The Legendary Millenium Biltmore Hotel
By Dawn Garcia
Los Angeles is a city that is flooded with beauty, chaos, the old, the new, the plastic, the real, art, music, food, film, history, architecture, but above all – story.” – Dawn Garcia
That said, one of the most beautiful buildings and hotels in Los Angeles is the Millennium Biltmore.
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Throughout Los Angeles exist architectural landmarks that remind us of a time when glamour was visible in every corner of the city.
Visual reminders take us on a journey to reminisce with old Hollywood stars like Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn,Cary Grant, Fred Estaire, Gene Kelly, and on and on.
That said, one of the most beautiful buildings and hotels in Los Angeles is the Millennium Biltmore. Having done a photo shoot there, staying in the hotel as a guest and enjoying the cocktails at their bar, this is a landmark that really is unique. It is romantic, graceful, and full of potential.
A Glorious Past
As a backdrop, there are few locations like it: detailed archways; hand painted ceilings; beautiful lighting fixtures; dual ascending staircases leading to a marbled terrace.
A 1920’s bar is visible through oversized glass doors, and is home to leather tufted sofas and chairs around the piano. The open room features a bar beautifully stocked like a scene in an old film. Secret rooms lead to pieces of history you didn’t know existed, and there's even an underground bathroom that you’ve probably seen in your favorite movies. But perhaps the most interesting piece of history remains the Gold Room - the last place the Black Dahlia was ever seen alive.
Begun in 1921, The Millennium Biltmore was something special from the onset.
The original Board Members, originally part of the Central Investment Corporation, voted unanimously to resign and form a new entity that would take charge of the Millennium Biltmore Project. Filled with the belief that this could be something incredibly profitable and important, the building began. The Architecture Firm Schultze and Weaver designed the details of what we see still standing today.
Image Courtesy Flickr user milleniumbiltmore
Every carving, every image, every piece of tile was placed with intention.
The decor is a cross between European, Roman Myth, and early American. For example, while there are cherubs and European-esque designs reminiscent of Italian artists, there are also repeated themes of the Spring Goddess, as well as emblems of water buffalo, Indian Chiefs, and the rising sun throughout the hotel in homage to American Indian culture.
Ups and Downs
Completed and opened in 1923, it seems almost every room presents a different era.
With 5 major ballrooms, a pool that looks like something you’d see at Hearst Castle, and gorgeous rooms, this is a Hotel that is one of the most beautiful in Los Angeles.
Now the downside: though the Hotel itself is absolutely beautiful, it has suffered a bit of neglect over the years. At 90 years old, it comes with its problems. The rooms are lovely but in need of a revamp. You can hear EVERYTHING– a little sound reinforcement would be a plus. For such a grand Hotel, there are too many vacant spaces.
While there are plenty of Events, Meetings and Conferences that happen here, this Hotel should be brimming with life.
Especially at night. With a bar so full of possibility, it is in desperate need of a PR overhaul.
The Biltmore could also stand to improve a few other things. For instance: their “Club” access. The breakfast is NOT a full breakfast. In fact it is just a continental breakfast that you pay significantly more for (as an add-on to the “Club Rooms”). Granted there is free wi-fi, but that’s not enough of a draw when Pershing Square, just outside, offers the same thing.
Their restaurant downstairs is slowly improving but the Chefs have the opportunity to make the fare above par in every way.
Outstanding food would keep up with the surrounding culinary brilliance so prevalent in Downtown. It would be refreshing to see them take advantage of that.
With ambiance and physical space that many only dream of having, the Biltmore should utilize every effort to raise enough money to make this a Hotel worthy of its once 5-Star Rating.
Sophistication and Wonder
All in all, the Millennium Biltmore is not only a Hotel and Bar, but an essential fixture in the city of Los Angeles.
It represents the sophistication and wonder of days of old. The combination of the permanence of its architecture and charm of service is beyond rare. With so many films being shot on the premises, it would be fitting for the entertainment industry to invest in bringing this Hotel back to life and again contributing to its rightful place as one of the greatest Hotels in all of Los Angeles.
General Manager Sweitlana Cahill has started plans to make the Biltmore Halls a Gallery of History.
She has spent countless hours researching the Hotel’s history: her vision is to tell the story of The Biltmore on the walls of the currently empty halls. It is a brilliant idea and one that we can all hope for.
I also want to mention Steve Eberhard, Banquet Maitre D’ who is second generation at The Hotel. His father was responsible for the changes and improvements happening now. He gave me a full tour of the Hotel, and I’d highly recommend scheduling some time to have him walk you through the grand history and detail of this exquisite Los Angeles gem. Thanks to Sweitlana and to Steve for their vision, hard work, dedication, and continual passion.