Of all the haunted hotels, the Chateau Marmont has to be the most glamorous. Located on LA's Sunset Strip, it is where Clark Gable and Jean Harlow got sizzling while she was on her honeymoon with another man. Howard Hughes got himself a penthouse and a pair of binoculars and spied on the girls by the pool. If you're going to misbehave, a young William Holden was told, do it at the Marmont. And needless to say, the ghost at the Marmont is inclined to be naughty. One guest claimed it got into her bed.
The building is pure movie set. Constructed along the specifications of the Loire Chateau Amboise, it is a perfect eighteenth-century replica, fluted pillars graced by ivy and untouched by mold, with a swimming pool to boot. The lobby is dramatic, with gothic vaulted ceilings and dark wood. The restaurant is the perfect refuge from the cutthroat LA world outside; it seats about twelve, serves upscale gastro-pub fare from the new version of the Bar Marmont next door, and is always quiet and never rushed.
Hotel rooms are swank, Golden-Era Hollywood at its most cheerful, straight out of a Preston Sturges flick, and every one of them is different in size and style. Pick your favorite, as every guest seems to have their own. There are pool-side cabanas that make you want to don on your movie-star glasses and two-piece white swimsuit; there are frothy Deco palaces à la Carole Lombard, Latin bungalows, and cheerfully frilly Doris Day nooks. Together with embroidered Frette linens, it's no wonder that so many guests just move in, joining a roster that includes Jim Morrison (who jumped off its roof), F. Scott Fitzgerald (who had a heart attack buying cigarettes across the street), and Robert De Niro.
Greta Garbo loved it because it was the only place where birds would sing on her window, and when the parties got too loud, her elegant Swedish figure could be found stretched out on a sofa in the lobby, softly slumbering far away from the noise.
The Marmont's greatest charm, however, has been its privacy. More people than Garbo have come here to be alone. Some guests don't leave their rooms for weeks. It's even easier now, with the introduction of room service that is discreet, and a telephone system that actually works. There are many spots on Sunset to be bad, but the Chateau Marmont has been doing it since 1929 and it's still going strong. And if while you're there, your sweetheart, like Harlow, disappears into the arms of a high-powered someone else, there's always a most obliging ghost.
8221 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles Area