My Afternoon at the Chateau Marmont

What’s there not say about the “Chateau” as locals call it? It’s legendary. Marilyn Monroe once called this place home. As did Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves and Josh Hartnett. Most recently, Lindsay Lohan just got slapped with some insanely high bill that she hasn’t paid. The place is dripping with Hollywood’s past and future. And that is precisely why I had to “taste” a small part of it.

Since I wasn’t going to shell out the money to stay there, I decided to eat lunch at the hotel’s restaurant. My first impression? It’s dark. Literally. The lights are dim and the furnishings are old. It’s been designed to retain its 1920’s Hollywood charm. And it succeeds. It feels like you’re stepping back in time.

I took an old elevator up to the first floor, hung a right and was escorted outdoors to the patio. The outdoor dining area is very secluded–it’s surrounded by a fence wrapped in varying green plants. And so began my real journey into the place’s mystique. Despite being just feet away from the bustling Sunset Boulevard, you just feel like you’re world’s away from everything. And I suppose you really are. Hollywood stars of yore were told to go there if they wanted to misbehave (and they probably still are.)

So I sat down and decided to order French onion soup and this vegetarian sandwich. Both were delicious. And the service was wonderful. The waiters were always replenishing my water, asking me if I needed anything else and were very courteous. I sat next to a nice Australian woman who was traveling alone. We discussed the seediness of Hollywood, what we’d been doing and what our home towns were like. It was nice to meet a fellow solo traveler and learn more about another culture. Did you know that Bondi, of Bondi Beach, is pronounced “Bond-die” not “Bond-ee” which is what I thought all this time. It was interesting meeting two Aussies just an hour apart on the same day. Maybe the universe is telling me I should visit soon?

And of course, no trip to Chateau Marmont would be complete with a celebrity sighting. The celeb I saw? James Franco. He was dining with another man. I didn’t notice him when he walked in, but he was sitting about ten feet away from me at a corner table. He was wearing a baseball cap, but you could still tell it was him. I just tried not to stare at him, but part of me feels like it made it more obvious I was trying not to look. He was speaking loudly and of the snippets I caught, I thought I heard him say Ed Gein, Tyrese, soap operas and even his own name a few times. –living up to his reputation as being eccentric.

Overall, it’s worth a trip to the Chateau Marmont. At the very least, to say that you’ve experienced Hollywood like a true star. Even if it’s just for an afternoon.

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