Was ‘American Horror Story’ Season 5 Filmed at the Cecil Hotel?

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Ever since Netflix premiered Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, viewers have been haunted by the hotel at the center of this series. But what people may not realize is that they’ve seen a version of this shady establishment before. It’s very likely that the Cecil Hotel served as an inspiration for Hotel Cortez in American Horror Story: Hotel.

Wondering how the Cecil and Hotel Cortez are connected? Here’s everything we know about the history of these two dark hotels, one real and one imagined.

Was American Horror Story Season 5 Filmed at the Cecil Hotel?

No part of American Horror Story: Hotel was filmed at the Cecil. To create the iconic hotel at the center of this chilling season, the team built a six-story hotel set on the Fox lot. Of course that wasn’t the only filming location for this ambitious season.

Hotel also filmed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the lower level of the Los Angeles Theatre at 615 South Broadway, The Majestic Downtown at 650 South Spring Street, Loews Hollywood Hotel at 1755 Highland Avenue, and Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But those aren’t the locations you’re curious about. The exteriors of Hotel Cortez were filmed outside of the James Oviatt Building, one of Los Angeles’ many historic buildings. It’s currently home to several businesses.

Was American Horror Story: Hotel Based on the Cecil?

Though it’s never been confirmed, it’s likely that it is. There are quite a number of similarities between the Cecil Hotel and Hotel Cortez. Both are hotels that were constructed in the 1920s with art deco styles. Both have a long history of violence, real or imaginary. Both are set in Los Angeles and share a sort of mythic element to them. But there are two pieces of evidence that more concretely connect the Cecil to American Horror Story: Richard Ramirez and the Elisa Lam video.

One of the many killers in and out of the halls of Hotel Cortez is The Night Stalker, aka Richard Ramirez. In Hotel he’s played by Anthony Ruivivar, though the character was later given to Zach Villa in 1984. It’s well known that the real Richard Ramirez stayed at the Cecil Hotel for a period of time. According to one clerk, Ramirez stayed at the hotel for a few weeks in the ’80s and it’s even possible he continued his killing streak there. Ramirez isn’t the only serial killer who called the Cecil his temporary home. The Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger also stayed there in 1991. He was originally convicted of a single murder and imprisoned. His literary talents led to a petition for his release, which was granted. Once Unterweger was released he went to LA and almost immediately resumed his killing streak, ending the lives of at least three women.

A hotel filled with murderers does sound like Hotel Cortez. But the biggest clue we have about these two being connected is Ryan Murphy himself. During a panel for the series at the Television Critics Association, Murphy revealed that it was the video of a woman in an elevator that inspired him to make Hotel the theme of Season 5. “A girl got in an elevator in a downtown hotel,” Murphy said. “She was never seen again.”

That panel took place in 2015, two years after Elisa Lam’s body was found and well after the video of her final moments had gone viral. It’s impossible to know for sure if Murphy was referring to the same video as the source of his inspiration, but it seems very likely. If that’s the case then yes. American Horror Story: Hotel is based on the Cecil Hotel.

Watch Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel on Netflix

Where to stream American Horror Story: Hotel

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