Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is the latest film to feature the awesome architecture some hotels around the world give us. And while we don’t always pay attention to those elements in real life, the movies always remind us of what’s there while creating a specialized mood to accompany the plot. Hotels in movies frequently display the metaphorical soul of a plot, if even delving into the mental state of the characters if you go by a certain Stephen King story adapted by a certain Stanley Kubrick.
Take a look back and absorb some of the most cinematic hotels that looked as fascinating as Wes Anderson’s fictional hotel in the equally fictional Republic of Zubrowska.
“Grand Hotel” (1932)
This was the first film to correlate the classic plot structure of having multiple storylines going at once in a real or fictional luxurious hotel. It was a plot device that dominated in entertainment for years, and the influence is clearly felt in Wes Anderson’s new film. It reminded us of how behind the façade of luxury in the world’s greatest hotels are people who are far from happy. In fact, some of those people are up to something nefarious, which may give you insomnia today when staying in independent or corporate American hotels.
“Vertigo” and the Empire Hotel (1958)
This was once a real hotel that still contains more mystique than any old hotel you find in San Francisco. And that says a lot when San Fran has many old hotels that are near legendary. However, Alfred Hitchcock likely knew that giving his stylistic touch-ups to the original Empire Hotel would end up timeless. How many times have we looked out the window of a hotel and imagined seeing the green glow of the neon Empire Hotel marquee? With today’s corporate structure of most hotels, those things no longer exist if they ever really did.
The Seminole Ritz in “Some Like it Hot” (1959)
You can’t ask for more confusion when you consider the Seminole Ritz in iconic “Some Like it Hot” was supposed to be on Miami Beach, when it was actually filmed in California. Somehow, nobody noticed the hotel in the back was actually the famous Hotel del Coronado pretending to be the Seminole Ritz. The latter, though, seemed to have more imagined mystery than the real Hotel del Coronado had. It’s easy to conjure images of “Hot’s” screwball antics happening every once in a while. In an imaginary universe, history may be repeating as much as it did in the Overlook Hotel.
The Overlook Hotel in “The Shining” (1980)
Out of default, this hotel has to be listed, and it only becomes layered even deeper after the conspiracy-laden documentary “Room 237” from last year. If the latter documentary stretches things a bit far in the symbolism Stanley Kubrick added into “The Shining”, we’ve probably never looked at details in a hotel or resort the same way again. With rug patterns fascinating a whole new generation, the Overlook Hotel could be a fictional ground central for when marijuana become legal nationwide. Only then will those creepy twin girls not freak anyone out if they show up again.
The Chateau Marmont in “Somewhere” (2010)
One of the few real hotels on this list, Sofia Coppola’s follow-up to “Lost in Translation” was a gem of a movie that didn’t get enough attention. This one delved into the ambiance of a hotel more than any other movie considering the main character more or less lives there. While it’s not an admirable existence, it demonstrates the modern-day Hollywood lifestyle in all its hedonistic glory. It could be one of the greatest connections between a hotel’s ambiance and the lifestyle of one of its tenants. And the symbolism inherent may be as deep-seeded as the Overlook Hotel seemed to have.