- Fee for valet parking (no self-parking available)
- Dirty, slow elevators
- Fee for Wi-Fi
Rock stars have been flocking to this low-key hotel since 1963.
On the Sunset Marquis' homepage, there's a paragraph that reads, "If, as you leave, you want help dodging the paparazzi, we have some time-tested diversionary tactics up our sleeves -- all complimentary of course!" There are so many celebrities that traipse through the hotel that the staff doesn't get starstruck anymore. During Oyster's two-night stay, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Joss Stone, and Roger Daltrey of The Who were all spotted at the hotel.
The Sunset Marquis cost $8 per night when it first opened in 1963 as a motel for musicians playing at the nearby House of Blues, Roxy, and Viper Room, all located within a few minutes' walk. It has since expanded to 154 rooms, 52 of which are villas, two pools, and a state-of-the-art recording studio designed by renowned acoustician George Auspurger and accessed via a hidden entrance in the underground garage (Lil Wayne and Green Day had both recorded there within a few days of Oyster's stay).
Despite its prominence as a hotel to A-list rockstars, it feels remarkably relaxed. The quiet feel may have something to do with the meandering stone pathways, a koi pond under a footbridge, and hedges that protect the hotel and its guests from the riffraff of Sunset Boulevard half a block away. The hotel can get "raucous," according to Restaurant's hostess, especially at night, but it doesn't seem to be a nightly occurrence.
No matter what your last name, or how many stages you've played on or haven't, the service is great across the board. At 550 square feet, the Sunset's standard rooms aren't quite as spacious as the 750-square-foot ones at the London West Hollywood just down the road, but they underwent soft renovations at the beginning of 2010 that updated them with more modern furnishings and flat-screen TVs.
Yes, the newer London has better rooms, as well as a spectacular rooftop pool, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, and its own share of celebrities -- but the rock-star, cool factor is higher at the Sunset.
Turndown service, and poolside food and drinks
Nightly turndowns come with chocolates; there's 24-hour room service, and the concierges are excellent. When asked about tracking down the Kogi Korean BBQ truck, a mobile food truck famous for its fusion of Mexican and Korean food, the concierge immediately logged onto Twitter to search for it.
Just off the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood
The Sunset Marquis is tucked away on a quiet side street in the heart of West Hollywood steps from Sunset Strip, the mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard known for its cutting-edge rock clubs and night spots and its collection of premier boutiques and restaurants.
Clean and spacious, with up-to-date amenities
Rooms (the hotel calls them Suites) are clean and spacious, at 575 square feet, and underwent soft renovations at the beginning of 2010. Oyster was placed in an older room when it visited in late 2009, which meant that the decor and some amenities fell on the stodgy side. But don't fret: old tube TVs have been replaced with flat-screens, clunky clock radios replaced with iHome iPod docks, the balconies refinished, and more modern furnishings installed. Another upgrade: toiletries have been transitioned from Aveda to chic Italian Erbe products that are also used in the spa. You can also splurge like a rockstar and stay in one of the newer villas -- way bigger, more luxurious, and more expensive -- but with a 24-hour butler. For even more spacious rooms, with significantly larger bathrooms, check out the London West Hollywood, just a few minutes down the road.
Plenty of features, but guests still have to pony up for Wi-Fi
The hotel has got it all -- including an 1,800-square-foot spa and a wonderful restaurant. But both of the pools are a little small and underwhelming. Do as celebrities do and hang out by the back villa pool if you want more of a scene. Paparazzi caught Lindsay Lohan lounging in a white bikini here not so long ago.
Great A-list bar without a ton of pretentiousness
Locals and A-listers alike congregate at Bar 1200, where things don't really get going until 11 p.m. After spending an hour people-watching from a couch in the lobby, it also seems like high, high heels are the preferred attire. It's a cozy, dark, relaxed scene: Bartenders are unpretentious, the music's great, and the cocktails are, for lack of a better term, awesome.
A collection of photographs by legendary rock photographers Ross Halfin and Robert Knight of celebrity guests over the decades line the walls.
State-of-the-art recording studio underneath the hotel
The Nightbird Sound Studios is the only facility of its caliber located within a hotel on the West Coast.
Huge rooms, but devoid of a bring-the-kids vibe
Standard rooms are 575 square feet, incredibly spacious for families. But the hotel's relaxed, sometimes-rockish vibe (cigarette butts left in ashtrays and foul language among celebrity clientele) doesn't exactly scream "bring the kids."
Excellent food from a well-regarded chef, but predictably expensive
Whether room service or a full dinner at Restaurant, the hotel's not-so-ironically named restaurant, the food is superb and incredibly fresh. But expect to dig deep into your pocketbook. However, the food's worth it and the service is excellent, plus it's much more reasonable for lunch.
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