Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood

The view:

This is one of the most iconic buildings on Sunset Boulevard, that infamous strip running right through the heart of Hollywood, where dreams have been made - and shattered - for countless young hopefuls. From the outside, the Chateau looks like a European castle, with turrets and lush gardens, and a huge, classic sign.

On the inside, it's like a comfortable country club crossed with a celebrity's living room - lots of plush sofas and armchairs, huge arched windows, discreet lighting and a distinct old Hollywood vibe. Built in the 1920s first as an apartment building, the Chateau became the hotel favoured by celebrities - this is the place Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo and, erm, Lindsay Lohan liked to hide away, and the list of famous names who have some kind of link to the hotel is too long to list here.

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As well as the compact yet classy lobby bar, there's also a beautiful partially-covered patio outside, where you can enjoy table service drinks and food.

The vibe: People talking in hushed tones, couples on romantic dates, glamorous types who may or may not be celebrities (don't stare too long - you'll give yourself away as one of the normal folk).

The chat: Not much - the bartenders must be used to blending into the background and not intruding on high-powered Hollywood business deals, or celebrities behaving badly.

The landmark Hollywood hotel, the Chateau Marmont, has been attracting celebrities since the 1930s. Photo / Getty Images
The landmark Hollywood hotel, the Chateau Marmont, has been attracting celebrities since the 1930s. Photo / Getty Images

The menu:

The cocktail list features 10 choices, most of which are wonderfully named - The Last Tango; A Place in the Sun; The Wayward Wind; Angel on the Amazon; and the classic Marmont Mule.

I went for a Bleu Velvet - the Chateau's take on a martini, with vodka, olive juice and bleu cheese olives. Maybe I was just hungry, but the cheese-stuffed olives really intrigued me. In reality, the drink just tasted like any old martini, but with a delicious snack bonus.

My friend Lucy had 'Til the Midnight Hour, made with tequila, frangelico, espresso and vanilla... I had drink envy.

The expectation: Despite many visits to Hollywood, I'd never stepped inside the Chateau Marmont and was intrigued to see what it was like. I was expecting old Hollywood glamour and a place heaving with famous faces.

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The reality: The only celeb we saw was Patricia Clarkson, the American actress famous for The Green Mile, Sharp Objects, and the latest season of House of Cards. But the general vibe of the place was exciting; you can almost feel the history oozing from the walls.

Important note: To protect the privacy of its guests, you're not allowed to take photos inside. Don't even try a sneaky cellphone snap - you'll show yourself up as a tourist... and likely get kicked out.