Ever since I heard the Hollywood folklore tales of supernatural encounters and the fatal overdose of legendary comedian John Belushi, I felt drawn to experience the mystical charm of the Chateau Marmont.
We rolled up the infamous cobblestone driveway in our American Mustang rental cliché. Upon arrival, we wondered whether to upgrade our room to a suite. The wonderful concierge manager was obliging to our request and we first went to look at our standard room before viewing a suite on the fourth floor.
Curiously, the standard room was not like the other rooms of the hotel, it lacked the old-world charm on offer in the suite. We were told it was the only one that had been renovated with a completely modern, carrera marble bathroom fit-out, and when I questioned why, no explanation was given. For me, this vagueness made my curiosity run wild at the possibilities. Right off the bat, there was no denying a sense of something unspoken in the air… then again, this place has a feeling that is difficult to express in words. The standard room was sunny and modern, and as such felt cleaner and more inviting that the suite. But I couldn’t resist the ambience of the old charm, imagining the stories those old walls would tell if they could talk.
While we ultimately chose to upgrade, I was nevertheless pleasantly surprised with the standard room that had been prepared for us – the welcoming fresh fruit, refreshments and handwritten note welcoming us to the Chateau were a nice touch. That was, perhaps, a sign we should have stayed put.
Travel Hack: Be sure to pre-book the cheapest room of your chosen hotel. If you want to upgrade, do it on arrival. This way you can request to view the room(s) before your stay and, potentially, negotiate a cheaper rate. A lot of the time there is little difference between the standard and upgrade room, or you’ll find the hotel version of an “upgrade” is for different views and sections of the hotel, with no difference in size or layout. That’s why it’s always best to see what you are getting, before you pay extra. Once you are onsite and willing to pay a bit more, hotels are sometimes willing to negotiate – if they’re not at full capacity.
The Chateau Marmont Experience
Our bags were delivered to our suite and, eager to explore the premises, we began unpacking. Almost immediately after the bellboy had left, a picture hanging on the wall beside the bed dropped to the ground, startling us as it hit the ground. Shrugging it off, we continued hanging our clothes. The next day, it was returned to the wall, something I assume was done by the housekeeping staff that had been in to service the room.
We dined in the Chateau Marmont restaurant every day for at least one meal. The staff were always well presented, and the service was on point, with attention to detail and to customers. We did notice, however, English wasn’t the first language for many of the wait staff within the restaurant, perhaps to cater for a more international clientele?
The food was in nice sized portions, and was delicious, much more to my taste than huge portions of below-average food on offer at other places we had been to in LA. After dining at The Restaurant on consecutive days, we grew bored of the menu selection, but continued to eat here for convenience and quality.
On the third day (of the four we stayed) while sitting down to lunch, I realised I had left my phone charging in our room, so I went up to retrieve it. I heard talking from the kitchen as I entered, and the “service my room” sign was hanging on our door, so I assumed the cleaning staff was servicing our suite. As I could not see the kitchen from the entrance, I called out in courtesy, “I forgot something, I’ll only be a moment”. Grabbing my phone off the charger, I walked around the corner to the kitchen to thank the staff for the nice job they did servicing our room each day. It was there I found myself standing in the kitchen alone, trailing off at the end of my sentence.
My eyes darted back and forth, and my heart began pounding in my ears – no one was there. I froze in my tracks for what seemed like forever, until I could comprehend the absence of people. There had been 100% certainly they were there only a few seconds earlier. It took a few moments to gather myself and return down to the restaurant at a brisker-than-normal pace. As soon as I returned to our table I told the waitress and Bad Boy the story of what had just happened. A look of disbelief crossed the face of the staff member, but it didn’t last. When I held my hand out, it was visibly shaking.
It was in my best interest to forget about the encounter – or lack thereof – and I was able to do so during the day, spending time relaxing by the pool, taking selfies, admiring the poolside cottages and people watching.
Being from New Zealand, I’m not inclined to know the movers and shakers of the Hollywood scene, but reciprocal greetings from strangers became a highlight of my stay, as I imagined each to be a famous Hollywood actor or director. They arrived in their luxe sports car, or timeless classic, looking effortlessly California Chic. I also can’t forget over lunch, one day, where all eyes were quietly staring at a table seated with someone who looked a lot like Lana Del Rey.
Our easy-breezy days all morphed together as we relaxed and forgot about time, and the supernatural didn’t cross my mind again until about 1am the following morning when I was trying to sleep. While seemingly witnessing the supernatural during daytime hours can be a curious thing, it was quite a different feeling when the sun went down.
I came to this realization after the in-room movie finished and darkness engulfed the room. It must have taken me hours to finally doze off. A few minutes into my slumber, “BANG!” there was a jolt in the bed, like the Incredible Hulk had punched the mattress from the underside. This woke both Bad Boy and I, but he refused to talk about it, and went back to sleep but I couldn’t shake the feeling of sharing this room with someone other than my fiancé.
There was no choice but to be cool with it, since there was nowhere to go. I tried to calm down, but couldn’t remain blissfully ignorant any longer, tossing and turning all night until the sun came up, when it felt a little safer to get a few hours of kip.
The next day, when we returned our keys to the hotel reception, the our friendly concierge manager did seem not surprised to hear our experiences and suggested we may have experienced an unseen visitor. So, were the staff trained to intentionally irk suspicion?
After a similar experience in the bathroom as mine in the bedroom, Bad Boy, ever skeptical, came to the only logical conclusion he could muster: speakers in the air vents and a lever under the bed; all strategically placed so the Chateau Marmont lives up to it’s supernatural reputation. “Well, how do you explain the picture falling off the wall as soon as we arrived?” I questioned. “I actually examined the back of the picture and the wall,” he replied, “…and I can’t quite figure that one out.”
Would the Chateau Marmont go so far as to rig the supernatural, or was this a truly paranormal activity?