The Weird Lives of Famous Long-Term Hotel Residents

Curbed

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It's been well-established that modern-day celebrities can be prolific in their outrageous demands for hotel redecorating, so it makes sense that superstars who up the ante by choosing to live in short-term accommodations for weeks (or months or years) at a time live in a way that's, um, super weird. Take, as example, Howard Hughes, who spent much of his long-term stay in The Beverly Hills Hotel naked watching movies, with a pink cocktail napkin over his bits. And that's just the beginning. Here now, a bit about the lives of some of world's most fascinating permanent hotel dwellers—from Bob Dylan to Coco Chanel.

Howard Hughes at The Beverly Hills Hotel

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Photo via Wikipedia Commons

↑ In his early 40s, aviator and business magnate Howard Hughes settled at a bungalow at The Beverly Hills Hotel. At this point, in about 1948, he had already descended into a reclusive state, spurred perhaps by a pain condition (he barely survived an aircraft crash in 1946) and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 1947 he spent four months never leaving his private screening room, having survived off of chocolate bars, chicken, and milk. He stacked and arranged tissue boxes obsessively, and wrote detailed memos to his service staff.

He moved to the hotel after that episode, nabbing a bungalow for himself and other rooms for his wife and staff. Though he stopped exclusively using bottles to relieve himself, while at the hotel he continued to sit "naked in his bedroom with a pink hotel napkin over his genitals, watching movies," or so says Wikipedia.


Coco Chanel at the Ritz Paris

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Photos via Ritz Paris

↑ In the early '30s, fashion icon Coco Chanel moved into the Hôtel Ritz Paris, occupying a swanky, self-furnished hub in the middle of the oozingly aristocratic 1st arrondissement. Included in her move-in wares, according to the Ritz Paris site, was her beige suede settee with quilted cushions and a chinoiserie folding screen "made from lacquered Caromandel." As the March 1937 Vogue wrote, "Just the basics are enough, when tasteful, to make even the most banal room personal. Mademoiselle Chanel who has been staying at the Ritz for several months is at home with a folding screen and a few flowers."


Oscar Wilde at Hotel d'Alsace in Paris

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Photo via Hotels.com

↑ Irish writer Oscar Wilde spent his "last days" at Paris' chic and expensive Hotel d'Alsace. Ever one for a good quip, Wilde is known to have remarked, "I am dying beyond my means."


Tennessee Williams at the Elysée in NYC

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Photo via Getty Images

↑ Playwright Tennessee Williams lived in Manhattan's Hotel Elysée for 15 years. One story from the hotel's chronicler goes that guests would complain to the front desk about the constant tap tap tapping of a typewriter. According to Wikipedia: "They knew right away who the culprit was, but they couldn't very well ask Mr. Williams to stop playwriting, so we simply moved the guest to another room." Williams died here, in the appropriately termed "Sunset Suite," in February of 1983. He was 71. The hotel's Tennessee Williams suite is one of three suites named after famous residents—the others named after concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz and Czech writer/President Vaclav Havel—though the Elysée also boasts Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, and Ava Gardner as former residents. To this day, you can reportedly ask the front desk for a free copy of A Streetcar Named Desire.


Bob Dylan at the Washington Square Hotel in NYC

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Photo via Getty Images

↑ In many ways, a young Bob Dylan really epitomizes the types of New Yorkers that flooded the city's Greenwich Village in the early '60s: raw, creative, and poor, with a tendency of sleeping on the floors of hostels. Now known as Hotel Earle, the Washington Square Hotel was home to Dylan and then-girlfriend Joan Baez. In Baez's song Diamonds and Rust, she croons in reference to the hotel, "Now I see you standing with brown leaves falling around and snow in your hair. Now you're smiling out the window of that crummy hotel over Washington Square."


Richard Harris at Savoy Hotel in London

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Photo via IMDB

↑ At 70 years old, Irish actor (Dumbledore, etc.) and lifelong mischief-maker Richard Harris moved into London's ultra-luxurious Savoy Hotel. According to an article by The Telegraph, "he loved the fact that if he wanted a sandwich at 4 a.m., he could get one." By ringing a bell he'd have someone put his clothes away or bring his dinner—and for this he was willing to pay £6,000 ($9,981) a week. He told The Telegraph, "If you're paying the mortgage on a home, you can't ask the bank manager to fetch you a pint." Oh, and the ladies? "You bring those in yourself."

And perhaps the best Richard Harris story (and there are many) comes from a BBC report that included quotes from an interview with a historian at the Savoy: "[Harris] was being taken out of the building on a stretcher shortly before his death he raised his hand and told the diners 'it was the food.'"


Janis Joplin at the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood

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Photo via Highland Gardens Hotel

Janis Joplin first checked into the Landmark Motor Hotel, now the Highland Gardens Hotel, in August 1970. It was close to her recording studio, and she spent the next several weeks recording the songs that would eventually be on her posthumous album Pearl. During this time she also struggled a lot with drugs, ultimately overdosing at the hotel on October 4.


Robert De Niro at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood

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Photo via Getty Images

↑ Another hotel to have hosted many generations of Hollywood's elite is the Chateau Marmont. Though, sadly, the hotel is perhaps best known for being the place where John Belushi died of an overdose, Chateau Marmont, built in 1929 had Hollywood ties decades before: James Dean and Natalie Wood first met at the Marmont, while rehearsing the script for Rebel Without a Cause. Here Jim Morrison tried to swing from a pipe on the roof into his hotel room via the window (a scene recreated in Oliver Stone's 1991 film The Doors). Over the years the castle on Sunset Blvd. played host to so many celebrities that Sandra Bullock once said to the L.A. Times: "No wonder people come here to have affairs—it's got that air of history, where you know a lot of people did things they weren't supposed to do."

One of the place's more permanent residents, however, was actor Robert De Niro, who had been known to hole himself up in one of the building's two penthouses—he prefers number 64.


Everyone at the Hotel Chelsea in NYC

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Photos via Wikipedia

↑ Name a disheveled and awesome artistic superstar and (s)he's probably stayed here: Leonard Cohen, Alice Cooper, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Iggy Pop... and those are just the musicians. Literary folk like Arthur Miller, Jack Kerouac—who wrote Oh the Road here—Allen Ginsberg, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and even Mark Twain have also stayed here. Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Edie Sedgwick, Willem de Kooning... the list goes on and on and on.

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