Keith Richards ejects his TV, Ian Fleming creates James Bond, Castro takes on Cuba -- sometimes a hotel room is more than a place to sleep
The best hotel rooms don't just have history, they have stories.
You get a soft bed, an oversized tub and a chance to see through the eyes of some of history's cultural protagonists.
Keith Richards' TV toss: Andaz West Hollywood
You'd never know from the sleek, modern lines that this was formerly the Continental Hyatt House -- a.k.a Riot House -- so nicknamed for the hair-raising antics of out-of-control rockers.
This is where Keith Richards threw a TV off his 11th-floor balcony in 1975, Jim Morrison hung from a window by his fingertips and Axl Rose tossed steaks to crowds of adoring fans gathered outside on Sunset Strip.
One reason the hotel is unrecognizable since its refurb is that the balconies are gone, replaced by glassed-in den areas, lest a new generation of entertainers gets any rowdy ideas.
But, touchingly, Hyatt, which still operates the property, has paid tribute to the hotel's hell-raising heritage in the hotel's RH (Riot House) restaurant, which still feeds a modern-day rocker or two.
Oscar Wilde arrested: The Cadogan, London, England
It looks genteel enough for your maiden aunt, but The Cadogan, in the heart of London's Knightsbridge shopping district, was struck by scandal within a few years of opening in 1887.
Oscar Wilde was arrested in room 118 on April 6, 1895 for a homosexual act, and subsequently sent to jail. And Edward VII's mistress, the actress Lillie Langtry, continued to sleep in her old bedroom long after her former home had become part of the hotel.
These days, despite being surrounded by foreign brand names like Gucci, Tiffany, Armani and Valentino, The Cadogan feels like a little piece of England forever suspended in the 19th century.
The Cadogan, 75 Sloane St., London, England; room 118 from US$425
Castro revolts: Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana, Cuba
Within barely a quarter-century of opening in 1930, this hotel had launched a revolution.
Fidel Castro set up a cell in the depths of the building, which was the epitome of pre-revolutionary decadence in Cuba, and guests fled from the ballroom in their sequins and tuxedos in 1959 as news spread that his coup had triumphed.
It was not the first notorious event the hotel had witnessed; in 1946 it was occupied by the heads of all the major U.S. mafia families, and it was here that Meyer Lansky is said to have authorized the execution of Bugsy Siegel.
The gangsters were followed by the Duke of Windsor, Nelson Rockefeller, Ernest Hemingway and a slew of Hollywood stars lured by the gambling and the showgirls of the hotel's Cabaret Parisien.
Frank Sinatra stayed with Ava Gardner in room 225, Fred Astaire preferred 228, Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller 232 and Tennessee Williams 570.
Ian Fleming creates James Bond: GoldenEye, Jamaica
Ian Fleming spent nearly 20 winters at this ocean-side retreat, penning several James Bond thrillers.
The hideaway played host to glitterati and literati, including Noël Coward (who rented GoldenEye for two months before buying his own home on the island), Errol Flynn, Lucian Freud, Katharine Hepburn, Evelyn Waugh, Cecil Beaton, John Gielgud and Princess Margaret.
In 1956 British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden and his wife spent a month at GoldenEye after his health collapsed in the wake of the Suez Crisis.
A dozen years after Fleming's death in August 1964, entertainment entrepreneur Chris Blackwell purchased the property, drawing a new slew of celebrities. Sting, Bono, Michael Caine, Quincy Jones, Johnny Depp and the Clintons have all planted trees at the resort following a tradition started by Eden.
You can sleep in the room where Fleming wove stories around 007 and write at the same desk (turned away from the sea-view to avoid distraction).
GoldenEye, Oracabessa, St. Mary, Jamaica; the five-bedroom Ian Fleming Villa from US$5,425 per night including breakfast
Stephen King writes 'The Shining': Stanley Hotel, Colorado
Movie buffs scared by the opening credits of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" are likely to get seriously spooked stepping into the actual hotel that inspired Stephen King to write the book.
Considered one of the United States' most haunted hotels, it was built by F. O. Stanley in 1909 on a mountainside in Estes Park, some 2,286 meters above sea level.
