“Excuse me, are you Storm?” a glamorous American lady stood in front of my table and asked. I looked up from my book; no, I’m afraid I’m not, I responded with my most charming of smiles, my British accent sounding disproportionately refined in comparison to her American drawl. She apologised and moved on, her face tipped up and forward as she strutted away to continue her search for ‘Storm’. I wondered who ‘Storm’ was, she sounded strong and glamorous and surely important if she had a breakfast meeting scheduled in the restaurant at Chateau Marmont. I felt quite buoyed to be mistaken for this ‘Storm’ person. I did a quick search on my phone and was pleased to find only one ‘Storm’, an attractive American musician who looked nothing like Gillian McKeith. That would do.
A short while later, as I crunched my way through an expensive bowl of the Chateau’s granola and berry mix, trying to look around to see if I recognised anyone but also attempting to be subtle at the same time (this is a very difficult thing to do), I became aware of a familiar sounding male voice on my right. As I swivelled my eyes over in his direction I already knew they were going to find Keanu Reeves. I would have said the ‘gorgeous’ Keanu Reeves, but that wouldn’t be entirely true as he looked biker-ish and in need of a good wash. Despite his grubby appearance, I was bubbling with excitement and really wished, for the first time on this trip, that I had someone with me to relish the moment. Instead I behaved like everyone else at the Chateau and ignored him completely, so much so that I didn’t even look up when he walked right past my table. I kind of wished I had, but alas the moment passed too quickly. No-one fusses over the famous here and you get the feeling that they are all around, lurking in quiet corners (of which there are plenty), probably itching to see who else is here too, but trying to behave as if they didn’t care either. We are all probably more similar than we think.
Staying at the Chateau was an unforgettable experience. I walked past the characterful, flower-adorned bungalows where Lindsey Lohan stayed and where John Belushi over-dosed. As I lay by the pool, I observed beautiful, wealthy women sunbathing with their tiny dogs, the kind you might accidentally send flying into the pool if you didn’t look where you were walking, and well-dressed business men strolling self-importantly around the pool edge talking on their phones. I loved my suite, yes suite! My arrival must have been fortuitously timed because I was upgraded to a beautiful set of rooms in a tower corner of the Chateau, complete with a large balcony. Wowsers! Everything was gracious and original and spoke silently of a glitzy, elegant past. I even loved that the luxurious, deep pile cream carpet in my suite had cigarette burns scattered through it because it let you imagine the wild parties that must have taken place. What is acceptable at the Chateau would never be so at a generic, modern 5 star hotel and I embraced that; it’s imperfection was, and is, its very perfection.
Whilst the staff at the hotel were all polite and efficient, friendly overtures weren’t really made between guests as far I could see and whilst that made me feel a bit of an outsider, it is also probably the beauty of the place, that there is this feeling of anonymity, that you can be who you want to be. I was a little sad to say farewell to the Chateau last Wednesday and leave behind the glamour and glitz, but I was also looking forward to seeing our lovely family friend, Bruce, and staying in a home where I could have a cup of tea, a cosy chat and not worry all the time about what I looked like, or who might be walking past me.
I’m writing this from Santa Monica, where my hotel room has a beautiful view of the Pacific. I’m also on the edge of the original ‘Muscle Beach’, I must go and have a look and admire the muscles today! Las Vegas beckons tomorrow.