As you drive up the long driveway of the Playboy Mansion, you notice a diamond-shaped road sign on your right. But rather than showing a pedestrian crossing or indicating an upcoming turn, it simply reads “Playmates At Play.” That’s when you know you left reality on the other side of the gates you just passed through.
An invitation to Hugh Hefner’s Los Angeles home was a bucket list item for millions of people during the Playboy founder’s life. Playboy Mansion parties were the stuff of legend. And there was a curiosity about whether the reality could begin to live up to the reputation.
Hefner certainly lived a lavish life, but the Playboy Mansion was like a frozen slice of time. The mansion’s (separate) game room eschewed modern systems like PlayStation and Xbox for arcade games and pinball machines. The grounds were meticulous, but had an old fashioned feel to them. And the grotto … well, the grotto was about what you expect, though no one ever imagines the heat or the overwhelming smell of chlorine that accompanied it.
Pictures from parties at the mansion regularly showed celebrities, Playmates and Hefner having fun, but those photos rarely showed the mansion itself.
With Hefner’s death, the era of the Playboy Mansion party is over as well. And for most people, the dream of visiting the 5-acre estate never came true. But if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to wander the grounds or visit the grotto, we’ve got some behind the scenes photos to give you a better idea.