The Craziest Hotel Scandals in History
We don’t know what it is about hotels—The sex? The mystery? The thrill behind closed doors?—but they’ve been the scene of scandal for more than a century. Here are the most shocking tales of them all.
Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.
Orson Welles, Copacabana Palace, Rio
Don’t get us wrong, splitting up is hard. But no matter how tragic the romance, there’s no excuse for destroying hotel property. Back in 1942, filmmaker Orson Welles got epically dumped by his then girlfriend, Delores Del Rio. Handling it like a mature adult, he went into a complete rampage, throwing furniture out his bedroom window at the Copacabana Palace in Rio. Safe to say, his heart wasn’t the only thing broken that day.
Salvador Dali, Hotel Meurice, Paris
There are party animals, and there are actual animals. When Salvador Dali stayed at Paris’s Hotel Meurice in the 60s, he asked the staff to fetch him a flock of sheep, which he herded through the halls by firing blanks at them with a pistol. Another time, he paid the bellmen to catch insects for him (five francs per fly!). If these antics weren’t odd enough, he also painted on the guest room walls often. That’s one way to leave your mark.
President Nixon, The Watergate, Washington D.C.
Let’s flashback to the most illustrious political scandal of all time: Watergate. As the tale goes, The Watergate in Washington D.C. was the site of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters for the 1972 presidential campaign. The rooms were bugged (with Nixon’s knowledge), which was discovered when a band of burglars broke in. Soon after, a disgraced Nixon gave his two week’s notice to the nation.
Michael Milken, Beverly Hills Hotel, LA
Today’s bachelors would blush if they knew what went on at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the 80s. On Thursday nights, former junk bond king Michael Milken would host “no wives” parties, which were the highlight of his annual Predator’s Ball (if THAT doesn’t sound like trouble). What happened at these wild bashes? The debaucherous details are pretty hush-hush, but let’s just say it wasn’t surprising to see women’s lingerie hanging from the hotel’s crystal chandeliers.
John Belushi, Chateau Marmont, LA
Since the 1960s, Chateau Marmont has had a notorious reputation, from Jim Morrison’s mighty rooftop swing to Led Zeppelin’s badass motorcycle ride through the lobby. But what it’s most known for is the sudden (and suspicious) death of sir John Belushi in 1982. Robert De Niro and Robin Williams visited Belushi in one of the hotel’s bungalows, and the next day, Belushi was found dead of drug overdose. Not exactly the press the property was looking for.
President Clinton, Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington, VA
Who could forget the famous line: “I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman”? Following his speech (and ensuing PR nightmare), a formal investigation was opened about the affair between 49-year-old President Bill Clinton and 22-year-old Monica Lewinsky. The infidelity was confirmed when Lewinsky’s friend and coworker Linda Tripp recorded her conversations (and confessions) in 1998 at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City in Arlington. Busted, Bill.
Heidi Fleiss, Beverly Hilton Hotel, LA
In 1993, four undercover cops caught Hollywood’s biggest prostitution ring. Posing as Japanese businessmen, they conducted a sting operation in a suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel that helped track down The Million Dollar Madam, Heidi Fleiss, and her little black book. And whose name was at the top of her client list? None other than bad boy Charlie Sheen (shocker). Sheen later admitted that he spent more than $50,000 on Fleiss’s, ahem, services in a two-year span.
Michael Jackson, Hotel Adlon, Berlin
Michael Jackson may be known for many things: his sick dance moves, his facial changes, his billboard-topping music. But one moment that really stands out? That time in 2002 when the King of Pop dangled his 9-month-old son off the fifth-floor balcony at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin. Widespread criticism swept the media, and he later apologized to the public for his horrible daddy day care skills.
Russell Crowe, The Mercer, NYC
911? We’ve got an unhinged celebrity. Russell Crowe caused quite a stir when he stayed at The Mercer in 2005. The actor tried (and failed) to call his wife, who was abroad in Australia, and flew into a rage, hurling the hotel telephone at a concerned concierge. Long story short, he ended up in handcuffs for aggravated assault. Not exactly the one phone call he wanted to have that night.
Prince Harry, Wynn Las Vegas
Britain’s beloved Prince Harry hasn’t always been prim and proper. In 2012, he left the Wynn Las Vegas a legend after photos were leaked of him dancing naked during a game of strip billiards in his VIP suite. We can only imagine the queen’s expression upon seeing Harry’s royal a– in the tabloids.
President Obama’s Secret Service, Hotel Caribe, Cartagena
Obama may have dropped the mic on his eight-year reign, but his secret service dropped the ball years ago. While visiting Cartagena in 2012, the president’s agents threw a wild pool party at the Hotel Caribe. Lots of booze and female escorts were involved. When Obama found out, he took a page from Trump’s book and told his staff, “You’re fired!”
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