The Eagles’ seminal track from the album of the same name inspired a whole raft of rumors as well as questions. The truth is you can visit the hotel—and check out anytime you like—as long as you can afford the room rates.
“Hotel California” captured the hedonistic spirit of the mid-1970s. and teenagers around the world could recite its lyrics by heart—and wonder collectively what on earth they meant. There were rumors that it was about a lunatic asylum, and claims that a ghost inhabited the eerie cover. Some even said the song was a work of Satanist propaganda.
Most of all, people wanted to track down the place immortalized on the song. Truth is rarely as exciting as myth, and the building on the cover is the exclusive Beverly Hills Hotel photographed from an unusual angle. To capture the hotel’s pink-domed roof behind a line of palm trees, the covers creators David Alexander and John Kosh are supposed to have stood on a cherry picker on Sunset Boulevard waiting for the sun to go down.
The motley crew inside the album cover were not photographed at the Beverly Hills but in the lobby of Lido Hotel at 6500 Yucca Street, LA—a building now converted into private apartments. One side-benefit of the search for Hotel California is that over the years an establishment by that name in Todos Santos, Mexico has attracted a steady stream of pilgrims looking far pink champagne and ceiling mirrors. While this pleasant small hotel in Baja California offers plenty of luxuries. it isn’t in any way connected to the lyrics.
Experience life behind bars With its cramped cells and spectacular views over San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island is an unforgettable experience made all the more poignant by the participation of former inmates.
It’s undeniably chilling to leave the bustle of Fisherman’s Wharf behind, and take the short ferry journey to the Rock. Its situation in the inhospitable waters of San Francisco Bay makes it virtually impregnable, and it’s easy to imagine how bleak the future must have looked to arriving prisoners.
Although there were plenty of escape attempts, Alcatraz only “mislaid” three of its inmates during its 29 years as a penitentiary. To this day no one knows if the three men immortalized in the film Escape from Alcatraz survived the journey to shore on their home-made raft, but the million-dollar reward remains unclaimed. The prison closed in 1963, and after being abandoned to the elements and then occupied by protesting Native Americans, the site became a National Park. and now provides a safe haven for bird and animal life.
The best way to tour the prison cells is with the aid of the cellhouse audio tour. Commentary supplied by former inmates paints a grim, and sometimes unbearably sad portrait of growing old behind bars. For many of them, one of the worst things about life on Alcatraz Island was that they could see the lights of the city and, on certain nights, hear the sounds of freedom and revelry emanating across the water to their dank prison cells.