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You need to have something to aspire to in life ... but even if you haven't exactly succeeded in making it big in Hollywood, you could still spend a night in a hotel you have seen on the big screen. Enjoy sophisticated accommodation where only yesterday Scarlett Johansson or Jack Nicholson rested their anointed bodies – we can show you where that's possible.
There are films where you can hardly remember what they were about but their magnificent settings have stayed imprinted on your memory. It all gets particularly interesting when spectacular hotels are involved such as in "Lost in Translation" or "Vicky Christina Barcelona" – where it is in fact possible to stay in real life and even replay your favourite scenes if you wish!
Over the next few pages, we will be presenting our personal Best of films in which sophisticated hotels are more than mere elegant venues. And if you find one modern classic is missing: "Grand Budapest Hotel" of all things was not shot in a real luxury hotel but rather in a former Art Nouveau department store in Görlitz, Saxony. Such a pity – but more than made up for by the five alternatives we have put together from all over the world. Check in, please!
Lost in Translation – Park Hyatt (Tokyo/Japan)
"Lost in Translation" saw Sofia Coppola receive an Oscar in 2004 for the best original screenplay. Sometimes life is fair after all: this story about the irritable forlornness of two Americans in Japan exudes subtle humour and a touching melancholy which is not least attributable to the perfect hotel setting in the form of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, perfectly combining glittering yet glamorous sleaze and a futuristic aquarium.
Truly fitting as in order to actually reach the hotel area hidden in a glittering trio of glass towers, you are literally lifted off your feet as an express elevator brings you directly to the lobby of the Park Hyatt on the 41st floor. The rooms are reminiscent of transparent light boxes and on clear days, the floor-to-ceiling windows afford views as far as the Mount Fuji volcano which is a two-hour drive away and simultaneously represents the country's landmark and highest mountain.
In the "New York Bar" on the 52nd floor high above the roofs of the Japanese capital, the hectic of Tokyo trickles into a surreal blue-tinged shimmer accompanied by subdued jazz sounds and expensive drinks. A place with a recognition factor: in "Lost in Translation", Bob – a sullen actor (Bill Murray) – doses through his jet lag between shooting for a silly advertising spot and just happens to meet the stunning Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson). Thus begins an ingenious banter between two lonely souls, and sparkling dialogues at the hotel's bar counter.
Seldom has a film better expressed this fleeting feeling of metropolis melancholy than "Lost in Translation" – and all the more valuable the venue at which this feeling can be so easily reproduced as up in the clouds of the "New York Bar". Its cocktails are among the best the city has to offer and if the huge selection prevents you from making up your mind, simply order "what Bill Murray had". The barman will know what you mean as he reaches for a 17-year old Japanese Hibiki whiskey matured in a casket. And if you manage to make it back to your room sober: the film soundtrack turned up loud is an absolute must – with its wistful sounds of "Death in Vegas" or "My Bloody Valentine" – and then snuggle down to dream of Scarlett.
Ocean’s Eleven – Bellagio (Las Vegas/USA)
What a powerful moment! Even the first glimpse of the Bellagio is like a floodlight shone on an impenetrable fortress. And when the ensemble of fountains in front of the hotel – illuminated by 4,500 spotlights – reveals its colourful water ballet, time appears to stand still for just a moment. Only George Clooney alias Danny Ocean was left unfazed by this colourful spectacle in the first part of his witty trickster trilogy "Oceans Eleven". All he's interested in is money – and how to make it back home alive to Julia Roberts ...
Despite spectacular new building projects completed within recent years, the 36-floor Bellagio with almost 4,000 rooms is still regarded as one of the more elegant hotels in Las Vegas. The complex includes a Botanic Garden employing more than 140 gardeners, the most ambitious pool landscape in the city spanning five (!) courtyards, the luxury "Via Bellagio" shopping arcade as well as two prohibitively expensive wedding chapels. The film directed by Steven Soderbergh is largely played out in the hotel's splendid casino featuring a whopping 2,500 slot machines and 100 gambling tables. And just as in real life, the odd Hollywood star can often be seen here. Although gamblers seldom return home with as many takings as Clooney.
By the way: spanning 3.2 hectares, the artificial lake belonging to the hotel is based on Lake Como where George Clooney still has a villa – even if he has supposedly been wanting to sell it for years.
