The lofty ninth "ghost" floor of the London West Hollywood will soon be occupied for the first time since the posh hotel was completed in 1984.
Workers are constructing swanky suites that will rent for as much as $1,299 a night on the top floor, which was off-limits until recently because original developer Severyn Ashkenazy made the hotel taller than he was supposed to.
The ninth floor has mostly been used as storage space since the 200-suite hotel opened as Le Bel Age shortly before West Hollywood became a city. The county, which governed the area at the time, accused Ashkenazy of exceeding the height limit of the original plan and prevented him from developing the floor for occupancy.
"He built the extra floor without a permit," said Jeff Kulek, general manager of the hotel. "The neighbors complained and he the lost ability to build out the floor."
Ashkenazy was West Hollywood's most prominent hotelier in the 1980s, when he created a string of luxury hotels including Bel Age, the Mondrian, L'Ermitage and Le Parc Suites. His debt-laden hotel empire unraveled in the economic downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The Bel Age became the London West Hollywood in 2008 after a nearly yearlong makeover. Northwood Investors bought the hotel last October and secured permission from the city to create luxury suites on the empty floor. The $23-million upgrade will include the addition of 21 suites and a new fitness center.
"Our company looked at all the unused space and saw the potential for an additional level of luxury at our hotel," Kulek said.
The London already has a reputation as an entertainment industry hot spot, and Northwood is aiming to inject still more glamour with the spacious new suites.
David Collins Studio, the interior designer of the hotel, has designed five "Gate Suites" named after English aristocrats whose names grace gates at London's Hyde Park. Each will include artwork, accessories and books referencing a famous park gate.
The suites will be as large as 1,975 square feet with two bedrooms, hardwood floors, kitchens and private terraces. Guests will be treated to enhanced services, including one-way airport transportation and in-suite check-in.
Suite guests willing to pay more to get the full L.A. experience can buy packages that come with a car —such as a convertible or a Rolls Royce sedan.
There will also be 16 "Royal Vista Suites," which at 750 square feet will be slightly larger than other guest rooms in the hotel. These suites will boast private dressing areas, oversize work desks and bathrooms with soaking tubs and dual shower heads.These suites will boast private dressing areas, oversize work desks and bathrooms with soaking tubs and dual shower heads.
The London has a mix of leisure and corporate travelers, Kulek said, with many of the commercial guests in entertainment fields. He hopes the renovated London, scheduled for completion in September, will shape up to compete with nearby Beverly Hills, one of the country's most elite hotel markets.