We pulled up to The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel concierge after a non-stop flight from New Zealand. It was a relief when staff were competent, accommodating and, more importantly, that our room was ready. On the way up to our room, strange nuances filled the air, but there was not time to discover them on our first night – it was time to get some shut-eye to feel refreshed for the day of discovery ahead.
History of The Hollywood Roosevelt
Named after the 26th President of the USA, The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel was commissioned and financed by a group that included Louis B. Mayer, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Sid Grauman. Naturally, it was destined to be a staple of the Hollywood Golden Age. In it’s early days, it hosted the first Academy Awards and many of Hollywood’s most legendary faces.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Experience
The next day was full of sunshine in LA, but the Spanish Renaissance architecture inside the Roosevelt – the bar and the lobby, in particular – was more to my taste. I was inspired by the decadent colour palette and velvet couches in the bar. In the night, we later discovered yet another bar which had a double lane bowling alley; certainly a bit of fun.
Tip: book in advance for the bowling alley if you’re that way inclined to attempt a strike or two.
Outside in the sun, guests relaxed by the pool. Brunch was a treat washed down by a refreshing Bloody Mary, dare I say it? Before noon.
As we were soon to discover, old-Hollywood had a strange air to it. Like someone lurking in the shadows everywhere we went. Inside the Roosevelt Hotel was full of people with beautiful outfits and smiling faces, but underneath it all, something unseen bubbles just below the surface. I suppose the words to describe these feelings elude me. But maybe that’s the point? I could never quite put my finger on what was making the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end.
One step outside the hotel and we found ourselves in the heart of Hollywood, on the Walk of Fame, and all of the clichés were out to welcome us. The snake charmer, Marilyn Monroe, Batman and Robin, as well as just about every other comic strip character you’ve ever seen.
It didn’t seem like a good idea to pay a man in a Halloween costume to pose for a photo, or the suspect snake charmer to wrap the snake from Britney Spears’ music video of “Slave4U” around me, nor the aspiring gangster rapper for a CD of his mixtape, so I didn’t.
Everyone gets hungry, so after navigating the stars, we strolled the along the Boulevard and got good vibes from Mel’s Drive-In, a piece of Americana that we highly enjoyed figuratively and literally. If the service is anything to go by, the staff must make a killing in tips. I couldn’t finish my meal, and soon discovered this was not going to be the first time I felt overfed in the land of “supersize me”.
We soon found out this was also one of Marilyn’s fav burger joints back in the day. Above, the famous “Marilyn Monroe eating a burger, 1952,” photographed by Phillipe Halsman at Mel’s Drive In.
The Hollywood Roosevelt represents the glitz and glamour like that of the Hollywood Boulevard during the awards season. The Boulevard by day is no picnic, rather, Death Valley for those who never made it to the silver screen, but stay behind longing for a dream that never comes true. It is symbolic of the Hollywood paradox.
The Hollywood Roosevelt is a time capsule for ghosts of stars past- several of them are claimed to be roaming the hallways of the Roosevelt, including Marilyn Monroe, who was in residence for two years. All in all, great drinks, great service and steeped in Hollywood History; a pleasant stay if you want to experience first-hand the real meaning of Tinsel Town right on your doorstep.
For my fiancé, “Bad Boy” and I, after our stay at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it was time to take our American Mustang on the road for a trip up the California Coast.