Alla Nazmova (left) and Rudolph Valentino (center) in her production of "Camille," 1921
Alla Nazmova (left) and Rudolph Valentino (center) in her production of “Camille,” 1921

Bohemian Elite

For 32 years, the Garden of Allah was an oasis of sophisticated hedonism in Hollywood. Its long list of celebrity guests included movie stars, world-renowned musicians, East Coast and European aristocrats and even a mobster or two.

By reputation, the Garden was a favorite stopping place for Hollywood’s bohemian elite. It functioned like a frat house for the famous. The motto was “Work hard, play hard.” There were raucous parties all night and  daylong hangovers nursed by the pool while world famous musicians rehearsed in their villas.

It was one of Hollywood’s favorite trysting spots. Lovers on the down low liked it because they could avoid the hotel lobby and go directly to their lovers’ villas from the street or the parking lot. It was also the only celebrity hotel that did not employ a house detective.

Alla Nazimova, the hotel’s founder, was a popular Broadway and film star in her day. An independent-minded actor, director and producer known for her liberal politics and sexual fluidity, her home and later her hotel created the vibe for what would become the Sunset Strip.