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Early A-listers vacationed a bit differently from today’s stars. In the 1920s, silent movie actor brothers Noah and Wallace Beery — with the help of investors including Charlie Chaplin — opened Paradise Trout Club in the Angeles National Forest, where Hollywood’s brightest (Gloria Swanson, Clark Gable, John Wayne) partied (and fished for rainbow trout) away from the public eye and police during Prohibition. Today, the property — an elegant mountain retreat with a large ballroom for parties and stone-clad accommodations, complete with the original pool where future Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller trained for the Olympics — is Huttopia Paradise Springs, a French-owned glamping resort that preopens Aug. 13 with a dozen spacious, utilitarian wood and canvas tents (from $210 a night), a restored pool filled with water straight from Paradise Springs and an al fresco bistro. (The grand opening is slated for spring 2022, with 70 tented, wooden-decked accommodations and more spaces built from the site’s stone in the lush San Gabriel Mountains.)
Eighty-seven miles from Hollywood, the bucolic resort “is a place of history that will speak to anyone fascinated, like us, by the legends of Hollywood,” says Huttopia brand and business development manager Margaux Bossanne. “Surrounded by mountains and with water flowing freely, this place meets the modern need and trend for spending time in nature, whether for modern Hollywood or anyone else.”
A large ballroom was lost to a fire ages ago and, says Bossanne, “it’s a small miracle so many structures are still standing!” As many as possible of the old buildings, including a staircase built by Chaplin himself, have been preserved; one cabin will house a library, while dramatic stone arches beneath the pool, which was built into the hillside, are being transformed into an event and wedding space. “We are not a luxury establishment,” says Bossanne, “but for us, nature is luxury. We help city dwellers or outdoor enthusiasts sleep in a tent, in all its simplicity.”
Chaplin and others enjoyed quite a different sort of environment just off the Venice Boardwalk at the Waldorf Hotel, built in 1915 and once dubbed the “crown jewel of Venice” for its modern steam-heat electricity and novel in-room telephones. After flawless restoration and thoughtful renovation, it reopened this summer as Venice V, the neighborhood’s only beachfront lifestyle hotel (rooms from $265 per night). “Over the last century, the V has served as the backdrop for countless Hollywood films, such as Cobra, starring Sylvester Stallone, and The Falcon and the Snowman, starring Sean Penn,” says hotel manager Leah Edwards. “It was home to early A-list stars — like Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, Fatty Arbuckle and Wallace Beery — many of whom lived long-term in our penthouse bungalows.”
Today, it’s a sweet staycation spot with 34 photogenic rooms, all with a view of the Pacific, and period detailing — see the carefully restored brass and mahogany elevator, exposed interior riveted steel beams, grand staircase and exposed brick walls. “Unique details are around every corner,” says Edwards, “from the curated local art in every guest room to the striking lobby [portrait] of Venice visionary Abbot Kinney, constructed entirely of skateboard wheels.” The tasteful and eagle-eyed attention to detail doesn’t falter anywhere in the experience, from the fragrant Aesop toiletries and vintage tchotchkes (rooms come in three motifs that riff off Venice culture: bohemian, artist/writer and surf/skate) to the superior minibars, well stocked with artisanal beverages and irresistible quality snacks. A preferred partnership with popular Venice restaurant Great White means app orders are delivered directly to guests’ doors à la room service. For more of the local vibe, eat on the rooftop or take a stroll to the famed skate park.
The evolution of this former A-list residence embraces its history as well as the metamorphosis of its location. In a nod to its Old Hollywood roots there are black-and-white murals of Chaplin and Bow on its exterior, painted by a local artist, Jules Muck, so respected her work doesn’t get tagged over. And, says Edwards, “In the Venice V basement we’ve re-envisioned a former theater space into an adaptable and tech-friendly hub for everything from group meetings to private screenings and speakeasy cocktails to wellness gatherings.” It doesn’t get more Venice than that.
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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