Movie stars, moguls, and more: Famous hotel residents and what it would cost to live like one

by Kelsey Blodget on February 26, 2010

The charming, French B&B-style Hotel Elysee was home to Marlon Brando and writer Tennessee Williams (who died in the Sunset Suite), among others.

The charming, French B&B-style Hotel Elysee was home to Marlon Brando and writer Tennessee Williams (who died in the Sunset suite), among other movie stars, authors, and musicians.

For those of us who grew up reading the adventures of Eloise, the mischievous little girl who grew up at The Plaza, living in a hotel – with daily maid service and pampering – represents the ultimate fantasy. But it’s been a reality for many notables over the years, from the starving, not-yet-famous artists who stayed at flophouse dives to bona fide stars like Marilyn Monroe, who shacked up at one of Beverly Hills’ nicest hotels. Read on to find out which celebrities lived where, and what it might cost in 21st century dollars to live for a year in their hotels of choice.

The Chelsea Hotel was home to Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Miller, and countless others.

The Chelsea Hotel was home to Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Miller, and countless others.

Hotel Chelsea: $53,000

This Queen Anne-style landmark that first opened as an apartment cooperative in 1883 is haunted by some of the last century’s greatest artists, musicians, thinkers, and writers. Legendary residents include Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Dylan Thomas, Stanley Kubrick, Jimi Hendrix, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Patti Smith, Arthur Miller, and countless others. Featured in more than 30 songs (like Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel” and Nico’s “Chelsea Girls”), and the subject of numerous books and a documentary, the Chelsea Hotel holds particular appeal for historians, art lovers, locals, and travelers wishing to get closer to the ghosts of greatness.

The Washington Square Hotel: $71,300

Built in 1902, the Washington Square Hotel used to be the Hotel Earle, a rundown residential hotel in Greenwich Village offering cheap shelter for famous writers and musicians during their struggling years. Long-term guests have included Bo Diddley (who loved room 107), Bob Dylan (who lived in room 305), and Dylan Thomas. Rates were around $3 to $5 a night in the 1960s (or $22 to $37 in today’s dollars) and $10 to $15 in the 1970s ($56 to $84 in today’s dollars); that’s when the bohemian Village was home to beatnik coffee houses, not today’s luxury residences. Today, the low-key, B&B-style property attracts NYU parents and tourists.

Te Chateau Marmont has been a bastion of Old Hollywood — and a way of life for many a celebrity — since it opened in 1929.

The Chateau Marmont has been a bastion of Old Hollywood — and a way of life for many a celebrity — since it opened in 1929.

The Chateau Marmont: $136,200

Perched on a hill overlooking L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard, the Chateau Marmont has been a bastion of Old Hollywood — and a way of life for many a celebrity — since it opened in 1929. Roman Polanski lived here after directing Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 — the year before his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered. In 1982, John Belushi moved into a Bungalow 3, where he later overdosed on heroin. Other permanent residents have included Greta Garbo, Robert De Niro, Keanu Reeves, Josh Hartnett and Johnny Depp.

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel Santa Monica: $118,600

Quiet, luxurious, and steeped in Hollywood history, the Fairmont Miramar is one of Santa Monica’s best hotels.  Thanks to its secluded bungalows and head-high hedges that shield it from the street, it has long been a coastal retreat for Los Angeles’ entertainment-industry heavyweights. Blonde bombshell Jean Harlowe rented one of the bungalows in the early 1930s, actress Jean Simmons lived in a bungalow for seven months, and Faye Dunaway kept a permanent suite here in the 1970′s.

Lobby at the Algonquin Hotel

Former residents of the Algonquin include Audrey Hepburn and Sir Laurence Olivier.

Algonquin Hotel: $128,100

Although this small, elegant New York City hotel is better known for its literary pedigree — this is the home of the infamous Round Table — it has a colorful Hollywood history as well. Douglas Fairbanks lived in the hotel from 1907 to 1915, and other movie-industry residents included Audrey Hepburn, Billy Wilder, and Sir Laurence Olivier.

Hotel Elysee: $95,300

Built in midtown Manhattan 1926, and named for one of the finest French restaurants of the era, the Elysee became a long-term residence for movie stars, authors, and musicians. Marlon Brando had a suite, now named “Sayonara” after his role in Teahouse of the August Moon. In 1983, writer Tennessee Williams died in the Sunset suite, having written much of his late material while living in the hotel. World-renowned pianist Vladimir Horowitz moved a Steinway baby grand piano into the hotel when he took up temporary residence. Upon checkout, he famously shrugged at the hotel’s manager and said, “Keep it.” (The piano remains in the Presidential suite to this day.)

St. Regis Washington, D.C.: $133,400

The St. Regis is one of D.C.’s most luxurious hotels — and it has been since its opened its doors in 1926 as the Carlton Hotel. Back then,  room rates started at $5 a night, and suites started at $15 a night — worth about $61 and $184 in today’s dollars. Howard Hughes kept a permanent suite at the Carlton during World War II, and let soldiers stay in it free of charge whenever the hotel was full.

Marilyn Monroe lived and her costar lived here while filming in Let's Make Love -- a title which they reportedly took to heart.

Marilyn Monroe had a steamy affair with her costar while living at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The Beverly Hills Hotel: $228,000

With 12 acres of lush grounds, this historic hotel — opened in 1912 — is a serene, luxurious escape five minutes from Rodeo Drive. Eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes kept four permanent bungalows at the hotel (two were decoys) where he lived on and off through the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, and during his residency made the kind of demanding requests you’d expect from an eccentric billionaire — pineapple upside-down cakes at 3 a.m., and roast beef sandwiches left at the trunk of the tree in his garden (so he wouldn’t have to interact with anyone). Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand lived in bungalows 20 and 21 during the filming of Let’s Make Love at the end of the 1950′s (and the two were reportedly taking the film’s title to heart).

*Prices listed are rough approximations for one year based on nightly rates. When calculating the prices, we averaged each month to ensure seasonal fluctuations were reflected. We used the prices for base-level rooms, except in cases where the hotel provided us with specific extended stay rate information: The Chateau Marmont’s price is for a junior suite, and the Fairmont Miramar’s price is for the Palisades suite. (The next step up, the Palisides ocean suite, would be $129,600). Not every hotel listed actually allows extended stays of one year: At the Washington Square Hotel, the maximum stay is two weeks, and at the Hotel Chelsea, the maximum stay is 24 days.

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