What it's like to stay at Hotel 850 SVB in West Hollywood


This story is part of the April issue of Image, “Dream”- an invitation to lean into the spaces of dreams and fantasy. Enjoy the trip.

On the afternoon of Sunday, February 25, I drive to West Hollywood to spend the night in a hotel. I want to imagine what it would be like to live in one. There's too much noise in my head and I'm trying to clear it up. I keep imagining a fresh, clean hotel room, a kind of blank slate: a chance to start over, to take a step toward another life. I decide to keep track of time and write a journal entry for the 19 hours I'm about to spend living this experiment.

3:10 p.m.

Hotel 850 SVB for image.

I arrive at hotel. It's called Hotel 850 SVB, a name I have trouble remembering and sometimes call SVB 850 when I tell my friends. One of them observes that it sounds like a vaccine. SVB means San Vicente Boulevard. The hotel is a white wooden house covered in green vines. In the early 1900s, it housed railroad workers who were building a railroad between Hollywood and Santa Monica boulevards. In 2018, hotelier Jeff Klein, the same owner of the Sunset Tower Hotel and the private club San Vicente Bungalows, opened Hotel 850 SVB, a hotel that he has described as having “a soul, like a beautiful house.”

A bellhop named Winston checks me in. He welcomes me to “Hotel 850”. I've booked the Carriage Room, inspired by carriage houses designed to house individual horse-drawn carriages. It is the room that is booked the fastest, perhaps because it is the cheapest, but it is also the most charming, with the walls all painted blue and the shelves framing the bed.

When I enter my 200-square-foot room, I take off my shoes and put on the hotel's white slippers. The things I find in the room give me ideas and expand the possibilities of what I can do: do yoga before bed on the blue mat, iron my shirts (which I never do), drink a 1934 bottled Cosmo for $18, read books with names like “The Millionaires.” Maybe it's all that blue or the circular window, but when I lie in bed I feel like I'm on a boat.

4 p.m.

I realize it sounds silly to say I live in a hotel for less than 24 hours. Most people who claim to live in hotels have done so for at least a few months or even years. In this city, these people are usually actors who come to stay for temporary periods for film productions or simply like the luxuries of a hotel. Marilyn Monroe lived intermittently at the Beverly Hills Hotel; A TikTok video says the hotel still sprays her suite, 1A, with Chanel No. 5 to evoke her scent. Elizabeth Taylor lived for a year at the Bel-Air Hotel. Robert De Niro, Keanu Reeves and Lindsay Lohan lived at Chateau Marmont. Lohan was staying at the Chateau while she was playing the role of Taylor in “Liz & Dick” when hotel management apparently forced her to leave after 57 days for not paying her $46,350.04 bill. I prefer a story I found in the Daily Mail that says Katharine Hepburn checked into Chateau Marmont with a luggage full of men's clothes, “wearing an eye patch.”

4:45 p.m.

Hotel 850 SVB for image.
Hotel 850 SVB for image.

I go out to the hotel lounge, which is on the same floor as my room, in slippers. The lounge is more like a living room, with mismatched couches, Louis Armstrong playing in the background, and a glass jar of pretzels to go. Every time a guest leaves his room and comes to the living room to drink water or sit on the patio, I greet him. I get a few smiles from these strangers but never hear their voices in return. I think I see an actor I recognize. I search on Google: older white actor wearing round glasses. Photos of John Lennon populate.

A housekeeper in a baby pink dress greets me and asks how I am. She elegantly places the complimentary happy hour drinks on the dining room table that's already adorned with a vase of purple orchids. Once she finishes, I take a authentic bavarian beer of the metal bucket full of ice. I flip through Variety magazine. After four sips, I have the illusion of suddenly being on vacation. I'm relaxed, enchanted by the armchair to my right covered in a purple flower print.

The hotel guests here are not like those I read about who lived in famous hotels. They are not like those at the Chelsea Hotel in New York who were bohemians, wrote songs and plays, took drugs in the bathrooms and started fires. “They just let anyone in there, that hotel is dangerous,” Andy Warhol wrote in his diary about the Chelsea Hotel in October 1978, “it seems like they kill someone there once a week.”

