Why don’t you live like De Niro or Monroe at a hotel?

At home with a concierge, a spa, a gym, fancy restaurants, and 24/7 guest services, why not?

PIED À TERRE Chateau Marmont on Sunset Strip, in West Hollywood, California, last year (Valerie Macon for AFP)

Spent the weekend at the Grand Hyatt in BGC. I was on the 45th floor, might as well have been on top of the world. From my altitude, the surrounding buildings seemed dwarfed, and there were picture windows so clear the glass panes seemed nonexistent everywhere I turned that I might as well have been in the clouds.

Yes, I was up in the sky, yet everything I needed from earth down below I could have just by dialing guest services. No sooner had I made one press on the wireless than a guy came up to help me figure out the Illy espresso machine, but while he was at it, he might as well make me coffee. He did. I made a mental note to send him off to fetch me some bath salts in case I found the mood to waste precious time in the tub, but that would have been too Marie Antoinette of me in this century.

Last year, as this still-lurking, still-lingering party-pooper of a virus sent us all home grounded, some enterprising young creative made wise use of his time sheltering in place by renovating his room to look and feel like a hotel suite. He posted everything like a project in progress on social media and each of his posts went viral, spreading like wildfire on the internet feeds.

Who doesn’t want to live in a hotel? Who doesn’t want to extend a grand hotel stay for a month, a year, a decade, a lifetime?

Marilyn Monroe didn’t mind spending all of two years at room 229 of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel when she was just trying to make it as a model. It was an old hotel, opened in 1927. The penthouse suite was named after Clark Gable and his wife Carol Lombard. And the bottom of the pool, now even more storied because Marilyn swam in it, had been painted by pop artist David Hockney.

Neither did Elizabeth Taylor, when she moved into the Hotel Bel-Air on Stone Canyon Road, just minutes from Beverly Hills, after marrying Conrad Hilton Jr., but only for a spell. If she and Nicky did not divorce before their first wedding anniversary, she would have been happy making a home of the haunt of the most glittering stars of the time like Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich…

To Robert de Niro, hotels are a destiny. He lived at the penthouse of the legendary Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles at the time the comedian and Saturday Night Live original John Belushi died of cocaine and heroin overdose there in 1982 and gave the hotel, which has famously housed the likes of Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo, Warren Beatty, Jean Harlow, Paul Newman, Mick Jagger, a seedy reputation. Aside: De Niro need not pay to live in hotels anymore because he has his own. He co-founded the Nobu brand with renowned chef Nobu Mastuhisa and film producer Meir Teper. He owns the Nobu in Manila at the City of Dreams.   

Everywhere, hotels are rich in celebrity history.


In Paris, Oscar Wilde lived and died at L’Hotel, formerly Hôtel d’Alsace, Coco Chanel lived at a rooftop apartment at the Ritz for most of her last 30 years, and Salvador Dali spent a whole month every year for three decades at the Royal Suite at Le Meurice, where he was, as you might guess, a nightmare to the staff, ordering sheep to his room at one point and shooting them down (with a pistol loaded with blank bullets).

Everywhere, hotels are rich in celebrity history. In Paris, Oscar Wilde lived and died at L’Hotel, formerly Hôtel d’Alsace, Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz for most of her last 30 years, and Salvador Dali spent a whole month every year for three decades at the Royal Suite at Le Meurice.

In London, Jimi Hendrix made a home of hotels like the Cumberland near Hyde Park, Peter Sellers lived for decades at the Dorchester Hotel, and Richard Harris, the original Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise, lived at the Savoy and died there in 2002.

In New York, Tennessee Williams lived for 15 years at the Hotel Elysée in Manhattan, where he died at 71 and there’s the famous/infamous Hotel Chelsea, which was home to writers like Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Arthur Miller, Thomas Wolfe, Alen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. Musicians like Leonard Cohen, Madonna, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Pink Floyd, and Bette Midler also called it home, so did painter Jackson Pollock.

In Manila, Douglas MacArthur lived for seven years at the Manila Hotel, and the suite he lived in, built to rival Malacañan Palace in scale and design at his request, being effectively the American counterpart of Philippine Commonwealth president Manuel L. Quezon, has since been named after him. The national artist for visual arts, Federico Alcuaz, known as much for his oils and acrylic as for his ink, watercolor, and pencil, lived—and made a studio of his room—at the Manila Pavilion for 40 years, until he died in 2011.

So I was thinking about all these over a glass of ginger whisky when I spent the weekend at the Grand Hyatt, after I was invited to check out one of two residential towers flanking the luxury hotel. In these residential towers, you could live as a resident as well as a hotel guest, with access to everything, the concierge, valet, laundry, and room service, housekeeping, repairs, gym, spa, and all, not to mention—if you’re nice to the staff—a preferred table (and view) at The Peak, No. 8 China House, the Pool House, and the sausages (!) and eggs any way you like at breakfast or brunch at the Lounge or the Grand Kitchen. You can order a club sandwich at 2 a.m., too, at no delivery cost, and it will be served at your unit with all the flourish of room service. The only difference is you’re not exactly a guest at the hotel—You own a piece of it.

Sounds like a plan, but I have to get famous first.