A Final Cobain Locale – Room 226, Marco Polo Motel: April 1994

Room 226

Courtesy of Mr Mitch Holmquist, a series of interior shots of Room 226 of the Marco Polo Motel as it stands today. Thanks Mitch! The guy is a mine of Nirvana-related/State of Washington-related knowledge.

Room 226_3

I strolled past way back in September when visiting the North West but never popped inside. It’s known among Nirvana circles simply because it’s one of the final places Kurt Cobain was seen alive. Naturally it’s changed over the years but gives a fair sense of the room – its a motel room, I doubt it was any more thrilling twenty years ago. That’s the most jarring thing perhaps – multi-millionaire rock star at peak of his fame, mansion by the waters just a 45 minute drive away, instead he’s sitting round in a blank little box of a room, maybe gazing out on the parking lot view, otherwise looking at nothing.

Room 226_6

And actually, to be fair, it looks pretty nice! Given the cost of a hotel in Central Seattle, staying here, on one of the main bus routes back into the centre (the bus ride out took me 15 minutes or so back in September – service seemed really regular and reliable), within walkable distance of centre (the walk toom me maybe an hour to head back as far as the Paramount), with decent facilities and a clean room…Nice! Frankly, beyond the historical (and slightly ghoulish) Cobain connection I reckon the Marco Polo Motel looks extremely pleasant.

Room 226_1

It’s also what I like about U.S. history compared to European history. The fact we built stone castles and cathedrals over our sites of interest sometimes makes European history seem less day-to-day or real – it’s all too excessive in a way, the life of normal people wiped away and replaced by the actions and relics of those with the power and wealth to create enduring temples.

Room 226_2

In the U.S., so many more of the historical sites are surprisingly ordinary and examining something at this close range – the life of an individual who’ll still have a place in legend in fifty years time or more – it’s still possible to see how simple and everyday it all was.

Room 226_4

Kurt Cobain reminds me that beyond the excess portrayed upon TV and film screens and via celebrity-obsessed rags, the rich and super-rich ultimately live nothing more than a more polished and sunnier version of reality. Their hotel rooms might be a bit nicer – but how much ‘nicer’ can something truly be? I stayed in a seven star hotel once – it was just a hotel in the end, anonymous living.

Room 226_5


4 thoughts on “A Final Cobain Locale – Room 226, Marco Polo Motel: April 1994”

  1. I wonder if Cobain was attracted to such hotels because he felt more comfortable there than in his “mansion.” Given his emotional & physical fragility during this period, perhaps the responsibility of such a an economic upgrade to his lifestyle added to his alienation. Cobain legendarily was attracted to small spaces (closets!), which are belied by the enormous & empty rooms in his new house. Given his anxieties about his musical future & his financial security, I wonder, again, if he regretted the purchase of mansion, & that was another of the many motives for his suicide?

    1. Or he get high as he wanted and not be hassled about it.
      Mind you Kurt did make Courtney take the Bentley back.
      I get the impression Kurt was at times embarrased by how rich he’d become.

      1. A wonderful fellow in some ways, just a regular guy and very uncomfortable with ostentatious wealth – not a guy who needed to wave what he owned in anyone’s face, not someone who felt what he owned made him a better person…Plus a drug addict with problems too…

  2. It’s not that US “…historical sites are surprisingly ordinary…” it’s that US architecture period — compared to Europe — is surprisingly ordinary.

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