Top 10 Guest Houses On Film

As Delbert Mann's adaptation of Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables (1958) is released on disc by the BFI, Cinema Paradiso invites you to check into one of the many hotels, motels, inns, guest houses and B&Bs on its highly recommended list. Book now to avoid disappointment!

Although a good number of movies are predominantly staged in hotels, many more locate key scenes in their lobbies, bars and suites. Several luxury lodgings have repeatedly brought a touch of glamour to stories set across the generic range. The Plaza in New York, for example, has hosted pictures as different Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1957), William Wyler's Funny Girl (1968), Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (1967), Steve Gordon's Arthur (1981), Peter Faiman's Crocodile Dundee (1986), Chris Columbus's Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000), David O. Russell's American Hustle and Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (both 2013). Across the Big Apple, the Waldorf Astoria has welcomed Richard Benjamin's My Favourite Year (1982), Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), John Landis's Coming to America (1988), Martin Brest's Scent of a Woman (1992) and Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), while the Roosevelt has guest starred in William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971), Oliver Stone's Wall Street (1987), Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994) and Josh Gordon's The Switch (2010).

Over on the West Coast, the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles has provided the backdrop for everything from Don Taylor's Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971), George Roy Hill's The Sting (1973), Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974), Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters and Martin Brest's Beverly Hills Cop (both 1984) to Steve Kloves's The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), George Marshall's Pretty Woman (1990), Amy Heckerling's Clueless (1995), Roger Kumble's Cruel Intentions (1999) and Michael Patrick King's Sex and the City: The Movie (2008). And, heading to Las Vegas, the Caesars Palace Hotel has done duty in Guy Hamilton's Goldfinger (1965), Barry Levinson's Rain Man (1988), Bill Condon's Dreamgirls (2006), Jon Favreau's Iron Man (2008), Todd Phillips's The Hangover (2009) and Adam McKay's The Big Short (2015).

It's possible to spend a night in each of these hotels, as is the case with the Fontainebleau Miami (Scarface, 1983 & The Bodyguard (1992), the Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia (Dirty Dancing, 1985) and the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, Wyoming (Twin Peaks, 1990-91). If the continent is more your style, you might want to venture to the Palacio Estoril in Madrid (On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1967), the Grand Hotel in Rimini (Amarcord, 1973), the Gstaad Palace in Switzerland (The Return of the Pink Panther, 1975), the Hotel degli Orafi in Florence (A Room With a View, 1985), Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce in Bruges (In Bruges, 2008) and the Parknasilla Resort in Sneem, County Kerry (The Lobster, 2015). And there's always Paris for Les Rives de Notre Dame (Breathless, 1959), the Hotel Regina Louvre (The Bourne Identity, 2002) and the Bristol Paris Hotel (Midnight in Paris, 2011).

If you prefer something a little closer to home, why not make a reservation at the Royal Station Hotel in Carnforth (Brief Encounter, 1945), the Burgh Island Hotel in Devon (Catch Us If You Can, 1965), the Headland Hotel in Newquay (The Witches, 1990) and the Methuen Arms in Corsham (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2002). Alternatively, you could make a London visit special with a night at the Royal Lancaster Hotel (The Italian Job, 1967), the Royal Eagle Hotel (Trainspotting, 1995), The Ritz (Notting Hill, 1999) or the Covent Garden Hotel (Match Point, 2005)?

Five-Star Finery

As Separate Tables is set in a bijou hotel, our Top 10 will prioritise guest and boarding houses. However, it would be remiss not to drop in on some of the dozens of other movie hotels that have enticed audiences since Georges Méliès endured an uncomfortable night in The Bewitched Inn (1897).

Adapted from a novel by Vicky Baum, Edmund Goulding's Grand Hotel (1932) proved that there was nothing like a little glitz to cheer up Depression audiences. Counting ballerina Greta Garbo, jewel thief John Barrymore, industrialist Wallace Beery, dying accountant Lionel Barrymore and disfigured war veteran Lewis Stone among its guests, the film made Oscar history by becoming the first and only Best Picture winner not to be nominated in any other category. Baum's sequel, Hotel Berlin, was filmed in 1944, while Grand Hotel was remade in musical form as Week-End at the Waldorf (1945).

WC Fields travelled to Shanghai to check into the hotel in A. Edward Sutherland's revue comedy, International House (1933), which was one of the first films to mention television. Ginger Rogers probably wished Fred Astaire was also in Wuhu, as his tap dancing disturbs her sleep in the swanky Deco hotel in Mark Sandrich's timelessly elegant musical, Top Hat (1935). She may also have wished he shared the fate of David Tomlinson, whose disappearance from his hotel room sets sister Jean Simmons searching across 1889 Paris in Terence Fisher and Antony Darnborough's pleasingly puzzling So Long at the Fair (1950). By contrast, the problem facing Cliff Dunstan in William A. Seiter's Room Service (1938) is how to get brother-in-law Groucho Marx out of the White Way Hotel without the wheeler-dealing theatrical producer absconding without paying his sizeable bill.

Marilyn Monroe has markedly different experiences of hotels, as a disturbed babysitter attracting the attention of Richard Widmark at New York's McKinley Hotel in Roy Ward Baker's noir, Don't Bother to Knock (1950), while she revels in the plushness of the Seminole Ritz in Miami (actually the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego) while flirting with Tony Curtis's fake tycoon in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1959). A baroque spa hotel provides the setting for Alain Resnais to take a more considered look at identity and memory, as Delphine Seyrig and Giorgio Albertazzi ponder whether they have met before in Last Year in Marienbad (1961). The once-grandiose hotel where Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom hole up in Ingmar Bergman's The Silence (1963) may have lost its lustre, but it's Dirk Bogarde who has seen better days in Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice (1971), as his crush on the handsome Björn Andrésen, who is also staying at the Grand Hôtel des Bains on the Lido, exacerbates his heart condition.

