10 Secrets of Los Angeles’s Historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel

Biltmore Hotel facade Downtown LA Untapped Cities

Over 3,000 people were in attendance at the Biltmore Hotel‘s opening party on October 2, 1923. In the ninety years since its opening, the Biltmore has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs and plenty of celebrities including Walt Disney, Katherine Hepburn, Mae West and Carmen Miranda have graced its halls. It has played host to a nightclub during Prohibition, the Academy Awards, the 1960 Democratic National Convention, and some rather unfortunate redecorating during the ’70s, to name a few.  We learned all about the Biltmore Hotel with the LA Conservancy and now we’re taking you inside and sharing the hotel’s secrets. 

1. The hotel cost $10 million to build and the roof that looks like wood is actually plaster

The Biltmore Hotel was envisioned as the hotel to eclipse all of Los Angeles’ other hotels. Construction began in 1921 and took eighteen months. The architects, Schultze & Weaver, were responsible for New York City’s Waldorf Astoria and Park Lane Hotels. The Biltmore’s founders insisted on having the best of everything, including radio hookups in every room. (Remember, there was no Wi-fi in 1921.) So it’s surprising to note that inside what is now the main entrance, many of the columns are hollow and the woodwork on the ceiling is actually plaster. However, the Venetian glass chandeliers are real. Because you definitely can’t skimp on Venetian glass chandeliers!

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8 Responses
  1. I worked at the Biltmore Hotel for about 2 years between 1969 and late 1970 at the recepetion desk.
    For the Latino community readers. Many of my generation and prior would remember the Argentinian actriz and singer Libertad LaMárquez. I had the honor of meeting her there, but the protocol has always call for respecting celebrities’ privacy. Also, The Main Ballroom was a weekend dancing ballroom for the Latino community for few years during my time and after a left. Tito Puentes, Toña La Negra, La Sonora Matacera, and a long list of Latino orchestras and singers were featured there and always sold out as I remember.
    As for the ghost stories, unless one of our night clerks was one of them; he was skinny and pail as a dead man, otherwise, we use to laugh at them. But now that I think about it, he never did.
    The Biltmore Hotel was the largest hotel in the West Cost with 1500 rooms until around 1971. It will always be one of a kind.

  2. Frank Young Reply

    A guest once asked one of our bellmen if the hotel was haunted. The bellman replied, “yes but don’t worry. The ghost called in sick this evening.”

    While #9 does seem intriguing, it’s simply not true. There are no rooms that we won’t sell due to complaints about ‘supernatural’ occurrences. On nights when we are sold out, all 683 rooms are occupied.

    Our second floor has actually been converted into office space for NationBuilder. As of yet, there have been no complaints of ghosts from the employees there.

    Paramhansa Yogananda actually died en route to the hospital after collapsing in the Main Lobby (formerly the Music Room; or the room where Slimer was captured in the original Ghostbusters).

  3. Booked this hotel on Orbitz with no previous knowledge of its history. The first night of my stay I woke up screaming and absolutely terrified — feeling a presence in the room that I cannot really describe.

    I am a grown, educated, professional man, with no history of nightmares or lucid dreams — yet for the first time, I found myself afraid to turn the lights out. Literally terrified. I stayed up for a few hours and eventually fell asleep.

    The following night, the exact same thing happened. After returning from my meetings, I went down and had a conversation with the bartender who informed me of the hotel’s history and legendary hauntings.

    I am glad I stayed there. It has made for quite a bit of cocktail talk. But if you scare easily, beware!

    By the way — I’d stay there again. I don’t really believe in ghosts and chalk it up to coincidence. Certainly, I don’t think that any “presence” could cause one physical harm. But all-in-all…weird… very, very weird!

  4. Gloria Delgadillo Reply

    This place is a must see. It’s a landmark, beautiful and so full of history. So many people that are from Los Angeles don’t even know this place exist. My brother used to work as a door man with a top hat and a penguin tail coat, its one of the last places that is original and still exist in Los Angeles. Its actually like a museum. I urge anyone at any age to go here, you wont regret it.

  5. Mikael Sharafyan Reply

    Another event took place here. The founder of Self Realization Center Paramhansa Yogananda died in the main lobby after making a speech at a reception honoring the prime minister of India. Many of his followers make a pilgrimage from around the world to that actual spot near the fountain, where he passed away.

  6. Robert Diaz Reply

    Carmen Miranda was born in 1909 and came to this country in 1939, according to Wikipedia. Could she really have been there, as this article claims?

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