Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea, also known as the Chelsea Hotel, or simply the Chelsea, is a historic New York City hotel and landmark, known primarily for its history of notable residents. Located at 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, the 250-unit hotel has been the home of numerous writers, musicians, artists, and actors, including Bob Dylan, Virgil Thomson, Charles Bukowski, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Jobriath, Robert Mapplethorpe and Larry Rivers. Though the Hotel Chelsea no longer accepts new long-term residencies, the building is still home to many residents who lived there before the change of policy. As of 1 August 2011, the hotel has stopped accepting guests.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while staying at the Chelsea, and poets Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso chose it as a place for philosophical and intellectual exchange. It is also known as the place where the writer Dylan Thomas was staying when he died of pneumonia on November 9, 1953, and where Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, was found stabbed to death on October 12, 1978.

The building has been a designated New York City landmark since 1966, and on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.


Built between 1883 and 1885 and opened for initial occupation in 1884, the twelve-story red-brick building that is now the Hotel Chelsea was one of the city's first private apartment cooperatives. It was designed by the firm of Hubert, Pirsson & Company in a style that has been described variously as Queen Anne Revival and Victorian Gothic. Among its distinctive features are the delicate, flower-ornamented iron balconies on its facade, which were constructed by J.B. and J.M Cornell and its grand staircase, which extends upward twelve floors. Generally, this staircase is only accessible to registered guests, although the hotel does offer monthly tours to others.

At the time of its construction, the building was the tallest in New York, and its surrounding neighborhood constituted the center of New York's theater district. However, within a few years the combination of economic stresses and the relocation of the theaters bankrupted the Chelsea cooperative. In 1905, the building reopened as a hotel, which was later managed by Knott Hotels and resident manager A. R. Walty. After the hotel went bankrupt, it was purchased in 1939 by Joseph Gross, Julius Krauss, and David Bard, and these partners managed the hotel together until the early 1970s. With the passing of Joseph Gross and Julius Krauss, the management fell to Stanley Bard, David Bard's son.

On June 18, 2007, the hotel's board of directors ousted Bard as the hotel's manager. Dr. Marlene Krauss, the daughter of Julius Krauss, and David Elder, the grandson of Joseph Gross and the son of playwright and screenwriter Lonne Elder III, replaced Stanley Bard with the management company BD Hotels NY; that firm has since been terminated as well.

In May 2011, the hotel has been sold to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit for $80 Million US Dollars. The New York Times has reported that as of August 1st, 2011 the storied hotel will no longer take reservations from guests.

Notable residents
Literary artists

During its lifetime Hotel Chelsea has provided a home to many great writers and thinkers including Mark Twain,O. Henry,Herbert Huncke,Dylan Thomas,Arthur C. Clarke, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Arnold Weinstein, Leonard Cohen, Sharmagne Leland-St. John, Arthur Miller, Quentin Crisp, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams,Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (who wrote On the Road there),Robert Hunter, Jack Gantos, Brendan Behan, Richard Collins, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Kennedy, Raymond Foye, Matthew Richardson, René Ricard, Michael Rips, author of "Face of a Naked lady" and "Pasquale's Nose", Charles R. Jackson, author of The Lost Weekend, committed suicide in his room at the Chelsea on September 21, 1968. Dylan Thomas collapsed in Room 205 at the Chelsea on November 9, 1953, and died a few days later in hospital.

Actors and film directors

The hotel has been a home to actors and film directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Shirley Clarke, Mitch Hedberg, Dave Hill, Miloš Forman, Lillie Langtry, Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper, Vincent Gallo, Patricia Chica, Eddie Izzard, Hal Miller, Kevin O'Connor, Uma Thurman, Elliot Gould, Elaine Stritch, Michael Imperioli, Jane Fonda, Gaby Hoffmann and her mother, the Warhol film star Viva, and Edie Sedgwick.


Much of Hotel Chelsea's history has been colored by the musicians who have resided or visited there. Some of the most prominent names include The Grateful Dead, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Bobby "Werner" Strete, Mod Fun, Virgil Thomson, Jeff Beck, Chick Corea, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders, Phil Lynott, Henri Chopin, John Cale, Édith Piaf, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Alejandro Escovedo, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Walker, Canned Heat, Sid Vicious, Vivian Stanshall, Richard Hell, Jobriath Boone, Little Annie, Rufus Wainwright, Lance Loud, Abdullah Ibrahim/Sathima Bea Benjamin, Vasant Rai, and Leonard Cohen. Madonna lived at the Chelsea in the early eighties, returning in 1992 to shoot photographs for her book, Sex, in room 822.Falco, Ryan Adams, The Libertines, The Fuse (UK), Michael McDermott, Melissa Auf der Maur, Tim Freedman, and Anthony Kiedis have spent time at The Chelsea. Taylor Momsen's Band, the Pretty Reckless, did a photo shoot in room 822 of the Chelsea. British pop band La Roux shot at the second version of the music video for their song "In for the Kill" at the Chelsea.

