Hotel Histories: The Weird and the Wonderful. By Janelle Dumalaon Wednesday, 15th January 2014
Exclusive Feature: Third floor, second window from the right - the HotelAdlon Kempinski has been famous for many things in its 107-year history, but it is that particular window that shot to fame after pop star Michael Jackson dangled then-baby, 'Blanket' Jackson, out of it in 2002, to the delight of fans, but to the horror of responsible parents the world over.
(By the looks of it, however, all has turned out well, with Blanket having survived the incident to see the dawn of his almost-teenage year.)
Still, the story of baby Blanket isn't the only anecdote the Adlon has attached to its name, despite it being the staple of many-a-Berlin tour since it happened 12 years ago.
Another incident that was recorded by the German weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel, tells of efforts to recreate a famous 1926 photo featuring an ostrich-drawn carriage carrying American-French actress Josephine Baker taken in front of the Adlon, for a film documentary on the hotel's history.
However, it ran into early problems – in an unforeseen tragedy, Joschka, the ostrich cast to portray the original, died in a spat with a similar animal, a South American nandu called Henry, while being trained.
But the Adlon is far from the only hotel in the world to have an animal-related story attached to it. The Le Meurice hotel in Paris boasted surrealist painter Salvador Dali as one of its frequent guests. Still, staying in the same Royal Suite, that had been used by the Spanish King Alphonso XIII, he had a very different agenda in mind. As history would have it, after once demanding a horse to be delivered to his room, he then requested a herd of sheep.
Because the staff at Le Meurice obviously believed in the customer always being right, Dali got what he wanted. The hapless sheep, however, did not as Dali whipped out a gun and started shooting at the animals.
Thankfully, he used blanks, and so there were no woolly casualties. But that was not the last of his exploits. The artists famously paid hotel staff to capture flies, paying per fly. Still, the news site NBC reported that at least Dali tried to tip his favourite staff handsomely for his antics, with autographed lithographs of his work at Christmas, some of which could not we worth up to $12,000.
But while hotels like the Adlon and Le Meurice have made their ways into our consciousness by way of comedic relevance, some hotels are better known for the contribution they have made to film and music.
One such hotel is the Park Hyatt in Tokyo, Japan, which was one of the settings of comedy-drama Lost in Translation. The movie saw Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray navigating feelings of displacement and alienation is a sprawling metropolis, but finding connection and belonging with one another in the hotel's bar.
During filming, the crew was active in the wee hours of the morning, as they were only allowed to film at the hotel starting from 1am, as agreed with management.
Another hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in California, found its fame as the image for the unforgettable Eagles album cover for "Hotel California", representing their hit of the same name.
It’s doubtful the song, which was about the dark side of the American dream and Hollywood fame, is about the actual hotel. But the Beverly Hills Hotel is no stranger to fame nevertheless – with guests having included John Wayne and The Beatles.
Images courtesy of the Kempinski Adlon Hotel in Berlin
Janelle Dumalaon is a correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. She has a Masters in Cultural Journalism from the University of Arts in Berlin and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Janelle believes in traveling light, deviating from itineraries, and trying the street food.
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