Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Night At The Charteau Marmont

The Charteau Marmont:

I had a late appointment with my dentist then a book signing at Book Soup to attend but first, four star dining at Chateau Marmont Hotel. The Chateau Marmont is a 63 room hotel and restaurant that was built in 1932 based on the Chateau d' Amboise in France. The Chateau has been a place where the who's who of Hollywood frequent (and carouse and indulge to excess, if all those rumors are true). The hotel's restaurant is also rumored to be excellent so it's no wonder that it had been on my "to do" list for some time. I was eager to have some company on my first visit to this legendary place but I ended up going solo. Still, I greatly enjoyed the ambiance of the place and I mean ambiance with a capital A!

Service, service, service!
From the groups of valets of every race at the Bar Marmont entrance and an older Asian gentleman who seemed to be supervising them. They welcomed me warmly and told me I was at the wrong entrance. The supervisor handed the nights tally to a courteous young black valet who then gallantly escorted me to the Chateau's entrance. The Chateau is located off of bustling Sunset Blvd. but it is hidden away from the world in the cut of the hill and by a wall of shrubs and ivy so it secluded (so much so that it is easy to miss). I walked up dark square cobblestone tiles up 4 stairs to a cabana like waiting area with dark wicker chairs and white cushions with black trim. I sat down for a bit and talked with a few guests then I moved into the lobby for a closer look. The lobby's entrance was dim with lighting provided by beautiful lamps which framed 2 large heavy mirrors and tables all in a heavy dark wood(maybe mahogany).

A beautiful rosette embossed settee and chair and worn antique carpeting lead to the old world elevators which rode surprisingly smooth. The restaurant is on the lower level but I accidentally pushed the up button and traveled upstairs and exited to see carpets of dark blue and matching thick velor curtains. The hotel's narrow dark corridors had old world architectural elements and housed numerous hotel rooms on either side with larger suites at the ends. I was totally lost but I was still hoping to see some famous movie star walking out of their room. No such luck, however, because all I saw was the maid who lead me back to the elevator.

I stepped into the elevator then I realized that I had lost an earring. Oops! The earrings hold great sentimental value to me so I retraced my steps and searched frantically. The helpful maid searched with me for a bit then she went along her way cleaning rooms. I retraced my steps further back to the cabana entrance where 2 helpful female patrons help me look then asked Vincent (a supervisor in charge of the garage) and his staff to report the earring, if found, to guest services (wow, they think I'm a guest!). After a few more worried moments I finally found the earring clinging to my knitted and bejeweled scarf(lol).

Relieved, I re-entered the hotel and passed though the 1st floor's wonderful layout and was greeted warmly by the Chateau Marmont restaurant reservation staff. First, a pretty brunette sporting a flawless complexion, perfectly shaped brows and dressed in form fitting black dress and heels and sporting a sharp Audrey Hepburn-esque hair cut. She asked very politely for my reservation then she checked the computer there are none.

I told her that I was a bit late then I looked around but didn't see any famous faces anywhere. I told her that I've never visited the Chateau before but I've heard raves about their patio dining experience. She kindly suggests that we go to the patio and look around so we walk to the edge of a beautiful courtyard. I could hardly see and I was embarrassed now because, due to vanity, I had my contacts in plus I had my false eyelashes on so I couldn't see beyond 5 feet and it was becoming dark out. I squinted and squinted but I didn't see any famous faces out there (they may have been there though and I just didn't "see" them -lol).

The hostess graciously suggests that I wait in the lounge until a table is available then she compliments me on my "most loveliest of skin" (thank you! it's so good to get compliments!-lol). The hostess told me that she used to be a make-up artist so we talked beauty secrets for a few minutes. I remarked about her lovely hair cut and she writes down the stylists info for me. All referrals should score her a discount as she is a walking advertisement for Sugar Hair Salon and her hair stylist.

The other hostess arrived and she wore an elegant ponytail and was also dressed in black. She is real nice too and smiles brightly as she checked guests in. The dinner crowd really started rolling in at about 7:00 pm but only a few people requested to stay inside. Instead, everyone wanted to be outside on the patio where all the action is but only a few have reservations so some are seated at tables in the lounge like myself. Luckily, they put my info in the computer so that next time I come I can easily get a reservation for a spot on the patio. Seriously, the people who say the wait staff at CM are rude are way off base as everyone was so nice. In fact, a leggy woman in her mid-late 20's wore a striped mini dress and heels and walked around helping the guests. To my surprise, she was not a hip uber-helpful guest like I thought but actually CM's head hostess(lol).

