Riding Out the Pandemic in Hollywood’s Most Infamous Hotel

In Sofia Coppola’s 2010 film Somewhere, very little happens. It’s glorious: Johnny Marco, a divorced leading man in between gigs, moves into the Chateau Marmont, where he spends his days smoking copious cigs, sunning by the pool, drinking beers in the garden, and playing cards in the lobby. The Chateau is a legendarily debauched place, the site of Jim Morrison’s wildest days and John Belushi’s overdose death. Half of Hollywood has a naughty Chateau story. But Somewhere makes the case that it’s way more glamorous (and only slightly less depraved) to spend your days there not destroying your room but doing, well, nothing at all. At the Chateau, even Marco’s crushing ennui looks sexy.

Nicholson on the balcony of room 69, one floor above Johnny Marco’s preferred suite.

You might think reality couldn’t possibly achieve the pure vibes of a Coppola movie, of Stephen Dorff meandering around a private oasis while a Strokes demo plays in the background. You’d be wrong!

Since mid-March, when the American hospitality industry ground to a standstill and hotels everywhere emptied out, a handful of long-term Chateau residents have had the towering Italianate castle essentially to themselves. It’s a group that includes Luka Sabbat, actor Duke Nicholson, the stylist George Cortina, and a rotating cast of well-heeled transients like Keanu Reeves and Samantha Blake Cohen (daughter of recently jailed Trump fixer Michael). Together they’ve turned the Chateau into a clubhouse, salon, film and photoshoot set, and ultra-exclusive hideaway, all rolled into one. Call it the world’s most refined hype house.

Like many aspiring actors before him, Sabbat took up residency at the Chateau when he arrived in Hollywood in 2017, after landing his first TV role on Freeform’s Grown-ish. After an unwitting employer first put him up in the hotel for a modeling gig, living anywhere else simply wouldn’t do. “I never wanted to leave ever again. And… I haven’t!” he laughed. Since then, the 22-year-old influencer and creative has fully embraced the aesthetic of hotel living. His fit pics began to feature bathrobes and Lebowski shades, and while in Europe, the hotel’s green silk tassel keychain would hang from his belt.

Sabbat was in New York when the city began shutting down, and like countless kids his age, he returned home as soon as he could. Home, of course, meaning the hotel: “New York was really depressing at the beginning of Covid when everybody was super quarantined, and I was like, I gotta get the fuck out of here and go to the Chateau,” he said, sitting poolside on a recent afternoon. “I checked in and there were three people in the whole hotel,” he said. Most of the staff had been laid off, and there was only a skeleton crew manning the building. The restaurant, bar, and room service were shut down—a nightmare at other hotels, but a strange blessing for the Chateau quarantine crew. “It was the best. My favorite place in LA for once was not crowded… It felt like we were squatting in a castle,” Sabbat said.

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