|“||It's a hotel, not a cemetery. The living give the spirits trapped in this place a connection to the outside world.||”|
|— John Lowe[src]|
The Hotel Cortez is an enigmatic hotel located in Los Angeles, California. It is the primary location of the fifth season, Hotel. According to Billie Dean Howard, it is not far from the Murder House - the main location of American Horror Story's first season.
Construction of the Hotel Cortez began in 1925, and had its grand opening on August 23, 1926. The first owner and architect of the hotel was James March, a serial killer who built the estate to hide the bodies of his victims. March lived there with his loyal maid, Hazel Evers, and his wife, Elizabeth, who encouraged his dark desires.
Elizabeth, more commonly known as "The Countess" and the carrier of a mysterious blood virus, owned the hotel after March's suicide in the early 1930s, and continued to all throughout the 21st century until 2015, when she sold the estate to fashion designer Will Drake. She created an elaborate plan that she would join in marriage with Drake and kill him during their honeymoon to steal his fortune, which she succeeded in, thereby transferring ownership of the hotel back to her.
When Elizabeth was murdered by John Lowe to complete his Ten Commandments Killings in that same year, ownership of the Cortez went to hotel front desk manager Iris and bartender Liz Taylor. They spent years refurbishing the entire building to a more modern scale, completing their renovations by the year 2022.
It is unknown which events at the hotel, if any, were reversed or altered when the witch Mallory travelled back in time to prevent the Apocalypse in 2015, though Queenie never stays at the hotel in the revised timeline, resulting in Ramona Royale never feeding off of her and possibly resulting in Elizabeth no longer dying at the hands of John Lowe.
- Lobby and Bar - The opulent multistory heart of the interior where guests are received and triaged.
- 33 - Bartholomew's room
- 44 - Mr. Wu's room
- 51 - According to the laundress seen by Vendela on a trip for ice, it was the location of a ghastly accident.
- 55 - Iris' room.
- 56 - Location of vociferous love-making heard out in the hall.
- 64 - John Lowe's room/James March's old office.
- 53, 63, 66, 82, 84, 85 - Rooms whose keys aren't at the front desk and are probably taken.
- 76 - Hazel Evers' room
- 78 - Mr. March's room.
- The Trophy Room - It is unknown where this room is located, but it is presumably hidden in room 78. It is a medium-sized dark space with trophies of animal and human heads collected by Mr. March throughout the years.
- Trapped Hallway - A hallway that is entirely closed off by soundproof metal, used as a trap for Elizabeth's enemies.
- Game Room - Hidden behind a sliding wall, this room serves as a domain for Elizabeth's passel of bloodsucking "children". It is appointed with free candy machines and wall-height gaming screens, including Tetris and Donkey Kong.
- Penthouse Suite - A large room wherein Elizabeth and her paramours reside. It is arguably the most modern, comfortable and luxurious area in the entire hotel, and is located at the highest point of the building's infrastructure. It is filled with neon signs, art, and expensive furniture, and is adorned with its own wi-fi, lighting system, and crystal chandelier.
- "Dungeon" - Formerly a puppet theater, this room now contains several neon-lit cage sculptures which ensnare guests for Elizabeth and her children to feed upon. Agnetha and Vendela were briefly trapped here under the watch of Iris, who detoxified their blood by force-feeding them liver smoothies.
- Indoor Pool - A drained indoor pool houses four small glass coffins and one large coffin wherein Elizabeth's "children" and Alex Lowe sleep.
- Basement - The last stop for corpses on the ride down the hotel's many chutes.
Residents and Guests
A list of the people who live (and die and other states of residency) in the hotel.
It might be assumed that the spirit of everyone murdered within the supernatural demesne of the Hotel Cortez remains trapped within its halls. However, only some have been documented to have appeared to the living.
- James March - Builder and original owner of the hotel, a serial killer.
- Hazel Evers - Mr. March's second in command and maid.
- Sally McKenna - A junkie killed in 1994, now a blogger.
- Liz Taylor - Bartender of the Blue Parrot Lounge.
- Elizabeth - Owner of the Hotel and vampire prior to her death.
