Wolf Files: Sleeping With Celebs

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."

2. Gable and Lombard's Hot and Sweaty Honeymoon Digs: On their wedding night in 1939, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard got their kicks in a hotel on Route 66 — and you can, too, for only $55, if you can bear a night in the scorching heat of Arizona's Mojave Desert with no air conditioning.

Perhaps you'd expect more from Hollywood's most famous couple than a wedding night in Room 15 of the Oatman Hotel, where you'll still find the same white iron bed where Gable and Lombard awoke for the first time as man and wife.

Burros still wander the streets of Oatman, once a gold mining town, with less than 150 residents. It hasn't changed much since that March night when the screen legends decided Oatman was their best shot at any degree of privacy.

Lombard, who died three years later in a plane crash, never returned to Oatman. Gable visited several times to play poker with the miners.

Nowadays, the Gable and Lombard Room is the Oatman Hotel's most expensive accommodation. Still, hopeless romantics brave the desert heat to make whoopee where one of the most famous Hollywood marriages was consummated.

For an extra $2, you can get a souvenir copy of the movie stars' marriage license, and all the guests get a bag of animal feed to indulge the town's local, four-legged celebrities.

3. A Budget Hotel Fit for the King: Hardly a match for Graceland, the Best Western in Clinton, Okla., had one big appeal for Elvis Presley — it marked the halfway point between Memphis and Las Vegas, the most important cities on Earth.

Under an alias, Elvis stayed in Room 215 four times during the late 1960s, until a housekeeper let out the secret, fans mobbed the hotel, and the rock star had to run for it.

Presley never returned. But his room at the Best Western remains a shrine — with fans now paying $80 — rather than the usual $46 rate — to sleep in the same king-sized bed as the King himself.

4. Fancy Fugitive's Penthouse Hideaway: In 1972, when billionaire Howard Hughes wanted to check into the Westin Bayshore Resort in Vancouver, demanding the hotel's top four floors, the hotel didn't have much of a choice. The eccentric billionaire threatened to buy the hotel if his requests weren't met.

Years earlier, he had actually purchased the Desert Inn in Las Vegas under similar circumstances.

Usually, hotels trip over each other to attract millionaires. But by 1972, Hughes, then 66, had cemented his reputation as one of the strangest men on Earth. He had not been seen in public for years and was on the run from U.S. tax authorities.

Hughes eventually settled into rooms 2089-2091, where he resided for six months, invisible to all hotel employees, under the care of a private staff and a security staff, who indulged all his germ-phobic demands, which included 12 fresh boxes of Kleenex every day.

These days, you don't have to be a billionaire for the same royal treatment. All you need is $2,400 a night. And if you've got the dough, they've got the Kleenex.

5. John and Yoko's Bed-In Suite: The Vietnam War is long over, but you can stage your own personal "Bed-In" peace protest, just like John and Yoko did back in 1969, when they invited 150 journalists, various celebrities and former Canadian leader Pierre Trudeau into their hotel room for the world's most famous pajama party.

The lovefest culminated with Lennon writing and recording "Give Peace a Chance," with Tommy Smothers, Dr. Timothy Leary and Petula Clark gathered around the bed in a sing-along.

Montreal's elegant Queen Elizabeth Hotel is now commemorating the 35th anniversary of John and Yoko's greatest stunt, with a nightly package for fans starting at $1,462.

The price tag alone is more than enough of a reminder that the age of free love is over. But the package also included "Bed-In Pajamas," similar to John and Yoko's, the same breakfast and dinners they ordered, and a souvenir CD, although you'll have to listen to Yoko's cat-in-heat singing.

6. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Spa and Pool: If you thought every moment of Beatlemania has already been commemorated, your yellow submarine is about to be sunk.

Seattle's Edgewater Hotel is currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Fab Four coming to town for the first time, with hotel staff donning Sgt. Pepper uniforms. Guests are invited into hotel's own live "Octopus's Garden," and don't miss a series of special events, including a "Yellow Submarine Fishing Expedition" and a "Taxman" celebration for local CPAs.

In 1964, when the Beatles arrived in Seattle during their first U.S. tour, every other Seattle hotel turned them away, unwilling to put up with the thousands of screaming fans that thronged their hotels.

To simply get the Beatles into the hotel, local officials had to smuggle them inside in an ambulance, with taxi cabs and Faux Fab stand-ins used as decoys.

Edgewater employees still recount how girls offered bribes to be hidden in laundry bags. Carpet from Suite 272 was later cut into 1-inch squares and sold as souvenirs.

Now, 40 years later, the hotel is still profiting from their famous guests. A "Day Tripper" package includes a night in that same room, a commemorative CD, and Beatles-inspired cocktails — all for $419 a night.

The hotel room is so close to the water, you can actually fish from the windows, just as John, Paul, George and Ringo did (and if you don't believe it, the Edgewater has photos).

Of course, many celebrities have stayed at the Edgewater. Don't expect the hotel to commemorate a 1969 visit from Led Zeppelin, which resulted in a notorious incident that Spin magazine voted No 1 in its "100 Sleaziest Moments in Rock."

The event need not be recounted in detail. Let's just say it involved a drunken 17-year-old female groupie and fresh seafood that members of the band hauled in, following a fishing expedition. Everyone agrees, it was quite a catch for everyone involved. More.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.