When we’re on the road, hotel rooms are supposed to give us some reminder of the comfort of our own homes: comfy beds, TV, plush chairs, the whole nine yards. Of course, the fun comes from hotel rooms being nothing actually like our homes, and that’s probably what entices travelers – especially rich, famous travelers – to engage in shenanigans that they would never dream of doing within their own four walls. Whether it’s sex, drugs, money, crime, or a combination of all of them, here are five famous hotel room scandals.
No list of hotel scandals would be complete without mentioning the Watergate. The hotel complex in Washington, DC was the site of the 1972 Democratic National Convention, when a group of men representing the Committee To Reelect The President (at the time, Richard Nixon) broke into the DNC offices. Whether their aim was to see what the Democrats were planning to do domestically or find proof of Cuban collusion, the men were caught, and an incriminating trail of bribery and corruption found its way to the White House. Despite his assertions of innocence, the country lost faith in Richard Nixon, who, two years later, became the first and only person to resign the office of President of the United States.
2. Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, and Fish
Most people would know Led Zeppelin for “Stairway to Heaven”, but not too many would know about the alleged mudshark and a groupie. The details are sketchy and may never be known, but legend has it that while staying in Seattle’s Edgewater Inn (which overlooked Puget Sound and allowed guests to fish from their rooms), the band invited a young woman to join them. In true groupie fashion, she may or may not have told the four Englishmen – John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham – that she liked to be tied up; and the band members (and/or their manager) may or may not have used a fish as a sex toy.
Scandals with the “-gate” suffix are born in hotels. In 1998, Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp met at the Ritz-Carlton in Arlington, Virginia. Lewinsky had told Tripp that she (Lewinsky) had entered into a physically sexual relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. Tripp taped the conversations at the Ritz-Carlton as Lewinsky revealed salacious details about her dalliance. The fallout resulted in the near-impeachment of Bill Clinton, and remains one of the most scandalous events in modern presidential history.
4. The Princess in Paris
The Hotel Ritz in Paris has had many famous (and infamous) guests over the years, but probably the most tragic were Diana, Princess of Wales, and her companion Dodi Al Fayed. Perennial tabloid material for her divorce from Charles, Prince of Wales, the couple attempted to escape the army of photographers camped outside their hotel. However, they were unsuccessful, and in an attempt to outrace paparazzi on motorcycles, their car crashed in a tunnel. Diana, Al Fayed and their driver were killed.
5. The Kennedys and the Carlyle
Predating the world’s fascination with Princess Diana was the world’s fascination with the Kennedy family. Patriarch Joe Kennedy and his son, President John F. Kennedy, were regulars at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City, where the former had a suite and the latter was there so frequently it was known as the New York White House. Rumor has it that both men were such philanderers, they used a series of secret tunnels in the hotel to have women surreptitiously brought to their rooms. That’s probably not something you’d find in Vancouver airport hotels.