Some things get better with time. Mid-century architecture, certain wines, and vintage leather jackets worn that way are arguably better year after year. Some places also improve over time, but it’s often rarer to find. The Sunset Marquis, the luxurious 3.5 garden hotel tucked away on a residential street in West Hollywood is one of those rare places you’ll miss unless you know it. The hotel’s 38 villas have just been renovated and are yet another reason to stay at this cabochon of a property, a beloved retreat for nearly every Hollywood celebrity and many non-famous people like me.
Part of the reason I can’t resist staying at the Sunset Marquis is its rich and bizarre history. The Sunset Marquis has created such a history since it opened in 1963 that it requires a thick coffee table book just to hold some of his stories. If these walls could topple – 50 years at the legendary Sunset Marquis Hotel was written and composed by author Craig Allen Williams and hotel owner Mark Alan Rosenthal. the
the book is limited edition, but if you can pick up the 192-page anthology, you’ll have the pleasure of leafing through the intimate antics of rockers, models, actors and agents through images, stories of first hand, and observations made by hotel staff. To be clear, Rosenthal recalls, “Rock and rollers destroyed hotels, but they didn’t destroy ours.” Yet, as the book also mentions, the phrase “party like a rock star” originated at the Sunset Marquis, long before it appeared in song lyrics and on the sides of energy drink cans.
Today, the Sunset Marquis is much more docile. Signs inform guests that the hotel is in a neighborhood and that partying is avoided. Still, I love this hotel for its subtle touches to its wild past, incredible grounds, and now, chic renovations that all seem to convey, “come on, be a rock star.”
First of all, if you are a real rock star, you will feel at home at Sunset Marquis. Many suites feature high-end in-room musical instruments. Takamine guitars are in the Retreat suite, and my suite, the Grand Deluxe Villa, showed off a shimmering Yamaha grand piano. A recording studio is on-site at the hotel, and for those seeking privacy, a handful of villas have private elevators directly from the underground parking lot. There are even ashtrays and matches on the outdoor patios that would otherwise be considered a relic at any other California hotel unless, of course, the rock and rollers crowd is the clientele.
Privacy is another feature of the Sunset Marquis, beautifully achieved by the 200 trees and over 1000 plants that fill the grounds with little green nooks for small gatherings and quiet moments. Although the hotel is less than 100 yards from the Sunset Strip, the famous street filled with expanded billboards, comedy clubs and designer boutiques, the Sunset Marquis is a haven of luxury for all things that make LA hectic. Blossoming pear, Eugenia hedge, Eureka lemon, Navel orange, California grapefruit and Hass avocado trees naturally give the air of the property a fresh, uniquely California scent. A small waterfall and lagoon, home to 25 majestic koi fish, add to the fragrance with the sound of moving water. Perhaps the best spot within the property is at a table at the hotel’s main restaurant, Cavatina, a sculpted, mostly open-air space that sits in the notable urban shangri-la.
Now that the villa’s renovations are complete, the Sunset Marquis’ second best location is likely to be in one of the villas themselves. The Suite Collection opened 12 years ago to provide guests with more spacious options beyond the property’s more than 150 suites. Each of the 38 villas received approximately $200,000 in upgrades that Rosenthal personally oversaw with the help of architect Eric Rosen, a longtime local architect known for his elegant residences that dot the Hollywood Hills. Many villas feature rich hues of dark blue, gold, and metallic surfaces to complement the wildlife that surrounds each villa. Spacious at over 1,000 square feet and in such a setting, it’s a little hard to leave a villa, let alone the Sunset Marquis itself.