L.A.'s Famed Sportsmen's Lodge, Where Bette Davis Once Slept, Gets a Redo

The Sportsmen's Lodge, where John Wayne taught his kids to fish, has been relaunched after a $30 million renovation.

Back in the day the Sportsmen’s Lodge was originally known as the Trout Farm, a hangout for talent and crew at the nearby Republic Pictures (currently the CBS Studio Center). Guests were encouraged to fish for their dinner at the trout ponds then have it cooked, and allegedly Tallulah Bankhead and Bette Davis fished while imbibing martinis and John Wayne taught his kids to cast a rod here. The trout is gone and today’s celebs may not have the cache of Wayne or Clark Gable, who once roamed the halls, but this has always been an unpretentious Hollywood watering hole, the character actor of Hollywood hotels.

After an $8 million dollar renovation and facelift the property (including a large event center) was re-launched this past April. The selling point has long been the Olympic-sized pool flanked by the 190 rooms of the hotel which was rebuilt in 1962. There’s a mid-century modern motif, undeniably hip again, with the rooms flooded with tones of gray, orange and lime-green and a retro chic lobby with animal print furniture, plastic replicas of deer heads suspended on the walls, and black and white historic Hollywood photos in the hallways. Creatively designed by Susan White of Whitespeed based in Malibu and Rocco Laudizio of Slick & Design based in Chicago, the Lodge successfully straddles old and new.

The pool is once again awash with toned and fit hard bodies, this time with iPhones firmly ensconced in one hand, and true to the property’s roots, a cocktail in the other, all the while tanned without getting wet. The casual, poolside Patio Cafe serves a limited menu, whereas the more formal Red Rock Lounge is a nod to the Lodge’s rustic roots -- a dining area near the fireplace made of large river stones, a white bison head above the bar and views to where the trout ponds used to be. The hotel rooms are rather Spartan and in spite of the bucks spent, it still feels a wee bit dated -- a kind of Urban Home modernist approach -- but it is nonetheless the continuum of Hollywood history, a familiar backdrop but with a new cast.