Luxury hotels around the globe have perfected a talent for handling their wealthiest — not to mention naughtiest — guests with tactful grace. Here we present 8 horror stories of A-lister bad behavior.
Salvador Dalí at the St. Regis
Throughout the sixties and seventies when other notables headed south for the winter, Salvador Dalí chose to weather the cold at the St. Regis New York. The hotel was delighted to host the surrealist guest, though the staff could hardly ignore his curious behavior. He often returned to the St. Regis with his wife in tow, but she wasn’t the artist’s only company. His pet ocelot, Babou, was usually in attendance as well. His peccadillos were also known to Paris’s Le Meurice, where the indulged ocelot routinely tore the swanky digs to shreds. Wild cats weren’t the only animal Dalí favored. He once demanded a horse be brought to his suite, and on another occasion, he called room service to order a small flock of sheep.
No one actually enjoys paying the bill after a lavish holiday, but Princess Maha bint Mohammed bin Ahmad al-Sudairi apparently detests it. After the Saudi royal and her entourage spent five months at Paris’s posh Shangri-La Hotel in 2012, they attempted to check out without paying the bill (reported to be in the millions). Diplomatic intervention was necessary before an agreement was struck and she was permitted to leave. But the hefty hotel bill wasn’t the only debt the princess failed to pay. In response to complaints from Parisian vendors who had provided the royal with goods and services during her French foray, a court confiscated the contents of two local storage units she had leased. The goods stashed there were auctioned off in order to repay her myriad creditors.
If there were an Oscar for Best Actor in a Hotel Fiasco, it would surely go to Charlie Sheen following his 2010 stay at the Plaza in New York City. For a trip to see Mary Poppins on Broadway, he booked ex-wife Denise Richards and their two young daughters into the Eloise Suite and ensconced himself in an adjoining room down the hall. All was going well until the authorities were called with complaints of loud fighting. Upon their arrival, police found a very naked, very irrational Sheen in the process of destroying his hotel room while his date for the evening, an equally naked (albeit somewhat more rational) porn star named Christina Walsh, hid in the bathroom. Neither the Plaza nor Walsh pressed charges against Sheen, who later apologized and offered to pay the hotel $7,000 in damages.
Legendary rockers Led Zeppelin had a penchant for hotel destruction, particularly for throwing televisions out windows. The band’s behavior was so well-known that members were forced to use false names not to outwit paparazzi, but to gain re-entry into inns that had banned them. As the story goes, a hotel front desk manager once asked the band’s tour manager, Richard Cole, what it was like to toss a television. In response, Cole handed the guy $500 and said, “Here you go, mate. Toss a TV courtesy of Led Zeppelin.” Not to be outdone, drummer John Bonham spiced up a 1970s stay at Los Angeles’s Chateau Marmont by driving a motorcycle through the hotel’s lobby. The ill-mannered thrill rider liked it so much, he also drove through the lobbies of the Andaz West Hollywood and a Hyatt.
Called “Washington’s second best address” by President Harry Truman, the Mayflower Hotel has been at the center of political circles since it opened in 1925. One of the hotel’s most loyal guests, John F. Kennedy rented an apartment here in the fifties when he was a congressman and maintained a suite well into his presidency to help expedite his legendary trysts. A biography describes “intimate get-togethers and room-service dinners for two” between Kennedy and actresses Audrey Hepburn and Lee Remick. He was also said to have entertained mafia-connected mistress Judith Exner here. But the most egregious act has to be his dalliance with actress Angie Dickinson. Rumor has it that during his 1961 inaugural ball, JFK left Jackie downstairs while Dickinson was secretly led upstairs for a presidential romp.
Edward Scissorhands went on quite a rampage at the Mark Hotel in New York City when he and then-girlfriend Kate Moss visited in 1994. According to police responding to the call, “There was glass all over the place and furniture upside down and broken table legs.” Depp blamed the staggering damage on an (apparently very angry) armadillo he claimed had been hiding in the closet. Unfortunately for Depp, the malevolent mammal was never found and the actor was arrested. Director John Waters, a pal of his, said at the time of the incident, “The room service must have been bad.”
Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick managed to light her room at New York City’s Chelsea Hotel on fire in 1964 by reportedly smoking in bed and leaving candles burning overnight. Alas, it wasn’t Sedgwick’s first fire; she landed at the Chelsea after burning down her Manhattan apartment several months earlier. Her penchant for open flames was known to another hotel resident, Leonard Cohen, who had lectured her on the dangers of unattended candles. Following the fire, hotel management considered Sedgwick such a liability that they moved her to a room above the lobby, where they felt they could reasonably keep an eye on her and prevent further catastrophe. Coincidentally, Sedgwick’s room was just down the hall from room 106, where Sid Vicious allegedly murdered girlfriend Nancy Spungen some 10 years later.
Nicole Kidman apparently puts great stock in the restorative powers of beauty sleep. In planning a brief stay at the the Four Seasons Chicago, the Australian actress insisted that her room be made up with her own imported Italian sheets. What’s more, she had them delivered to the hotel with an illustrated manual outlining precisely how the bed was to be made. The punch line? Despite such demands, she never actually showed up. And just in case meticulously planned REM doesn’t do the trick in keeping Kidman’s alabaster skin looking dewy soft, the actress has also been known to have her assistants swap out any 60-watt lightbulbs in her hotel suites with more flattering 40-watt varieties.
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