The Castle on Sunset

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 May 2019

Member Reviews

The Castle on Sunset is a meticulous and thorough history of one of L.A.’s most famous landmarks. Levy traces the history of the hotel from its humble beginning on undeveloped land to its current status as elite refuge for the stars. Every aspect of the hotel is described including the architecture and construction, the owners, the staff, the guests, events involving the hotel, and its impact on modern culture. Additionally, this author incorporates a detailed historical narrative of the Sunset Strip including the 1966 counter-cultural riot. 

Levy’s easy storytelling is accessible and engaging. This is a well-researched work with just the right amount of historical fact and Hollywood folklore to keep the reader captivated. Chapters have convenient endnotes and copious bibliographies are provided for further research. This is a must-read for anyone interested in Old Hollywood, or the history of Los Angeles.
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I have long been drawn to the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood. The Hollywood of the golden age of movies and the buildings the privileged would associate with. This way of thinking pays homage to the old saying "if walls could talk" Gosh. Just imagine what the walls of Chateau Marmont would say. Imagine no more thanks to this historical insight of a book. I was blown away with the skills of the research and the carefully worded piece of history. This book read like I was immersed in the world of Chateau Marmont.
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I've never been to the Chateau Marmont but after reading this well researched nonfiction account, I feel like i have. I found that the author provided interesting details about the history, scandals and intrigue that have taken place at this hotel over the years. I especially liked the juicy gossip feel to certain parts of the story. However, I do feel it was heavily focused on the 1960s and 1970s so if you were an adult during that time I think this would really be more interesting to you. I found that I wanted to know more about the past 20 years or so and wasn't as invested in the earlier years. All in all a very well researched, well written look at an iconic hotel
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Well-researched with compelling writing, The Castle on Sunset takes readers through the quietly iconic Chateau Marmont.  Levy tackles not only the big-names and wannabes, but maids, bellboys, and owners as well to give a full picture of what it truly meant and still means to be part of Marmont's universe.  Walk the halls with drunken music legends, cheating starlets, reclusive eccentrics, and the people that cleaned the toilets.  Levy alternately debunks and fleshes out rumors while taking on the long-standing history of a building that has remained standing in a town that doesn't want to remember anything.
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Old Hollywood history normally fascinates me, but I just struggled to get through this one.  It felt like a slow start and never picked up fully enough for me to get into it.
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This is a beautiful book about the history of Chateau Marmont. It is more a history of the castle itself with a bit of gossip about it's occupants. I would recommend this book for fans of history. 

I would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it
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The Castle on Sunset by Shawn Levy is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late April.

The history (into the present day) of the Chateau Marmont from its construction in 1927 and its pop culture implications as told through meetings, departures, lover’s trysts, writer’s refuge, rock ‘n roll den of sin, hideaways, soirées, and a place to get married with guests entering and exiting like shadowy, sultry diaphanous wisps.
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I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Castle on Sunset is not salacious enough. When the topic is the famous Hollywood hotel, the Chateau Marmont, you expect some racy gossip. But if so, you will be sadly disappointed as most of the celebrity stories have been widely told before.

The Chateau was built at the height of 1920s optimism as a homage to a French royal castle. It was finished right before the market crash and the depression began.

The well-researched history of the many owners of the Chateau and its frequent rebranding is the best part of this book. Unfortunately, I was looking for spicy gossip, which is mostly absent. The Castle on Sunset is a serious history. If you are looking for that, you will enjoy this book. However, I wanted more original scoops on celebrities’ lives. 3 stars.

Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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The Story of a Hollywood Treasure

The Chateau Marmont has a long and varied history. Improbably, the first owner, Frank Horowitz, who built the Chateau, sited it on a dirt road. In 1929, this was far from the action in Hollywood. He had seen the Chateau d’Amboise when on a visit to the Loire Valley and wanted to recreate it on his land. 

The initial plan for the Chateau was to have a series of luxury apartments. When it became too difficult to fill the apartments, the new owners turned it into a hotel. The hotel has had a series of owners each giving it a slightly different character. 

Over the years, the hotel has been patronized by celebrities who wanted a more private place. Some wanted the restful ambiance; others wanted to pursue their often illicit pleasures outside the glare of publicity. The list of the famous who stayed there is extensive. It makes titillating reading to discover how the famous stars cavorted within it’s halls.

The book starts somewhat slowly with the description of how the hotel was built and what the early owners did to keep it afloat. The story becomes much more interesting when the stars, particularly those from the 30s, 40, and 50s, took up residence. This is definitely a book for history buffs interested in Hollywood’s heyday. 

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
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I scheduled my reading of this book from Shawn Levy for the week that I was in LA for work. I couldn't have picked a more perfect book. 

The Castle on Sunset appeals to my history side - with an in-depth look at how the Chateau Marmont came to be, from it's beginning as an apartment to it's status as a celebrity hang out. Warning - if you are here for the gossip - it's there but it takes a bit to get to - and you aren't going to get details.

