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The most rock’n’roll hotel in the world? Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmont

The author of Rock & Roll Hotels, a new guidebook that lifts the lid on what rock stars get up to after the after-party, on the most rock’n’roll hotel of them all, Chateau Marmont in Hollywood

A night at the infamous Chateau Marmont, which rises above the Sunset Strip like a leviathan of gothic glamour, is part of the quintessential Hollywood experience. Actors, musicians, writers and the affluent elite have all been known to hole up in this legendary paparazzi-free zone in order to revel in romantic rebellion. Indeed, many guests even became habitués in order to blaze a trail with reckless abandon seven days a week.

The tales from the Chateau have become so legendary that anyone with even a passing interest in rock’n’roll – or any facet of the entertainment industry for that matter – will have heard a Hollywood story related to Chateau Marmont. If you think you haven’t, maybe this by no means comprehensive list will jog your memory. James Dean hopped through a window to audition for Rebel Without a Cause; Judy Garland sang by the grand piano in the lobby; Canyon cowboy Gram Parsons lived here for a short time; Blues Brother John Belushi overdosed in bungalow number three; Led Zeppelin drove their Harley Davidsons into the hotel lobby; The Doors’ Jim Morrison dangled precariously from his window; esteemed record producer Rick Rubin lived here for nine months in the 1990s after relocating from New York; John Frusciante, guitarist with Red Hot Chili Peppers, took up residence here in 1996, only to descend into a drugs hell that nearly claimed his life; Anthony Kiedis, also of Chili Peppers, recorded his vocals for By the Way in his room at the hotel; Ville Valo of Finnish rock band HIM, recorded his vocals for the track Song Or Suicide here; Lindsay Lohan checked in following her arrest for drink driving in 2007; Lily Allen wrote the song Fuck You while at the hotel; Heath Ledger partied here the week before he died … Deep breath.

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Tips for travel writing

If you fancy entering this year’s travel writing competition, launching tomorrow in Saturday’s Guardian – or just want to improve your work – check out these handy tips from the Guardian Travel team

Writing courses to inspire you, from Croatia to Scotland

• Write in the first person, past tense (or present if the action really justifies it), and make your story a personal account, interwoven with facts, description and observation.

• Many writers start their piece with a strong – but brief – anecdote that introduces the general feeling, tone and point of the trip and story. Something that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on. Don’t start with the journey to the airport – start with something interesting, not what happened first.

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