L.A. SLEEPERS Locations: Beverly Hilton Hotel

L.A. SLEEPERS Locations: Beverly Hilton Hotel
by Dakota Donovan

beverly hilton

Designed by architect Welton Becket — who also counts the iconic circular Capitol Records Building among his creations — the Beverly Hilton Hotel opened in 1953 and has enjoyed renovations over the decades, while retaining its midcentury charm. The location is a good place to spot celebrities — because on any given day, it’s hosting an event attended by members of the motion picture industry.  In my novel L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery, I visit the hotel’s bar accompanied by a local artist, while searching for an elusive woman I need to interview for the memoir I’m ghostwriting — as detailed in the following excerpt.

Abridged excerpt from Chapter 19 of L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery: 

We reach Beverly Hills and drive around for about fifteen minutes, with Joyce in constant motion, looking from side to side, front and back, trying to spot Shelly Morris.

“Oh,” Joyce says and hits herself in the forehead, as if remembering something she should have recalled earlier. “I know where she probably is.”


I see the white, L-shaped Beverly Hilton on my left, looming tall and wide—a throwback to the fifties, that beautiful decade between the wars when elegance and good times prevailed.

We park in a lot under the building—and Joyce tells me that we’re entitled to two hours of free parking if we buy a drink at the bar and get our ticket validated. I hand Joyce the ticket so she can keep track of it. She seems to enjoy leading the way on this excursion and is reveling in the challenge of finding Shelly Morris.

As we make our way to the lobby, I wonder how much the bar charges for drinks.


The Beverly Hilton lobby bar is a wide-open area set between support pillars and decked out with neo-midcentury sofas, coffee tables, lamps, and upholstered chairs. The lighting is low, the mood is hushed, and the tones are muted. There are plenty of available places to ensconce ourselves for a few hours.

As we stand on the sidelines, acting as if we’re looking for someone, I whisper to Joyce, “What makes you think we’ll find her here?”

“Oh, look,” Joyce says, rushing to the other end of the lobby.

I find her standing before a photograph of Marilyn Monroe, just like the image she’d used to create her drawing.  Joyce seems overwhelmed. Her lips tremble and her eyes fill with tears, as if she’s at Lourdes.

“Thank you, Marilyn,” Joyce says, touching her fingertips to the glass covering the photograph.

“Please,” says an officious-sounding voice behind us.

I turn and see a man in a blue sports jacket with “security” embroidered on his vest pocket.

“Sorry, sir,” Joyce says, “I was transported for a moment looking at Marilyn’s photo. It won’t happen again.”

The man, a burly guy in his late twenties with military bearing, nods and begins to move away, but Joyce calls after him, “Oh sir.”

Joyce reaches in her bag and pulls out a photocopy of her Marilyn Monroe drawing. She holds it up to the picture on the wall to show the resemblance. The woman’s drafting skills are remarkable—it is an exact copy of the photograph.

“I’m selling these on the Walk of Fame,” Joyce tells the security worker. “I thought you might like to have a copy.”

The man takes the drawing from Joyce, looks at it, smiles, then hands it back to her. “Thank you for the offer,” he says, “but I can’t accept any…” he stops short of saying “bribes” and says, “gifts.” He turns and heads out to avert security breaches, quell uprisings, and stamp out rowdies in the microcosm of the world that is the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

End of excerpt

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