Best Western Hollywood hotel: With new pixelated paint job, building shines a spotlight on itself
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The 84-year-old Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel has nearly completed a $2 million renovation, splashing itself with neo-Impressionist fantasy. The frumpy brick building turned a chic charcoal gray with Tiffany blue accents, its dour boxed window canopies replaced with black louvers that resemble punch hole cards.
If you are walking near 6141 Franklin Ave., you could easily mistake the hotel’s paint job for a Dalmatian print. But from a distance, the pointillist mural reveals a clash of klieg lights.
“Our first option for the mural was an oversized collage of scripts,” said principal architect Brian Lane of the firm Koning Eizenberg. “I like that the current design has multiple reads.”
Surrounded by scores of framed celebrity photos in the hotel’s lobby, owners and brothers Mel and Bernie Adler explained how they arrived at the motif.
“I wanted to go Hollywood; you wanted to make it a San Francisco boutique hotel,” said Bernie, 77.
“San Francisco boutique. Ha. That’s new to me,” said Mel, 80, wearing a crème shirt patterned with pink flamingos.
“We never agree,” Bernie said.
The pair swapped Hollywood stories dating to when their parents, Hyman and Pauline Adler, bought what had been called the Hollywood Franklin Hotel in 1948. Bernie and Mel spoke of Chicago mobsters and other celebrity guests: Aaron Spelling, Mötley Crüe, Aldous Huxley, Fess Parker, Gloria Gaynor. The Keystone Kops and James Dean ate in the first floor café, now the 101 Coffee Shop , a retro ‘60s diner operated by Warner Ebbink since 1990. The 1996 film ‘Swingers’ filmed in the café, then named the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop.
Many know the building for the giant “Last Cappuccino Before the 101” mural that lures customers into the café. The illegal, oversized mural had existed for nearly a decade before the city made inquiries. In 2009 Lane lobbied community forces, arguing that the painting had achieved icon status. The caffeinated sign prevailed. Other upgrades to the 86-room hotel include a skewed entrance awning that links the 1927 building to the rear 1970 addition and a reimagined courtyard pool area, now striped like a green and aqua beach towel.
Movie quotes are embedded in the front parking lot’s concrete: “Come up and see me sometime,” “I’ll be back” and “We don’t need no stinking badges,” among others.
The hole-cut louvers made by Trespa and entry canopy cast dot-shaped shadows on the pixelated mural, air sprayed by Frankly Made. Twelve-foot test sections of the mural were printed and hung on the exterior during Newsom Design’s initial experiments with dot sizes, to ensure they did indeed convey klieg lights.
“What’s beautiful is that Carey Mulligan or Michael Cera can cross paths in the lobby with tourists from Kansas,” Lane said of the property, which bills itself as the closest hotel to the Hollywood sign. “I live up the road in Beachwood Canyon, so the project, the neighborhood, it’s personal for me.”
Added Bernie Adler, pictured on the left with his brother: “I can’t say enough about Brian, he’s done a great job. I know Mel agrees with me.”
-- R. Daniel Foster
The hotel, before the renovation.
The hotel now.
‘Before’ photo: Brian Lane.
All other photos: R. Daniel Foster