For those who frequent Los Angeles, it has been a very long time since Hollywood Boulevard—once a Golden-era playground, now known now for the Hollywood Walk of Fame and urban decay—represented anyone’s idea of glamour. But for Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the famed interior designer known for delivering sumptuous polish to the homes of Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, Tommy Hilfiger, Cher, Ellen Pompeo, and Eva Mendes, as well as hotels like the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs, The Sands in Indian Wells, Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, Chateau Gütsch in Lucerne, Switzerland, and now the Prospect Hollywood, a new hotel steps from the down-on-its-heels thoroughfare provided a very real opportunity.
The Prospect “spoke to me the very first time I saw it,” Bullard says of the property, which opened just in time for the 2020 Academy Awards, and whose elegant 1939 exterior is marked by a bright red door. Inside, a lush green courtyard contains an enclave of 80-year-old palm trees and cacti circling low slung fire pits and a central fountain; overhead, SoCal sunshine and the surrounding Art Deco buildings give the feeling of stepping back in time. “The Hollywood Regency architecture, so reminiscent of the golden days of design in L.A., had such charm and beauty in its proportions that it instantly cried out to me to restore it and add back the vibrancy and glamour that once existed there,” says Bullard.
Past the gold-palm-tree lined lobby done up in tones of rich emerald and plum, two dozen decadently decorated suites and guest rooms named for Hollywood icons (Greta Garbo, Omar Sharif, Marlon Brando) evoke the neighborhood’s historic heyday, when Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, and James Dean called it home. Bullard studied the movie stars and moguls who had lived nearby when appointing the rooms, as well as incorporating nods to the great decorators of the period, like Billy Haines, Tony Duquette, and Dorothy Draper, made evident in the evocatively layered prints, the gold filigreed ceilings, leopard print carpeting, claw-foot tubs, and custom-made lucite four-poster beds. “I even started collecting vintage imagery, memorabilia, and items of local interest to use as art in the rooms giving a real sense of place, history, and relevance,” says Bullard. Vintage press clippings and film stills line a light-filled kitchenette in one suite, while crystal stemware and premium spirit-filled cabinets tucked behind Chinoiserie wallpapered panels are so well done you wouldn’t mind paying to drink inside them—bringing new meaning to the term “minibar.”
Traditional hotel amenities are limited (there is no gym or spa or kitchen on site), though access to the nearby co-working social club NeueHouse Hollywood is included for those who need meeting rooms and more, and a partnership with Tartine bakery provides an indulgent daily breakfast spread in the art-filled lobby.
At night, around the fire pits, guests can mingle over glasses of wine under the palms, or do their best Garbo, and tuck away in their suites in the provided plush Derek Rose bathrobes. The well-informed and ever-present hotel staff is on hand for anything from restaurant recommendations to lessons in the area’s history. The overall sensation is as if you have temporarily taken on the very well-appointed pied-a-terre of a Golden Era Hollywood star, complete with unobtrusive staff. And with only 24 rooms, the hotel still feels like the best kind of secret.
“The finished product is exactly what I imagined. A jewel box of decorating that nods to the past, luxuriates in the future, and gives Hollywood the kind of boutique hotel it has longed for and deserves,” says Bullard. “For the discerning traveler who wants something different, filled with romance, style, and magic, The Prospect is their new spot.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.