Fueled by the battle cry, “Free the music!”, Hotel Ziggy is a proudly infamous star on West Hollywood, California’s Sunset Strip celebrating broken rules, guitar strings and recording contracts.
Contributed by Alicia Sheber
An inclusive destination championing countercultures and artists’ rights, its raucous interiors spotlight musicians who’ve fought to have their voices heard, from Californian bands to icons like The Beatles and Rolling Stones to local Latin and Asian performers. On the walls, framed legal documents from the ‘50s onward highlight lawsuits between musicians and record companies and will be updated as new cases arise, while découpaged vintage playbills spanning diverse genres are layered by era to reflect evolving musical tastes.
Developed by Bethesda, Maryland-based Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, this eighth property in the REIT’s Unofficial Z Collection stays true to the idiosyncratic brand’s values of rebellion and activism. Seattle and Brighton, UK-based Dawson Design Associates (DDA), long-time Pebblebrook partner and creator of all previous Z hotel concepts, conceived interiors intended to spark conversations through the question, “Who really owns the music?”
Set amongst a sea of luxury hotels, including the adjacent Pebblebrook-owned and DDA-designed Mondrian LA, Hotel Ziggy debuted March 2022 and intentionally retains gritty quirks from its ‘50s-motel persona. “Having Ziggy next door is like discovering a new tattoo after a wild night… not particularly tasteful, nor wanted,” said Andrea Sheehan, DDA’s founding principal and art director. “We’re bringing back the ‘riffraff’ to a neighborhood everyone else is trying to polish.”
Haphazard interventions from the past became part of the renovation’s charm. “Sometimes it’s better to go with the flow for architecture and structure,” said Jon Bortz, Pebblebrook’s president and CEO. “As far as I know, the building has zero redeeming qualities from an historical architecture perspective, and the exterior was ugly as sin with roofs making it look like the International House of Pancakes.” Fortunately, DDA transformed its flaws into virtues, with the exterior painted dark gray and enlivened by murals from LA municipality-approved artist CJ Hungerman. “It’s not magic, just misdirection,” Bortz said.
Stripped to its structural bones, the building was opened from end to end so performers and guests are seen and heard. At the entrance, Brian Mock’s androgynous Rock Queen sculpture offers a nod to Ziggy Stardust. The lobby lounge’s 7’-2”-high ceilings were lowered with black-waffle acoustic recording studio baffles, bringing intimacy while emphasizing the golden ‘60s millwork and rustic wood floors. Fusing the feel of a ‘70s neighborhood record store with an amateur recording studio, it sets the stage for the Backbeat venue where locals perform and the adjacent bar/vinyl library/reception desk.
Managed by Springboard Hospitality, Hotel Ziggy’s 108 bohemian guest rooms channel the ‘60s with modern-meets-retro furniture and murals inspired by psychedelic album covers, while the pool patio recalls a ‘60s herb garden. In addition to memorializing bygone Sunset Strip landmarks Tower Records and House of Blues, the property honors LA’s first iconic record store, Licorice Pizza, through its B-side Pizza joint featuring a ‘50s carhop-style pick-up window directly on Sunset Boulevard and framed by 10’-diameter “vinyl album” cladding.
Pebblebrook doesn’t want Hotel Ziggy to become a sanitized tourist destination. “The interiors will become rougher and get a patina over time,” Bortz said. “It really is about locals coming in, playing music and hopefully getting a following in the community.”