Historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel Begins Multi-Phase Renovation in Downtown LA

The Millennium Biltmore Hotel, an early home for the Oscars, has begun a multi-phase renovation plan aimed at keeping the hotel relevant in Downtown LA

The Millennium Biltmore Hotel–one of the most beautiful historic hotels in Los Angeles–is gearing up for a multi-phase renovation aimed at keeping the hotel competitive within Downtown LA, which is increasing in relevancy within the region as Downtown LA continues to evolve into an attractive destination for visitors and tourists.

According to the Marketing Manager of the Biltmore, Janet Chiu, the hotel recently began work on a 2-3 year renovation plan that includes restoring the historic ceiling plaster work in the original lobby (now tea room), changing out the green awnings with new maroon ones (take a peek at the old green awnings), and replacing the carpeting throughout most of the hotel hallways.

In addition to the hotel renovations happening, the hotel’s main restaurant Sai Sai has recently gone through a change in culinary concept that re-energizes an already well recognized name. The restaurant has shifted its focus from a sushi lounge to a noodle bar with Vietnamese pho and Japanese udon and ramen. According to Sai Sai, “the new concept was developed by the Millennium Biltmore Executive Chef, Thomas Ryan, with protege young chef Jon Shin leading the team who has spent three years at Nobu in virtually all culinary capacities.”

When the Biltmore Hotel first opened in 1923, it was the largest hotel west of Chicago with 1,500 rooms. The 11-story structure with beautiful Spanish Revival and Beaux Arts architectural styled details spans half a city block.  However, over the years, to increase the size of each room, the rooms have been reconfigured with a total now of 683 rooms.

New signs and awnings are being installed, including replacing the former green awnings with these new maroon ones

Many historic details throughout the hotel will be checked and restored if necessary

The original hotel lobby (now the tea room) is part of the hotel renovations

A sign in the tea room informs hotel guests of the renovations in progress

The beautiful ceiling work in the tea room will be cleaned and restored to its original condition

The original plaster work, such as the cherub faces, will also be cleaned and restored

New carpeting will be replacing the old in the hotel's hallways and stairwells

A closer look at the historic details on the stairwell bannisters

Hotel guests are treated to such exquisite architectural detail as seen here in the hotel's galleria

Sai Sai at the Biltmore Hotel has recently undergone a change in culinary concept from sushi lounge to noodle bar

12 Responses to Historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel Begins Multi-Phase Renovation in Downtown LA

  1. This is good news; I stayed at the Biltmore for several nights for my last few days in LA in December. It;s a beautiful place and has a great future in a revitalized downtown.

  2. The Biltmore is so beautiful. Glad to see it getting a refresh. Now if only we could something about that hideous thing called Pershing Square that sits across the street…

  3. Great photos! Hopefully the Biltmore will get improved tenants, too.

  4. I love the Biltmore, the lobby and common areas are spectacular. The rooms are a varied lot though. I stayed in one that had this awesome built-in writing desk/shelf thing. I felt like the whole room was a set. Another room was a less atmospheric, but still decent enough. But the prices have always been great and the service awesome. I’m glad it’s getting spruced, but I agree with the above poster – I wish Pershing Square could get reworked.

  5. Pershing Square will eventual get redesigned. As it is now, the bond to pay for the last renovation is not yet paid off, so it will be a few more years.

  6. Not sure how much the change of awning color from green to maroon did to help the exterior though.
    Redoing Pershing Square, and construction of a project on the NE corner of 5th & Olive would do much to help the entire area, not that I am expecting either in the near future. As it is, the Biltmore is not exactly main & main when it comes to where you want to be when staying downtown.
    But very glad to hear of this restoration.

  7. This is a great story Brigham. As an earlier reader commented, the rooms vary greatly in terms of their quality. When I have stayed there and had a bad room, I have been moved to a better one each time I complained. It is odd that they do not avoid the less nice rooms out of the gate, as I would strongly assume that their occupancy rate would allow it. I hope that these well intended improvements are not just cosmetic. For years, the advertising agency Chiat/Day occupied the 2nd floor of the building. They moved out, I believe, in the late 80’s and the space has been empty ever since. If you take the stairs down to the lobby, and stop on the 2nd floor for a look, it is very eerie, dark, and depressing. I am very surprised that they have not re-leased this space. I recall that when the hotel built the tower, and moved the lobby closer to the new Financial District, there was quite an uproar that the hotel had turned its back on the older part of the city. Ironically, the older part of the city is now much more inviting than it was in the mid-80’s with Perch, etc. nearby.

    Thanks again for a great story.

  8. Great to know! Will always be an amazing amazing place, but boy has it gotten outdated over the recent years – time for a much needed pick me up! It should be the best hotel in downtown!

  9. Why do some of dt Los Angeles’ most beautiful buildings get ignored or go neglected? This is dt LA’s grandest and by far the most beautiful hotel imo. I am thrilled for the hotel’s updating. I enjoy the jazz at the Biltmore on Friday nights. On the opposite side of 5th across from Pershing there is a hideous parking lot with a giant parking sign. How on earth can that lot sit there in the middle of dt? What use to be there? Who owns it and are there any plans to develop it?

  10. Paul – that parking lot was home to the old Philharmonic hall where the previous incarnation of the Los Angeles Philharmonic once played. The structure was later used as a church when performances moved to the Music Center in the 1960’s. It was demolished in 1985 to make way for another development that never materialized. You can see what it used to look like here:
    https://sites.google.com/site/downtownlosangelestheatres/auditorium

    From2006-2009 a project call Park Fifth was proposed to be built there. It would have been comprised of two towers. The first would have been a 40 story high end hotel, and the second would have been a 76 story condo tower (the tallest residential tower west of Chicago). When the real estate market crashed in 2009 so did plans for Park Fifth. At this point I think the land is quietly for sale until a new development opportunity comes around. You can learn more about the Park Fifth proposal here:

    http://la.curbed.com/archives/2009/06/downtowns_park_fifth_listed_for_sale.php

    There’s no doubt that it’s a prime piece of real estate. With the King & Grove hotel taking over the old Hotel Clark nearby, I’m hopeful that another proposal for this plot will come around soon.

  11. This hotel has many memories for me. My father took me there for breakfast every year on my birthday starting in the early 1950’s and my family visited and dined there on many occasions. I have since shared this with my husband and family. I am looking forward to this renovation.

  12. I was lucky enough to have my prom at the Biltmore Hotel. The pictures brought back wonderful memories…thank you so much I am so lucky to have lived a part of Los Angeles history and to have grown up here!!!

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