage, the television show charting the exploits of a rising Hollywood actor and his group of friends. And Dorff checked in to the hotel for four or five months in 1996 and held a suitably boisterous party there for his 21st birthday.

"It has an incredibly seductive atmosphere," Sandra Bullock once said. "No wonder people come here to have affairs – it's got that air of history, where you know a lot of people did things they weren't supposed to do."

The Chateau has its moment each decade. Recently, it was Lindsay Lohan's destination for her first night out after leaving rehab. In the 1990s, Johnny Depp claimed that he and Kate Moss had made love in just about every room. The writer Jay McInerney moved there from New York in the 1980s to write the screenplay for his hit debut novel, Bright Lights, Big City. Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles down the hotel hallways in the 1970s. The Rolling Stones and the Beatles caused chaos there throughout the 1960s. Natalie Wood and James Dean were introduced at a script read-through of Rebel Without a Cause in Bungalow Two in 1955.

But its legacy stretches right back. In 1939, the Columbia Pictures boss, Harry Cohn, used to tell his stars, "if you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont," a piece of advice that still appears to hold weight.

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us