There’s a new kid on the block in the heart of Hollywood. Well, not exactly new in terms of the building, but in terms of the renovated property and its business plan. The James, developed by Gidi Cohen’s CGI Real Estate Investment Strategies, is both a hotel and residential site offering long and short-term stays. In other words, it’s a hybrid. As businesses experiment with openings, the public considers travel, and the entertainment industry revives shoot and production schedules, it offers options to a wide range of clientele. Designers Nil Erbil, Istanbul born and international citizen heading up Style Mood, and Brian McGrory, a Glasgow native, both now Angelinos, infused guest rooms and public places with idiosyncratic flair befitting the 1920s Mediterranean-style structure.
The James actually started out as a five-story apartment hotel. It was called the Commodore of Hollywood, initially hosting starlets as they made their way in the City of Angels and later more established icons like the rock band KISS. The key count, 73 units ranging from 350-square-foot studios to 810-square-foot, two-bedroom suites, remained intact. Likewise for hardwood floors and nine-foot ceilings. So, the design team focused on décor, drawing on Deco and mid-century influences. Custom beds have walnut frames and leather headboards inset with brass. Similarly, custom side tables are walnut, and clean-line sofas are upholstered in one of four shades of vintage velvet. Meanwhile, rugs from Turkey have a patina of age but are really new. Particularly charming are vibrant floral wall coverings and wall-affixed birds of bronze-painted ceramic. Particularly pragmatic are nooks fitted out as mini work spaces. An added plus? Dining enclaves with bistro chairs around marble-top tables from CB2.
Some structural work went into the ground-floor public areas. Now, reception, with its white oak millwork, quirky, tufted-leather seating piece, and commissioned painting by David Donald Sutherland, adjoins a library stocked with books and vintage vinyl on one side. On the other is a moody, deep green lounge, its chiaroscuro wall covering of palm fronds sourced from a mural in Italy, its wicker peacock seating vintage. Ergo its name, the Palm Room. Throughout, the cinematic vibe is classic Hollywood elegance meets edgy rock and roll. In other words, the designers agree, “it’s California aspirational living.” Still a work in progress, The James is adding a dog-friendly garden with bocce court and a wall to screen outdoor movies—cue Oscar winners of the past and present hopefuls.