(NOTE: In my short blogging career, I am posting my first correction. Though throughout this article, I cite Kelly Wearstler as the designer, the designer of record is David McCauley, of David McCauley Interior Design. I was SURE the hotel was Kelly’s because of the style and her close affiliation with Kor through her husband, but I guess I was mistaken. However, David was a “protege” of Kelly’s and worked for her for at least a year per LinkedIn. Aside from this project though, this man is completely off the radar, except for another mention in an article about doing Cheryl Crow’s house?! I strongly suspect Kelly “mentored” and helped David on this project and probably wanted to help him launch his career with it – what incredible luck for him! Regardless, I feel at least slightly foolish for not fact checking this article and incorrectly mentioning Kelly throughout. I am trying to make my blogging a quicker, more casual and spontaneous endeavor, but it seems that it will never be lol… Anyways, thanks Jenna for the heads up!)
So last night I stayed at the Chamberlain West Hollywood Hotel, one of five Los Angeles area hotels by the esteemed Kor Hotel group. The Kor Hotel Group is an absolute favorite of mine for its impressive portfolio of properties as well as its design innovation, courtesy of one of my favorite designers, Kelly Wearstler, who is the designer of record, and notably, wife of the CEO (so I guess I won’t bother sending in my portfolio to do their next hotel…).
From what I can tell, the Chamberlain is the runt of the litter within the Kor portfolio. Not only is the location off the beaten path (in a safe, quiet, residential neighborhood close to a lot of things but not right next to anything), it’s also a renovated property with some inherent structural constraints. As a result, the hotel is not as chic and luxurious as the Viceroy or Avalon, as centrally located as the Maison 140, nor as large as the Delfina (which curiously is a Sheraton hotel that was designed and is operated by Kor). Of course, the Chamberlain hotel is priced accordingly within the Kor hierarchy.
In terms of design, the hotel got a full Kelly Wearstler makeover, albeit not the extreme version. The public areas are very well done, within the constraints that she had to work with. Unlike the expansive lobby area in Viceroy, at the Chamberlain, it consists of one small reception area with even smaller adjacent sitting area. Of note are the front desks themselves were made to like tall, lacquered Chinese trunks, paying homage to the other Chinoiserie pieces and accents throughout.
The floor were particularly striking too – a green and pale green marble laid in a herringbone pattern. But despite it’s expensive look, this floor was made with 12″ x 12″ tiles cut into 3″ strips.
To make the lobby look larger, Wearstler extended the floor outside to exterior entry and added a mirrors throughout. While the mirror trick can come across as dated, it is effective here, especially is this period, Hollywood Regency style space. The Regency style is also apparent in glass entry doors, which Wearstler etched with a hexagon pattern. I thought this was another simple and fairly inexpensive design trick to add some visual interest to otherwise institutional-looking doors.
Another simple design trick was the moulding on the cove ceilings. While she could have left this plain, she made this large and often overlooked expanse of space interesting by adding some fairly inexpensive molding that reinforces her design theme.
The most glamorous and photographed spot in the hotel is the sitting area, which is gorgeous. Wearstler is the master of mixing colors and textures to create dramatically eclectic spaces. I especially like the amazing green glass globe table lamps with black shades and the arrangement of the artwork along the back wall. Again, the combination of the floor, mirrors, art, Chinese and Moroccan elements, lighting, etc. just work beautifully here.
The second best space at the hotel has to be the tonal restaurant and lounge. Carrying out the green and turquoise color scheme to this room as well, Wearstler goes for broke again, mixing strong colors and patterns with her usual master stroke. I don’t know anyone else who can mix things like a tufted, turquoise banquette, striped roman shades (covering the entire greenhouse), Moroccan ceramic tile floors and steel pendants, and a large coral collection sitting atop sconce shelves like she can. Her work is so uniquely creative and eclectic that is truly inspiring (though her work today is not as fresh as it used be when it debuted due to all the imitators now).
But beyond the public spaces, even Wearstler could not do much with the guest rooms. While all rooms are huge “suites” with a bed area, living room area, dressing area, bathroom, balcony and fireplace, all they have to offer is a lot space. From a design standpoint, the rooms are fairly innocuous beyond their cool striped carpeting. Sure all the case goods are finished in a cool, gray oak finish and silver detailing (silver-capped legs on the desk, silver nail head details on the tufted bench, and silver-capped corners on the coffee table).
But marring all nice furniture was the bad finish quality throughout the entire room and bathroom. For example, if they’re spending so much money to renovate this hotel, why didn’t they scrape the popcorn ceilings through the halls and in all rooms? Why didn’t they finish the backside of the sideboard (that houses the built-in mini-fridge and acts as the flat panel TV stand) that divides the bed and living areas where both sides are clearly meant to be seen? Why didn’t they raise (or redo) the bathroom vanities when they were so ridiculously low (I didn’t measure but they had to be around 22″ off the floor) and old (and just “barely” dolled up with some new white paint)? Why didn’t they fix the weird kink in the floor elevation at the intersection of the entry, bed and living areas which requires an unattractive and almost dangerous cocktail of a post, a door threshold, a couple of steps and few weird angles. Worst of all, how things were put together, particularly in the bathroom, were just plain bad – maybe their tile guy was just blinded by the horrible faux marble Corian he was installing…
So my verdict about the Chamberlain? It’s public spaces are worth a visit alone (including the amazing rooftop pool with skyline views), if nothing else to get a glimpse of the brilliant, vintage Kelly Wearstler. As far as staying there, I would actually stay there again because of the sheer size of the rooms, the cool, comfortable decor, and the decent prices. As long as you come here not expecting the perfection that is the Viceroy or the Tides, you’ll be fine. Just plan on spending more time on the roof, than in your room. After a relaxing day of sunning by the pool, you’ll quickly fall asleep in the comfy beds and never even notice the popcorn on the ceilings.