Regardless of what you think of Scientology, it’s hard to deny one thing: that church takes great care of historic buildings.
The Church of Scientology has a few different information centers throughout the greater LA area, including the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (later Cedars-Sinai) in East Hollywood, which was badly damaged in the ’94 Northridge earthquake…
…and the former Chateau Elysee in Franklin Village, which was slated for demolition when the Church of Scientology purchased it (with donations) to become their “Celebrity Centre.”
The Chateau Elysee was a long-term residential hotel built as a replica of a 17th century French-Normandy castle, one of several chateaux that sprung up in Hollywood in the 1920s.
L. Ron Hubbard himself established the former chateau as The Manor Hotel, a religious retreat for Scientologists.
That’s right, it’s a hotel just for Scientologists!
Since I can’t stay there myself because I’m not currently affiliated with any religion…
…I was delighted to find out that I could still visit the chateau by dining at their Renaissance Restaurant, which is open to the public, though not advertised.
Before I entered through the large wooden double doors in the front of the building, the security guard (who’d already advised me to put away my camera) said to me…
…”If you see any celebrities, don’t say anything.”
It turns out that I didn’t see any celebrities, but that’s not what I was there for.
I had a lovely brunch on a windowed terrace with a wallpapered ceiling that made it feel like an arbor.
On Sundays they serve an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet of omelets and salad and fruits and pancakes, bacon, sausage, and potatoes for only $14.99 per person, plus beverages. When I asked, they graciously let me stay at my table a little longer so I could do some work on my laptop—and gave me access to their wifi and ushered me to the restroom when I needed to go.
I wanted to be respectful of their restrictions on photography…
…but I couldn’t help snapping a couple photos of the gorgeous ladies’ room…
…with its salmon pink wall tile.
The Celebrity Centre does advertise that it’s open to the public for tours, but I would expect that it’s more a tour of Scientology than of the chateau itself. And I generally don’t like to take tours that I can’t photograph or talk about later, so I skipped it. But maybe I’ll go back again for lunch or dinner sometime when I’m in the area. After all, they were so nice there.
All photos by the author.