There are two versions of Old Hollywood. One is the rat pack at the Coconut Grove, Clark Gable driving his Deusenberg down Hollywood Boulevard and all things Liz Taylor.
The other Old Hollywood is a bit darker. It’s the Black Dahlia and zoot suit riots. It’s the debauchery of silent film stars in the roaring twenties, lasciviously described in Hollywood Babylon. This version was the theme of our recent rental in Los Angeles, and it created an atmosphere around our trip. The built-in bar was red, as were the leather bar stools. It was eclectic and full of secrets. A stolen street sign from Hollywood’s famous Cherokee Avenue loomed over the bar. There was a old pay phone (a relic; no dial tone), neon signs and vintage bar mirrors.
Instead of running around town to see old friends, they came to us. They took refuge in the dark recesses of the place. Huddling at the bar, rifling through the book collection and gathering by fire pit out back, where cotoyes howled all around us.
At the base of the Hollywood Hills, this is where it all began. Looming over landmarks such as The Knickerbocker and Capitol Records, this home was built back when Pacific Palisades was “out in the country.” If walls could talk, there’d be tales of wannabe starlets who didn’t make it, hippies who had chance encounters with the Manson family and screenwriters working their way up at RKO.
Airbnb has truly saved us. We spend good money to travel someplace new, only to end up in a hotel that could be in any city. You’re remote, with just a bird’s-eye view of the place you really want to be. The only place where giant hotels give you a feel for the town, is Las Vegas.
The other option used to be just bed and breakfasts. While they emote a local feel, the breakfast is always served too early and you’re forced to make pre-coffee conversation with strangers.
Thank goodness Airbnb swept in, with rentals that range from log cabins in Colorado to five-star yurts in Nigeria, designed with tlc by the locals who own it. They fluff your nest with their old silverware and mix-matched dish sets. You use the towels from their old color scheme. Even if you never meet them, they were all around you. And if you pick carefully, it feels kind of great.