Old School Hollywood tucked away in the heart of Culver City.
While I like my bars all sleek, modern and hip, I appreciate the spaces that are classical in nature, comfortable and elegant all at the same time. That’s hard to do. Doing it well, gets you a reputation, a good reputation. Sometimes, even a historic one.
The Bar inside the Culver Hotel is old world, old school Hollywood. Originally started in 1924, it’s a place for the wealthy and well-connected to come celebrate a deal, close a deal or cook one up.
And if you’re not so wealthy and well connected? C’mon in anyway.
The Culver Hotel itself had a…well…different reputation. During the Filming of the Wizard of Oz in 1938, at the nearby Culver Studios (literally a stones throw from the front door), the Munchkins stayed at the Hotel, and…
In the original film, of course, the Munchkins were played by genuine circus midgets, whose colourful contribution to Hollywood history has never been forgotten.
For although their antics on screen brought joy to generations of children, behind the scenes they astounded everyone with shocking episodes of drunkenness, depravity and wild sexual propositions from which no one was safe.
Even Garland herself was sufficiently curious to go on a date with one of the most randy, although since she was so young, her mother insisted on joining her.
“Fair enough, two broads for the price of one,” the tiny lothario replied, undaunted. By the time filming was over, Garland had seen enough of the Munchkins’ unsavoury antics to go right off the idea of any intimate contact.
Like the rest of the cast, she was astounded to hear they were holding ‘dwarf sex parties’ in the famous Culver Hotel (subsequently owned by John Wayne) where they all lived during filming.
There were rumours of wild evenings with rooms ransacked and drunken midgets swinging from the rafters. One horrified observer described them as “an unholy assembly of pimps, hookers and gamblers”.
Is this true? Probably. But still, it just adds to the charm as far as I’m concerned.
Now the style, the decor is…very old world, frou-frou, I’m guessing French antiquity. If anything throws you, after being in and hanging around so many hipster, trendy bars, it’ll be that.
There’s a fireplace, a Piano and a lot…repeat…a lot of seating. The bar isn’t all that large. It’s more of a dispensary, a place to hand out drinks.
I got a place by the fire. This being summer and all (during my visit), and it’s not going. I was just having a beer, having a chat, and then it happened…
…this big ol’, gigantic bowl is presented to the patrons. It’s the size of one of those High School Globes from Homeroom. It’s silver, with a large ladle sticking out of it. Is it soup? Stew?
A ginormous tub of Garlic flavored, buttered…popcorn.
And we’re talking hand-buttered by the Gods. As though each and every kernel was hand painted with butter by the Kitchen Staff.
And they’re just giving it away as a snack.
Certainly made me fall in love with the place.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing really to warn you about. I will say it’s fancy and low key. Those hoping to celebrity watch might be sorely disappointed, and rightfully so. This place is stylish and chill. Coming here should be for you, not who you’ll see.
PARKING: According to the very well designed Culver Hotel website you have a couple of options. One is Valet parking, where you pull into their loading zone and the Staff will direct you. When leaving they request you let them know 15 minutes in advance
Self Parking works out a little the same, where the Culver Hotel staff will instead
I’d look at one for the Culver City Parking Structures just across the street. I’ve got a friend of mine who knows the area well enough that he can navigate the residential side streets and come up with a primo place to park. If you’re new to Culver City, or at least don’t frequent it that often, save yourself the grief. Park in one of the structures.
And consult our Culver City Parking Guide just to be safe.
The Bar at the Culver Hotel
9400 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Reservations: 1-888-3 CULVER