1927: Garden of Alla
In 1926, Alla Nazimova spent $1.5 million (about $20 million today) to convert her estate at 8152 Sunset Blvd. [map showing approximate location] into a residential hotel catering to the movie crowd. Most of the money went into the construction of 23 one- and two-bedroom “villas” to be rented by the day, week or month.
In early January, she threw a party to launch the Garden of Alla Hotel. “There was joy afoot, caviar at hand and bubbles in the air—-for 18 hours,” a writer remembered years later in an article in the Times. “By midnight, the waiters were harmonizing with the guests and wandering troubadours played madrigals from the middle of the pool.”
In the end, however, the Garden of Alla Hotel was not profitable, and Nazimova ended up selling the estate back to its original owner, William H. Hay, who brought in professional management and continued to operate it as the “Garden of Alla.” Eventually Hay sold it to a corporation, and it was they who changed the name, finally, to the Garden of Allah Hotel, and it was under that name that the hotel became, like it’s original owner, an international sensation.
Nazimova had spotted a trend, however. Upscale apartments sprang up on the Strip. The Chateau Marmont Apartments (8221 Sunset Blvd.) and Hacienda Park Apartments (8435 Sunset Blvd.) both opened in 1927 and the Sunset Tower Apartments (8351 Sunset Blvd.) opened in 1931.
But Nazimova was first.