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Arts and Entertainment

The Eagles Are Suing An Actual Hotel California In Mexico

(Photo via Hotel California/Facebook)
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Did you know there's an actual Hotel California? It's down in Mexico in the town of Todos Santos, right on the Baja California Peninsula. Getting there, you drive down a dark desert highway, with cool wind in your hair. Up ahead in the distance, you'll see a shimmering light.

That hotel is now being sued by none other than the Eagles. The band, if you somehow aren't aware of the fact, wrote the 1976 track "Hotel California," the song that played incessantly on your dad's favorite radio station. With its cryptic lyrics, and suggestive dark undertones, the song has been the subject of much speculation (some think it's got subliminal satanic messages). Band member Don Henley, however, has stated that it's just about a bunch of regular guys trying to cope with the glam and fast pace of Los Angeles. “We were getting an extensive education,” Henley says, “in life, in love, in business. Beverly Hills was still a mythical place to us. In that sense it became something of a symbol, and the ‘Hotel’ the locus of all that LA had come to mean for us. In a sentence, I’d sum it up as the end of the innocence, round one."

Did part of that "education" involve learning about how to litigate? Maybe. At any rate, the band has filed a lawsuit against the physical Hotel California. According to Reuters, the suit says that the hotel "actively encourage" guests to believe that that space is associated with the band, with intentions of selling t-shirts and other merchandise. Furthermore, the band claims that the hotel plays "Hotel California" through its sound system, and that parent company Hotel California Baja LLC has applied with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the Hotel California name.

Is Henley and gang reading too much into it? Maybe. Maybe not. A quick glance at Trip Advisor shows that some visitors do believe that they'd visited an Eagles landmark or, at least, a place that's being marketed as one. "The Hotel California in Todos Santos is the original named in the 1970's song by the Eagles," one guest wrote. Another person wrote, "Surprisingly good food but clearly aimed at the American consumer. No real surprises given that the target market are Eagles fans." One common complaint about the hotel is that you can check out anytime, but you can never leave. (Joke!)

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According to Reuters, the hotel's name actually predates the band. It was originally called Hotel California when it opened in 1950, but went through a succession of name changes until it was later bought in 2001 by a Canadian couple who restored the Hotel California name and, according to the band, proceeded to milk its affiliation to the Eagles. A glance at the hotel's website, as well as its social media, did not produce any overtly Eagles-related paraphernalia. The website does, however, touch on the topic of the Eagles, simultaneously denying any affiliation and suggesting that the space had commonalities with the song:

Although the present owners of the hotel do not have any affiliation with the Eagles, nor do they promote any association, many visitors are mesmerized by the "coincidences" between the lyrics of the hit song and the physicality of the hotel and its surroundings.

It then proceeds to talk about how you actually do take a "a long desert highway" to the hotel, and how marijuana was once grown on the "fertile land of the Todos Santos area," linking this tidbit with the "colitas" that are mention in the song (the website says that colitas is slang for a joint).

The hotel and its representatives did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.

As noted at Stereogum, Henley has a history of litigation. He's threatened to sue Frank Ocean and Okkervil River in the past. In 2014, Henley and bandmate Glenn Frey (who passed away last year), sued a New York man for allegedly charging people to see bootleg copies of an Eagles concert, reports New York Daily News. We imagine a cease-and-desist letter saying, "What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise), bring your alibis."

It should be noted that the Todos Santos hotel is not the only space to be called "Hotel California."

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