HOTEL REVIEW: The Hollywood Roosevelt – California, USA

Hotel Roosevelt. Image by Lara Antonelli.
All photography by Lara Antonelli-Leorke.

The Hotel Roosevelt is one of those unique buildings in Los Angeles that has the ability to embody all that is ‘Hollywood’ – both past and present. Seeped in a rich history spanning nearly nine decades, the hotel has seen the likes of film studio execs, movie stars, superstar singers, screenwriters and up and coming starlets from around the globe enter through its doors, making it a quintessential Hollywood icon.

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Not only is it a beautiful looking hotel, made in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, but the inaugural Academy Awards was held there back in 1929 and Marilyn Monroe posed for her first shoot lounging by the pool. It’s like encountering a piece of cinema history every time you walk through the lobby, sip a cocktail at the pool or look up at the neon ‘Hotel Roosevelt’ sign soaring high above the heights of the main building.

Hotel Roosevelt mosaic pool and Cabana suites.

Admittedly, my stay at the Roosevelt was made even more splendid by the occurrence that my then fiancé (now husband) proposed to me in Mexico before our arrival in LA. When I mentioned it to the accommodating and friendly GM of the Roosevelt, he upgraded us to an upstairs Cabana Poolside Suite and a bottle of champagne greeted us on arrival. The
room was directly in front of the famed mosaic swimming pool and only a few doors down from Monroe’s prior abode. The room was a glamorous take on a retro bungalow, with sumptuous colours of chocolate brown, gold and cream. A herringbone patterned wall on one side and a pewter coloured glass mirror on the other, housed a large plasma screen and caramel leather seating booth with glass table. Dark wooden floorboards flowed out to a large balcony, presented behind a large retractable glass door, with cream double curtains allowing for privacy from the poolside and bar below.

Although the view from the room was brilliant – the fairy light lit palm trees surrounding the pool, with the soaring main building of the hotel rising up behind it, and the red neon light atop shining bright – it seemed almost a waste to ever shut the curtains. The concierge recommended we try Katsuya for dinner, a trendy Japanese restaurant on the Boulevard. It was incredible, as we enjoyed an 8 course chef’s selection of sushi and sashimi with matched wines. Sensational meal experience and highly recommended.

On our return to the hotel, there was an exclusive pool party in full swing, including a synchronised swimming performance by the Aqualillies as part of the Roosevelt’s Hollywoodland party series. The atmosphere was electric, as hundreds gathered around the pool and in the Tropicana bar, enjoying the balmy October evening. Before our departure we were taken on a private tour, starting with the Blossom Room, which housed the Academy Awards all those decades ago. It is said that the hotel is haunted by celebrities passed, namely Monroe and Montgomery Clifford. Unfortunately I saw neither,
although the spirit of Monroe lives on in the hotel, as her images are hung down the corridors and stairwells – a definite welcome sight, if only in photographic form.

Image of Marilyn Monroe as seen from the main lobby.

We were escorted to the penthouse, which at that time had been gutted – its last guest
being the honorary mayor, Johnny Grant. The penthouse had also been famously rented out to Clark Gable and Carole Lombard before they were married, and is said to be the place their love affair began. It was a rare treat to be taken up to that room on the 14th floor, as it seemed to act as a walkway between the past, present and future. It still housed architectural heirlooms such as decorative painted ceilings and mosaic tiles that had been removed from the kitchen, plus the paneled wooden white front door, whose brass handle had no doubt had been touched by many amazing hands throughout the years. The floor tiles in the dining area and the light fittings were all still there, as was that incredible view over Hollywood. Walking out onto that famed rooftop was breathtaking. Up until that moment I had not yet glimpsed the HOLLYWOOD sign atop the hills, and it was a wonderful moment to be able to see it for the first time from that exclusive view; a view that had only been reserved for Hollywood royalty and their friends, lovers and acquaintances. The penthouse has now been revamped and aptly named the Gable & Lombard Penthouse, and will set you back about $3,500 per night. That’s $3,495 more than Clark Gable used to pay per night, apparently.

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Set in the heart of Sunset Boulevard’s Walk of Fame, and adjacent to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the location is perfect. Other conveniences the hotel offers are: the Tropicana Bar, Teddy’s nightclub, The Library Bar (serves up some sensational hand crafted cocktails in a beautiful mahogany setting), Public Kitchen and Bar, plus the always handy valet parking at the rear of the hotel. Hotel Roosevelt is a beacon on the Boulevard and continues to inspire the magic of Hollywood and uphold old world glamour and hospitality.

I look forward to my return stay.

For more information or to book a room, head to: http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/la/hollywood-roosevelt

The beautiful main lobby fountain. Wearing Kookai silk floral halter dress.

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