The Chelsea: A muse as an hotel

By Pablo Burgués

As well as being rich, famous and having the best hair out of all your modern buddies (together), there are two more things that Bob Marley, Patti Smith,Jimi Hendrix, Charles Bukowski, Uma Thurman, Dennis Hopper and Keith Richards have in common. First: they love (or loved) partying hard above all else. Second: they all found time in their helter-skelter schedules to check in for an extended stay at The Chelsea Hotel in New York.

Since opening in 1905 this charismatic building, situated between 7th and 8th Avenue, became the cultural and artistic epicentre for bohemian New Yorkers. Or in other words, a den of carnal desire and moral ruin where all types of artists and shady characters fell in to in search of inspiration (and that which wasn’t at all inspirational).

Many, many crazy tales have been told about what happened behind the red brick façade of The Chelsea, but as you surely have better things to do in Ibiza than read a magazine, we will give you a brief rundown of the hotel’s most (in)famous moments.

4th November 1953. Room 217 Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet and author (the person from whom Bob Dylan took his stage name) died (according to legend) after drinking industrial quantities of alcohol laced with a quarter of morphine. And you think you’re hard by drinking vodka with Red Bull.

12th October 1978. Room 100 Sid Vicious, bass player with the Sex Pistols, got so fucked up on heroin that he supposedly stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death.

I bet you’re thinking, “wow, drugs are really bad”. Well for your information painter Alphaeus Cole (another party animal) lived in The Chelsea during 35 years and died peacefully in his room, aged at 112 years and 136 days old. Therefore getting off your head is bad, but for some it is doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

We’re going to leave the juicy stories aside because The Chelsea is also famous for being a tremendously inspiring place, one of those magical establishments that are so full of energy that even someone completely out touch with music such as Louie Bega (Mambo No.5 has to be one of the worst crimes committed in the name of music) or anyone who ‘performs’ at Eurovision, would have been able to compose a hit. Great examples of songs written about the establishment include: Bob Dylan “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”, Jon Bon Jovi “Midnight in Chelsea”, The Stooges “We
Will Fall” and Ryan Adams “Hotel Chelsea Nights”.

Some superb films have also been shot or written at the hotel such as 91⁄2 Weeks, Sid & Nancy, Leon and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The hotel’s sheets have also born witness to epic love stories between Jim Morrison and Nico or Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin, an affair immortalised in his song “Chelsea Hotel #2”. Madonna, who was in her imperial, 80s temptress phase, also lived and shot her Sex book there, in Room 822.

The hotel was closed in July 2011 as it was taken over by new owners, supposedly for renovations that were due to last a year. More than 8 years later it still remains closed and covered with scaffolding, with approximately 50 tenants still living inside and multiple lawsuits and changes of ownership meaning an endless renovation process. So until it reopens, if you are a writer in search of inspiration, a musician looking for that killer riff or a mere mortal who wants to pay a sexual tribute to that special one that makes you hot, then check-in at Paradise Ibiza Art Hotel, The Chelsea of the Mediterranean.

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