There's no place like home—especially if it comes with room service. In the case of the legendary , if you’re a writer or artist, making the place home for at least a year remains a right of passage. Scores of literary lions and artists including Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, Jasper Johns, Eugene O’Neill, Thomas Wolfe, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan resided there, toiling at their art.
“Every writer who has lived here came because another great writer who they respected, created here,” explains Chelsea Hotel managing director Stanley Bard. “No other hotel in the world is like it. It was built in 1882, another era. Where else could you find wrought iron balconies, high ceilings and marble floors? Every room is different.”
In fact, the hotel's three-foot-thick walls offered the ideal silent environment for nine-year resident Arthur Miller to pen five plays, including "After the Fall". “He came from a fancy residence and hated it,” explains Bard. “He said every time he went to the lobby for his mail, he had to put on a jacket. We set policy that works for our people. You can be as informal or as private as you want.”
The caché factor also weighs heavily with LA's fabled , which has been home to Keanu Reeves, Beck and even the consummate New Yorker Robert DeNiro. The place already had a naughty past in 1939. Back then, a Columbia Pictures titan advised William Holden and Glenn Ford “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” Set to resemble a Loire Valley chateau, it was the rendezvous spot for Jean Harlow's torrid affair with Clark Gable (while on her honeymoon with another man); members of Led Zeppelin raced Harleys in its hallways and Janis Joplin meandered through its corridors way past bedtime.
While there’s the allure of dwelling in a cultural icon, the practical aspects of hotel living are unbeatable. “It’s like having the best personal assistant in the city,” says spokesperson, Arlene Winnick.
James Woods has lived at the Beverly Hills Hotel for years, and it's easy to see why. The perks include a complimentary newsstand in the lobby, colloquially referred to as "the living room." Every room has a mini office with a fax, printer, scanner and private telephone number. If you’re doing interviews, instead of having press at your house or braving the traffic to head to another locale, the hotel can provide a private room. There's even someone on hand to walk the dog.
“There’s a tremendous flexibility without an invasion of personal space,” offers Winnick. “And a concierge is not just about getting you a restaurant, they’ll arrange your hair stylists or shop for you. If you need a script copied, just pick up the phone, and someone does it in half an hour.”
Some hotels pay such keen attention to their guests’ rituals, they create a personal abode that's exceedingly difficult to sacrifice. At the Paraiso de la Bonita in the Riviera Maya, the staff ensures that guests eat the same customized dish at exactly the same time every day, or enjoy that cocktail at just the right time of day. Long-term guest John Galliano has noted that living at the beachfront resort helps unleash his imagination.
At the Pink Beach Club in Bermuda, where John Travolta and Kelly Preston have lived, the hotel will do anything to provide a seamless home away from home experience. They’ll make the room completely dark for guests to sleep off jet lag, set up an Italian coffee machine so they can sip their daily espresso in their suite or help out with choosing a nanny.
“Famous people like to live in hotels because of incredible service and history,” explains Alan Worden, principal of Scout Real Estate Capital. The company owns the newly renovated Martha’s Vineyard 1891 icon, the Harbor View Hotel & Resort, where one actor has lived for decades. “Everything you need is at your fingertips—you live out a fantasy.”
Take the case of Coco Chanel, who resided at for over 35 years until her death in 1971. As the grande dame of la mode once declared, “For me, the Ritz is home.” To make her suite even homier, she brought her own furnishings and entertained Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali there. And when celebrated Ritz residents depart for a spell, they're welcome to leave their belongings, including carpets, clothing and lamps. Upon return, every item is replaced as if they never left.
From Greta Garbo's four-year sojourn at the to , where Monet painted the Thames from his suite, we present hotels that celebrities have called home.