I have many friends and colleagues that long to stay on the beaches of Santa Monica when they visit Los Angeles. Not me. I always stay in Hollywood, West Hollywood to be exact and I always stay at the Sunset Tower.
I love being in West Hollywood, and I enjoy immersing myself (at least if it’s only a fantasy) in the glamour of the neighbourhood. The Sunset Tower Hotel is a landmarked art-deco building on the Sunset Strip, sandwiched between the groomed landscapes of Beverly Hills and Hollywood - think Mann’s Chinese Theater, and the star laden Walk of Fame.
The Sunset Tower was built in 1929, and some of its former residents were the veritable “Who’s-Who” of old Hollywood. Stars like John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Errol Flynn, Frank Sinatra, and Elizabeth Taylor all spent time there over the years. As well as Diana Ross and Iggy Pop.
I met the charismatic, handsome, and conscientious owner of the hotel, Jeff Klein, when it first opened its doors some 10-plus years ago. I have been calling the Sunset Tower my LA home ever since. Klein stripped the gaudy, faux Deco details of the former building’s tenant, (The Argyle Hotel), and created an elegant, modern, club-like interior, of dark wood, brass details and a welcome subtle approach. The pool in the back is best suited to looking at during a delicious early morning breakfast, or a smart industry lunch, rather than swimming laps. But, you will always find the odd diehard sun-worshipper there, most likely fresh off a flight from New York, or London.
"Klein created an elegant, modern, club-like interior, of dark wood, brass details and a welcome subtle approach."
The Tower Bar is a must. A dark, sultry room with a long bar, intimate tables, well versed barmen, and a grand piano. I adore sitting at the bar, (if dining alone), with a cold gin Martini, and a plate of oysters. The menu offers a great list of American style bistro fare. The restaurant also makes for great people watching. It attracts old-school Hollywood types, starlets, and industry insiders. The keeper of the gate is a very charming man called Dimitri, and he is much more than just a Maitre d’. You can spot him in his navy cashmere jacket and black-rimmed glasses (think Peter Sellers) adorned with a concierge Cle D’or on his lapel (given to him by Wes Anderson). He holds the reigns to the best tables, and seating of the restaurant for everyone from Tom Ford to Bill Murray, who keep him close. What’s more, Dimitri always makes you feel like a Hollywood player, even if you’re not.
Return guests are greeted in their rooms with a chocolate bar shaped like the hotel on a plate, scripted with “Welcome Back”, in chocolate. The turn down service has replaced the mint on the pillow with the most irresistible homemade cookies.
Every aspect of staying at the Sunset Tower is a pleasure, from the familiar car valets, to the front desk staff. The rooms are impeccably serviced, and comfortable, with amazing views down Sunset Blvd, and downtown LA. I cherish the few rooms with terraces when I am on an extended stay, and always look forward to running into the hotel’s friendly faces and the very present owner Jeff Klein.
In the current climate of big, faceless, and scripted corporate hotels, the Sunset Tower stands out as one of the great gems of hospitality, in a category all of it’s own.