- Tristan Duffy - One of Elizabeth's former paramours, turned into a vampire by her prior to his death.
- Queenie - A Voodoo witch who died on the premises after being consumed by a vampire. She has since been released from the spirit realm and escaped the Hotel in the erased timeline. In the new timeline, Queenie never visited the Hotel Cortez thanks to Mallory.
- Will Drake - Famous fashion designer.
- Claudia Bankson - One of Will Drake's friends in the fashion industry.
- Marcy - A former real estate worker who now spends her existence reading erotica novels.
- Vendela - A "Swedish meatball".
- Agnetha - A "Swedish meatball".
- Mr. Wu - He spends the afterlife watching porn and exposing himself to guests.
- Lumberjack - A hipster, and Tristan's first solo kill.
- Justin - Second hipster to join the spirits haunting the halls.
- Babe - Justin's girlfriend.
The hotel is in art-deco style, inspired by the golden era of Hollywood.
Scenes creating the façade of the hotel were filmed at the Oviatt Building, which houses the restaurant Cicada, and used to be a haberdashery. The building is grey and a large neon sign with the words "Hotel Cortez" is written in neon lights. In a flashback scene to 1994, the sign of the hotel is much smaller and in art-deco style.
Lobby and Bar
The skylight which runs across the width of the ceiling and dives down the wall to form the grillwork of the hotel's elevator is a full-body portrait of the Cortez. Light fixtures are also prevalent, particularly three chandeliers that weigh about 250 pounds each. There are several "HC" initials randomly positioned around the lobby as a reference to the building's namesake. The reception desk is placed right against the entrance on the first level of the lobby. A bar is positioned on the second level.
The reception is positioned right against the entrance between the tall light fixtures. It has a small lucent sign saying "Reception" above the desk and a vintage bell on it. Behind it, there is a wall with wooden elements where the keys are stored. There is a clock above them, surrounded by six lamps.
The door of the elevator is golden with art-deco elements on it.
The hallways are painted in light grey-green with multiple wooden elements on the ceiling as well as piping and light fixtures. There are several wall lamps between the rooms' doors. The carpet is designed in black, yellow and dark red with polygon stamps.
The rooms are designed almost the same as at a normal hotel, except for Elizabeth's suite. The doors are made of different wood materials with a peephole under the number. The carpets are geometric in black, yellow and red. There are different types of rooms seen throughout the season: single rooms with a bed for one person; double rooms with a double bed and chairs; Junior suites with two rooms, one designed as a living room with a couch and a table, the other as a bedroom with a bed; suites with three rooms consisting of a bedroom, a living room with a coach and a dining room with a table and chairs. Every room has a bathroom with a toilet, a sink with a mirror and a bath tub. The walls are decorated with red or green tiles.
- The Hotel Cortez was reportedly inspired by the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, an allegedly haunted place due to its scarily high rate of deaths and violence. Richard Ramirez once resided at the Cecil Hotel like his AHS counterpart did at the Cortez.
- The intricate torture chambers of the Hotel Cortez are likely inspired by the "Murder Castle" built by H. H. Holmes, a real-life American serial killer who served as inspiration for James March.
- Cordelia Goode reveals that the Hotel Cortez is not merely a haunted location, but a hellmouth itself, also known as a gateway into Hell.
- Although Cordelia Goode claims that magic is powerless within the Cortez, Queenie was still able to use some of her powers when she first checked in, such as Divination and Injury Transference. It is possible that this is due to her Voodoo heritage, however.
- The Hotel Cortez has been inhabited and visited by many supernatural creatures, among these ghosts, vampires, witches, demons, the Anti-Christ and whatever the Mattress Man is. It is also host to the largest number of serial killers in one location, surpassing Camp Redwood's record. This by far makes the Hotel Cortez the spookiest location in the American Horror Story universe, next to the Murder House and Briarcliff Manor.
- Sarah Paulson portrayed three different characters in the Hotel Cortez - Sally McKenna, Billie Dean Howard and Cordelia Goode - making her the only cast member to play more that one character in one location so far.