Chateau Marmont

The structure was the first property in Los Angeles that was built to be earthquake resistant.
More affairs and convalescence from cosmetic surgery has occurred here than probably anywhere else in “Tinsel Town.”

It is decorated with fine antiques that had belonged to some of America’s finest families for generations before being sold for pennies on the dollar during the Great Depression.

The History

Everyone’s heard the saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
The same could be said about Chateau Marmont. Discretion is drilled into each and every single employee.

Former President and Founder of Columbia Pictures, Harry Gohn,summed it up best, “If you must get into trouble, do it a Chateau Marmont.” It is probably the most famous hideaway in Hollywood. The property was designed to mimic Chateau d’Amboise in the Loire Valley.

Fred Horowitz saw Chateau d’Amboise while on a trip to France. He came home with lots of photos of the royal estate. He showed them to European-trained architect, Arnold Weitzman. Horowitz told the architect that he wanted an apartment complex designed to look like the French chateau. Weitzman came up with a seven-story, L-shaped building based on the photos and his discussions with Horowitz.

Since the property was located on Marmont Lane and was built to look like a French chateau, the name Chateau Marmont was conceived. It took two years to build because the place was designed to be earthquake resistant. Reportedly, this was the first earthquake proof property built in Los Angeles. The deluxe apartment complex was completed on February 1, 1929. The architect and contractor did their jobs well given that the Chateau Marmont has withstood many earthquakes, including significant ones in 1906, 1952, 1971, 1989, and 1994.

During the Great Depression, Horowitz sold the property to Al Smith for $750,000. Smith converted it into a hotel with sixty-three guest rooms. He added nine Spanish-style cottages and four bungalows and filled the place with antiques he acquired from depression-era estate sales.

Even today, many of those same antique candelabras, oversized mirrors, velvet couches, statutes, and plush oriental rugs remain throughout the hotel. Guests are sleeping in the same rooms and sharing the same views as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Dustin Hoffman, John Belushi, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Boris Karloff, Howard Hughes (wouldn’t leave his penthouse suite but did stand on his balcony with binoculars to check out the action at the pool), Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Helmut Newton, and Led Zeppelin. In fact, Greta Garbo lived at the Marmont for a while and members of the rockband, Led Zeppelin, reportedly rode motorcycles through the lobby.

Guests may feel as though they have time warped into a bygone era until they step onto their private terraces and balconies, which overlook Sunset Boulevard.

The hotel became a Historical Landmark in 1976.

The Hauntings

How did it go from being a celebrity hideaway to one of the most haunted hotels in America? The two go hand in hand given that it is reportedly haunted by Howard Hughes, Marilyn Monroe, and John Belushi Some believe that the spirits of Boris Karloff and Jim Morrison linger here.

According to one legend, the place is cursed. Many who have stayed have suffered tragedy or death soon thereafter. It was shortly after her honeymoon here that Sharon Tate was murdered. Natalie Wood had a premonition that she would die in the water while staying at Chateau Marmont. Reportedly, the seventeen-year-old actress came to the hotel often while having an affair with her Rebel Without A Cause director, Nick Ray. Helmut Newton had a fatal car crash right after leaving the Marmont. Jim Morrison jumped off the roof and F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack after walking across the street to buy cigarettes. The biggest scandal attached to the Marmont was the death of Comedian and Actor John Belushi. He overdosed on March 5, 1982 after consuming a lethal combination of cocaine, heroin, and liquor. He had been partying with friends and colleagues, including Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.

After hanging out at “On The Rox” all night, Belushi invited the group to keep partying at his bungalow at the Marmont. Belushi kept partying long after everyone else had gone home. His manager found the 33-year-old actor dead on the floor of Bungalow #3.

Ever since that time, guests have seen his spirit in the bungalow and on the grounds. A family once lived there for a year while there house was undergoing renovations. The little boy was often heard laughing and carrying on as if he was playing with someone. When a family member went into the room to check on him, they found the child alone. When asked why he was laughing, the boy says the “funny man” kept making him laugh. Later, the family learned the story about John Belushi and came to believe that he was the “funny man.” When the mother showed her son a picture of Belushi in a book, he started yelling, “That’s the funny man! That’s my friend!”

Over the years, many guests have claimed to feel an unseen presence in Bungalow #3. Throughout the property, guests and former employees (current employees are not permitted to speak about anything that happens there) have reported lots of strange things, such as windows opening on their own, small and large objects being moved, muffled voices and laughter, and ghostly sightings. Some have said that they have seen floating heads and shadowy figures in bed with them. If they get up and turn the lights on, the apparition disappears.

Of course, it is hard to verify any of this given that the hotel does not permit ghost investigations.

Visitor Information

Always protective of patrons’ privacy, no one is permitted inside the hotel unless he is a paying guest. If you are a registered guest, you may explore all you like —if you can afford the nightly rates. But even paying guests are not allowed to conduct official investigations.

Note: The Bar Marmont is down the street from the hotel and is open to the public. It offers the same classic ambiance and celebrity gawking, but without the ghosts.

8221 Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90046



A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to the Most Haunted Hotels & Inns in America written by Terrance Zepke