Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chateau Marmont: an object of desire

About a year ago my family took a trip to Los Angeles and booked a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont. I’d been hearing about it for so long, and expectations were high. Built in 1927, the Chateau is modeled after a royal residence in Loire Valley, France. My husband, being a understated sort of preppy person, was not enamored with the hotel’s aura of celebrity-hype. (Apparently Lady Gaga and her entourage had been partying in our room the week prior, resulting in a late check in for us whilst it was being cleaned!) But for me, the actual hotel as an object– and as a designed experience — was superb. Especially within the context of the choppy, billboard-strewn Los Angeles urban fabric.  The hotel employs subtle design details, like: elongated gold numbers on the doors, the vintage room key with tassel, personalized stationery, Chateau cocktail stirrers, and Euro-stocked wet bar. The magnificent California light does not hurt either. The bungalow’s mid-century architecture was simple: glass walls designed to bring dappled sun from a lush private garden area. Absolutely nothing felt corporate about the Chateau Marmont. Even the adjoining restaurant, Bar Marmont, made me feel like I was living inside the movie Chinatown: original islamic tile floors probably from the 1920s and hanging skylight plants within the darkest, most sultry restaurant interior imaginable. In my book, the entire property was elegant without trying too hard — the ultimate compliment to both a person and a building. As an example of good design, it is a place that stays with me.

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The hotel is nestled on a lush hillside in Hollywood.

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Maroon laquered door with vintage number.

The pool.

The pool.

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Le Chateau Logo

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Bungalow and garden.

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Excellent attention to detail: room key with tassel, Chateau cocktail stirrer with jaunty centaur.

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The personalized stationery.

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Cool old school umbrellas at the pool. California light, ah!

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The cleverly shaded areas around the bungalow.

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Interior of Bar Marmont with antique islamic tile-work and hanging skylight garden.

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