The Sunset Tower Hotel, West Hollywood

by Christopher Heard
Sunset Tower Hotel

Address: 8358 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood
Pricing: Starting from $305

As a great lover of movie history, a place like the Sunset Tower Hotel on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles (more specifically, West Hollywood) already has me pretty much captivated even before I check in. The Hollywood history that is connected to this place, the pure Hollywood legends that live–in spirit and in life–within the walls of this storied old hotel are second to none.

But the Hollywood legends and stories are not finally the point when heaping praise on the Sunset Tower Hotel, there is also the wonderful art deco architecture, the absolutely prime location, the cozy, comfortable and airy suites and the first rate staff throughout all departments of the hotel that make a stay, even if it is a short one, most memorable.

Starting with the history of the place, it was first built in 1929, and like a lot of the famous old Hollywood hotels, it began first as a luxury apartment that came complete with floor to ceiling windows and a stunning panoramic view of Los Angeles, and for awhile it was considered the chic address to live at for the movie star crowd. The likes of Errol Flynn and John Wayne lived there as did Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe (today the likes of Bill Murray and Penelope Cruz like to hang out there)–in fact Mr. Wayne liked to keep a cow on his terrace so fresh milk would always be available to him.

Reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes kept a few suites there but not for himself. Rather, they were for his legion of mistresses.

The notorious gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel had an apartment there (which has been converted to the Tower Bar), but was kicked out when the LAPD arrested him for running an illegal gambling racket out of the place.

Sunset Tower Hotel

Sunset Tower Hotel

When you check in to the Sunset Tower Hotel, you are immediately enveloped by the warmth and old Hollywood charm–the place is old and has retained its sense of its own history without feeling outdated or decrepit. The front desk staff are all very friendly and helpful–I had only a few questions upon checking in and all of them were answered positively almost before I had even asked them.

The suite I was in was on the small side, but the floor to ceiling windows surrounding the suite (and in the bathroom) gave the space a feeling of being four times bigger than it actually was– four of the large windows opened up wide so you not only had the stunning view, but the warm, fragrant breezes too.

The bathroom is large and spacious with a shower that is one of the best hotel showers I have ever been in. While you always know you are in an old art deco masterpiece of a building, inside the suite you are surrounded by all the modern, up to date amenities and services as if the hotel was built last year (the Wi-Fi there is excellent, not something you find in these very old hotels). This all comes courtesy of owner Jeff Klein who bought the hotel in 2005 and immediately set about upgrading and modernizing those things that needed it without diminishing the overall feel and effect of the place.

Each morning was breakfast in The Terrace, a lovely poolside café where you can lounge in comfortable sofas while eating breakfast. As I sat in the bright comfortable space, I could only imagine the kinds of things that went there over the years; Frank Sinatra chasing Ava Gardner around, Bugsy Seigel having quiet words with his nefarious confederates–these things all make being there just a little bit more magical, even if you don’t know about them.

The location of the hotel is also just about perfect. When the original builder (Leland Bryant) first built the Sunset Tower Hotel, there wasn’t all that much around it–today the hotel sits dead in the centre of all the Sunset Strip action. A couple of blocks from the door is the Viper Room, the Roxy, Whisky A Go-Go, the Comedy Store, the original House of Blues, and one of my favourite spots on Sunset–the fantastic bookstore called Book Soup. A couple of blocks down from the Sunset Tower is Santa Monica Blvd., and you are walking distance from the Beverly Centre and Beverly Hills.

I have stayed in a number of Los Angeles hotels both old and new, and the Sunset Tower Hotel instantly jumped to the top of the list of LA hotels that I am already looking forward to returning to. If you are looking for a hotel in Los Angeles, and you want to feel all that “Hollywood” was and is, then the Sunset Tower Hotel is a place you should look to, be it for a couple of nights or a couple of weeks, this place will stay with you long after you have left.

Writer Christopher Heard

Writer Christopher Heard

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