Historic LA hotels
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel was featured in the film Pretty Woman. (David Peevers/LPI)
Many people think that Los Angeles doesn’t have much history, but a visit to these landmark hotels will give you a glimpse into the city’s golden past.
The Beverly Hills Hotel
The Pink Palace (affectionately so-named for its distinctive pink exterior) opened its doors on 12 May 1912, two years before Los Angeles was officially incorporated. Icons like Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Prince William and Kate) have flocked to this glamorous haven to enjoy its Olympic-size pool, five-star Polo Lounge restaurant and secluded bungalows.
In celebration of the hotel's upcoming 100th anniversary, a variety of packages will be on offer, like the Centennial Celebration, which includes a hotel stay, two complimentary cocktails, a souvenir candle, a chocolate truffle box and breakfast for two, starting at $660 per night. But you don’t have to be a guest to partake of other celebratory specials, such as the Pink Palace Manicure and Pedicure, a 60-minute mani-pedi, exfoliation, massage and application of pink polish at its Spa by La Prairie, or Bar Nineteen12’s special cocktail menu, which features the $100 100-year Sidecar (containing Hennessy XO cognac, cointreau and lemon juice), served in a gold flake-rimmed keepsake cocktail coupe.
Beverly Wilshire Hotel
Many will recognize this Beverly Hills Italian Renaissance-style hotel from the film Pretty Woman, but its history extends back to 1928, when it was the tallest structure in town and was built over the Beverly Hills Speedway where Model Ts raced.
Back in the 1940s and ‘50s, the hotel’s popular Copa nightclub hosted the biggest of big acts, with legends like Elvis Presley and John Lennon calling it home for many years. In 1987, the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places. A multi-million dollar renovation in 2006 updated it to Four Seasons’ standards, including the $25,000 per night Presidential Suite, Wolfgang Puck’s Cut restaurant and Sidebar lounge. Today, the luxury hotel continues to host the upper echelon of society, from dignitaries like Prince Charles and President Barack Obama to young Hollywood stars like Twilight’s Robert Pattinson.
The six-story wedge-shape Culver Hotel in Culver City, halfway between the Los Angeles International Airport and downtown LA, was built in 1924 by Charlie Chaplin and Harry Culver, the city’s founder.
Thanks to its proximity to Culver Studios and MGM Studios (now Sony Pictures Studios) during the early years of cinema, it housed notable guests like Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh while they were making Gone With the Wind, movie stars Greta Garbo and Ronald Reagan, as well as Judy Garland and 124 “munchkins” during the filming of The Wizard of Oz in 1938. In 1997, the Renaissance Revival-style hotel was registered as a national historic place.
The Georgian Hotel
This Santa Monica art deco hotel was built in 1922 in the then-secluded beachside town. It achieved notoriety during the Prohibition-era by serving as one of LA’s first and last speakeasies, with the famous (film stars Clark Gable and Carole Lombard) and the infamous (gangster Bugsy Siegel) seeking refuge from public eyes (and sobriety) in the hotel’s basement restaurant.
Today, the Georgian Hotel still stands as a distinctive landmark on Santa Monica’s skyline, and celebrities like former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and actor Robert De Niro still visit to enjoy the restaurant’s panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, along with specialty cocktails like the Georgini martini, containing Malibu rum, blue curacao, sake and pineapple juice).
Named after American president Theodore Roosevelt and financed by Hollywood luminaries Louis B Mayer, Douglas Fairbank and Mary Pickford, this 320-room historical landmark (which sits across from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard) has held an important place in Hollywood’s history since it hosted the very first Academy Awards in 1929.
The pool area is where Marilyn Monroe posed for her very first magazine shoot, launching her modelling career, and child star Shirley Temple learned how to tap dance on the tiled stairway. Today, every time a new star is placed on the Walk of Fame, a gala reception follows in the hotel.
After a $15-million renovation in 2005, the Roosevelt has become the place for the famous and infamous to dine, drink and even bowl, with its selection of in-house bars like the Library Room, restaurants Public Bar and Kitchen and 25 Degrees, and the upstairs bowling alley/cocktail lounge Spare Room.
Los Angeles with Lonely Planet
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