At the end of your Route 66 travels, 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. When 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 one of the most modern facilities of the time, featuring a beauty parlor, barbershop, playground, dining room, and its most popular speakeasy.
The exclusive, secluded location was the main reason for the hotel’s popularity and success.
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, including 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 attracts Hollywood celebrities such as Oliver Stone, Robert DeNiro, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
And, according to legend, it continues to play host to several other unearthly guests, whether famous or infamous. Staff and guests have reported several strange phenomena over the years in the hotel’s Speakeasy Restaurant. When the restaurant is entirely empty, employees often hear loud sighs and 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 several 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.
©Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated May 2023.
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