All or Nothing
Chateau Marmont, March 2013
Sometimes hotels don’t disappoint. Walking into the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard – the epicentre of louche Hollywood since it opened in 1929 – there is a sense that everything is exactly as it should be. “Welcome to the Chateau,” says the best looking guy not currently in the employ of Bruce Weber. Take the lift (it is so dark that might not be your companion) to the first floor lobby where the tiles are black and polished, the velvet plush and the mirrors cloudy and opaque. In the courtyard, dappled shade offers discreet cover to Hollywood deal-makers and pleasure seekers. Today, at a glance, Dita Von Teese, Willem Dafoe and Stephen Fry. “Welcome to the Chateau,” says the best looking girl as yet undiscovered by Ellen Von Unwerth. Outside, the oval pool is Hockney blue and half hidden in a thicket of Eucalyptus, banana palm and bamboo. Around it, a cluster of wooden cottages, blinds drawn; above, two Gucci odalisques watch implacably from a giant billboard, keeping their secrets, and yours. “If you are going to misbehave, do it at the Chateau Marmont,” said movie mogul Harry Cohn in 1939, and generations of bad boys and bohemians have heeded his advice ever since. Legends cling like vines. There have been dark currents as you might expect in such a charged atmosphere, but the mood today is elegiac, woozy. Maybe it’s a real chateau after all, or is it the light?
Every summer, Denise Hale, San Francisco’s legendary arbiter of style and orchestrator of the social scene, throws a party for 20 or so of her best gentlemen friends. That’s not an invitation to be lightly refused and last weekend I found myself at Mrs Hale’s ranch, an 80,000 acre slice of Nirvana in Sonoma County, Northern California (80,000 acres by the way is pretty much everything you can see, as far as you can see it).