Film evokes an array of emotions that transports us deep into the storyline. With a sentimental or adrenalin-pumping plot, we laugh, cry, shudder, scream, hide behind our hands, fall in love with love, look to the hero for rescue and are left terrified by the villain or in deep desire for the film’s star! Beyond that though, is the longing for a lifestyle portrayed - that of the rich & famous living it up with sweeping landscapes, glamorous hotels, and spectacular locations as their backdrop.
Whether its Julia Robert taking that bath in Pretty Woman, the beachside scenes so enhanced by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot or the Tokyo skyline from the rooftop bar of Lost in Translation – every film, every hotel is truly memorable. Some of the properties that served as backdrops for blockbuster movies have become celebrities in their own right, drawing visitors that desire to step into the world of their favourite film, inducing a welcome déjà vu.
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best hotels used as a movie location:
1. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Lost in Translation - 10/10
In 1994, The Park Hyatt Tokyo was the first western luxury hotel to open in Japan. Since then, numerous celebrities have called the Park Hyatt Tokyo home. Oscar-winning director Sofia Coppola loved the hotel so much that she made it the centrepiece of her award-winning film - Lost in Translation - which was shot there. The hotel combines the signature luxury the chain is known for with a distinctly local flavour. Despite being located in the heart of chaotic Shinjuku atop the Park Tower, it provides a soothing, calm atmosphere. While sitting in the Club on the 52nd floor or taking a dip in the indoor pool, admire Tokyo’s skyline and the views towards Mount Fuji.
The 177 guestrooms including 23 suites are serene and tasteful. They feature Hokkaido-wood panelling, Egyptian cotton sheets and an impressive art collection. The most indulgent is the Presidential Suite that boasts its own sauna and spa bath, and the Tokyo Suite that is furnished with a grand piano and library. There are three restaurants, two bars and a pastry boutique. Conveniently located in Tokyo's business and entertainment district, Park Hyatt Tokyo is within walking distance to Shinjuku Station and several department stores. You certainly will not go thirsty with Golden Gai, a bar street with over 270 bars, just around the corner.
The luxury Beverly Wilshire undeniably held its own as a leading character in the 1990 romantic comedy - Pretty Woman - which saw Richard Gere fall hopelessly in love with Julia Roberts while they were ensconced there. First opened in 1928, the hotel has been the preferred address for the international elite ever since, and it is easy to see why. Located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive it puts you in the enviable heart of Beverly Hills, with designer stores, fine dining, and postcard-worthy views at its doorstep. The 395 guest rooms are light and airy with contemporary décor in soft creamy tones. The 137 luxury suites, some opening onto furnished balconies and spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills, feature sleek Italian marble bathrooms with deep-soaking tubs.
Various dining options include the sophisticated CUT, a Michelin starred steakhouse with a menu created by celebrated Chef Wolfgang Puck. THEBlvd, a Mediterranean restaurant offering outdoor seating overlooking Rodeo Drive and the Pool Bar and Café for casual poolside dining. Guests can relax at the pool – modelled on the pool owned by Sophia Loren at her Italian villa - or enjoy massages and an array of organic treatments at the Spa. There is a fitness centre on site, and the concierge will point you in all the right directions when you are ready to hit LA – baby!
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The magnificent Taj Lake Palace Hotel of Udaipur stands famously in the centre of India’s serene Lake Pichola. Built in the 1740s by the young Prince Maharana Jagat Singh as a dream ‘pleasure palace’ to suit his lavish lifestyle, it was originally known as Jag Niwas. The Lake Palace’s appearance in the 1983 James Bond classic Octopussy as a female-only occult lair, brought it much greater acclaim. Beautifully restored to its pristine glory, it has Hilary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Queen Elizabeth II among its famous patrons. The property is comprised of 83 intricately decorated suites and rooms positioned around the vibrant garden courtyard. The 65 luxurious rooms and 18 grand suites enjoy views towards the neighbouring Aravalli Hills and Jag Mandir. The themed Grand Royal Suites feature high ceilings, deeply-carved mouldings and ornate glasswork. Many offer Jacuzzis, marble clad bathrooms with rain-showers, original works of art and crystal chandeliers.
Exquisite cuisine is served to resident guests only at the elegant restaurants, namely Neel Kamal for authentic Rajasthani and Indian fair, and the seasonally open-air Bhairo for modern-day European delicacies. After dark indulge in signature martinis at the Amrit Sagar bar. The Jiva Spa in Udaipur boasts wellness and Ayurveda themed experiences. The Taj Lake Palace Udaipur is conveniently located within touching distance of prominent tourist attractions in and around Udaipur, with the concierge there to efficiently assist with any arrangements.
4. Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas – Ocean's 11 - 9/10
The backdrop of the 2001 Ocean's Eleven heist comedy - that saw the legendary cast brazenly plan to rob the casino - and had them staying at the hotel for the duration of filming. The Bellagio Hotel and Casino is inspired by the villages of Europe. Overlooking a Mediterranean-blue lake lined with fountains that perform a magnificent dance to an ever-rising concerto each evening, the hotel is a world in itself. One of the most luxurious in Vegas, it is set within the impressive Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens – an absolute feast for the eyes that is modelled on the Art Nouveau glasshouses of Paris. It is home to countless flowers and seasonally themed displays.
Bellagio’s almost 4,000 rooms have been freshly updated with shows of colours against neutral and pewter backgrounds, creating an elegant balance of style. With numerous room categories, many of the suites offer unforgettable views of the Las Vegas valley or the iconic Bellagio fountains. The Picasso and Lago restaurants are notably of the most romantic in Vegas. Other inhouse dining options include Harvest by Roy Ellamar, Jasmine in an exquisite lake-side garden, Le Cirque by restaurateur Sirio Maccioni and Michelin Award-winning Chef Michael Mina’s seafood restaurant. When in Vegas, escape into Bellagio’s world of entertainment with music, dance, Cirque du Soleil acrobatics and shows in the Parisian-style opera house. That and a visit to the resort’s retail promenade, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, fitness centre, sumptuous spa, and swimming pool. Of course, you might even chance your luck in the casino.
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5. Dolder Grand, Zürich – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 9/10
Perched on a hilltop with showstopping views towards Lake Zürich and the city below, this five-star grand dame was originally built as a traditional health spa in 1899. It reopened in 2008 after a major expansion and refurbishment by Sir Norman Foster. The world-famous architect connected the historic main building with the two curved contemporary wings. Featured in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara, is greeted with the enviable words - ‘Welcome to the Dolder Grand’, and in the numerous scenes filmed there. Its elevated location and nearby forests make it an ideal place to relax into the fairy-tale-like 19th century castle.
With 175 rooms and suites, all boastings elaborate décor and sophisticated detail. Guests can choose between the classic ambience of the main building and the modern elegance of the wings. Dolder Grand’s Top Suites are an expression of pure extravagance, with their interior design coordinated to match the setting. All of the Junior Suites feature a whirlpool tub overlooking the cascading mountains. There is a strong focus on wellbeing with the Dolder Grand home to a 4,000 square metres spa that includes a large swimming pool, twenty treatment rooms, fitness facilities, an aqua zone and selection of European and Swiss treatments. The Restaurant, headed by innovative chef Heiko Nadeer, holds two Michelin stars and 18 Gault et Millau points, while the all-day-dining Saltz restaurant, designed by artist Rolf Sachs, oozes atmosphere and relaxed intimacy.
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6. The Biltmore Hotel, Miami Coral Gables, Florida – Bad Boys - 9/10
Opened in 1926 and designed by the same architects as the Waldorf-Astoria and New York City’s Grand Central Station, the Biltmore Hotel is situated in Miami’s popular Coral Gables with fine restaurants, boutiques, and the Miracle Mile within walking distance. The hotel’s timeless appeal can be credited to the Mediterranean-inspired design, complete with a tall copper-toned tower. Registered as a National Historic Landmark, the property spans over 60 hectares of lush tropical grounds and offers endless amenities. The 271 rooms, including 174 suites, boast marble bathrooms, oversized windows, and delightful vistas from the open-air balconies. The Five Star Terrace Suites include romantic gemstone chandeliers over the beds, classic mouldings, and rich velvets. At the summit of spoils is the Everglades Suite, an incredible duplex suite featuring hand-painted ceilings depicting scenes from Florida’s Everglades.
Dine at Fontana, a traditional Italian restaurant surrounding The Biltmore courtyard. In 1995 film crews chose The Biltmore as a setting for the 1995 Bad Boys movie party scene which saw Julie Mott, played by Téa Leoni jumping off the roof into the swimming pool after witnessing a double murder – something we recommend you do not attempt! Rather soak up South Florida’s sunshine from one of the private cabanas hidden amidst the palms, hibiscus, and bougainvillea. Play a round or two at the restored Donald Ross 18-hole golf course, a rubber of tennis on one of the ten courts, or a dip in the 2300 square metres swimming pool.
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While we were all left in awe of the scale and grandeur of the hotel the girls stayed in while visiting Abu Dhabi in ‘Sex and the City 2’, the featured property is actually located in Marrakesh, Morocco. Amanjena, meaning peaceful paradise, is in the exclusive Palmeraie suburb on the south-eastern outskirts of the seductive Pink City. Designed by the late, great American architect Ed Tuttle, it has an ornate Moorish-style with lavish grounds and soothing water features. Amanjena has 40 exceptionally appointed rooms, all spacious and bright featuring Berber carpets, hand painted tiles, high-ceilings and discreetly private courtyards that open only Arabian-styled fountains. For a greater level of luxury, the four 2-storey maisons boast private heated pools, a fireplace and butler service. Chaise lounges and lanterns lend a classic Moroccan feel, while petal-strewn fountains lead through the grounds to the central lake that nourishes the gardens.