A hotel is a house where you can behave badly (or at least give in to what you wouldn't do) and indulge in the out of the ordinary. Ideally, this doesn't involve killing someone. The classic example is the “Eloise” books, where a 6-year-old girl lives in the Plaza Hotel and drinks champagne and gin, wears furs, eats meringue glacée, and watches television with an umbrella “in case there is some kind of glare.” ” (Eloise could have been based on Liza Minnelli, who lived in hotels with her mother, Judy Garland.) Maybe it's because I'm 33 years old or because Hotel 850 is made to look like an eccentric aunt's house, but instead of dreaming of debauchery, I look at the red striped armchair and imagine how it would look in my living room. I imagine the day when it has walls high and big enough to hold an old poster like the one in the room. I'm in a hotel, playing. to the houses.

5:25 p.m.

The truth is that I once lived in a hotel. When my family moved from Brazil to Miami when I was 14, we lived at the Sonesta Hotel for three months. I made new friends in high school by inviting them to sleepovers that involved ordering on-demand movies and room service. Other than that, there was nothing too remarkable about the experience and after a while, we got tired of the bland furniture.

I think I would get less tired of the furniture here. Designer Rita Konig deliberately resisted the “beige and boring” hotel aesthetic. In my room, because it's now. my room — there is a table lamp with a giraffe as a base. It is a lamp that Konig replicated from his own house.

6 p.m.

Hotel 850 SVB for image.
Hotel 850 SVB for image.

In the days leading up to my stay at Hotel 850, I read “The Hotel” by Sophie Calle, a book that documents the week the artist spent working as a waitress at a hotel in Venice, Italy. Every time she cleans a room, she goes through the guests' belongings and photographs them: a stethoscope and a rosary on the nightstand, a torn postcard, a lobster claw under the sheets, a pair of black heels in the trash, white underwear hanging out to dry and agendas detailing “excellent lasagna,” hot baths, little bridges and good soup. She lets the objects speak for themselves, but admits when her finds “bored” her.

I return to my room to prepare to go out to dinner. I imagine what Calle would see and what she would notice: that I brought three pens of different colors (green, pink and blue), that I coordinate them by color in my agenda (“dry cleaning” is in blue, “pick up cake” is in green, “6:30 pm massage” is in pink), and that I use a hand cream that is a blend of tangerine, lime, geranium and rosemary. She would notice that I wear contact lenses, comb my hair in the shower, and take thyroid medication. I want her to be interested in me, but I don't think she is.

8 p.m.

I end up, accidentally, at another hotel for dinner, where the waiter explains that the red, green, and white portions of the flatbread represent the Lebanese flag. Afterwards, I eat Meyer lemon ice cream and share the sidewalk with one of those restaurant delivery robots; He surpasses me. It's Sunday in WeHo, that is, it might as well be Saturday, and a techno remix of “Respect” is playing in a bar.

When I return to my room, I write this journal entry as if I were a tourist, recording my night in Los Angeles. When you travel and stay in a hotel, every detail becomes important and worth recording. Life is finally observed and savored.

8:30 pm

Hotel 850 SVB for image.
Hotel 850 SVB for image.

I shower; The truth is that it is the moment I look forward to the most, when I can try the little shampoos, conditioners and liquid soaps. All of the shower products are lemon-scented and the body lotion is a bright pink that takes several strokes to blend into my skin. There is a poet named Adília Lopes who likes to use hotel bath products at home because it gives her the feeling of being in a hotel without leaving home. Hotel 850's containers are too big to carry; They are not souvenirs.

Winston, the bellhop, had mentioned in passing that I would be welcome to make me some evening tea in the shared kitchen. Since I somehow feel that this is an experience not to be missed, I go to the all-yellow kitchen to make myself some rooibos tea. I'm embarrassed to be caught in my pajamas, so I put on my coat.

Perhaps the moment I look forward to most is getting into bed and putting my bare feet under the freshly ironed sheets. I do this while drinking my rooibos tea and watching a boring episode of “Friends.” If I could steal something from a hotel I think it would be the sheets.

08:30 am

Hotel 850 SVB for image.
Hotel 850 SVB for image.

At breakfast time there are three Frenchmen. One of them is upset because he woke up at 6 in the morning. As I eat my yogurt, I fantasize that if they ask me where I am visiting from, I will lie to them. I decide to tell them that I'm visiting from New York, which is my first time in Los Angeles. But they never ask me. I begin to wonder what would happen if I stayed longer, what personality I would gradually adapt, what alternative life I would build.

But I have to leave and go to work. Before leaving my room, I do one last scan. I never did yoga or ironed my clothes or drank Cosmo.

“Have a good trip,” says the bellboy as he leaves. I drive home.

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