(02-27-2004) Gimme Shelter -- Lexus.MSN * - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-27-2004, 11:27 AM   #1
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(02-27-2004) Gimme Shelter -- Lexus.MSN *

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Gimme Shelter

Hotels where you get rock history along with the roof over your head.

By Robin Cherry

Gone are the days when rock musicians lived in run-down tenements or slept on seats in the back of tour buses. Today's rock stars live it up, and some even share their lifestyles by opening their own hotels.

The Clarence was a down-at-the-heels Victorian hotel in Dublin until Bono and Dave "The Edge" Evans of the Irish band U2 took a liking to the hotel's Octagon Bar and decided to buy and renovate the whole thing. Now, the Clarence is a stylish, contemporary oasis in the heart of Dublin's trendiest neighborhood. Known as Temple Bar, the whole district was almost razed to make room for a bus depot, but fortunately, historic preservation prevailed and the area is now thriving.

If the rooms, each decorated in one of the hotel's signature colors—crimson, royal blue, amethyst, gold, and chocolate—remind you of church, it's intentional. The colors are an homage to the priests and nuns who once lived at the hotel (though back then the rooms probably didn't have the posh leather and suede upholstery and lush velvet drapes they have now). Another ecclesiastical detail: phone booths resembling confessionals.

Should you find yourself channeling the spirit of U2, request the two-story Penthouse Suite, which has a baby grand piano as well as a terrace with a Jacuzzi overlooking the River Liffey. Rumor has it that when piano men Elton John and Billy Joel were on tour together, they had a spat over who would get the suite. (Elton John won.)

The Clarence is within walking distance of Dublin's major sites: Trinity College, Christchurch, and Claddagh Records (the best source for traditional and contemporary Irish music). STS Studios, where U2 recorded "Desire," is upstairs from the store.

What the Clarence lacks in glitz is made up in spades by the legendary Beverly Wilshire Hotel. This Italian Renaissance–style palace is a veritable way station for transient rock stars: Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Elton John have all been long-term guests. Elvis lived at the hotel for several years while filming at nearby Paramount Studios. Ten years later, when John Lennon was estranged from Yoko Ono, he chose the Beverly Wilshire as his address because he knew Elvis had lived there. Four years after Lennon's death, his 9-year-old son Sean, clad in a white tuxedo, delighted the audience when he accepted an award for his father at the Beverly Wilshire.

Lennon's band mate Ringo Starr once told a reporter that he'd been coming to California for seven years and "didn't know where the ocean was in relation to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel."

Those who recall rock and roll's less glamorous days should check out New York City's legendary Hotel Chelsea or L.A.'s infamous Chateau Marmont. Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Jefferson Airplane, Lou Reed, and Bon Jovi all wrote lyrics about the Hotel Chelsea, which is also where punk rocker Sid Vicious is alleged to have murdered his wife, Nancy.

Tragically, Chateau Marmont is best known for the demise of John Belushi. It's also where The Doors' Jim Morrison hurt himself trying to swing from the roof into his room and where Led Zeppelin had to pay for TVs that miraculously flew out a window. Other notable rock-and-roller guests have included John and Yoko (together), and Bob Dylan and Sting (separately).

Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA;
800-242-8328; www.chateaumarmont.com

The Clarence, 6-8 Wellington Quay, Dublin, Ireland
800-745-8883; www.theclarence.ie

Hotel Chelsea, 222 West 23rd St., New York, NY;
212-243-3700; www.hotelchelsea.com

The Regent Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA;
800-545-4000; www.regenthotels.com

-- Lexus.MSN

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