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Enjoy Your Stay: The Top 10 Movies About Hotels/Motels

Enjoy Your Stay: The Top 10 Movies About Hotels/Motels


We all from time to time enjoy a comfortable stay when vacationing anywhere in the world. So why should movie characters not appreciate a great place to stay as well? Interestingly, big screen hotels and motels almost play an important part as an extra movie character in addition to serving as a backdrop to the proceedings.

In Enjoy Your Stay: The Top 10 Movies About Hotels/Motels let’s look at some special selections where hotels and motels in film are featured and play a primary role in plot and theme. Cinematic room service has never been so accommodating.

The Enjoy Your Stay: The Top 10 Movies About Hotels/Motels selections are (in alphabetical order):

1.) The Best Exotic Manigold Hotel (2011)


Director John Madden’s The Best Exotic Manigold Hotel juggles various topical matters at hand: the aging process, deception in advertising, exotic travel and cultural clashing. Madden assembles a notable cast of veteran British performers looking to spend their retirement years at a scenic locale. Seemingly, it is the Best Exotic Manigold Hotel that sparks the interest of these adventurous elders.

Seasoned big screen vets Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton all venture to Jaipur, India to engage in a getaway of a lifetime when they answer an online ad to come and cherish the mystique of a unique hotel. Little do these aged Britons realize is that the hotel they have invested for purposes of settling down is deteriorating although the plus side is that the run-down place does come with a loyal and affable young host Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel).

The Best Exotic Manigold Hotel may have started out as a shabby venue but its entertaining walls are nevertheless wondrous.

2.) California Suite (1978)

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Although there were a plethora of stars that acted in Neil Simon’s (screenplay) California Suite the actual star of the wacky film was the Beverly Hills Hotel that served as the location for the slapstick antics to unfold. Oscar-winning hotel guests included the patronage of Jane Fonda, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine and Walter Matthau. In addition, Emmy-winners such as Alan Alda and Bil Cosby joined in the fun. And who can exclude the comedic talents of Richard Pryor, Elaine May and Herb Edelman to boot?

California Suite was originally Simon’s play based on the same name as the film. Only Simon can find the eccentricities in the personalities that populate the California Suite…er, the Beverly Hills Hotel. The late seventies seemed to be the mecca for star-studded farces that playfully presented nutty mayhem at a reasonable premium. In this day and age of high-priced Hollywood hotshots try getting a who’s who of notables to do an updated version of California Suite in the millennium without robbing Fort Knox.

3.) The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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Writer-director Wes Anderson’s well-crafted and ultra-spunky comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel is a skillful exploration of nostalgia and colorful chaos concerning the mystique of an old-time European mountainside hotel and its critical connection between the venue’s staff, patrons and the war-torn and financially-strapped times that surround the fictional legendary building.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is another Anderson vehicle that manages to draw heavyweight talent to partake in the capable filmmaker’s imaginative surrealism of vintage misadventures. As the centerpiece to the irreverent and reflective occurrences, The Grand Budapest Hotel as a structure holds its own against its human occupants lead by Ralph Fiennes’s conceirge Monsieur Gustave H. and loyal sidekick in Zero Moustafa (both played by Tony Revolori (younger version) and F. Murray Abraham (older version).

As with the aforementioned Neil Simon and his California Suite collaborators, Anderson is another movie-making mind that can whip up an impressive roll call of recognizable names to perform wonders for him in his off-kilter gems with Budapest participants in Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Defoe and Tilda Swinton.

4.) Grand Hotel (1932)

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Hollywood honchos from yesteryear get the star treatment in director Edmund Goulding’s Grand Hotel from 1932. Lavish and based on the 1930 play of the same name Grand Hotel received an Academy Award for Best Picture of the year. The famous faces of old-time Tinseltown talents featured star power in Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone and Wallace Beery.

The premise for Grand Hotel chronicles the melodramatic exchanges between the visiting personalities staying at a luxurious Berlin hotel.

Among the patrons whose overlapping tensions are showcased includes Grand Hotel permanent dweller Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis), former moneybags-turned-card playing jewel thief Baron Felix von Geigern (John Barrymore), deathbed soft-spoken accountant Otto Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore), wealthy businessman Preysing and his female employee Flaemmchen (Beery and Crawford) and down-and-out Russian ballerina Grunsinskaya (Garbo). Opulent and drama-driven, Grand Hotel is…well…quite grand.

5.) Hotel (1967)

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Director Richard Quine’s Hotel may not be as memorable as some of the other mentioned choices on the list involving hotels/motels. Nevertheless, it is pretty much follows the formula of other hotel sagas as it details the hustle and bustle of the staff and its visiting guests. Again, Hotel copies the blueprint of showcasing big name stars and having them mingle against a backdrop of manufactured hysterics.

Hotel tells the story of an expansive New Orleans hotel with constant revolving conflict swirling around the premises. The St. Gregory’s Hotel is owned by one Warren Trent (Melvyn Douglas) but the daily fuss of overseeing the confrontational circumstances falls on the shoulders of hotel manager Peter McDermott (Rod Taylor).