Shawn Levy has clearly devoted time to gathering the fact of this historic and infamous castle. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont by Shawn Levy is a 2019 Doubleday publication. 

An absolutely fascinating and absorbing piece of history! 

Everyone understands, even through its many incarnations, that Sunset Strip is an iconic part of Los Angeles. Although the Chateau Marmont has been strategically located on the infamous strip since 1929, it has somehow managed to fly under the radar, making it the perfect choice for anyone seeking premium privacy- which of course attracted Hollywood types from actors to producers , and later on, rock stars, who flocked to the storied hotel, where they engaged in all manner of lurid and scandalous activities.\

The hotel has gone through many re-inventions over the years, rising and falling, with several owners, each with a plan or agenda for the hotel. It has mostly been a ‘no-frills’ place, devoid of many of the pricey amenities offered by other famous hotels in L.A.

Yet, it has been an oasis for many stars because they could live there for long periods and no matter what they got up to, no one ever heard a peep about it. It was a refuge for many deeply closeted gay actors in the fifties and sixties and was also the choice location for actors and actresses going through marital woes, separations or divorces, or who were between marriages, and where they met up with their secret paramours. 

The architecture is unique, and unusual, also providing little cubby holes for clandestine activities. But, the bungalows, with private entrances and exits is where a lot of the more sordid activities transpired. The hotel has occasionally shown up in films or was at the very least alluded to. 

The people who passed through the hotel boggles the mind. So many famous people resided there for months at a time and sometimes longer, while others only passed through briefly. However, the hotel could not completely avoid the headlines, as when John Belushi famously overdosed and died. The hotel did have a hard time shaking off that bit of notoriety, but still retained its reputation for the extreme privacy it provided its guests. 

Although the hotel came precariously close to failure and closure on a few occasions, it somehow miraculously fell into the right hands, at just the right time, to survive another day. Today, the hotel is thriving in an entirely new way, but sadly, with cell phones and social media it is harder than ever to maintain the same level of privacy it once boasted. 

However, more than even in days past, it is still one of the premiere choices by A-list celebrities who find the hotel, despite some of its lack of on sight luxuries, the place to be. The hotel can still be counted on to the provide their guests with the utmost secrecy and has managed to carve out a legacy all its own in the process. 

The author had a monumental task telling the famed hotel’s history. The hotel is nearing the century mark, which is really quite amazing, but that’s a lot of history to sort through. I thought he did an amazing job with familiarizing the reader with all the owners, the staff, and the guests throughout history and managed to recreate the mood, ambience, and atmosphere of each decade and what the hotel meant to the generations of people who passed through its doors. 

For me, personally, I enjoyed reading about the guest from the thirties through the fifties best of all. The glamour and style of these decades disappeared, never to return, but it was a time when such great innovators and game changers gathered under the same roof, where the party never seemed to end and the creative juices flourished, and it was all done with great style and flourish. The scandals were titillating, but much was still left up to the public’s imagination- not like today when there is very little of the myth or mystery left which helped create true Hollywood legends. 
But, hopefully the Marmont will survive whatever the next big curve in the road brings, and will remain a steady keeper of secrets for Hollywood’s elite for decades to come…
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Compared to former owner Ray Sarlot’s book, Life at the Marmont (which I’ve also read), The Castle on Sunset details the fine points of the hotel’s transformation over the decades and how it’s stayed up in spite of a changing Sunset Strip. The book blends Hollywood history with a look at what makes Los Angeles so beguiling to people. The Castle on Sunset will make you want to check in.
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Before reading this book, the only details I knew about the Chateau Mormont were the seedy ones like the bungalow where John Belushi OD'd, Lindsay Lohan racking up $50,000 in unpaid charges, and other tales of addiction, embezzlement, and scandal.

I'm glad I read this book. There is so much more to the 90-year history of Chateau Mormont than scandals. Shawn Levy tells the story of the Mormont from it's construction as upscale apartments in 1929, the conversion to a hotel in 1939, and its operations, owners, and history clear up to the present day. I had to read this book in small sections. There is a lot of information and references. I read a chapter at a time and looked up many of the Hollywood stars, films, and events Levy mentions. So much history! 

The book is a nonfiction history of the famous hotel, not an in-depth look at scandals or Hollywood gossip. I like the fact that the book doesn't dwell on famous scandals, but gives the complete history of the famous hotel from it's glamorous years to falling into disrepair to its refurbishment in recent years.

Interesting read!

Shawn Levy has written several other books on Hollywood including biographies of Paul Newman, The Rat Pack, Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis. I'm definitely interested in reading more of his books. Levy definitely did an incredible amount of research to write this history of Chateau Mormont. He presented the facts in an interesting manner, telling the overall story not just the famous scandals. That fact makes me want to read the biographies he has written simply because I can trust him to write about all aspects of the actors, not just gossip. I will definitely be reading more by this author!

