Musicians spend so much of their lives on the road. That means they need a place to crash, whether they’re in a major world city or the backwoods. Cathay salutes the best hotels around the world that have hosted memorable visits from rock stars and music legends. So check into wild hedonism and bad behaviour, band-inspired places to stay and hotels immortalised in song.
The Beatles-inspired Hard Days Night Hotel is located next to the rebuilt Cavern Club where the Fab Four first rose to fame. All rooms are individually decorated with specially commissioned Beatles artwork and memorabilia. There’s Blakes restaurant, named after pop artist Sir Peter Blake, who designed the iconic Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sleeve. The all-white Lennon Suite features a grand piano – a copy of the one in the Imagine video – while the McCartney Suite showcases a suit of armour, a nod to Sir Paul’s knighthood. Beatlemaniacs tying the knot can book the Two of Us wedding suite, named for the opening track on The Beatles’ final album, Let It Be.
Built in 1907, Hotel Adlon was a favourite among Europe’s upper crust until it was flattened in the closing days of the Second World War. The current hotel was rebuilt in 1997 in the original style, commanding a superb Berlin location and prime views of the Brandenburg Gate – and the patronage of top-tier musicians. This included the late Michael Jackson, who stayed in the presidential suite in November 2002. In a bizarre incident that cemented his Wacko Jacko status, the king of pop dangled his infant son, Prince Michael ‘Blanket’ Jackson II (now known as Bigi), over the balcony to show his fans. The incident made one of Europe’s most famous hotels even more famous.
Credit: Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images
In the 1960s and ’70s, this Manhattan hotel was the headquarters for rock’s elite, attracting musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Patti Smith. The hotel has inspired songs including Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning, Jefferson Airplane’s Third Week in the Chelsea and Nico and Lou Reed’s Chelsea Girls. Bob Dylan also paid tribute to it in Sara, as did Leonard Cohen in Chelsea Hotel No 2, which recounts a meeting with Janis Joplin. Madonna once lived in Room 822, which she revisited with photographer Steven Meisel for her book Sex.
This 30-room luxury hotel in London’s Soho district displays its rock credentials from the off, with a giant tribute to Jimi Hendrix realised in stained glass by reception. Billing itself as London’s first rock’n’roll boutique hotel, Sanctum Soho also features an in-house recording studio, a basement cinema and an open-air Jacuzzi in the middle of a 24-hour rooftop bar. The brains behind the hotel all used to manage rock bands and record labels. Metallica’s Kirk Hammett wrote the classic riff for Enter Sandman during a late-night jam in his room. Any guests wanting to emulate him can hire a guitar from reception.
While The Eagles repeatedly state that Hotel California is not about any specific hotel, the building featured on the 1976 album sleeve most definitely is. It’s the elegant Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, which first opened its doors in 1912. For the album cover, photographer David Alexander and designer John Kosh shot the setting sun behind the hotel. To get above the surrounding trees, they jumped into an 18-metre-tall cherry picker, swaying precariously over rush-hour traffic. Don Henley has said Hotel California reveals a sinister side of sunny LA: ‘It’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess, which is something we knew a lot about.’