The line-up for Hotel consists of supporting players in the likes of Karl Malden, Richard Conte, Catherine Spaak, Michael Rennie, Carmen McRae, Merle Oberon and Kevin McCarthy.  The format for Hotel has been duplicated countless times before its presentation and certainly afterwards. Thankfully, the St. Gregory’s Hotel is the  center of attention…or just plain tension.

6.) Lost in Translation (2003)

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Writer-director Sophia Coppola’s dramedy Lost in Translation did not disappoint in terms of its meditative observations about finding satisfaction in one’s personal and professional incompleteness. More important, the setting for the low-key  hysterics and hypnotic character studies in Lost in Translation takes place in Tokyo’s modern-aged and impeccably golden-structured Hotel Park Hyatt.

American film actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is in Japan to revive his sagging acting career. He has traveled to Tokyo to shoot a Japanese commercial in hopes of gaining momentum and holding on to whatever fame he has left. Soon, Bob runs into fellow American Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a young housewife whose husband is too busy at work and leaves Charlotte alone and bored within her fancy hotel room.  Together, both Bob and Charlotte bond within the hotel and take in the various sites around Tokyo to relieve each other’s loneliness and uncertainty. The transfixing treat that is Lost in Translation would not have the entertaining mystique if it was not for the posh surroundings that was the aforementioned Hotel Park Hyatt.

7.)  The Motel (2005)

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Writer-director Michael Kang’s coming-of-age film The Motel featuring the young protagonist in 13-year old Ernest Chin (Jeffery Chyau) is a charming look at impressionable adolescence. Ernest works and resides at a grimy motel located off of the town’s barren strip. Poor Ernest is fighting with a complicated existence as he approaches puberty and struggles with finding a strong voice within his distant family.

Toiling at the sleazy motel seems like a never-ending stagnation for the silently frustrated Ernest. However, the mundane moments at the motel and family problems are eclipsed by the acquaintance of a shifty man that shows up at the motel named Sam Kim (Sung Kang) that introduces the youngster to his off-kilter ways. Sam is a rather shady character but he at least takes Ernest’s mind off of his existing uneventful livelihood. The Motel is an off-beat examination of male-bonding and the growing pains of a motel mop top looking for some direction and stability.

8.) Plaza Suite (1971) 

Plaza-Suite-Poster-for-webPlaza Suite has playwright Neil Simon’s fingerprints all over it. This is because the film is based on Simon’s play on the same name. The Arthur Hiller-directed Plaza Suite takes place at the Plaza Hotel in New York where there are three acts that take place in the same hotel suite on different occasions. Walter Matthau stars in all three acts playing separate characterizations in indifferent husband Sam Nash to Maureen Stapleton’s dissatisfied wife Karen, frisky and opportunistic film producer Jesse Kiplinger trying to seduce one-time love in the married Muriel Tate (Barbara Harris) and flustered father-of-the-bride Roy Hubley.

Great comedic interchanging between Matthau’s alter egos and the various quirky personalities involved in the breezy sketches make Simon’s Plaza Suite a high-priced hotel worth checking in permanently.

9.) Psycho (1960) 

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Probably the most infamous motel in motion picture history has to be the Bates Motel. And we all know where the famed macabre motel was conceived courtesy of horror and psychological movie mastermind Alfred Hitchcock’s classic fear-inducing Psycho.

Of course the premise tells the tale of larcenous office worker Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) whose theft of $40,000.00 from her employer promises her a brighter future from the current dim livelihood she leads. En route to meeting her lover Sam with the loot she has stolen a fatigued Marion decides to make a fatal pit stop off the dark highway and checks into the unassuming Bates Motel. There, Marion meets (and later gets victimized in the famous blood-slashing shower scene) the motel proprietor in Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the disturbed young man harboring major Mommy domination issues. Nobody can overlook Hitchcock’s mesmerizing Psycho without the conventional creepy walls of the Bates Motel and the doomed mother-son combo known as the bombastic Bates.

10.) The Shining (1980)

downloadCo-writer/director Stanley Kubrick’s psychological horror showcase The Shining may be known for its gruesome origins courtesy of Stephen King’s probing novel and insidious creative imagination. The landscape of lunacy for Kubrick’s grisly greatness is set against the real-life setting at Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon.

The premise finds writer Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) and his family in wife Wendy and son Danny (Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd) becoming winter caretakers at a desolate hotel where ghostly spirits and past visions of mayhem overwhelm the spook-ridden premises.

The telepathic entity known as “The Shining” allows both the infected Danny and Jack  succumbing to the manic madness that overtakes the haunting hotel. From mysterious terrifying twin girls to Jack’s ax-wielding insanity to Danny’s demonic chanting of “red rum” (“murder” spelled backwards) The Shining and its horrific hotel tucked away in a warped winter wasteland is among Kubrick’s and King’s best frolicking frightfests etched in celluloid and print excellence.

Honorable Mention:

The Hotel New Hampshire (1984)

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

–Frank Ochieng