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Plenty of critics consider Bob Dylan’s 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks, to be his greatest work, but even the most fervent biographers might not know the legend of the Malibu motel where he reportedly began writing the record. Originally founded as the Malibu Riviera Motel in the late 1940s by Wayne and Helen Wilcox, the Point Dume property fell into disrepair in later decades and was eventually revived by current owners Shaun Gilbert, Sam Shendow and Reem Al-Zahawi. The new owners purchased the property in 2015 from Gary Wilcox, the son of the couple who built it, and were serious about maintaining the hotel’s legacy as a fixture in the small beachside community.
Initially reimagined as the Native Hotel, after sustaining intensive damage in the Woolsey fires of 2018, the property closed down for repairs, finally reopening its door once again in late 2021 as Hotel June Malibu in partnership with Proper Hospitality.
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An extensive renovation in 2016 preserved the property’s mid-century feel, updating the interconnected bungalows and installing king size Casper beds, walk-in showers stocked with Aesop products, AC and WiFi. Over the process of buying and restoring the guesthouse, Wilcox began to share anecdotal information about who would stay at the hotel over the years, revealing the tale of Dylan holing up to write what would eventually become his epic divorce album.
“Gary [Wilcox] himself actually worked on Bob Dylan’s property in Point Dume, taking care of his land anytime the musician was away,” Shendow tells Rolling Stone. “He is and always has been a huge fan of Dylan’s music and has told us incredible stories over the years. So, legend has it, Bob Dylan was a little promiscuous and his wife allowed most of his transgressions to go unseen, but she drew the line when he brought his mistress home for breakfast. That’s when she kicked him out of the house, and he came down and stayed in our room 13.”
“He holed up for a month, and while staying started writing Blood on the Tracks,” Shendow continues. “He left for a few weeks, returned and kept writing — and that’s the story of how Bob Dylan wrote his album at the hotel. I think what originally drew him to the property is proximity — it’s quite literally around the corner from his house (which he still has to this day). He also knew the managers at the time and it was a private space where he could relax into the quiet and seclusion. Point Dume is special in that way – a bit off the beaten path in Malibu.”
Set just off PCH right at the Kanan-Dume junction, Hotel June Malibu is certainly the most accessible place for visitors — or wayward husbands — to stay in the area. Near Shangri-La, the recording studio now owned by Rick Ruben, visiting bands working with the producer are also frequent guests at the historic hotel, bringing the music connection full circle. It’s a haven for travelers who are drawn to the property’s association with Dylan, but also those who want to spend time in Malibu a bit outside of the crowded city center.
A few minutes drive from other iconic beach joints like Neptune’s Net, or Agoura’s beloved Western-themed outpost The Old Place, means there are plenty of culinary options, even if the hotel is still hammering out their own on-site restaurant. Zuma Beach is also less than a five minute drive from the hotel.
The other essential update to the space comes with the opening of the property’s first-ever pool. Notoriously strict zoning commissions in Malibu make it extremely difficult for new additions to be approved by the city, but the existence of an old defunct hot tub, which was destroyed in the Woolsey fire, helped pave the way for a heated swimming pool and deck, recently completed at the end of May 2022. Breakfast and takeaway food items are available daily from Scenic Route, one of the in-house restaurants at a sister property in West LA. All of the rooms also include private patios outfitted with hammocks, and most feature historic photos of Malibu and the surrounding community taken by the original owner, Wayne Wilcox.
If you do book a stay at the newly-completed hotel — where the heated pool is an ideal spot to soak in classic rock history — any of the bungalow-style rooms make for a great getaway. But there’s just something special about bungalow 13, even if you’re not a Dylan fanatic. “Room 13, you can’t really describe it, but it feels different,” Gilbert says. “On paper, rooms 4 through 13 have an identical layout. But when you go into 13, there’s a certain energy to it. The landscaping around it, and the fact that it sits lower than PCH, so noise is never a concern. It feels more private.”
“Everyone who’s stayed there — and some of them don’t even know the Bob Dylan story — tell us it’s their favorite room,” he continues. “It’s interesting that Dylan chose that room, and that it continues to be our most prominent and requested, regardless of people knowing the history or not.”
Want to book a Bob Dylan-inspired stay for yourself? Check availabilities for the property here.
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