Published date: 7 Mar 2012
I first came across Chateau Marmont in 1966. I was in Los Angeles filming Blue, a western, and went to visit friends in Hollywood Hills. Their house had burnt down and the insurance company had put them up at the Chateau. I found it mind blowing. From the entrance, one walks up two flights of stairs into an amazing space, a huge baronial hall with a beamed ceiling. The first thing one sees is the grand piano where Judy Garland loved to sing. The furnishings are an eclectic mix of gothic, Victorian and Art Deco, with comfortable armchairs and sofas. From here you can see the cloisters, which is where the café serves afternoon tea overlooking some beautiful gardens.
What makes Chateau Marmont so special is the ambience. To me it has always represented the collective vibe of all the artists and musicians who have ever stayed there – from Garbo, Scott Fitzgerald and Jean Harlow, to Leonard Cohen, Jim Morrison and Julie Christie.
For an Anglo Saxon like me, Los Angeles' summers can be unbearably hot, but it's always cool in that somber haven with the odd shaft of sunlight coming through the great gothic-style windows. I like to write in public places and I can scribble away to my heart's content, a pot of their very good chai by my elbow. It's where I wrote the third volume of my autobiography. The atmosphere is very laid back – for instance, it's quite acceptable to come down in your dressing gown. The young staff are often out of work actors, so there's a great feeling of camaraderie. And they are very protective: the paparazzi are outside, but they never get inside.
Chateau Marmont was originally built in 1927 as an apartment block and it became a hotel in 1931. The design was based on the Château d'Amboise in the Loire Valley – but as interpreted by a Hollywood set designer. It was the first earthquake-proof building in Los Angeles and it's come through five seismic episodes unscathed. The real charm of the place is that it doesn't change. The new owner has done a really clever thing, he's brought the hotel up to date, but he's honored the original concept, so it's still the unchanging center of Hollywood.Terence Stamp's latest memoir, Rare Stamps: Reflections on Living, Breathing, and Acting is published as an eBook and audio book by Escargot Books; www.escargotbooks.org
Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, www.chateaumarmont.com