Chateau Marmont Review:

The Mood- Romantic!
Darkly lit interiors with the gentle flicker of candle light. Rich dark earthy furniture in a French provincial style. Some worn rugs but they only enhance the atmosphere not detract from it. I loved the furniture! A mohair bench, all buttery mustard colored in the lounge and the burnt velvet red rosettes on the beige settee in the ground floor lobby entrance.

A Happening Place!
Back to lounge. I enjoyed my spot near the reservations desk as it was a great vantage point for people watching and I enjoy people watching. Especially fun was watching women in 6 inch heels *cough* stilts trying to walk carefully on the well polished stone and wood floors. Surprisingly, there were lots of kids, kids, kids... 9 in total (yeah, I counted). Kids from infants to kids of about age 7 or 8... Kids in strollers or hand held. One adorable dark haired boy held an Elmo doll and his dad and him walked by me often, both speaking in French or speaking English with a French accent. There were also lots of dogs, dogs, dogs. One cute ivory colored foo-foo pom walked by on his tippy-toes like he was wearing high heels, too (lol). And, of course, there was more good service.

Here's my timeline:
6:00 pm --Patio tour
6:15 pm --Sit. Wait. Check the time. Speak with hostess. Repeat.
6:30 pm --Can I see an appetizer menu, please?

The Menu:
The menu items are basically trendy California cuisine and they looked good especially as the wait staff walked them by on serving trays. The wait staff is predominantly white males in their mid 20's with 2-3 Hispanics men sprinkled among the waiters and busboys. The manager as a very, very nice guy. He and the staff outdid themselves and bent over backwards to make me comfortable and at home. Tons of "Are you okay? Are you being taken care of?", "Can we help you with anything?"

7:00 pm -- Oh, Nuts!
I couldn't decide on what to order but I was feeling a little hungry so I thought I'd try the mixed nuts which the waiter brought to me in a lovey small white porcelain bowl. The nuts are mixed nuts and are salty but with a hint of sweet and are very scrumptious but the $4 price was a bit hard to swallow. I ate them very slowly, savoring all the flavors but no stuffed olives for me thanks (also $4)

7:30 pm-- Skip To The Loo!
I'm off to the facilities where I nearly bump a waiter on my way as the hall to the kitchen and the entry to the ladies' restrooms share a common corridor. Once inside, the intricate cut mirror design over the large mirror and the white wainscotings trim are lovely plus the antique looking sink and fixtures, fresh flowers and glowing scented candles really made a lasting impression. I met a nice lady from McLean, Virginia in there and we reminisced about our love for children (me for my patients, she for her brood of 3). We also talked about our love of the east coast especially DC, M.D. and V.A. and our concerns about the recent earthquakes, tornadoes there(can you imagine).

7:45 PM-- I'm late!
I was seriously late for the book signing and I considered leaving but I can't seem to make myself leave the deep comfy chair that I was melting into. This place really gets to you!

8:00 pm-- It's cold!
The temp dropped a few degrees than quickly dropped a few degrees more and I decided that I was skipping the book sign.

8:15 pm -- To the Patio!
It was still light enough outside to I walk about and so I circled the patio just to make sure I hadn't missed anything or anyone during my lengthy sojourn in the exquisite powder room. Luckily, my eyes are seeing better, too. The patio is gorgeous with small groupings of beige wicker tables and palm trees and tropical flowers. It was surprisingly romantic and I did get a stray thought of, “Who knows, I just might meet Mr. Right on this patio”. I shook off the day dreaming and warmed up under a blaring heat lamp outside. I did see a few people who looked kinda sorta familiar(maybe from TV or movies). Some people looked like if they were conducting business over their meals and others were looking around to see what the others were doing while others were there to be seen. I loved the atmosphere on the patio but, alas, I didn't spot any great loves(lol). I headed back to the lounge and the hostess tells me that she likes my purse. I told her my rule --”real or faux for $5” and how I actually pray for deals when I shop. She chuckled a bit then got back to work.

8:30 pm -- Relax and Reflect!
I think how it was worth coming to the Chateau as I relax and enjoy the atmosphere and explored a bit.

The Lounge:
The lounge is more Gothic + French provincial but just as welcoming. I grabbed the menu again but nothing inspired me then the temperature dropped so much that I have to put on my jacket and avoid windy cold drafts from the patio.

8:45 pm -- Just call me "Hot Chocolate"!
Later, mom and her 6 year old daughter exited the patio shivering and asked the waiter for suggestions on something warm to drink. He recommended the hot cocoa. I ordered myself one, which they served to me near a dark piano in the lounge area near a mohair chair. The hot chocolate comes in a white porcelain tureen with a lid. The $5 it costs is a bit steep but it was perfection! It was the best cocoa ever, even beating the Mexican-Mayan inspired cinnamon cocoa concoction I had at St. Michael's church's Christmas social years ago(good times).

