Millenium Biltmore

Millennium Biltmore Hotel | Downtown Los Angeles

“Los Angeles is a city that is flooded with beauty, chaos, the old, the new, the plastic, the real, art, music, food, film, history, architecture, but above all – story.” – Dawn Garcia

Millennium Biltmore | 506 S. Grand Ave. | Los Angeles, CA

Throughout Los Angeles exist architectural landmarks that remind us of a time when glamor was visible in every corner of the city. Visual reminders that take us on a journey to reminisce old Hollywood stars like Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Fred Estaire, Gene Kelly, and on and on.

That said, one of the most beautiful buildings and hotels in Los Angeles is the Millennium Biltmore. Having done a photo shoot there, staying in the hotel as a guest, and enjoying the cocktails at their bar, this is a landmark that really is unique. It is romantic, graceful, and full of potential.

As a backdrop, there are few locations like it: detailed archways; hand painted ceilings; beautiful lighting fixtures; dual ascending staircases leading to a marbled terrace; a 1920’s bar that is visible through oversized glass doors home to leather tufted sofas and chairs adorning the piano – vacantly situation in the open room with a bar beautifully stocked and like a scene out of an old film; secret rooms that lead you to a piece of history you didn’t know existed; an underground bathroom that you’ve seen in most of your favorite movies; AND perhaps the most interesting piece of history exists in the Gold Room which is the last place the Black Dahlia was ever seen alive.

Began in 1921, The Millennium Biltmore was something special from it’s onset. The original Board Members, all initially part of Central Investment Corporation, decided to unanimously resign and form a new entity that would take charge of the Millennium Biltmore Project. Spearheaded with the belief that this could be something incredibly profitable and important, it’s building began. Hired on was Architecture Firm, Schultze and Weaver who designed the details of what can be seen still standing today. Every carving, every image, every piece of tile was placed with intention. The decor is a cross between European, Roman Myth, and early America. For example, while there may be cherubs and European-esque designs remnant of Italian Artists, there are also repeated themes of the Spring Goddess, and emblems of water buffalo, Indian Chiefs, and the rising sun throughout the hotel as an homage to American Indian culture. Completed and opened in 1923, it seems with every room, a new era is present. With 5 Major Ballrooms, a pool that looks like something you’d see at the Hearst Castle, and gorgeous rooms, this is a Hotel that while in progress, is one of the most beautiful in Los Angeles.

Now the downside: The Hotel itself is absolutely beautiful but it has undergone a bit of neglect over the years. With a hotel that is 90 years old, it comes with it’s problems. The rooms are beautiful but in need of a revamp. You can hear EVERYTHING. For such a grand Hotel, there are too many vacant spaces – a little sound reinforcement would be a plus. While there are plenty of Events, Meetings, and Conferences that happen here, this Hotel should be brimming with life. Especially at night. With a bar that is so full of possibility, it would be lovely to see it thriving like it did back in the day. That said, the Biltmore could stand to improve a few other things. For instance: Their “Club” access. The breakfast is NOT a full breakfast. In fact it is just a continental breakfast that you pay significantly more for (as an add-on to the “Club Rooms”). Granted there is free wi-fi but that’s not enough of a draw when Pershing Square, just outside, offers the same thing. Their restaurant downstairs is slowly improving but the Chefs have so much freedom to make the fare above par in every way. Outstanding food would act as a lure to keep up with the surrounding culinary brilliance so prevalent in Downtown. It would be refreshing to see them take advantage of that. With ambiance and physical space that many only dream of having, I am holding out hope that the Biltmore gets the investors it deserves to take it back to their once 4-Star Rating.

All in all, the Millennium Biltmore is not only a Hotel and Bar, it is an essential fixture in the city of Los Angeles. It represents the sophistication and wonder of days of ole and the charm and permanence of architecture and service that are beyond rare. With so many films being shot on the premises, it would be all too befitting for the Entertainment Industry to invest in bringing this Hotel back to life and contributing to it’s rightful place as one of the greatest Hotels in all of Los Angeles.

As an aside, General Manager Sweitlana Cahill has started plans to make the Biltmore Halls a Gallery of History. She has spent countless hours researching the Hotel’s history. Her vision is to tell the story of The Biltmore on the walls of the empty halls. It is a brilliant idea and one that we can all hope sees the light of day. I also want to mention Steve Eberhard, Banquet Maitre D’ who is second generation at The Hotel. His father was responsible for the changes and improvements happening now. He gave me a full tour of the Hotel and if you can, I’d highly recommend scheduling some time to have him walk you through the grand history and detail of this exquisite Los Angeles gem.

Thanks to the Biltmore for their vision, hard work, dedication, and continual passion.