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Meticulously refurbished to its golden age of Hollywood glamour, this 74-room Sunset Strip icon still draws stars, but treats the hoi polloi just as well.
The Sunset Tower - Argyle
Hotelier Jeff Klein, who also owns the swanky City Club in New York City, rescued the Sunset Tower in 2005, transforming the decrepit 15-story landmark back into the sparkling Art Deco hotel it once was. In the '30s and '40s, it was the temporary home of Howard Hughes, Billie Burke, Errol Flynn, and John Wayne. (In a later era, Iggy Pop is said to have leapt from his window into the pool, an unlikely if not impossible feat.) While Hollywood luminaries still spend the night, the scene today is decidely more tranquil, with guests more likely to relax in poolside lounge chairs than to attempt rock star stunts.
Unlike the Hollywood Roosevelt, another historic hotel that these days focuses more on cutting-edge nightlife than quiet sophistication, the Tower still delivers bygone glamour that's rare in this neighborhood -- hustling valets; front desk clerks who address guests by name; white-jacketed waiters in the Tower Bar who don't walk but glide from table to table, delivering cocktails while a live pianist sets the mood. No wonder the Tower's first screen appearance was Murder, My Sweet (1944), an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's noir classic Farewell, My Lovely."
Rooms, while not nearly as large as those at the London, are tastefully decorated with dark-wood-and-brass furnishings and comfortable beds that are turned down nightly. Views of greater Los Angeles, available from many of the rooms, are stunning, and the panorama from the relatively small pool deck is also lovely. While Hollywood royalty visits frequently, the Tower has none of the pretense of the too-hip-for-you Chateau Marmont while delivering better quality service than the sleek, 300-room Mondrian just down the street.
The hotel would never admit to hosting stars, but many A-listers spend the night.
While the hotel would never admit to hosting celebrity clientele -- that'd be far too gauche! -- Hollywood royalty does pass through regularly. An October 2009 New York Times article name-checked Jennifer Aniston, Sean Penn, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, and Johnny Depp, as well as a roster of business-side heavies.
Top-notch, luxury-level service; some of the best in Hollywood
With front desk staff that greets guests by name, porters almost too happy to open doors and carry luggage, and accomodating waitstaff in both restaurants, service is top-notch throughout. In Hollywood, only the London takes better care of guests.
- Highly polished service at both the Terrace and Tower Bar restaurants
- 24-hour room service
- Nightly turndown service
- Valets bring cars around faster than seems possible (fee per day; no self-parking).
- No dedicated concierge; but the front desk clerk is able to locate a notary, print out driving directions, and send extra toiletries to your room without a second thought.
- Poolside food and drink service from the Terrace restaurant
In the beating heart of West Hollywood, right on the Sunset Strip
Located in the heart of West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip, the Sunset Tower is on the same stretch as three other popular and notable hotels, the extravagantly designed Mondrian, the achingly hip Standard Hollywood, and the celebrity magnet Chateau Marmont.
The Sunset Strip, which has long been known for its famed music clubs like the House of Blues, the Roxy, Viper Room, and Whisky a Go Go, has gotten significantly more upscale than its strip club and head shop days in the '70s and '80s -- though that doesn't mean all the grit is gone. A few (now legal) marijuana dispensaries dot West Hollywood, and panhandlers occasionally operate on Sunset Boulevard. Overall, though, the neighborhood is safe and clean.
- 10-minute walk from Sunset Plaza, a walkable half-mile stretch of upscale boutiques and restaurants like BLT Steak, Roberto Cavalli, and Catherine Maladrino
- The hotel's location near the intersection of La Cienega and Sunset Boulevards makes driving further afield easy.
- Two miles from the heart of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Egyptian Theatre
- 15-minute drive from the Hollywood Bowl, a popular concert venue
- Universal Studios is about 20 minutes away by car.
- Three-mile, 10-minute drive from Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
- Santa Monica and L.A.'s beaches are about 30 minutes distant by car.
- Bob Hope Airport in Burbank is about 14 miles away from the hotel, which can translate to a 45 minute drive in traffic. Tip: To avoid a pricey cab from the airport (typically $50 to the hotel) opt for a shared ride van with a service like Supershuttle, which costs about one-third as much.
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) can be up to a 90-minute drive away.
The subtly art deco rooms might lack modern flash, but the great views and overall comfort are worth the price.
The one-bedroom suite
Furnished with wood-and-brass-trim desks, wardrobes, and side tables, the guest rooms lack the edgy design you'll find at the Mondrian, but the art deco accents fit the nostalgic vibe of the hotel perfectly. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of light into the bedroom. Plus, rooms on the south side of the building have sweeping views of Los Angeles. Renovations to the bathrooms in 2012 have added all new fixtures to create a modern, comfortable experience. Like the hotel as a whole, rooms are refined, comfortable, and a good value.
