AnOther's Favourite Hotels on Film

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Eloise in Sunglasses, 1987
Eloise in Sunglasses, 1987Illustration by Hilary Knight; Courtesy of Scholastic

Inspired by Eloise, the girl who lives in a penthouse suite, here are 10 of the best views of hotel life in cinema history

As Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight’s enchanting children’s story goes, there once was a very mischievous little girl whose name was Eloise. She was six years old, she was a city child and she lived at the Plaza Hotel. Accompanied by her dog, Weenie, who looks like a cat, and a turtle named Skipperdee, who eats raisins, Eloise would endlessly roam the illustrious New York hotel in search of an adventure, attending weddings – whether invited or not - spying on debutantes as they went dancing, and even helping the maid to change the sheets. 

A fan of Eloise since childhood, actress, writer and director Lena Dunham paid tribute to her literary heroine by getting Hilary Knight’s iconic illustration tattooed to her lower back. When the renowned illustrator found out about a girl on TV who had an Eloise tattoo, he immediately wrote to her explaining who he was – an act that would later inspire the latest HBO documentary It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise, which Dunham not only produced, but also appears in. To celebrate the film’s release, we cast our minds back to the little girl who lived in a hotel and reflect on 10 of the greatest depictions of hotel life in film history.

The Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Pretty Woman (1990)
Welcome to Hollywood, the land of dreams and the place where Richard Gere found his pretty woman (happy 25th birthday). Sort of like a Cinderella story, that is if Cinderella was a hooker, wore thigh-high boots, and looked a lot like Julia Roberts, Vivian’s fairytale dreams come true when Edward picks her off the street and invites her to stay for a week in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where they eventually fall in love. Cue sex on the piano, long bubble baths, champagne and strawberry on room service, and endless reruns of old movies.

Bates Motel in Psycho (1960)
Weary from the long road? Why not check in to Bates Motels for a bite to eat and a place to rest your head. The handsome young owner will show you to your room. But remember; always lock your door when you take a shower.

The Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1980)
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. If you’re checking into the Overlook Hotel this winter there are a few things you need to know: beware of the ghost that lives in room 237, if you’re looking for a stiff drink head to the Gold Room where a ghostly bartender named Lloyd will fix you one, and in case of an emergency head to the garden maze and remove all axes from sight. Oh and remember, Redrum is murder spelt backwards.

The Hotel del Coronado in Some Like It Hot (1959)
Fleeing from the mob and need a place to stay? Then head to the Hotel del Coronado where Marilyn Monroe Aka Sugar Kane and her all-female band will be waiting for you. BYOD (bring your own disguise, duh!) and don’t go breaking Miss Kane’s heart or leaving her with the fuzzy end of a lollipop.

The Hotel Mon Signor in Four Rooms (1995)
Welcome to Quentin Tarantino and co.'s mysterious Hotel Mon Signor, our bellhop Ted (played by Tim Roth) will show you to the Honeymoon Suite. If you need anything, from assisting with spells, babysitting, taking part in a fantasy hostage scenario, or if you require anything from a block of wood to a ball of twine, please do not hesitate to ask.

The Grand Hotel, Berlin in Grand Hotel (1932)
Hotels – people come and go, nothing ever happens... Except for when you check in at the Grand Hotel in Berlin. From a jewel thieving baron who falls in love with a suicidal ballerina played by Greta Garbo to the dying accountant who runs off with Joan Crawford's aspiring actress, a great deal happens at the Grand.

The Shah Abbas Hotel in And Then There Were None (1974)
This is not a hotel you want to book into. Based on the Agatha Christie novel, ten strangers arrive at an abandoned hotel in the Iranian desert, only to discover that they have been brought together by a Mr U. N. Owen ("unknown") who accuses each of them of having committed murder. As the guests begin to die, the dwindling group – including a smouldering Oliver Reed and a stern Richard Attenborough – realise that one among them must be the killer. Cue mounting suspense and repeated reminders never to accept an invitation from a stranger. 

Hotel Excelsior in The Witches (1990)
Beware of the purple-eyed witches, with their itchy wigs, bald heads, stumped feet and gloves to hide their claws. Every year the Grand High Witch hosts a convention to discuss the coven’s progress on ridding the world of all its children. However, when they stop off at the Hotel Excelsior in Cornwall, things don’t go quite as they planned.

Hotel Chevalier in Hotel Chevalier (2007)
Before the Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson created the Hotel Chevalier – a golden hued homage to everyone's idea of the perfect Parisian idyll, with Anderson's signature exquisite detail rubbing up against the grubby reality of human emotion. Soundtracked by Peter Sarstedt's ode to the American perception of Paris, toothpick chewing gamine Natalie Portman and a mustachioed Jason Schwartzmann teeter on the brink of heartbreak – "I promise I will never be your friend, no matter what, ever" – while waiting for room service. 

The Park Hyatt Hotel in Lost in Translation (2003)
After a chance meeting in a hotel bar, an introduction over a cup of peanuts, and endless references to Suntory Whiskey, ageing action movie star Bob Harris and a young college graduate named Charlotte form an unlikely friendship that ultimately leads to love.

Find out more about It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise here.