Hotel California is one of my favorite songs. One mysterious line at the beginning of the song states:

Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air

I speak some Spanish, but neither I nor my friends who are native speakers could decipher what "colitas" are.

What are colitas in this context?


The way I heard it, one of the guys on their road crew, who was Latino, told Henley and Frey that "colitas" meant "little buds" in Spanish. As in, marijuana buds. So, in that lyric they're describing driving down the highway smoking weed.


When this album came out I had the official music sheet for this song. I'm pretty sure colitas should be "eucalyptus".

I think in the song the words get a little bit muzzy as they sometimes do, and the bit that comes through loud and clear sounds like colitas. I think it's passed in to common lore that that is the word sung even though nobody knows what it means!

"Warm smell of eucalyptus, rising up through the air".

Try it, listen again, get the phrasing right and it's bang on.

By the way, eucalyptus, grows quite commonly in South California.

  • I looked at the printed sheet music and it clearly says "colitas". – Donald.McLean Aug 15 '17 at 18:53

Colitas are the name of a popular oxtail soup in Baja California.

  • 1
    can you give an example, e.g. link to a menu with this dish listed ? – Angst Aug 17 '17 at 22:13

I heard someone tell me that the smell of colitas is the oder of a decomposing body. I never could find anyone else who could give me an answer.

protected by Chris Sunami Aug 9 '17 at 16:27

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