“I have vivid memories of staying at the Chateau Marmont with my father when I was a little kid. This was in the early eighties, before André Balazs owned the hotel, and it was a lot funkier, with a seedy kind of glamour. Now the Chateau has become a real paparazzi place. When I started writing my film Somewhere I was living in Paris, and friends would visit and bring tabloids and I would read about all the scandalous things that happened there. I was writing about contemporary Los Angeles, and it was very clear to me that the story had to take place in the Chateau. It has such decadence.
“For the month we were shooting Somewhere, we took over the fifth floor of the Gothic hotel. Each department had a room instead of a trailer. Stephen Dorff actually slept in a room identical to the one we shot many of his scenes in, so he stayed in character the whole time. You can’t help but be aware that a lot has happened in those rooms. Naughty things go on, but still, it feels homey and personal.
“The stories and the history of the hotel are what I love the most. Years ago, I met my idol, the photographer Helmut Newton, in the elevator. He lived there for months at a time, and took many of his iconic photographs on the property. I’m pretty shy, but I had to introduce myself. Later that day, he was killed in a car accident in the driveway of the Chateau, so it was the last time, the last possible moment I could have talked to him. That exemplifies the Chateau’s strange, haunted magic.”
Sofia Coppola’s newest film, Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, opens in theaters next month.
“Be sure to people-watch in the lobby at the Chateau Marmont (8221 Sunset Blvd.; 800/242-8328; chateaumarmont.com; doubles from $395). It’s a place to be seen.”
Dishing up Beverly Hills
“I always order the chopped salad at La Scala (434 N. Canon Dr.; 310/275-0579; lunch for two $85) and the lobster pasta or veal at Madeo Restaurant (8897 Beverly Blvd.; 310/859-0242; dinner for two $140). Ask to sit in a leather booth.”
It’s Who You Know
“The best maître d’ in L.A. is Dimitri Dimitrov at the Tower Bar (8358 Sunset Blvd.; 323/654-7100; drinks for two $35). He’s an old-fashioned gentleman—a character out of movie.”
Possibly one of Hollywood’s most iconic hotels, the Chateau has been the hideaway for celebrities and the entertainment elite since it officially proclaimed itself a hotel in the 1930s—the property was initially built as apartments and bungalows. Since then, it’s been the spot where stars retreat and cut loose (sometimes too freely, as was the case with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan). Expect to do some star gazing by the pool, but be aware that it’s not the most kid-friendly of destinations.
Old-school Hollywood meets 21st-century at this wood-paneled restaurant and bar in the lavish Sunset Tower Hotel. Occupying Bugsy Siegel’s old first-floor apartment, Tower Bar has niche seating, a warming fireplace, and panoramic views of the city. The menu selection is inspired by northern Italian and French bistro cuisine with such dishes as grilled salmon, chicken paillard, and braised short ribs. Less hungry diners can order small plates like lobster soft tacos, pigs in a blanket, and housemade hummus.