L.A. Arcana – Cecil Hotel

Hotel Cecil at 7th and Main (Credit: Washington Times)

Hotel Cecil at 7th and Main
(Credit: Washington Times)

Eva at The Year of Halloween has a great post on the disturbing history of L.A’s Cecil Hotel. Opened downtown in 1927, the Cecil was built amid the optimism of Hollywood’s new found dominance of the movie industry. By the 1950’s, though, the rise of the Los Angeles freeway system had driven commerce out of downtown and the hotel became known as a stop for transients only a block away from Skid Row.

The hotel was a home to “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez and Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger, as well as the place where the body of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam was found in a rooftop water cistern in February of this year.

I won’t paraphrase the whole thing, so read the original. And check the Yelp reviews before you get sucked in by the cheap rate.



  1. thatmrgguy

    Kind of reminds me of a hotel I lived in for a while in Atlanta called The Claremont Hotel. Back in the day, it was supposed to be a fancy place to stay. When I stayed there, it had become a flop house for transients, drunks and drug addicts.

    The second floor had communal baths on one side and shared baths on the other side. The third and fourth floors had individual baths for each room, plus there were a couple of suites on the fourth floor. Then there was the penthouse where the owner stayed. The penthouse had it’s own elevator.

    But no matter which floor or room you were in, if you woke up in the middle of the night and turned the light on, you could watch the ceiling turn from black/brown to white as the cockroaches scurried for cover. I used to bomb my room at least once a week, but I think the damn things were immune to it.

    They finally tore it down and Georgia Power erected an office building in it’s place.

    • Chandler's Ghost

      This Yelp review told me everything I needed to know about this place:

      “Seriously, this is hands down the worst place I’ve spent a night in in my 35+ years on this planet. Uncomfortable room – and I don’t mean the bed was uncomfortable – it was hot (10th floor + August in L.A. + no a/c = gross) and I just got a really bad feeling that I did not belong there… a sense of impending doom (that thankfully never rang true in our case).

      Definitely a life lesson to do a LOT of research about a place I’m going to be staying before booking a room.”

      The Cecil sounds like a SRO that lures in the occasional tourists who don’t know the area.

      That said, if I was 21 again I could see myself camping out in a dump like this and horrifying my mom.