Chen James Caan’s death was announced last month, the movie legend’s favorite table was cordoned off at the Polo Lounge, the Beverly Hills Hotel’s famed bar and restaurant. In the hidden Table One, which was also the favorite place of Charlie Chaplin, a candle and a photo of the star were placed, as well as Caan’s favorite food; the house special, a chopped “McCarthy” salad, with chicken, bacon, beets and avocado, and an extremely dirty martini with extra olive brine. “When one of our great and well-known regulars passes away, we always pull away their favorite table and leave it all day and all night,” says Steven Boggs, the hotel’s director of global guest relations and a real source on Hollywood history. . “We call it ‘putting an end place.'”
Carrie Fisher, James Garner and Burt Reynolds are just a few of the other deceased regulars who have received this same honor. As you may have noticed, the regulars at the Beverly Hills Hotel are not like other regulars. They are Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, Paul McCartney and, according to last week’s posts from the celebrity gossip Instagram account Deux Moi, Kim Kardashian, Megan Fox and rapper Machine Gun Kelly. While other places fall out of favor with the cream of the crop of celebrities, no other place in Los Angeles boasts the same ongoing level of star power as the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“We also sit where Al Pacino likes to sit,” notes Boggs, who has cordoned off Caan and Chaplin’s table for our conversation, a cozy corner seat with sage-green velvet seats. “I can show you where Frank Sinatra sat, where Marilyn Monroe sat, where Elizabeth Taylor sat, et cetera,” he adds, pointing to the table where Sinatra celebrated Dean Martin’s 49th birthday, with the ensuing bar fight, which ended with the skull fracture of a well-known art collector.
“But I can also show you the table where Steven Spielberg likes to write, and the table that Leonardo DiCaprio likes to have. Dinner is also interesting. Jimmy Fallon comes over and sits at the piano and plays some tunes. People still come here, deals are made all the time. It’s still the nerve center.”
Los Angeles is a city that likes to play without much thought with its history. Although it has been the world famous center of the film industry for just over a century, many of its architectural treasures and buildings steeped in pop cultural folklore have been destroyed. Despite its legendary status, the Garden of Allah hotel (adored by Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, and Errol Flynn), the majestic Ambassador Hotel, along with the Coconut Grove nightclub where the Rat Pack met, and the seedy paradise of the rock and roll The Tropicana Motel, all have fallen victim to the wrecking ball. Recently, Netflix bought the majestic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, causing many to worry about the future of the 100-year-old movie palace, which was built during a period of Egyptomania.
However, the Beverly Hills Hotel still stands. Built in 1912 on 12 acres in the pristine foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains west of Los Angeles, the hotel was originally intended to encourage others to purchase adjacent land. Almost as soon as it opened, it attracted the first wave of Hollywood, with stars like Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, WC Fields and Harold Lloyd. The golden couple of the silent screen, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, followed in the hotel’s wake and bought a cottage next door, which they refurbished in faux Tudor and turned it into the luxurious “Pickfair”, one of the most famous private residences from the United States.
In the 1930s, with the birth of sound films, a new wave of actors made the hotel their playground. Among them was Marlene Dietrich, who defied the rules of the Polo Lounge bar (no solo women or women in pants) by showing up alone in a stylish pair of pants. A 1940s addition by renowned black architect Paul Revere Williams made the hotel even more appealing to Hollywood’s growing celebrity community. The exterior was painted its signature pink color (check out its peach-colored turrets featured on the cover of The Eagles’ seminal 1976 album, Hotel California) and the property’s famous pale pink and green color scheme was adopted.
However, it is not the main building of the hotel that has the most famous force: that claim belongs to the bungalows that are located just behind. These 23 self-contained shelters, the first five of which were built in 1915, had direct access from the street and were perfect for residents who wanted more privacy. One such guest was Elizabeth Taylor, who stayed in various bungalows after six of her eight weddings. The British-born icon’s preferred bungalow was Number 5, and after her death in 2011, her family arranged a private ceremony inside it.
The bungalows also hosted one of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s long stays (on a divan commissioned by Dietrich for the suite), while Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman spent a week in isolation on another, shortly after they met. Marilyn Monroe was also a big fan of bungalows, she often stayed at numbers 1 and 7, where she spent Christmas with her second husband, baseball star Joe DiMaggio, and had an affair with her co-star. from Let’s make loveYves Montand, in adjoining rooms, 20 and 21. Reclusive director and businessman Howard Hughes often stayed at Number 4, reserving several rooms at once so no one would know exactly where he was staying. “The only person in the hotel who knew exactly where it was was the executive chef,” explains Boggs. “Because Howard Hughes loved his roast beef sandwiches.” Even then, the chef didn’t deliver the food directly to Hughes, but instead left it in a tree hollow outside his bungalow for the insomniac headmaster to grab in the middle of the night.
Then there is bungalow 1, where the mundaneGore Vidal’s mother, Nina, had an affair with Clark Gable. “It got to the point where I’m not saying anything is definitely true unless I saw it with my own eyes, or someone who saw it was drunk enough to tell me,” Boggs assures me. So who told you about the adventure, I ask. “Gore Vidal!” he says laughing. The American writer and intellectual was a longtime lover of the hotel, spending its last days in 2012 in the lobby by a fireplace, singing to himself after their martini-filled lunches. “Gore, God bless him, toward the end of his life he spent every day at the Polo Lounge,” explains Boggs. “He would bring his own sheet music and have the pianist play. He had a tremendous ear for music but a horrible voice. People who didn’t know who he was were very upset!”
It is not only the tradition of entertainment that lies deep in the bungalows, but also the political history. Bungalow 3 is where the young children of Robert Kennedy tragically discovered that his father, a presidential hopeful, had been assassinated, after seeing it on the news.
The pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel, once surrounded by golden sand specially shipped from Arizona, has also seen its fair share of sensational activity. British actor Rex Harrison was fond of sunbathing nude, with nothing but a scarf covering his ‘Doctor Doolittle’, in private cabins, which is where composer Leonard Bernstein got the idea for West Side Story. When the Beatles stayed at the hotel, they had to sneak in through the pool exit to avoid the hordes of excited fans. Their manager, Brian Epstein, even met with Colonel Tom Parker at the Polo Lounge to set up a meeting between the band and Elvis, which sadly fell through on that occasion.
The pool is also the site of one of the most iconic Oscar photos of all time: that of Faye Dunaway dramatically reclining the morning after winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1977. Newspapers are strewn about the pool. ground, one announcing Peter Finch’s posthumous award for Best Actor for the same film. Finch was also indelibly linked to the hotel, having died of a heart attack in the lobby just two months earlier.
Celebrating 110 years since its opening, the Beverly Hills Hotel remains as popular as ever, and on Oscar and Grammy weekends it is filled with the world’s biggest celebrities. “It’s still relevant,” says Boggs proudly. “We are literally the last of our kind.”
Rarely seen photos of Elizabeth Taylor taken by Bert Stern will be on display in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel from August 1 to September 30.