When I look back at 2016, this year was filled with many wonderful surprises. One took place during a trip to Los Angeles to attend Jewel-Osco’s Signature brand launch back in April. When I received my travel arrangements from Jewel for the trip, I immediately noticed the hotel’s address on my itinerary: 8401 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.
That number jumped out at me, because to music fans, especially classic rock fans, it’s a legendary address on Sunset.
It’s the address of the Riot House.
The Riot House has been called the most famous rock and roll hotel in the world. In its 1970s heyday, Led Zeppelin rode motorcycles in its hallways. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Keith Moon of The Who both threw televisions off Riot House balconies. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS wrote their famous rock anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” in this hotel.
This hotel, filled with rock history, hedonism, and debauchery, is both still around and open for business. In fact, their website boasts that you can “sleep where the greatest rockers have slept!”
Spending the night in the Riot House has long been on my personal bucket list, and by sheer coincidence (or perhaps by someone in Jewel’s public relations department knowing what a huge music fan I am!) I was finally going to stay there.
Today, the Riot House is known as the Hyatt Andaz West Hollywood. Its former name, the Continental Hyatt House, was rechristened the “Riot House” by the many rock stars who stayed there over the years, and the nickname has stuck to this day.
I couldn’t wait to arrive.
I arrived at the hotel bright and early just after 9:00am on a sunny April morning and checked in.
Half of the Riot House rooms face the Sunset Strip, while the other half overlook the Hollywood Hills. Thinking of the famous photo of Robert Plant gazing off a Riot House balcony, I requested a balcony room.
I was given room 907, and I reveled in the incredible history of this place as I walked to my room. The rooms at the Andaz are quite spacious, which is to be expected for a hotel of its age.
The console beneath the room’s television has a mini bar and a tray of snacks on top:
A card on the tray noted that all snacks and nonalcoholic beverages in the mini bar are complimentary! The vodka and Jack undoubtedly pay homage to the rock and roll debauchery in this hotel’s past.
The fridge was stocked with an assortment of juices, soft drinks, bottled water and alcoholic beverages. During my stay, I also learned that you can restock your own drinks whenever you’d like by heading to the lobby. There’s a countertop island in the lobby with built-in refrigerated drawers filled with additional soda, juice and water. Open them and grab whatever you’d like — it’s included with your nightly rate.
Then, it was time to check out the balcony! When this hotel was remodeled in 2009, its famous balconies were converted into sunrooms. I was told that the televisions located on the balconies are also an homage to the TV-throwing antics of the past. However, the balcony televisions are bolted to the wall, and the balconies are now fully encased in glass.
The balcony is larger than it seems at first look, as it extends to the right beyond the wall separating the bedroom from the balcony. There’s a cozy chair and ottoman next to the television. Around the corner, there’s a davenport-style loveseat and table.
My ninth floor location gave me a great view both of the Sunset Strip below and Los Angeles in the distance. The balcony felt about ten degrees warmer than the rest of the room due to the heat of the sun during the day. I knew I would be spending a lot of time out here during my stay. Who knows what kind of rock and roll debauchery may have taken place in this room?
The Andaz continues to honor its rock history with record albums in each room too. Alas, there was no turntable for me to enjoy Max Headroom.
I though it was pretty funny that the list of amenities that you could call the front desk for was printed on a CD. (Yes, it played music too — I popped it into my laptop to check!)
The hotel also had some fun freebies — a screen cleaner wipe, hand sanitizer spray, and a set of earplugs in case the Strip got too noisy. (It didn’t.)
I ventured out to explore the rest of the hotel, and I ended up walking the hallways of every floor to drink it all in.
I stood outside room 1015, where Keith Richards threw out his television. The Doors lived on the 10th floor in the 1960. Little Richard lived in room 319 for nearly two decades. I’ve read varying accounts of which floors Led Zeppelin actually rode motorcycles down, so I walked them all, envisioning bikes zooming up and down the halls.
As a KISS fan, the story of Paul and Gene writing “Rock and Roll All Nite” in their Riot House rooms is well-known too. Exactly which rooms they wrote in? That knowledge has been lost to time, so I made sure to pass by them all.
There’s a large staircase in the lobby leading to the second floor, and the landing has portraits of many famous rockers who’ve graced the Riot House halls. Here’s an interesting tidbit about the lobby: If you’ve ever seen Cameron Crowe’s film “Almost Famous,” a portion of it was filmed at the Riot House. In 1999, Crowe’s crew restored the Riot House lobby to its 1970s glory for the movie. While working, he remembered the lobby staircase from his youth, which had been walled over at some point during a remodel. The crew knocked the wall down, and sure enough, there stood the staircase.
An upstairs hallway has signage detailing the hotel’s rich rock history:
The hotel has a rooftop pool with a grand view of the Hollywood Hills. If you’ve ever seen the movie “This Is Spinal Tap,” the final scene of the movie was filmed poolside on the Riot House roof.
I changed into my bathing suit and headed up, as there was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy swimming where some of my favorite rockers have swum! Once on the top floor, a stairway leads up to the pool. At the stairs, a sign details the “Riot House Rules” for guests:
I’d already agreed not to throw my television out a window, and I didn’t bring a car (or a motorcycle) on this trip, so… I was ready to hit the pool deck.
The rooftop pool has some amazing views of Hollywood, and you can grab a cushion to sit poolside, or relax in one of the sun cabana loungers.
As this was a business trip (albeit, one of the best business trips of my year!) I alternated between dips in the pool and tanning in the California sun while working on my laptop.
It may not be the rock star life, but California sun in early April for this Chicagoan whose skin hadn’t seen sun since wintertime? It was pretty sweet.
The Andaz West Hollywood is just a short walk away from nearly every local rock and roll landmark on the Sunset Strip you might want to visit. I went out for a walk around lunchtime.
I picked up some food and returned to my Riot House balcony to have lunch and do a little more work. I can’t say enough good things about the cozy balcony space of the Sunset-facing rooms at this hotel. It’s like having a little room-within-your-room. A curtain can separate the balcony from the room completely if you don’t want daylight (or the world) looking in.
Having a TV on the balcony made my work time even more enjoyable too! I spent late afternoon and early evening just watching the world go by, perched over the street. After a work-related dinner, I returned to my room and my balcony to watch the sun go down.
I continued wondering what kinds of crazy things might have happened in this hotel room over the years. It was so much fun to ponder.
When it was finally time to get some sleep, I left the balcony curtain open so that I could wake up to watch the sunrise.
Sadly, my 24 hours in the Riot House were nearly coming to an end. After packing up, I headed to the lobby for complimentary breakfast items (juice and pastries.) The lobby is well-stocked with comfortable furniture and numerous photo books about the history of the Sunset Strip. As I waited for my car, I flipped through several books that documented famous music billboards throughout the past five decades along the Strip.
The Andaz West Hollywood really is an extraordinary destination for fans of rock music, and I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to stay here this year and revel in its decadent past. While it’s long been a bucket list destination for me, I want to return at some point with my entire family so they too can spend a day or two living like a rock star.
On my way out, one of the Andaz staff invited me to sign the hotel’s guest book — which wasn’t a guest book at all. It was a large coffee-table style book of historic Los Angeles photographs. I flipped through the pages, reading messages and notes from other guests. Then, I added my name to its pages.
The Andaz West Hollywood, rock and roll’s historic “Riot House,” is located at 8401 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Want to live like a rock star the next time you’re in California? Book a room online.