Chelsea hotel by Martin Scorsese.

Chelsea Hotel — from Howl to murder most foul



Punk rocker Sid Vicious stabbed his girlfriend to death in Room 100. The poet Dylan Thomas was living in Room 205 when he drank 18 whiskeys in a row and died. Jack Kerouac wrote ‘On The Road’ while staying there. Allen Ginsburg wrote his great epic poem ‘Howl.’

The Chelsea Hotel at 222 West 23rd Street opened in 1883 and became the melting pot of the most talented writers, artists and singers of the 1900s from Mark Twain to Leonard Cohen. The walls and ceilings are still covered with the art of past residents.

Located between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea the hotel was the haven for the extraordinary characters of counterculture creativity and outrageous behavior of the 1960s.

Dozens of people, most in their later years, still live there, and it is from their perspective that the documentary, ‘Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel,’ tells the history of the hotel and the legends who made it famous.

Produced by Martin Scorsese and co-directed by Amélie van Elmbt and Maya Duverdier the film premiered at the 2022 Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

Magnolia will debut the documentary in select theaters and on VOD starting July 8.


Chelsea hotel by Scorsese.
Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious

Sid Vicious, bassist for the English punk band the Sex Pistols, stayed in Room 100 with his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. On October 12, 1978, Nancy was found stabbed to death on the floor of the bathroom. Sid was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He claimed he had no memory of the incident. He was released on $50,000 bail. Just over three months later, on February 1, 1979, he died from an overdose of heroin.

Chelsea hotel by Scorsese.

Andy Warhol stayed at the hotel during the 1960s and filmed his famous ‘Chelsea Girls’ which followed the lives of several of the young women who lived at the hotel, a cast that included Mario Montez and many of Warhol’s ‘superstars.’

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was staying in room 205 at the Chelsea in 1953 when he drank 18 glasses of whiskey and died several days later.

American novelist Thomas Wolfe stayed at the Chelsea during his many visits to New York City in the 1920s. His work influenced Jack Kerouac and other Beat Generation writers.


William S. Burroughs who wrote the 1959 counterculture drug classic ‘Naked Lunch’ lived at the Chelsea where he became friends with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Their mutual influence and that of Thomas Wolfe became the foundation of the Beat Generation.


Jack Kerouac stayed at the Chelsea in the mid-1950s where he wrote pages of notes that became the Beat Generation Bible ‘On the Road.’ 


Allen Ginsberg lived at the Chelsea where he wrote the 1955 epic counterculture poem ‘Howl.’ He later became a political activist protesting the Vietnam War.

Chelsea hotel by Scorsese.

Punk rocker Patti Smith shared a room at the Chelsea in the 1970s with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, famous for documenting the gay male BDSM subculture of New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Photos and bio notes from

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