Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas Rating: 4.0 Pearls
West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Two popular, if small, pools
  • Spacious rooms with large flat-screen TVs and iPod docks
  • Low-key bar with A-list clientele
  • On-site spa with four treatments rooms
  • Free passes to upscale Equinox gym
  • Excellent restaurant with a Michelin-rated chef

Cons

  • Fee for valet parking (no self-parking available)
  • Dirty, slow elevators
  • Fee for Wi-Fi

Bottom Line

A-list rockers have been flocking to the Sunset Marquis, located steps from the Sunset Strip, since it opened in 1963 as a cheap motel for musicians. It offers 154 spacious rooms featuring up-to-date amenities -- including large flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and nice Italian toiletries -- and decor that ranges from homey to sleek. Hotel highlights include a top-notch restaurant, a cozy bar, two pools, and a wonderful spa.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Rock stars have been flocking to this low-key hotel since 1963.

Lobby at the Sunset Marquis.
Lobby at the Sunset Marquis.

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.

 Service

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.

  • Nice nightly turndown service with a dark piece of chocolate on the pillow, drawn curtains, and personal toiletries perfectly arranged
  • Concierges who can do everything from secure sold-out concert tickets and difficult restaurant reservations to tracking down popular food trucks
  • Doormen and bellmen
  • Poolside food and drink service
  • 24-hour room service

 Location

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.

  • Steps from famed music clubs like Whiskey A Go-Go, the Roxy, and Viper Room
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theatre and Hollywood Bowl are a 10-minute drive.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood, a movie-themed amusement park, is a 20-minute drive.
  • Sunset Plaza, a walkable half-mile stretch of upscale boutiques and restaurants, is a few minutes' walk.
  • Beverly Center, a huge retail mall, is a five-minute drive.
  • Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills, an enclave of wealthy living and luxury shopping in the middle of L.A.'s west side, is a 10-minute drive (or three miles).
  • At least a 30-minute drive to Santa Monica and LA beaches
  • Valet parking charge (no self-parking)
  • Bob Hope Airport in Burbank is about 14 miles away, which can translate to a 45-minute drive in traffic, but it's still a better option than Los Angeles International (LAX), which can take up to 1.5 hours.
  • Avoid a pricey cab from the airport by opting for a shuttle bus (such as SuperShuttle), which costs about one-third as much.

 Rooms

Clean and spacious, with up-to-date amenities

King superior room at the Sunset Marquis.
King superior room at the Sunset Marquis.

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.

  • Standard rooms underwent soft renovations in early 2010, and were updated with modern furnishings, flat-screen TVs, iHome iPod docking stations, refinished balconies, and nicer toiletries.
  • Standard rooms are an above-average 575 square feet, and come with balconies (though mine was badly chipped and faced the wall of another building), wet bars, and an empty dorm-size fridge.
  • Beds are plush with pillow-top featherbeds, 400-thread-count linens, down pillows and duvets.
  • Small bathrooms with marble counters and Frette towels; Frette bathrobe provided
  • Tech amenities in most rooms include two large flat-screen TVs with about 40 cable channels, battery-operated scales, and laptop-size safes.
  • Copies of Entertainment Weekly, Black Book, TV Guide, and Guitar Aficionado in every room
  • Minibars (separate from the empty fridge) are stocked with standard items.
  • Full JVC stereo (receiver and five-disc player) with KLM speakers
  • Fee for Wi-Fi
  • 24-hour room service

 Features

Plenty of features, but guests still have to pony up for Wi-Fi

One of Sunset Marquis' two pools
One of Sunset Marquis' two pools

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.

  • Two small, but nice, pools, one located near the lobby and another, with more privacy, farther back near Restaurant; both offer food and drink service
  • State-of-the-art recording studio designed by renowned acoustician George Auspurger and accessed via a hidden entrance in the underground parking garage; guests can book tours
  • Nice Rosenthal house wine, since the hotel was founded by George I. Rosenthal, owner of the Rosenthal Estate Winery in Malibu
  • 1,800-square-foot spa with Erbe products and four treatment rooms; salon services available
  • Maximillian Art Gallery on-site features works largely from up-and-coming arists, some of which are available for purchase.
  • Fee for Wi-Fi
  • Guests get free passes to an Equinox gym

 Bar 1200

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.

 Nightbird Sound Studios

State-of-the-art recording studio underneath the hotel

Lil Wayne and Red Hot Chili Peppers have recorded here.
Lil Wayne and Red Hot Chili Peppers have recorded here.

The Nightbird Sound Studios is the only facility of its caliber located within a hotel on the West Coast.

  • Designed by George Auspurger of Hollywood Bowl fame
  • Recorded basically every A-list musician on the planet, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Timberlake, and on the day of my stay, Lil Wayne.
  • Stevie Wonder has played on the studio's Yamaha Mark IV Disklavier piano, one of two in America.
  • High rollers can rent it out for personal use, including karaoke birthday parties (*swoon*).

 Family

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."

  • Huge rooms translate to plenty of room for kids and gear; a few rooms with two double beds are available.
  • Free cribs; rollaway beds cost per night.
  • Not much of a kid-friendly vibe
  • No dedicated kids' menu, but the kitchen can make tot-friendly items like mac-and-cheese, chicken nuggets, and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, all for cheap

 Food

Excellent food from a well-regarded chef, but predictably expensive

Restaurant's outdoor patio at the Sunset Marquis.
Restaurant's outdoor patio at the Sunset Marquis.

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.

  • Excellent restaurant with great casual atmosphere; indoor and outdoor seating (on an elevated patio); open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • No a la carte items offered for Sunday breakfast; only champagne brunch
  • 24-hour room service

 Bottom Line

A-list rockers have been flocking to the Sunset Marquis, located steps from the Sunset Strip, since it opened in 1963 as a cheap motel for musicians. It offers 154 spacious rooms featuring up-to-date amenities -- including large flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and nice Italian toiletries -- and decor that ranges from homey to sleek. Hotel highlights include a top-notch restaurant, a cozy bar, two pools, and a wonderful spa.

Things You Should Know About Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas

Address

  • 1200 N. Alta Loma Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Sunset Marquis Hotel
  • Sunset Marquis Hotel and Villas
  • Sunset Marquis West Hollywood

Room Types

  • Deluxe One Bedroom Suite
  • Deluxe One Bedroom Villa
  • Junior Suite
  • Junior Villa
  • Superior One Bedroom Suite
  • Superior One Bedroom Villa
  • Two Bedroom Suite
  • Two Bedroom Villa

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 154
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: West Hollywood, Los Angeles
Address: 1200 N. Alta Loma Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069
(See Map)
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