9:00 pm -- If Only For One Night!
I sipped my chocolate very slowly and looked around then settled deeply into the settee like if I belonged. Seriously, I truly felt like I was in my own house... albeit a million dollar extravagantly decorated old french chateau. That's the charm of this place if I had $250-$350 for a room I would have stayed there that night. It just felt that right. Hopefully, I can stay there for my B-day one day(hint, hint).

9:15 pm-- Au Revoir Mon Ami!
It's finally time to go as an arctic winter is brewing outside. Side note: It's the end of July in L.A. And it's 65 degrees out. Imagine that. What happened to hot summer nights? Oh, that's only on the east coast(teehee).

9:30 pm-- Just Bill Me!
I motion for my bill and a friendly young waiter pops up. He's South African but has a strong British accent. So many people waited on me that he has trouble finding my tab so he had to go back and forth for a bit. He came back and said, "Did you have the olives?" I shook my head “no” and he scurried away mumbling to himself “No olives” . He returned triumphantly a few minutes later with my tab in hand. I tried to read the bill but the dark interiors + my contacts = can't see nada, so I leaned over to a nearby lamp and tried to make it out. I finally give up and handed over my credit card and signed off on the check, praying the whole time that I hadn't signed off on a $100 check.

The Bar Marmont:
I left the restaurant and headed over to CM Bar just to check it out. It was a bit loud with a young hip crowd and a night club atmosphere. It had an interesting layout and furniture but I was not loving it the way I did the hotel but it's definitely not a dive. Everyone seemed cool and they all spoke in an animated fashion. I did a quick tour of the facilities ('60's retro style loo) then I sat for a bit to let it all sink in. Then a nearby couple lit up a couple of cigs so I had to exit very quickly. Smoking is such a dangerous habit but I see more people smoking in LA than in any place I've ever lived across the U.S. To Smokers: It's really not cool folks so pick a stop date and just do it!

Sunset Plaza and iTVfest Opening night:
After leaving Bar Marmont, I crossed the street and headed pass Sunset Plaza mall and saw that iTVFest was having their opening night party in the entrance of the mall with a slamming DJ spinning some serious tunes (mostly rap and techno music). No one I recognized was there but there was some lively dancing by one pair. I stayed about an hour but was unable to score an "insider" admit bracelet so I sat or danced next to the insiders, divided only by a red velvet rope, a small divider and a potted plant. I met a few people along the way, notably Cedric Pendleton(from Tyler Perry's House of Payne) touting his new webisode series titled, The Best Green (think Weeds meets Barbershop). It was my first time at the plaza so I checked out the theater on the top floor and I checked out the veggie grill store. From the top floor of the mall, I observed party-goers from above, all from my own birds-eye view, then it got way too cold and so I left.

Update: July 30th
When I got home, I quickly took my contacts out and took a closer look at the Chateau bill. I was charged for the olives after all but even being incorrectly billed for olives was a fun memory(lol).

Book Signings At Book Soup:
I never made it to that book signing at Book Soup but the next one is The Last Hero a book about baseball great, Henry "Hank" Aaron, whom I met as a kid at my elementary school in the islands. He spoke with me and signed my baseballs then the assistant principals snatched the baseballs from me soon after. Seriously, I was always trotted out when famous celebs visited my school but I was never allowed to keep any of the memorabilia (I know I'll find them on ebay one day(lol).

Update: 8/15/10
Guess who I met at church? One of the hostesses from the Chateau Marmont! She and her husband have been members for a while and she told me that one of the other hostesses is a Christian, too. I thanked her for being so kind to me when I visited CM. She said that she was glad I decided to stay and have a good time and a meal despite not getting the patio seating. She also complimented me again, including me as one of the "pretty people"(thank you). Then she added, "who knows, you could have had a chance encounter with Mr. Right that night". (How did she know that that was exactly what I was thinking -lol.) It's so uncanny. God is amazing!!!

Update: Febuary 11th 2011
Academy award winning writer-director, Sophia Coppola, (Francis Ford Coppola's daughter) has a new Indie film out called Somewhere based on the Chateau Marmont. The movie's main character is an actor who lives at the Chateau and struggles to connect with his young daughter as his life and career spirals down. I have heard that Mr. Coppola owned the Chateau for a minute in the "80's so this adds another dynamic to this film. The reviews for this film have been mixed but I think the premise is intriguing. I missed seeing this film in the theater last week but I may catch it on DVD if just to see more of the Chateau.

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