- Superior Queen rooms start at about 350 square feet, an average size for this neighborhood and price range. A price jump up to a Junior Suite offers at least 550 square feet, and, on the 12th floor, a 150-square-foot balcony.
- Comfortable queen- or king-size beds with Simmons pillow-top mattresses, custom 400-thread-count linens, and four down pillows. (Hypoallergenic pillows are available by request.)
- Floor-to-ceiling casement windows that open wide; they could be unsafe for unsupervised kids. Views from rooms on the south side of the building are fantastic.
- 32-inch flat-screen TV with 15 pay-per-view movie channels and 28 other channels
- DVD players, but no lending library
- iHome iPod docks double as alarm clocks
- In-room safe big enough for a laptop
- Stocked minibar
- High-end Kiehl's bath products
- Bathrooms were renovated in 2012, and are modern and convenient.
- Free Wi-Fi; all rooms have desks.
A full-service spa is the highlight at this small yet well-equiped hotel.
As a smaller hotel, the Sunset Tower can't compete with the bigger London or Hollywood Roosevelt when it comes to amenities. But the features the hotel does have are excellent, among them a top-notch spa and a modern, well-maintained fitness center.
- Small, 40-by-20-foot pool, but the view of downtown L.A. from the peaceful and elegantly designed pool deck is better than you'll find at The Standard Hollywood or the Mondrian.
- Well-regarded salon and spa that offers everything from hair cuts to minor cosmetic surgery.
- Modern gym is free to guests and open 24 hours, with Precor cardio machines with private TV screens and free weights.
- Free Wi-Fi in guest rooms and public spaces
Ideal pet hotel: next door to an off-the-leash dog park and pets are pampered almost as much as the human guests.
- Welcome amenities include dog treats, a toy, and a listing of pet stores, good walks in the area, and veterinarians in the area.
- Rooms made up with custom-made dog bed (by request)
- Pet room service menu includes items like a chopped sirloin cheeseburger and Flint River Ranch dog food
- Off-the-leash dog park, Hart Park, is next door to the hotel.
- Dog walking services available.
- Nonrefundable cleaning fee for all pet stays
A destination spa -- the best in Hollywood
Awarded "Best spa treatment rooms" by Los Angeles magazine for both their size and their copious amenities, the spa and salon at the Tower gets almost as much press as the stars who stay at the hotel.
- Treatment rooms, or "spa suites," have private baths, vanities, TVs, and lounge areas.
- Salon services, including haircuts, coloring, treatments, and manicure-pedicure stations
- Waxing, massage, and body treatments
- Private hammam, a Turkish-style steam bath
- Milk and seaweed baths available
- Botox, laser hair removal, acupuncture, and other minor cosmetic procedures available
Not ideal for families, thanks to a hushed, adult-only vibe
Floor-to-ceiling casement windows may be unsafe for kids
The standard guest rooms aren't big enough for rollaway beds, and the sophisticated vibe -- poolside business meetings and a hushed, clubby atmosphere in restaurants -- certainly isn't inviting to youngsters. Families might prefer the Magic Castle Hotel or Le Parc Suite Hotel.
- Kids are allowed at the pool, even if the atmosphere is hushed.
- Sofas in suites are deep enough to be made up as beds for younger kids; there's no extra charge; two-bedroom suites are another option.
- Rollaways won't fit in Superior Queen Rooms, but for fee per night the hotel can fit an extra bed in a Deluxe King or any larger room.
- The Terrace restaurant has a kids' menu, while the Tower Bar, because of its dark, clubby vibe, is not particularly kid-friendly.
- No on-site activities for kids
As immaculate as you'd expect, given the hotel's attention to detail
Rooms and their bathrooms are spotless. Furniture and fixtures are in good repair, and public spaces are pristine. All this without housekeeping carts cluttering the halls or elevators.
Two popular restaurants on-site; a casual poolside spot and a refined dinner option
- The Tower Bar is a dimly lit, wood-paneled restaurant off the lobby that draws locals as well as guests with its live pianist, a continental menu, and candlelit tables.
- A long bar at the Tower Bar has plenty of seating for those just interested in a well-crafted cocktail.
- The Terrace restaurant overlooks the pool and greater Los Angeles. Continental breakfast and an a la carte menu are available in the morning. Later in the day, a list of smaller dishes is available in addition to the Tower Bar menu.
- Steaks, sushi, Italian, Mexican, burgers and diner fare are among the other dining options within walking distance.
A rejuvenated Sunset Strip landmark with just 74 rooms, the Art Deco Sunset Tower draws A-list celebrities and treats everyday guests like stars with impeccable service and a vibe that channels the glamorous history of Hollywood. Despite its small pool, the Tower is still a great value.
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- 8358 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069
- Junior Suite
- Penthouse Suite
- Premiere Suite
- Superior Guest Room
- Townhouse Suite