Many ghostly children have reportedly been heard playing up and down the hall of the 4th floor -- just like those twins in the movie -- while the late Mrs. Stanley's shade favors the Music Room. Room 401 is said to have been haunted for 80 years by Lord Dunraven, but the spookiest room of all is room 217, where King himself stayed.
Jim Carrey also stayed in 217 during the filming of "Dumb & Dumber," but has declined to explain why he felt compelled to check out in the middle of the night. However, visitors will be relieved to know blood has never been seen seeping out of the elevators. So far.
The Stanley Hotel, 333 East Wonderview Ave., Estes Park, Colorado; rooms in the spooky main house from US$135
Mozart composes: Mamaison Pachtuv Palace, Prague, Czech Republic
This was the building Mozart called home in 1788, and it still has its original frescoes and vaulted chapel ceilings.
Steps from the city's iconic Charles Bridge, the hotel's location can't be bettered -- the Old Town, Vltava River quay and winding cobblestone streets of the Mala Strana are all less than 10 minutes away on foot.
Mozart dedicated six sonatas to the owner of the property in lieu of rent, but these days cash or credit card are preferred.
If you want to sleep where the maestro did, ask for room 218.
John and Yoko bed-in: Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Montreal, Canada
Although a staggering number of the world's royals -- including the eponymous monarch for whom it's named -- have stayed here, this hotel is best known as the place where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a week-long bed-in.
You can still book suite 1742 where they wrote and recorded "Give Peace A Chance" in 1969, the same year Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. He and fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins also stayed in the Queen Elizabeth.
Montreal sees more than its fair share of diplomats and heads of state, and Nelson Mandela, Henry Kissinger, Boris Yeltsin, Yitzhak Rabin, George W. Bush and the Dalai Lama also spent time here. Numerous celebs have followed in their wake.
Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, 900 Rene Levesque Blvd. West, Montreal, Canada; John and Yoko Suite US$768 per night, including breakfast and a copy of "Give Peace A Chance"
James II's overthrow is plotted: The Olde Bell, Berkshire, England
For a small country inn -- dating back to 1135 -- The Olde Bell has seen an awful lot of intrigue.
It was the scene of a plot to overthrow King James II during the 17th century by one Lord Lovelace of Hurley, and you can still see the door to a secret tunnel that ran between the inn's bar and Lovelace's mansion.
Lovelace's "Glorious Revolution" drove James II into exile and placed his son-in-law William of Orange on the throne.
Plot-hatching continued during World War II, when Winston Churchill met Eisenhower here.
Because of its proximity to Pinewood, movie stars have been staying here for nearly a century while filming. Mae West and Greta Garbo were followed by Cary Grant and Errol Flynn, and the place was a particular favorite of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.
The Olde Bell, High Street, Hurley, Berkshire, England; Rooms from US$215
Hollywood lives and dies: Beverly Hills Hotel, California
This pink-and-green palace is celebrating its centenary, although you'd never guess it was a day over 70.
Various facelifts mean the wallpaper, gloriously hand-painted with tropical foliage, makes the room corridors a delight, but it's the 12 bungalows that have seen all the Hollywood action.
Marilyn Monroe slept in both No.1 and No.7 (her favorite), Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor spatted in No.5 -- where they also had a standing order for vodka to be delivered with breakfast -- while yet another was used by Warren Beatty to pursue his many romances.
Stars still occasionally frequent the pool where Raquel Welch was discovered, while agents pack out the Polo Lounge, where Marlene Dietrich once scandalized the maitre d' by entering in trousers. Peter Finch dropped dead right outside the lounge entrance on January 14, 1977.
Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, United States; Bungalows from US$13,000
British rule ends in Palestine: King David Hotel, Jerusalem
This hotel has played host to many monarchs and heads of state, and was at the heart of the action during the forging of the state of Israel.
The British Army leased the top floor as an emergency HQ when the Arab revolt broke out in 1936, and a decade later was battling Israeli guerillas, who planted a bomb in the basement, causing 91 deaths.
On May 14, 1948 the Union Flag was lowered, and with independence the hotel regained its place as the city's hotel of choice for visiting heads of state and celebrities.
La Regence, site of the 1946 bombing, is one of Jerusalem's best restaurants, and the huge breakfast room, where hundreds of oranges are hand-squeezed on the spot every morning, is a triumph of art deco architectural splendor.