Visual artists

The hotel has featured and collected the work of the many visual artists who have passed through. Joe Andoe, Larry Rivers, Brett Whiteley, Christo, Arman, Sheila Berger, Richard Bernstein, Francesco Clemente, Julian Schnabel, Ana de Portela, Ching Ho Cheng, David Remfry, Philip Taaffe, Ralph Gibson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peggy Biderman, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Robert Crumb, Jasper Johns, Edie Sedgwick, Claes Oldenburg, Vali Myers, Donald Baechler, Herbert Gentry, Willem De Kooning, Robert Mapplethorpe Photographer, friend and roommate to Patti Smith, Lynne Drexler, Nora Sumberg and Henri Cartier-Bresson have all spent time at Hotel Chelsea. The painter Barnett Rubenstein, who was born in Chelsea MA, lived in the Chelsea Hotel for decades even as he taught at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Painter & ethnomusicologist Harry Everett Smith lived and died at the Chelsea in Room 328. The painter Alphaeus Philemon Cole lived there for 35 years until his death in 1988 at age 112, when he was the oldest living man. Bohemian abstract and Pop art painter Susan Olmetti creates paintings outside on the sidewalk during her frequent summer residencies at the hotel.

Fashion designers

Charles James: Amongst the ranks of the legendary couturiers of the 20th Century who influenced fashion in the 1940s and 50s—a man also credited with being America's first couturier. In 1964 he moved into the Chelsea Hotel in New York. James died of pneumonia at the Chelsea Hotel in 1978.

New York nightlife regular, fashion designer, and Chelsea resident Zaldy designed the shroud for Michael Jackson's coffin. The designer, also known for his work with the Scissor Sisters, was Jackson’s chief costume designer for the London "This Is It" show.

Warhol superstars

Hotel Chelsea is often associated with the Andy Warhol Superstars, as he and Paul Morrisey directed Chelsea Girls (1966), a film about his Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel. Chelsea residents from the Warhol scene included Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Ultra Violet, Mary Woronov, Holly Woodlawn, Andrea Feldman, Nico, Paul America, and Brigid Berlin.


New York event promoter Susanne Bartsch lives at the Chelsea Hotel. Several survivors of the Titanic stayed for some time in this hotel as it is a short distance from Pier 54, the White Star Line dock where the Titanic was supposed to make landfall. The Chelsea was also home to many sailors returning from their duties in World War I. Ruth Harkness, an adventurer/naturalist who brought the first live giant panda from China to the U.S. in the 1930s, stayed at the Chelsea Hotel after her return to the States.

In popular culture
Films and television

The hotel has been featured in:

  • Chelsea Girls (1966) by Andy Warhol, in which the Superstars have roles
  • An American Family (1973, PBS) Much of an episode of the reality TV series An American Family was filmed at the Hotel Chelsea while family member Lance Loud lived there after moving to New York.
  • Arena (TV series) (1981) The program's episode, Chelsea Hotel was featured on the popular BBC arts documentary series.
  • Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) by Adrian Lyne
  • Sid & Nancy (1986) by Alex Cox
  • Part of Léon: The Professional (1994), by Luc Besson, was shot there, although it was set in an appartment block.
  • Midnight In Chelsea (1997) directed by Mark Pellington, a video to a track from the 1997 Jon Bon Jovi solo album Destination Anywhere
  • Pie in the Sky the Brigid Berlin Story (2002) features a reunion between former resident Brigid Berlin and the artist Richard Bernstein at the Hotel.
  • The Interpreter (2005)
  • Party Monster: The Shockumentary (1996) various people are mentioned to have lived in the hotel.
  • Chelsea Walls (2001) A movie about a new generation of artists living at the hotel.
  • Hotel Chelsea (2009) A horror film about a Japanese couple staying at the hotel.
  • 24 (2010) In episode 13 of the eighth season of the serial action/drama television series, former FBI special agent Renee Walker is shown to stay in the hotel.
  • Cinema Verite (2011, HBO) The family's eldest son, Lance Loud, (played by Thomas Dekker) lives in the Hotel Chelsea.

The hotel is also featured in numerous songs, including:

