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Historic Fairmont Hotel Hosts Presidents and Boundary-Pushing Entertainment
By Randi Mann, via

If the walls of the Fairmont Century Plaza could talk, they would be sworn to secrecy. The L.A. Calif. hotel, designed by World Trade Centre-architect, Minoru Yamasaki, first opened its doors in 1966. Since its founding, it has hosted presidential state dinners, award ceremonies, iconic entertainment and so much more.

The Century Plaza has always been at the forefront of luxury, entertainment and boundary-pushing experiences. It was the first hotel to have colour television inside the guest rooms and most recently, a show outside its 19-storey facade.

The show, dubbed, The Vertical Stage, is part of Fairmont’s Beyond LIMITS event series. The series is designed to push the boundaries of entertainment, imagination and experiences. Shopping Essentials first covered (and loved) the Tea Noir experience at the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle, Wa. and we were intrigued to see other activations, programming and properties that are a part of the hotel and resort group that has deep Canadian roots.

Fairmont started as part of the Canadian Pacific Railway Hotels in 1886. Over time, the hotel collection grew to include some of Canada’s most well-known properties including Chateau Lake Louise in Lake Louise, Alta., Hotel Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal and the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. Canadian Pacific Hotels was renamed the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts banner in 2001 and has since expanded its portfolio to include hotels in the U.S., Germany, Israel and Mexico.

Some of the Century Plaza’s most momentous moments include President and Mrs. Nixon hosting the Presidential state dinner, which is the only one to have ever been held outside the White House. President Nixon started a trend, as every president since Ford has stayed at or visited the Century Plaza.

If I could go way beyond limits and time travel, I’d like to stop by the Century Plaza in the ‘70s, when it hosted The 19th Primetime Emmy Awards, nightly performances by Sonny & Cher and a private Elton John show. However, I really enjoyed my 2023 experience.

The Vertical Stage show, performed by the acrobatic group Bandaloop, was beautiful. There was live music at ground level, a powerful singer on a balcony and graceful acrobats on the side of the hotel, dangling over 19 stories up. There was a VIP-ticketed area, but it was open to the public and the views from all vantage points were incredible. The inside of the hotel has seen things and now the outside can get some bragging rights too.

Aside from the incredibly unique show, the best part of my experience was the bed and bathroom in my suite — arguably the most important factors of any accommodation. I did not permanently borrow one of the pillows, because they’re available to purchase online. The bedding is also incredibly soft, breathable and available online, so I left those too. The bathroom had luxurious toiletries and selfie-welcoming lighting. The slippers and robe proved to be the perfect outfit to sport to the five-star Fairmont Spa Century Plaza.

I barely left the hotel for the weekend as there was so much to do. The spa was rejuvenating, the in-house French restaurant was satiating, the rooftop pool was freezing (because I went to check it out at 8 a.m.) and the entertainment was mesmerizing.

The hotel’s charm comes down to its understated significance. The Century Plaza is a member of Historic Hotels of America, which includes hotels that are at least 50 years old and have maintained their authenticity.

This particular Fairmont location hosted Ronald Reagan so often that the media called it his “Western White House.” Richard Nixon hosted a state dinner in the Los Angeles Ballroom to celebrate the Apollo 11 astronauts who had just completed their lunar landing in 1969. The hotel is also famously featured in the Dolly Parton film 9 to 5.

But when you walk into the hotel, it feels welcoming with a modern elegance. The lobby is grand but warm. It features a backlit bar, large cozy seats, lots of natural light, an indoor plant wall and a grand piano. I spent hours solo in the lobby, sipping on spirits, bopping along to the tunes and soaking in the hotel’s history.

This was my first time at the Century Plaza and I recommend the hotel to visitors who wish to be spoiled with concert-worthy lobby entertainment, delicious French cuisine, a luxurious spa and rejuvenating accommodations. I’ve also stayed at the Fairmont properties in Toronto, Montreal and Banff and appreciate each location’s uniqueness.