Hotels have always been synonymous with rock ’n’ roll, but nowadays it’s more about capturing nostalgia and celebrating design.
GLOBAL REPORT—Hotels have always played a large role in the over-the-top lifestyles and antics of certain rock bands and stars, with some anecdotes taking on a “Telephone” game-style life of their own as they enlarge and color the original storylines.
Hotels often will not publicize rock-star stays due to confidentiality; occasionally, they do not want to because of resulting infamy from a stay. However, nowadays bands and acts seem to be on far better behavior, probably thanks to 24-hour news feeds and instant reviews and opinion.
As it is now summer in the city, here’s a lovin’ spoonful of hotels and hotel rooms that still have their rock ‘n’ roll notoriety and capitalize on it for guests:
John and Yoko Suite, Hilton Amsterdam
Between 25-31 March 1969, John Lennon, from The Beatles, and Yoko Ono essentially donned pajamas and stayed in bed for a week, inviting the world’s press to visit them. Known as a “bed-in for peace,” it took place at the Hilton Amsterdam, the first internationally branded hotel in the Netherlands when it opened seven years previously.
Alessio Colavecchio, the current GM, said the now-named John and Yoko Suite’s history still inspires guests.
“Peaks are achieved during times when events linked to the bed-in for peace are happening, such as anniversaries,” Colavecchio said.
The room has changed numbers since the composer of “You’ve got to hide your love away” (which obviously he did not do during his stay) stayed there. When Lennon stayed there, it was room 902, but it changed to room 702 during a renovation.
“The room is the same, but its number changed from 902 to 702 because floors 1 and 2 were situated in a different dependence across the road, so the first floor of our building was (the) third and floor seventh was the ninth,” Colavecchio explained.
The hotel was even name-checked in a song by The Beatles, “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” with the lyric, “drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton.” It was The Beatles’ last No. 1 single, or at least the last one while the group was still in operation.
Of that, Colavecchio is “very proud. This words are now printed in the ceiling of the suite.”
Lennon and Ono went to another hotel to do one other “bed-in,” the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, Canada.
The Cumberland, London
This 1,019-room hotel, now owned and managed by Guoman Hotels (soon to become the 900-room Hard Rock Hotel London still to be managed by Guoman) is famed for being the site of the last interview given by rock guitar giant Jimi Hendrix on 11 September 1970.
It is not hard to find the room it occurred in, as it is now The Hendrix Suite, which has been redesigned with a suitably psychedelic motif and will survive the upcoming renovation—probably obviously as the new tenants celebrate all things rock ’n’ roll.
Guoman Hotels had not returned correspondence at press time.
Actually, Hendrix passed away seven days later at another hotel, in nearby Notting Hill, called the Samarkand Hotel, which today comprises two adjacent serviced apartment townhouses on Lansdowne Crescent that still go by that name.
Queen’s Gate Hotel, London
Part of the Abba Hotel Group (no links to the Swedish band Abba) in South Kensington, this hotel was the first home-in-exile for Brazilian bossa nova greats Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil—who most recently performed together in London in 2015—after fleeing from a military dictatorship back in their South American home in September 1969.
The two have gone on to great things, becoming cultural icons. Veloso has won nine Grammy awards, while Gil has won five and also served as Brazil’s minister of culture between 2003 and 2008.
The hotel itself, though, was not knowledgeable about this claim to fame.
“We will have to check them out on Wiki/Google,” said Colm Kelly, the hotel’s GM.
DoubleTree by Hilton London Hyde Park
Formerly the Embassy Hotel, Bayswater, this is the hotel where Richey Edwards, guitarist and lyricist of British band Manic Street Preachers, was last seen.
On 1 February 1995, Edwards checked out of Room 516 and was never seen again, a disappearance that has not been solved to this day. The property also has been named the Ramada Jarvis Hyde Park Hotel, too.
Celebrity roles now
Nowadays, bona-fide rock stars are helping design hotels and influence new ones.
Opening later this month, the Bisha Hotel Toronto, part of nightclub impresario Charles Khabouth’s INK Entertainment, has one floor designed by Lenny Kravitz, who has a design company called Kravitz Design.
Rock stars are less likely to destroy hotel rooms they’ve themselves designed, and Khabouth commented on Kravitz’s “great sense of style and charisma. … He is a true tastemaker in every sense of the word.”
Kravitz designed 14 rooms and suites, including the 2,000-square-foot Bisha Suite, which has a 1000-square-foot terrace with views of the CN Tower, according to Khabouth.
Khabouth said through friends he met Kravitz in a New York City hotel, where a scheduled 15-minute meeting became a conversation that lasted more than an hour.
“At that time, (Kravitz) had recently designed his house in Paris and invited me over for a full walk-through to see it. I fell in love with his design style and also the artwork that filled his home. … From that point on, we decided to work together on Bisha,” Khabouth said.
Khabouth said perhaps in the future rock stars will get more involved in the lodging industry.
“Regardless, long gone are the days where bands trash hotel rooms. With the introduction of technology and social media in recent years, many artists are trying to be on their best behavior at all times,” he said.