If the walls of hotel rooms could talk, maybe we could understand why people pay extra money to sleep in the same exact spot where a celebrity once laid his head. Until they do, let's just be glad it's good for the economy.
Celebrities spend a good deal of their lives on the road, and you can only expect the hotel industry to capitalize on any brush with fame. Hosting famous guests, however, can be a mixed blessing. Certainly, a fair share of inns wished, in retrospect, that Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson and countless other misbehaving celebs had brought their business elsewhere.
In fact, it's hard to even imagine how the last 32 years of scandal headlines would read if certain politicians during the 1972 presidential election had chosen to run their campaign from anywhere other than Washington, D.C.'s Watergate Hotel.
But assuming no one dies and no one gets busted, the value of the hotel room goes up when the rock star checks out. Not all establishments look to cash in, but plenty do.
"If you're lucky enough to have a big guest, you're making yourself different," says Chris Epting, author of Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here (Santa Monica Press), a virtual roadmap of Hollywood and pop culture history.
A Saturday night stay at the Ballantines Hotel in Palm Springs, Calif., jumps from $165 to $265 if you want the Marilyn Monroe "Pretty in Pink Suite," the place the sex goddess slipped away to when she needed peace.
"If sleeping where Einstein snoozed isn't cool enough, how about nodding off in the powder-pink bedroom of Marilyn Monroe?" boasts the hotel's Web site.
Several hotels, including New York's Carlyle Hotel, are rumored to be sites for trysts between Monroe and John F. Kennedy during their long-rumored affair, and Epting documents them, although the hotel hardly takes credit for such a dubious honor.
To be sure, when scandal rocks the country, the travel industry sends in more than housekeeping to clean up the mess. New York's Regency hotel isn't so quick to point out that you may be staying in the very room where Frank Gifford got caught cheating on Kathie Lee, info you'll find in Peter Greenberg's new book, The Travel Detective (Villard).
Here's a look at several hotels — some quite humble — that have earned a small place in history and have become tourist destinations, simply because they offer rabid fans an opportunity to sleep in a room — and sometimes the very same bed — once occupied by the rich and fabulous.
1. The Lizard King's Lair: Come on, baby, light your fire, in Room 32 at the Alta Cienega Motel, better known as a $10-a-night dive back in the late 1960s when Jim Morrison became the seedy hotel's most famous resident.
These days, the Alta Cienega is a $60-a-night dive, but you'll have to pay an extra $10 for the "Jim Morrison Room," as it's proclaimed on a door plate in honor of the self-described Lizard King.
At the time the Doors legend moved in, a DWI charge had left him without a driver's license. The West Hollywood motel had the advantage of being near the band's office, not to mention the singer's hangout, Barney's Beanery, and his favorite strip clubs.
To prove they've spent the night on Morrison's personal version of "Love Street," fans typically ask the front desk to photocopy the room key. Graffiti on the walls claims that "Jim Morrison is alive and well in South Africa."