**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from DoubleDay Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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This book is a history of the Chateau Marmont from its inception way back before the roads were even paved that it sits on. It’s loosely modeled after the Chateau d’Amboise, a royal retreat in France’s Loire Valley. Its name comes from the small street that runs along the front, with the main street on the side being Sunset Blvd. It started out as an upscale apartment building when it first opened in 1929. It was soon found to be difficult to fill the regular apartments, let alone the luxury penthouses with balconies, a total of 63 altogether. Opening a couple of years before the Depression happened didn’t help matters either. The original investors gave it a couple of years, then regrouped and said ok, if things don’t improve in a year, it’s time to sell and try something else.

And that is what happened, it was sold, and turned into a hotel by the new owner. It did ok under his ownership, but it was during the next owner that it really flourished. He had an eye for the long haul, and added the bungalows, a pool, made it more what it was really known for. The book shares stories of some who were part of the Marmont’s history in all different types of ways. All of them interesting. It was also interesting hearing about another place across the street that was really wild, The Garden of Allah. A good read for anyone interested in old Hollywood history stories, Schwab’s drugstore, all of the different night spots to party at. It’s filled with it. The advance electronic copy was provided by NetGalley, author Shawn Levy, and the publisher.
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Shawn Levy did an impeccable job detailing the history and allure of an iconic landmark.  This is so much more than an attempt at a salacious tell-all, which we've seen and heard before.  It's a true history of the building itself, management, and the surrounding area's transformation across decades. This is a lovely balance between fact and lure, sure to satisfy readers searching for either.
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This is a loving history of a building and an aesthetic that has defied expectations for over nine decades. 

There is no history in Hollywood. Everything is very much about the now, the up and coming. The old and the passe are bulldozed, torn down, and thrown away to make room for what is coming next. This makes the survival of the Chateau Marmont on the Sunset Strip for nearly a century such an unusual feat. 

The building has been glamorous, obscure, dilapidated, worn, reborn, infamous, mysterious, private, and in the spot light. Its history mirrors the development and life of the Sunset Strip. Hollywood legends have lived, loved, and died there. Blue bloods mixed with lovelorn divorcees, rioting teens provided counterpoint to screenwriters and musicians. It was a home away from home, a slice of New York, a piece of old Europe. It was a sanctuary and a place to misbehave.

The story is as fascinating as any movie drama, and Shawn Levy spins that tale with care, joy, and love. Anyone interested in old Hollywood or unexpected history should certainly put this book on their TBR
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The Castle on Sunset by Shawn Levy is  pretty much a 'biography' of one of the biggest players in Hollywood...Chateau Marmont.  This institution has been a Hollywood icon and staple for decades and yet continues to find itself as relevant, trendy, and nearly mandatory in so many of the entertainment industry's accomplishments and accolades within the ever changing Hollywood culture.

I was going to try to highlight some of the more 'known' celebrities who have been a tenant or a visitor or a supporter of the Chateau Marmont, but the list is so long that there isn't enough room in this review.  From Leonardo DiCaprio to Beyonce to Greta Garbo and Natalie Wood...and everyone in between...Chateau Marmont and its 24 hour room service and proximity to the stars has left a mark on many Hollywood players.  Of course we are aware of the John Belushi death that occurred there, and this book goes into many details surrounding his death, as well as other notorious events that may (or may not) have occurred here.

This book is thoroughly researched and if you are yearning to learn more about Hollywood, starting with the Golden Age through today...and the institution for which has been an eye witness...then this book is for you!  This book is filled with details and dates and architects and owners and wait staff employees...sometimes it is more detail then I could process but for true history buffs, it may be just the right mix!  

If only I could afford to stay at Chateau Marmont...

Thank you to NetGalley and to Doubleday Publishing for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Castle on Sunset will be released on May 7, 2019!
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For almost a hundred years the Chateau Mormont housed the Hollywood elite.  It kept their secrets and heart break hidden with in its walls.  The castle on Sunset by Shawn Levy is a biography of the Chateau Marmont.  The book is a gossipy history of what went on within it’s walls.  It’s also a cultural history.  It’s a fun romp through 90 years of entertainment.
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This non-fiction book tells a very extensive history of this Hollywood landmark. From its early beginning's, through it's current popularity, Chateau Marmont has withstood the test of time and has shared in some of Hollywood's most well known scandals. From the death of John Belushi within its walls, to the many celebrities extended stays, this hotel has walls we all wish could talk. Fortunately for us, Shawn Levy has made this happen within the pages of his book.

The Castle on Sunset will be something that different generations of readers will each find interesting for different reasons..

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars not because I didn't think it was worthy of 4 or 5 stars, but for me, not all of the history was interesting. Fans of Hollywood, and fans of history will both enjoy this intriguing look into Hollywood's Castle on Sunset.
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As someone who has spent a lot of time at The Chateau  for work over the years, I’m thrilled to read the history of this iconic piece of HOLLYWOOD.  I read it in one sitting, and can’t wait to chat it up.  It’s so fascinating, so accessible, and it feels like I was a fly on the wall.  The research was fantastic, and so fantastic.
You should have a real winner with this title.
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