At the end of your Route 66 travels, be sure to check out The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, California. Built in 1933, it was designed to be an intimate hideaway, catering to Los Angeles’s high society. At the time the hotel was developed, it was nestled in a heavily-wooded shoreline of the little-known seaside community of Santa Monica. Owner, Judge Harry Borde, commissioned Eugene Durfee to construct the posh resort in an art deco style opening its doors to the rich and famous in 1933.
During prohibition, the Georgian was home to one of Los Angeles’ first speakeasies and soon became the rendezvous point for many up-and-coming Hollywood studio executives and celebrities including Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, who sought secluded weekends away from the cameras.
The oceanfront veranda provided a stage for martinis, jazz and notorious figures including Bugsy Siegel and Fatty Arbuckle. The hotel was considered to be one of the most modern facilities of the time, featuring a beauty parlor, barbershop, playground and dining room, in addition to its most popular speakeasy.
The primary reasons for the hotel’s popularity and success was the exclusive, secluded location.
Prohibition finally ended in December of the same year the hotel opened, and later, expansion dramatically occurred in the 1950s, as Los Angeles began to develop into a major metropolitan city. It was during this decade that the Georgian was sold and refurbished.
The property remained a favorite vacation residence for the new era of jet-setting Americans and Europeans. In the Spring of 2000, a $2 million renovation was completed which included the addition of numerous elegant amenities to the Georgian’s guest rooms, lobby, hallways, and meeting facilities.
Today the old hotel is surrounded by modern office buildings rather than pristine forests, but still continues to attract Hollywood celebrities such as Oliver Stone, Robert DeNiro, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
And, according to legend, it continues to play host to a number of other unearthly guests, whether they be famous or infamous. In the hotel’s Speakeasy Restaurant, both staff and guests have reported a number of strange phenomena over the years. At many times when the restaurant is completely empty, employees have heard loud sighs, gasps, and have been startled by a disembodied voice who greets them with, “Good Morning.” At other times the sounds of running footsteps are heard throughout the restaurant when no one is there and a number of transparent apparitions have been seen.
So, perhaps if you stop to have a libation at the Speakeasy you’ll bump into none other than Robert DeNiro if you’re lucky, and if you’re not, you might “bump” into an unearthly presence for which you cannot see.
At any rate, it should be a fun look around at this vintage hotel, officially recognized by the City of Santa Monica as a historical landmark.