Say Goodbye (For Now) To Hotel Figueroa With A Sendoff Party
By the end of this weekend, downtown's L.A.'s nearly century-old Hotel Figueroa will be closed until next summer for renovations. But in the meantime, you can give the hotel a proper sendoff with a goodbye shindig this Saturday.
The hotel will temporarily close on Nov. 22 as the new owners will be transforming its signature Moroccan-style look back to its original Spanish Mediterranean designs as part of a $30 million makeover. "It was a very classy, elegant place," one of the owners, Jack vanHartesvelt, a partner of Urban Lifestyle Hotels, told the L.A. Times in April. "Now it's more like a movie set."
These are the changes that are planned:
Lobby skylights have been cleaned and repaired and Moroccan drapes will be cleared from arched Spanish-style windows. New restaurants and bars will be created and a second entrance on Figueroa will be reopened. Neon lighting will be restored on the prominent Hotel Figueroa sign on the roof, where a garden will also be planted to grow vegetables for the hotel's three kitchens. Although most of the Moroccan touches will be removed, the owners plan to keep an exotic underground bar and lounge called Tangier as a nod to the hotel's long-held Moroccan ambiance. The colorful space has been used for a Victoria's Secret fashion shoot and filming location for HBO's vampire television series True Blood.
The hotel itself has an interesting, progressive history. It opened in 1926 as a Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) hotel that catered to business women. According to KCET, the top nine floors of the hotel were only occupied by "business, traveling, and professional" women, and the lower floors for men and their families.
Eventually, the hotel would be open to more men to drum up more business. The YWCA owners would later lose the hotel after the Great Depression. However, even though the YWCA didn't own the building anymore, the group still operated there until 1951, still serving as a special place for women and social activists. According to KPCC:
The hotel kept its socially conscious and political image into the 1950s. Many prominent male and female international leaders and thinkers, officials of the YWCA, YMCA, and the Salvation Army stayed at the hotel over the years. Press conferences were often held in the lobby and in private rooms. Intellectuals gave speeches decrying racism, sexism, juvenile delinquency, and communism.
The ownership of the hotel would change hands, and in 1976, Swede Uno Thimansson would buy Hotel Figueroa and give it the Moroccan look we know today. Urban Lifestyle Hotels bought the hotel last year for $65 million.