The Hotel Cecil, the basis for American Horror Story: Hotel and the real hotel california #americanhorrorstory #ahshotel #losangeles #truecrime

By Jason Nelson @dragonwolftech

My favorite season of American Horror Story is Hotel. The fictional Hotel Cortez was the home to several mortal and supernatural guests.

The massive art deco styled lobby welcomed guests to the hotel in the heart of Los Angeles.

There were throwbacks to classic horror films. Like The Hunger, The Shining, Poltergeist, to name a few. In a scene filmed at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, two of the hotel’s residents watch Nosferatu’s screening. Before seducing their next victims.

But the main character of the season was, in fact, the hotel itself. While the Hotel Cortez is not a real place, the Hotel Cecil is. 

The basis for the Hotel Cortez, the Hotel Cecil also known as The Cecil Hotel or The Cecil, opened in 1927. Located in Downtown Los Angeles. The Hotel Cecil, designed by Loy Lester Smith and built in 1924 by hotelier William Hanner. 

For many years, the Hotel Cecil was a hotel for transients. The hotel also garnered a reputation for violence and suicides. Homeless, substance abusers, and others stayed at the hotel, adding to the mystery of the location.

Some notable visitors to the Hotel Cecil:

Elizabeth Short, aka The Black Dahlia, said to have visited the Hotel Cecil soon before her tragic death. Her body was found seven miles away in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. 

Richard Ramirez, aka The Nightstalker, rumored to have stayed at the Hotel Cecil in the 1980s as he made his way around the skid row area of Los Angeles.

In 2013, Elisa Lam’s naked body was found in the water tank on the roof of the hotel. Both Elizabeth Short and Richard Ramirez have appear in episode of American Horror Story.

In 2011, the Hotel Cecil was renamed the Stay on Main but locals still refer to the hotel by it’s original and more famous name. 

In the season premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel. The song Hotel California by The Eagles plays as new guest check into the Cortez. “You can check out, but you can never leave” a statement of fact.

In 2017, the hotel was deemed a historic-cultural monument by the Los Angeles City Council. While American Horror Story added vampires, ghosts, witches, and serial killers. The Hotel Cecil has enough colorful history for its TV show of its own.

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