Vicky Christina Barcelona – De La Reconquista (Oviedo/Spain)
The rattle of carriages and dusty wigs? Not quite. All the same, this vintage hotel in Oviedo seems like a blue-blooded blip in today's modern age: a 250-metre long carpet from the imperial factory adorns the floor of the lobby. The rooms feature Baroque stucco and the finest of yarns – and then there's the name ... De La Reconquista – The reconquest! No wonder the irreverent rogue Woody Allen enjoyed engaging his young nymphs in frivolous adventures here in "Vicky Christina Barcelona" in 2008.
The De La Reconquista in the Asturias region of northern Spain was built in 1752 making it one of the most traditional hotels in the country. Offering the perfect ambience therefore for the erotic excesses enjoyed by Javier Bardem with Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall. (Later in the film, Penelope Cruz also appears but by that time, the scene was no longer set in this elegant venue ...)
The De La Reconquista is located on the San Francisco Park where the old quarter of Oviedo and the busy city converge. It was used as a hospice and as a children's hospital for two hundred years; a chapel with an octagonal layout designed by the architect Ventura Rodríguez can still be seen there today. In fact, it wasn't converted into a luxury hotel until the 1970s.
The gems of this venerable establishment are represented by two suites each covering an expansive 80 square metres, including fine wood furnishings and of course marble bathrooms. The walls are decorated with artwork by famous Asturias painters such as Mariano Moré, Purón Sotres, Adolfo Bartolomé and Vaquero Palacio. No wonder then that the royal family also stays at the De La Reconquista when visiting the city – even after its scandalous secularisation by Woody Allen.
The Shining – Timberline Lodge (Oregon/USA)
Dare to stay here! The Overlook Hotel once saw Jack Nicholson alias Jack Torrance lose his mind. Based on a novel by Stephen King and produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1980, "The Shining" is regarded as a masterpiece of subtle horror: a writer withdraws to this desolate hotel in winter with his wife and son in order to write his novel in peace and quiet. But things soon get out of hand. There's something not quite right about this establishment – or with Jack Torrance.
In real life, "The Shining" was filmed at Timberline Lodge which was officially opened on 28 September 1937 by the US president Franklin D. Roosevelt who travelled especially to Oregon with his wife Eleanor. Built of wood and natural stone at an altitude of 1,830 metres on Mount Hood, the Lodge is now a protected building. Numerous details in the hotel are reminiscent of snowflakes: columns, tables, lampshades. Even the main building is hexagonal, with the exception of the two three-storey wings. Weddings are staged in the Lodge several times a year. Only room 237 is off limits. This is where the ghost of a dead woman (Mrs Massey) lay in the bath – a scene which could possibly unsettle the delicate nerves of honeymooners – so room 237 can no longer be booked.
In summer, the Lodge is now a popular starting point for hikes and in winter, it is anything but lonely. In fact, guests can enjoy the nearby ski resort availing of nine lifts and 41 slopes or, like Jack Nicholson, take a seat at the bar and order a bottle of bourbon and ice. The barman at Timberline Lodge is definitely real. But keep your hands off the axe!
Some Like It Hot – Del Coronado (California/USA)
The Del Coronado on the beach of San Diego Bay is a hotel of superlatives: built in 1888 as one of the largest holiday hotels at the time, it soon became one of the first public establishments equipped with electric light. It is said that Thomas Edison personally inspected installation at the time. Even the first outdoor Christmas tree featuring electric lights is said to have attracted huge crowds in 1904. And the ballroom with its original canopy of lights is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world.
No surprise therefore that the "Del" (as the hotel is fondly called by insiders) has also made film history: for many film critics, "Some Like It Hot" made in 1959 is regarded as the best comedy of all time. Yet another one of these superlatives for the Del Coronado. But wait – wasn't the film set in Chicago and Florida?
Exactly. But as the director Billy Wilder liked the Del better than any hotel in Miami and its environs, shooting was simply relocated to California.And you couldn't really blame him! This coastline with its fine sandy beach extending along 100 kilometres is one of the most beautiful in the whole country. And to ensure that the film isn't forgotten, tours are given every day on the hotel's history, including some filming anecdotes.
The "Del" list of celebrity guests is long. US presidents have stayed there. Charles Lindbergh was honoured here after his transatlantic flight and Britain’s King Edward VIII is said to have met Wallis Simpson at the Del, for whom he ultimately forsook the throne. Today, the Del Coronado is still regarded as one of the most luxurious establishments on the West Coast. In fact, it is one of the few Victorian beach hotels which has been retained as well as being the largest wooden building in California. It avails of 668 rooms and 20 suites, most of them in the main part referred to as the Victorian Building. A preservation order was put on the “Lady” in 1977.
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