PHOTO: The Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. (photo by Scott Laird)
I’m sure I’ve overstated it in previous columns, but it’s worth saying again: I love historic hotels.
Perhaps I have an overactive imagination, but it was good fun to sit in the lobby of The Hollywood Roosevelt on a recent visit just before the Academy Awards.
I meditated on the fact that the first Academy Awards were held in this hotel’s Blossom Ballroom. There were over 200 guests in attendance that night—hard to picture given the size of the diminutive breakout room, or even the larger lobby, an almost specimen example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style so popular during the 1920s.
So much of the hotel feels straight out of a silent film set, like a haunt of Chaplin and Clara Bow where one almost expects to hear period music upon entry to the two story lobby capped with a painted ceiling and impressive chandelier.
Elsewhere on the property, the cabana rooms and pool deck, (a later addition), pay homage to the second post-war golden age of Hollywood, where guests can book the suite that Marilyn Monroe used as a residence during the early years of her career.
My guest room had other treasures, like a view down Hollywood Boulevard: The bleachers were under construction for this year’s Oscars at Dolby Theatre, where the Awards have been held since 2002. Just beyond the boulevard was an up-close view of the Hollywood Hills, with the famed Hollywood sign beyond that seeming to change size and structure with the daylight and cloud cover throughout the day.
Guest rooms are comfortable, with plenty of thoughtful touches like double curtains to black out the glare of Hollywood beyond the windows. True to the hotel’s status as a Historic-Cultural Monument, there are several idiosyncrasies like windows that open in showers and doors that open to padded soundproof walls. (Historic buildings often have restrictions placed on remodels that prevent original doors and windows from being removed).
It all makes for some fun discovery and Instagrammable moments.
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Rooms are more traditionally styled in the tower, from the single accommodations all the way up to the three-level penthouse that was once the private residence of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard (and is named after them today).
Cabana accommodations have a more residential feel due to the ranch-style layouts that were popular later in the century, albeit extensively updated in a modern eclectic style.
The hotel is also notably a center for throwback entertainment from all eras.
25 Degrees is a 24-hour diner that fronts the boulevard and produces some pretty lust-worthy burgers with a variety of toppings and sauces (the bleu cheese is notably tangy) in a straight-from-yesteryear space awash in chrome and vinyl. There's also a healthy dose of plush, almost like Imperial Russia meets greasy spoon. It works.
The Mid-century vibe continues with poolside dining at the famed Tropicana Pool; there's a David Hockney mural on the pool floor. Nearby, The Garden offers drinks and nibbles alfresco in a somewhat more modern SoCal space that must be utterly unleave-able during a warm evening.
Heading back into the main tower, there's a 1920s speakeasy-style games room called The Spare Room. It offers a variety of board games and, if you’ve brought your bowling shoes, two antique bowling lanes. Reservations are recommended here; the space seems to be pretty popular with large groups seeking to make a night of it.
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Craft cocktails await those having a seat in the historic lobby or dining in Public Kitchen & Bar for an intimate experience—once again in the style of Old Hollywood. It’s hard not to spend time here and wonder which actress said “yes” to a part, which films were greenlit, or which studios were merged over drinks and dinner. Meanwhile, the strains of Shirley Temple practicing her dance routines on the stairs periodically interrupt.
Originally named The Roosevelt, it’s easy to see why the current incarnation has “Hollywood” inserted—this hotel is Hollywood through and through—past, present, and future.
Takeaway: For the full Old Hollywood experience, there are few better places that serve the role of escapist time machine better.
The Damage: Rooms start from around $280 per night depending on availability and season. The hotel offers periodic specials.
Instagrammable Moment: Virtually everywhere you turn, from the Historic Lobby to the Tropicana Pool; It all feels straight out of a photo shoot in characteristic Hollywood Style.
Good To Know: Rooms are well-soundproofed and curtained to keep the excitement of Hollywood Boulevard out of the guest rooms, but know that the hotel is in a particularly well-trafficked area with a lot of tourism interest.
Loyalty: The Hollywood Roosevelt is part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and participates in the iPrefer program.
Accommodations were furnished by The Hollywood Roosevelt in preparation for this story.