A Dingy L.A. Dive Becomes a Hip Bar, Hotel, and Music Studio Complex

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By Melissa Dalton
Once a soundstage for director Ed Wood, a rehearsal space for Guns N’ Roses, and a bikini bar, East Hollywood hub Gold Diggers has been reinvented as a boutique hotel, bar, and recording studio.

The site for Gold Diggers has a storied past. The main building was originally built as an "Inn Above a Tavern" in 1924, on Santa Monica Boulevard—aka Route 66. In the 1950s, a 6000-square-foot annex behind the bar served as director Ed Wood’s soundstage, in which he filmed Plan 9 from Outer Space. The ensuing years saw it as a rehearsal destination for all types of bands, including an early incarnation of Guns N' Roses. 

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In a nod to its history, much of the exterior of Gold Diggers was kept intact, including the vintage signage.

In a nod to its history, much of the exterior of Gold Diggers was kept intact, including the vintage signage.

Inspired by this history, owner Dave Neupert deemed the site the perfect spot to fulfill his dream of creating a hybrid hotel and music campus. "People have told me that the Doors and Jimi Hendrix practiced here, but there are a lot of people with legends about this place I can’t verify," Neupert told the Los Angeles Times. "I can’t wait to find out more about its legacy as a music space. L.A. forgets its past so easily and we really wanted to shine a light on this building."

Led by architect David Wick of Wick Architecture & Design and Tiffany Howell of Night Palm Studio, the renovations finished in 2018, taking music as the main inspiration. Let’s take a tour of the rock-inflected spaces. 

The Hotel

The boutique hotel has 11 rooms, each of which contains mattresses from 2920 Sleep and Parachute linens.

The boutique hotel has 11 rooms, each of which contains mattresses from 2920 Sleep and Parachute linens.

The design team sought to make rooms feel more like apartments, and so included reading nooks and hangout spots throughout, mixing jewel-toned furnishings with vintage finds and rock-and-roll ephemera.

The design team sought to make rooms feel more like apartments, and so included reading nooks and hangout spots throughout, mixing jewel-toned furnishings with vintage finds and rock-and-roll ephemera.

Large-scale artwork makes a statement throughout the hotel, and the collection includes paintings by Parquet Courts singer Andrew Savage. The bathroom juxtaposes chevron wall tile with a traditionally appointed sink and luxe black stone floor.

Large-scale artwork makes a statement throughout the hotel, and the collection includes paintings by Parquet Courts singer Andrew Savage. The bathroom juxtaposes chevron wall tile with a traditionally appointed sink and luxe black stone floor.

Idiosyncratic decor touches like the "babe" sign balance traditional detailing.

Idiosyncratic decor touches like the "babe" sign balance traditional detailing.

Music is considered the "fabric of the space." Thus the hotel leaves a vinyl compilation for guests to keep on turned-down beds. The vinyl is a collaboration between Aquarium Drunkard and Vinyl Me, Please, and the tracks will change every season. The wall mural here was painted by Kristi Head.

Music is considered the "fabric of the space." Thus the hotel leaves a vinyl compilation for guests to keep on turned-down beds. The vinyl is a collaboration between Aquarium Drunkard and Vinyl Me, Please, and the tracks will change every season. The wall mural here was painted by Kristi Head.

The Bar

The revamped bar is open every day and embraces a vintage L.A. aesthetic.

The revamped bar is open every day and embraces a vintage L.A. aesthetic.

The interior features brass details, dark wood chevron walls, and tufted leather seating.

The interior features brass details, dark wood chevron walls, and tufted leather seating.

Gold velvet curtains line the stage, which features a DJ or live music nightly, in a selection curated by Justin Gage of Aquarium Drunkard. Gilt chandeliers and textured walls complete the scheme.

Gold velvet curtains line the stage, which features a DJ or live music nightly, in a selection curated by Justin Gage of Aquarium Drunkard. Gilt chandeliers and textured walls complete the scheme.

The Recording Complex

The recording complex, Gold Diggers Sound, boasts nine state-of-the-art recording studios, a multiuse sound stage, kitchenettes and lounge areas, and is available for 24/7 access.

The recording complex, Gold Diggers Sound, boasts nine state-of-the-art recording studios, a multiuse sound stage, kitchenettes and lounge areas, and is available for 24/7 access.

Shop the Look
Crosley Bermuda Turntable
Crosley Bermuda Turntable
Send music on a fun tropical vacation in the beautifully stylish Crosley Bermuda turntable. Based on vintage Dansette sets, this iconic two-speed turntable can stand on its slender mod legs or chill out on a tabletop. Anywhere sweet music belongs, built-in speakers make this Bermuda ready to party.
Urban Outfitters Camila Velvet Sofa
Urban Outfitters Camila Velvet Sofa
The very picture of chic perfection, the UO-exclusive Camila Velvet Sofa features a luxe look, courtesy of the curving silhouette and plush upholstery. Wraparound back features tucked seaming for a ruched look with cushioned seat and tapered wooden legs.
Knoll Platner Armchair
Knoll Platner Armchair
If you combined the work of I.M. Pei and Eero Saarinen, the result might very well look like the Platner Collection (1962).
Per the website, the revamped sound stage is located in the back of Ed Woods' old space and would be ideal for private events, screenings, live broadcasts, and AV production.

Per the website, the revamped sound stage is located in the back of Ed Woods' old space and would be ideal for private events, screenings, live broadcasts, and AV production.

The recording studio complex is a partnership with Kingsize Soundlabs.

The recording studio complex is a partnership with Kingsize Soundlabs.

Find Gold-Diggers at 5632 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Room rates start at just under $200.

Project Credits:

Architecture: Wick Architecture & Design 

Interior Design: Night Palm (@nightpalm)

Photography: Pablo Enriquez (@pablo.enriquez)