By night local musicians provide the soundtrack to dinner in the Moroccan Restaurant’s courtyard, and overlooking Amanjena’s swimming pool, Nama celebrates Japan’s Washoku cuisine with artfully plated sushi and sashimi. Dedicated to wellness, Amanjena’s spa facilities are serene and timeless, designed to soothe and rejuvenate. Treatments include massages, facials scrubs and wraps, as well as manicures and pedicures. There are two Moroccan-style hammams. Numerous activities can be arranged from Amanjena, be it biking in the city, taking tea with a Berber family, an excursion into the Agafay Desert or guided tour of the 12th-century medina.
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Hotel del Coronado, fondly known as The Del, is a picture-perfect historic beachfront hotel in the Californian city of Coronado, across the bay from San Diego. With its Queen Anne–style red turrets, it is a pristine example of the classic wooden Victorian beach resort. Opened in February 1888, it remains an architectural masterpiece, acclaimed for its spectacular seaside setting and idyllic weather enjoyed from the wide, flat beach that draws surfers and sunbathers year-round. Movie buffs will recognise it as the setting for Billy Wilder's classic 1958 comedy Some Like It Hot, where 'Daphne' and 'Josephine', Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis respectively, hide out with Sugar Kane who is played by Marilyn Monroe. Sitting on 11 hectares of pristine beachfront property, the 757 rooms are spread across the main Victorian building and the more contemporary The Views – opening July 2021.
If you are looking to be at the pool, the Cabana Building is ideal. Larger groups and families may prefer the spacious Beach Village cottages and villas. The Del’s signature restaurant, Serea, showcases fresh sustainable seafood, with the Babcock & Story Bar is the ideal place for an Old-Fashioned. Eat with your toes in the sand at The Del’s Beach & Taco Shack or grab a pizza at ENO Market & Pizzeria. Visit the Spa & Salon at the Del for a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage or Sea Salt Stone massage. Water sports galore, bikes for rent, two outdoor pools and an array of activities will keep you happy and healthy for days.
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9. The Plaza, A Fairmont Managed Hotel, New York – Home Alone 2 - 8/10
The Plaza Hotel is an icon in itself. Opened in 1907 at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South in Manhattan, the French château–style building received extra attention after appearing in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in 1992. Kevin McCallister - played by child star Macaulay Culkin - tricks his way into a suite, leaving a path of rather hilarious destruction. Offering 282 distinctive guestrooms including 102 luxurious suites over ten floors, The Plaza continues to strike the balance between its past and future. Classic crown moulding and antique furniture is set against modern works of art and rich fabrics, with touches of pink, blue and gold all adding texture to the charm.
The magnificent Legacy Suite collection caters for the discerning budget-free guests and are well worth the indulgence. Soak up the magic of Afternoon Tea in The Palm Court, settle into a meal at The Rose Club, savour the ambiance of the elegant Champagne Bar and embark on a culinary journey at The Plaza Food Hall. The Plaza offers world-class shopping as well as health and wellness facilities including a Guerlain Spa, The Plaza Hotel Fitness Center, and Warren Tricomi Salon. The Plaza has appeared in many other films including Sleepless in Seattle and Crocodile Dundee.
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10. The Ritz Hotel, London – Notting Hill - 8/10
Synonymous with London luxury, you will be hard pressed to beat a stay in one of the lavish suites at The Ritz Hotel, making it no surprise that Anna Scott aka Julia Roberts, as the world's most beautiful woman in the world as per the 1999 British rom-com Notting Hill, would be seen nowhere else but the hotel’s Trafalgar Suite. Overlooking London’s Green Park, the renowned Neoclassical hotel offers luxurious bedrooms, exquisite British cuisine, and the greatest afternoon tea in the world. The rooms combine period architecture and antique furnishings with all modern amenities. Decorated in warm earthy tones, they feature high ceilings, fireplaces, and ornate chandeliers. The Signature Suites - The Piccadilly Suite, The Royal Suite, The Green Park Suite, and palatial Prince of Wales Suite are vaster and more impressive than the next.
The Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant uses only the finest ingredients in cuisine that is ‘classically British with a modern twist’. The Rivoli Bar has an Art Deco style with gold leaf decor that creates the impression of walking into a glittering jewellery box. Your stay is complemented by various in-house facilities including a spa, and special treats for children. The Ritz is located in the heart of London, making it the perfect location for exploring one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
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