Sleep, eat, drink & swim like a star at the legendary Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Sure, you can head to Hollywood in hopes of catching a glimpse of an honest-to-goodness movie star—or, you can spend a few days in la-la land living like one.
While a recent trip to Los Angeles did include some tourist-friendly stops (Universal Studios, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Bowl), simply staying put in the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel offered a glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous (and thin and beautiful) that conjured images of Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson (they all attended the grand opening) and already has me dreaming of a return trip.
IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK
The historic landmark opened in 1927, named after Teddy Roosevelt, and you can’t help feeling the glamour of the legends who have stayed, played and lived there. The art deco Blossom Room banquet hall hosted the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929 (it lasted 15 minutes as Douglas Fairbanks and Al Jolson handed out 13 statuettes). Shirley Temple took her first tap lesson from Bill “Bojangles” Robinson on the ornate tile stairway, and Errol Flynn reportedly made gin in the back room of the hotel barber shop during Prohibition.
Marilyn Monroe posed on the diving board of the pool for her first-ever ad—for suntan lotion. She ended up living in a cabana suite above that pool for two years (next time, I’m reserving it). Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stayed in the penthouse—back then for $5 a night. Today’s nightly fee for the same suite: $6,000 (next time, I won’t be reserving that). Montgomery Clift’s ghost is said to haunt the ninth floor, where, in 1953, he used to pace the halls while learning lines for “From Here to Eternity” (I stayed on that floor and, alas, can report no ghostly activity).
Movies and TV shows with scenes filmed at the Roosevelt: “Sunset,” “Mighty Joe Young,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “I Love Lucy” and more.
Of course, current notables are perpetually at the hotel, as well. I didn’t see them, but I hear Lana del Ray, Warriors center Javale McGee and a few reality stars were there during my stay.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
You have two options at the Roosevelt: The Tower or cabanas. The 60 bungalow-style mid-century cabana suites offer private balconies or patios overlooking the pool. The 12-story, 300-room Tower, where Ron Gallela paparazzi photos line the walls, underwent a recent $25 million renovation and is recognized by the Historical Preservation Board for its 1927 Spanish Colonial Revival style. We stayed in a spacious corner-room king suite and wished we had more time to hang out in the room, peering out the windows at the tourists flooding the sidewalks around the TCL Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theater and Walk of Fame across the street. Of note: Even with the commotion along Hollywood Boulevard, the soundproof walls and internal barn doors killed all the noise.
COME ON IN—THE WATER’S FINE
One of the biggest draws of the Roosevelt: the glamorous 1960s-style Tropicana Pool & Café.
Featuring an underwater mural hand-painted in 1988 by David Hockney that’s valued at $1 million, it’s surrounded by 200 palm trees and poolside beds reserved for hotel guests. We settled in our first afternoon, as the kids lazed in the water on floats and I sipped (OK, slurped) frosé. Bliss. The next morning, after hiking nearby Runyon Canyon, we ordered a leisurely breakfast—think baked eggs Provençal, vanilla- buttermilk pancakes—from lithe waitresses dressed Marilyn-style in white bathing suits with flowy wrap-around skirts. But the best part? People watching.
DRINK—AND EAT—IT IN
With a slew of bar, restaurant and lounge options, there’s really no need to leave the Roosevelt at all. We were extremely impressed with the acclaimed Public Kitchen & Bar, the hotel’s award-winning American brasserie from executive chef Tim Goodell. We fought over Parker house rolls, mini lobster rolls and whipped burrata and reminisced about our entreés for days: steak frites, pappardelle Bolognese, gnocchi swimming in nutty morels and perfectly seared scallops. We were almost too full to order the pistachio lava cake. Thank goodness we didn’t listen to our stomachs.
Also on site: a burger bar open 24/7; a speakeasy-style bar where bartenders create custom cocktails using fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs; a vintage-style gaming room and cocktail lounge with two bowling lanes and board games; and The Rosy Oyster, a new oyster bar nestled by the pool.
The next time I travel to Los Angeles, I’m heading straight to the Roosevelt and staying put. Maybe this time I’ll even hear Clift’s ghost recite his famous movie line: “A man loves a thing—that don’t mean it’s gotta love him back.” Because, Roosevelt? I’m in love.
THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT
7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif.