Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles 1930s
The Hollywood film industry was still in its infancy when the Biltmore Hotel opened in downtown Los Angeles in 1923. Built by hotels magnate John McEntee Bowman, he said the opulent and lavishly decorated property was “a statement to the rest of the world that Los Angeles had arrived as an American metropolis.”
It was the most expensive hotel of its era – it cost ten million dollars to build – and its architecture was inspired by the Spanish and French Renaissances. The interior frescoes were the work of Giovanni Battista Smeraldi, who also worked on the Vatican and The White House. There were 1,000 rooms, each with their own bathroom – an unheard-of luxury at the time.
Scores of celebrities patronised the Biltmore and in 1927 the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences decided after a meeting in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom to launch an awards ceremony called The Oscars. Legend has it that Metro Goldwyn Meyer’s famous set designer Cedric Gibbons sketched the design of the Oscar statuette on one of the hotel’s napkins.
The Oscars ceremony was held here on several occasions and Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart, Garry Cooper, Bette Davis, Joan Fontaine, Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert were all presented with Oscars at the Biltmore.
It has been used as a backdrop in films such as Ocean’s 11 (1960 ), The Sting ( 1973), Chinatown ( 1974) and Bugsy ( 1991) as well as television Mad Men series.
Rumor has it that some of the hotel rooms are haunted – guests claim to have seen the ghost of a nurse on the second floor and the ghost of a little girl on the ninth floor.
This delightful and elegant cocktail menu was used in the hotel’s original seven bars, lounges and restaurants.
The Beaux Arts- inspired hotel still welcomes guests today and is called the Millenium Biltmore Hotel.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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