5 Old Hotels With Legendary, Storied Histories

Photo: Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith.
By Amelia Mularz

Rock stars don’t tend to trash airports or restaurants. When was the last time you heard about a musician unleashing at a local Red Lobster? No, it’s hotels that usually bear the brunt of their wild-child ways. What’s more, hotels attract a varied and intriguing bunch — from Hollywood royalty to actual heirs to the throne — giving them long and often extraordinary histories.

Here, we've dug through these hotels' histories and rounded up five stays with very storied pasts.

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Photo: Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith.
A Tiger Shooting At Raffles Singapore
With six restaurants, tropical gardens, a museum, and a mall, Raffles Singapore is legendary. And speaking of legends, here’s one: The last surviving wild tiger in Singapore was shot here — in the Long Bar, according to some sources. The official line is that the poor thing escaped from a nearby show and made an ill-fated beeline for the Bar & Billiards room (sociable critter). Rather than being greeted with a Singapore Sling and a cue stick, it met a sticky end via the barrel of a gun.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith.
Led Zeppelin’s Drummer Makes An Entrance At Chateau Marmont
When checking in at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont, keep an eye on your luggage and steer clear of any rogue rock stars on two wheels. That’s because Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham once rode his Harley-Davidson hog through the hotel’s lobby. Other reports say that Bonham's bandmates also were in on the action and that they staged motorcycle races down a main corridor. As for other memorable entrances (and exits) at Chateau Marmont, James Dean supposedly jumped through the window of director Nicholas Ray’s room to audition for Rebel Without a Cause in 1955, and Jim Morrison allegedly jumped from the roof of a poolside cabana. As the story goes, the Doors singer was so high he walked away unscathed.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith.
Courtney Love Leaves Her Mark On The Covent Garden Hotel
Turning one year older may have a mellowing effect on some, but not for rock ’n’ roll diva Courtney Love. Following a gig in London, a newly 43-year-old Love and her entourage returned to Covent Garden, a well-heeled West End bolthole, for a long night of celebrating.

Allegedly, the group used its hotel suite as an oversized ashtray, leaving cigarette butts strewn about the room and burn marks in the bed, upholstery, and carpet. The last part seems oddly fitting for the singer of a band named Hole.

Related: This New Zealand Hotel Has Got Some Serious Style
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Photo: Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith.
A London Suite Becomes A Yugoslav Territory
Talk about a home away from home. On July 17, 1945, Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia was born in Suite 212 of Claridge’s hotel in London. Winston Churchill declared the lavish room a Yugoslav territory for the day so that the royal could be born on his country’s own soil. Supposedly, attendants even placed dirt from the prince’s homeland under the bed to make it official.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith.
Bond Is Born At GoldenEye In Jamaica
One hotel helped produce both 007 and the world’s most misunderstood love song. Before it was a bookable resort, GoldenEye was Ian Fleming’s cliffside retreat. There, the British writer penned more than a dozen James Bond novels. Years later, Sting got inspired while staying in one of the property’s villas and wrote Every Breath You Take, a tune that is considerably more stalker-ish than sweet.

Additionally, U2’s Bono and The Edge wrote the theme song for the GoldenEye movie while staying at the property. It just wouldn’t be right if they had created the track at a Comfort Inn.

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