Concierge.com's insider take:
This Romanesque Revival building, built in 1890 for tycoon John Jacob Astor and later colonized by artists, instantly became Hollywood Central when André Balazs converted it into a hotel in 1998. In the early days of the Balazs era, Leonardo DiCaprio seemed to do all of his interviews in the casual library/living room setup in the lobby. Later, the hotel was the setting for a well-publicized Russell Crowe tantrum in which the actor threw a telephone at a reception desk attendant (to be fair to Rusty, service can be a little spotty). You never know who you're going to see at the Mercer or what you'll see them do. The 75 highly designed yet unpretentious rooms and suites have high ceilings, large windows, and huge, sexy bathrooms; designer Christian Liagre filled them with sharp but comfortable touches like dark wenge wood furniture and banquettes in lilac leather. Some rooms have a working fireplace, and the loft suite on the top floor has enormous arched windows.
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