  • "W 23rd" — Written by Noël Montague-Étienne Rarignac (performed by Koocha Dew and the Don'ts), the lyrics seem to memorialize in 2 minutes the impact of the hotel and its residents on the Warhol and Max's Kansas City-Union Square demi-monde that did so much to define the New York disaster-culture scene of the 1960s, complete with allusions to its eventual wreckage and continuing legacy.
  • "Hotel Chelsea" Written by Jeramy Blackford and performed by the band Kennebec
  • "Sara" by Bob Dylan, which refers to "Staying up for days in the Chelsea Hotel, writing Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands for you".
  • "Lolita" by Elefant (band), whose music video depicts frontman Diego Garcia in a videotaped romp at the Chelsea Hotel
  • "Troubled Notes from the Hotel Chelsea" by Joe Myers and Casebeer was recorded while the artist couple were living in the Chelsea prior to 9-11
  • "Sex with Sun-Ra (Part I - Saturnalia)" by Coil (the song's non-sequitur final line)
  • "Chelsea Hotel" by Dan Bern
  • "Chelsea Morning" by Joni Mitchell
  • "Dear Abbey" by Kinky Friedman
  • "White China" by Fever Marlene (the band wrote and recorded their entire second album over a four night stay in room 219)
  • "Chelsea Burns" and "Song to Alice" by Keren Ann
  • "Chelsea Girl" by Nico
  • "Midnight in Chelsea" by Jon Bon Jovi (the hotel is featured in the song's video, but the song itself is about the London neighborhood of the same name)
  • "Hi-Fi Popcorn" by The Revs
  • "Why Should I Worry" by Billy Joel from the Oliver and Company Soundtrack... the line is "they love me at the Chelsea they adore me at the Ritz"
  • "The Queen Of Lower Chelsea" by The Gaslight Anthem
  • "The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song" by Jeffrey Lewis (references Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2")
  • "Chelsea Lovers" by Dave Stewart
  • "Third Week in the Chelsea" by Jefferson Airplane, in which guitarist Jorma Kaukonen details the thoughts he is having about leaving the band.
  • "We Will Fall" by The Stooges
  • "Edie (Ciao Baby)" by The Cult
  • "Crow" by Jim Carroll Band
  • "Like a Drug I Never Did Before" by Joey Ramone of The Ramones
  • "Godspeed" by Anberlin
  • "Twenty-third Street" by Bill Morrissey
  • "Chelsea Avenue" by Patti Scialfa, on her album 23rd Street Lullaby
  • "Chelsea Hotel #2" by Leonard Cohen in which the singer remembers a former lover. He implied it was Janis Joplin but later in a 1994 broadcast on the BBC, Cohen said it was "an indiscretion for which I'm very sorry, and if there is some way of apologising to the ghost, I want to apologise now, for having committed that indiscretion."
  • "Chelsea" by Counting Crows, hidden track on Across a Wire: Live in New York City
  • "Hotel Chelsea Nights" by Ryan Adams
  • "City Rain, City Streets" by Ryan Adams
  • "Chelsea Hotel" by Carissa's Wierd
  • Most of the songs on Rufus Wainwright's second album Poses were written during his stay at the Chelsea Hotel in the summer of 1999.
  • Natalie Merchant's music video for her single "Break Your Heart" was filmed in the Chelsea Hotel.
  • "Chelsea Hotel '78" by Alejandro Escovedo.
  • "Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979" by Okkervil River.
  • Kim Wilde filmed her video for This I Swear in the hotel in 1995.
  • Dave Gahan's video for "Saw Something" takes place in the hotel. The partner of Sid Vicious, who was one of Gahan's idols in the 1970s, was murdered in the hotel.
  • "Streams of Whiskey" by The Pogues refers to Brendan Behan's intention to stay at the Chelsea.
  • "Bear" by Brooklyn indie rock group The Antlers, which talks about a couple's unexpected pregnancy and its planned abortion. "We'll play charades up in the Chelsea, drink champagne, although you shouldn't be."
  • "Rock N Roll Massacre" by Vice Squad ends with the line "Remember the Chelsea Hotel".
  • "Chelsea Blues" by Australian band The Audreys was written about the hotel. Many of the songs on their second album When the Flood Comes were written in the hotel.
  • The hotel is possibly indirectly referenced in the Grateful Dead song "Stella Blue" (1970) by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. Hunter was staying in the hotel when he wrote the song's lyrics, which contain the line, "I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel." The meaning of "blue-light" in this context has proven elusive.
  • The Libertines recorded either some or all of the Babyshambles Sessions while staying at the Chelsea Hotel in 2003. There are conflicting reports as to exactly which songs were recorded at the hotel itself. Frontman Pete Doherty gave away the entire sessions (featuring over 40 brand new separate recordings) to a fan who he met in the foyer of the hotel, after requesting on a messageboard for someone to help him put them on the internet for free.
  • DHT features the hotel in their music video cover of "Listen To Your Heart".
  • La Roux shot the video for the American version of their single "In for the Kill".
  • In the band James' cover version of "Sunday Morning" by The Velvet Underground, Tim Booth mentions the hotel's name in the ending ad-lib
  • An Horse shot part of the video for their single "Dressed Sharply" in the hotel
  • Chelsea Horror Hotel: A Novel by Dee Dee Ramone ISBN 1-56025-304-5
  • Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World by Sarah Vowell ISBN 0-7432-0540-5
  • Sex by Madonna ISBN 0-446-51732-1
  • Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Artists and Outlaws at New York's Rebel Mecca by Ed Hamilton ISBN 978-1-56858-379-2
  • Netherland by Joseph O'Neill ISBN 978-0-307-37704-3
  • The Chelsea Girl Murders by Sparkle Hayter ISBN 978-0-14-200010-6
  • Chelsea Hotel, een Biografie van een Hotel, by Jeroen Wielaert ISBN 90 76927 02 2
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith ISBN 978-0060936228


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