Unlike the fictional Hotel California from the hit song by the Eagles, where all manner of strange guests stayed, The Motel Alta Cienega had only on famous guest and that was Jim Morrison.
THE ALTA CIENEGA HOTEL IS seemingly run-of-the-mill for West Hollywood; the pock-marked, aqua-hued walls don’t quite match and inside the decor hasn’t been updated since the ’80s. But don’t be fooled by the exterior, as Room 32 is what has cemented the hotel’s legacy in rock and roll history.
This used to be Jim Morrison’s private sanctuary It was a place for him to kick back, and or pass out, He was said to have stayed there while recording “L.A. Woman” at a studio across the street on Santa Monica blvd.
After Morrison’s death in 1971, the public took charge and made the room their personal shrine to the man, commemorating him with decades of graffiti.
The breadth of these trippy visuals is shocking. No surface in the room is without lines of poetry from Jim’s journals, Doors’ lyrics, personal messages, and insane drawings. The TV, the showerhead, the inside of drawers, and the air conditioner—they all bear messages from mourning Doors fans, some as old as 1971 and others added as recently as yesterday. Anyone is welcome to bring their own sharpie and leave a “scar” upon the place.
For a price, that is. The hotel has really cashed in on the room over the years, charging anywhere from $70 to $160 to spend the night in the shrine. Just visiting the room is an option as well, to the tune of roughly a dollar a minute. To commemorate the occasion, you can purchase a keychain on your way out for $10. The room is musty and grimy, with paper thin walls and few amenities, all the better to channel the ghosts of rock and roll history.
In October 2021 the property now sits shuttered and gated while it is decided what use it will be put to.
Among others there are rumors of an affordable housing project is being considered, but as of this writing it is still undecided.
A.R. GRAHAM Oct. 2021