It is one of the best-known songs of the album-oriented rock era. Writing credits for the song are shared by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. The Eagles' original recording of the song features Henley singing the lead vocals and concludes with an extended section of electric guitar interplay between Felder and Joe Walsh.
The lyrics describe the title establishment as a luxury resort where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." On the surface, it tells the tale of a weary traveler who becomes trapped in a nightmarish luxury hotel that at first appears inviting and tempting. The song is an allegory about hedonism and self-destruction in the music industry of the late 1970s; Don Henley called it "our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles" and later reiterated "it's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.
"Hotel California" topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for one week in May 1977. Three months after its release, the single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America representing 1,000,000 records shipped. The Eagles also won the 1977 Grammy Award for Record of the Year for "Hotel California" at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards in 1978. In 2009, the song "Hotel California" was certified Platinum (Digital Sales Award) by the RIAA for sales of 1,000,000 digital downloads.
The song is rated highly in many rock music lists and polls. Rolling Stone magazine, for example, placed it as the 49th greatest song of all time. It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The song's guitar solo is ranked 8th on Guitar Magazine's Top 100 Guitar Solos and was voted the best solo of all time by readers of Guitarist magazine.