Neil Simon lightens the mood with the sparkling dialogue in Arthur Hiller's Plaza Suite (1971) and Herbert Ross's California Suite (1978). Suite 719 of the New York Plaza provides the setting for the former, as Walter Matthau excels as one half of a bickering couple, a lascivious movie producer and an anxious father of a reluctant bride. In the latter, Matthau has to remove a recumbent hooker before wife Elaine May arrives, while divorcees Jane Fonda and Alan Alda argue over what's best for their daughter, old pals Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby fall out during a tennis match and Michael Caine tries to reassure Maggie Smith that the dress she is about to wear to the Academy Awards does not make it look like she has a humped back.

Four decades on, this picture falls repeatedly foul of the #MeToo campaign, but Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal return to less complicated comic times in Peter Bogdanovich's screwball, What's Up, Doc? (1972), which involves four overnight bags becoming mixed up at a San Francisco hotel. Innocence also courses through Robert Zemeckis's I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), as Nancy Allen and her friends try to sneak into the New York Plaza to see The Beatles before their epochal 1964 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Obsession is also the theme of Jeannot Szwarc's Somewhere in Time (1980), as aspiring playwright Christopher Reeve is so taken with a photograph of a young woman at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan that he travels back to 1912 to risk the ire of actress Jane Seymour's possessive manager (Christopher Plummer) in order to woo her.

Hotels provide splendid settings for a couple of Agatha Christie whodunits. A remote hotel in the mountains of Iran proves an irresistible lure for Oliver Reed, Elke Sommer, Richard Attenborough, Stéphane Audran and their fellow suspects in Peter Collinson's And Then There Were None (1974), while Peter Ustinov's Hercule Poirot follows the clues to the Adriatic and the converted royal palace where Maggie Smith dotes on guests including Diana Rigg, James Mason and Jane Birkin in Guy Hamilton's Evil Under the Sun (1982). The plot also thickens when mismatched identical twin sisters Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler book adjoining suites at the Plaza in Jim Abrahams's Big Business (1988) and more chaos ensues when jewel thief Rupert Everett slips an orangutan past Majestic Hotel owner Faye Dunaway in Ken Kwapis's Dunston Checks In (1996). 

It's back to Los Angeles on New Year's Eve for Four Rooms (1995), as a quartet of directors invade the Hotel Mon Signor to reveal what's going on in the Honeymoon Suite (Allison Anders), Room 404 (Alexandre Rockwell), Room 309 (Robert Rodriguez) and the Penthouse (Quentin Tarantino). The action in John Swanbeck's The Big Kahuna (1999) is largely confined to the 16th-floor hospitality suite of a Wichita hotel, as sales reps Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito corner industrial lubricants specialist Peter Facinelli. Another three-hander is confined to an airport hotel in Patrick Stettner's The Business of Strangers (2001), as assistant Julia Stiles plays mind games with executive Stockard Channing and headhunter Fred Weller. By contrast, director Steven Soderberg is spoilt for choice, as he namechecks the Trump Plaza, the Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand in letting George Clooney and Brad Pitt loose in Las Vegas in Ocean's Eleven (2001).

Ageing actor Bill Murray and neglected wife Scarlett Johansson strike up an unlikely friendship in the Park Hyatt Tokyo in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003) and the director continued her fascination with hotel ambience in Somewhere (2010), when she let actor Stephen Dorff recover from a minor injury and get to know his 11-year-old daughter, Elle Fanning, at the legendary Hollywood retreat, Chateau Marmont. An even younger girl, six-year-old Sofia Vassilieva, has adventures with nanny Julie Andrews in Kevin Lima's Eloise at the Plaza (2003), which has been adapted from the bestselling books by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight.

The mood changes markedly in Terry George's Hotel Rwanda (2004), a powerful account of the genocide that decimated the landlocked African nation, which earned Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo Oscar nominations for their performances as Paul Rusesabagina, the Hutu manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines, and his Tutsi wife, Tatiana. There's also a serious undercurrent to Wayne Wang's Last Holiday (2006), which was a remake of Henry Cass's 1950 take on a JB Priestley study of Lampington's disease, which was filmed at the Rosetor Hotel in Torquay. Queen Latifah goes more upmarket than Alec Guinness, as she decides to have her final fling at the Grandhotel Pupp in the Czech spa city of Karlovy Vary. Luxury hotels are also to the fore in Pierre Salvadori's Priceless (2006) and Nicholas Stoller's Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), as gold-digger Audrey Tautou mistakes bartender Gad Elmaleh for a millionaire and concierge Mila Kunis tries to help composer Jason Segel get over the fact that actress girlfriend Kristen Bell has dumped him for rock star Russell Brand.

The tryst between Spanish tourist Elena Anaya and Russian drifter Natasha Yarovenko is considerably steamier in Julio Medem's Room in Rome (2010). But there's nothing to make auntie blush as Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson head to India for a touch of spiritual renewal in John Madden's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and the first three returned to the Taj Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015). Sam Worthington takes a different approach to his problems as he checks into the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in Asger Leth's Man on a Ledge (2012), which contains echoes of Henry Hathaway's 14 Hours (1951), a tense noir that afforded Grace Kelly her screen debut. Elizabeth Banks plays the negotiator trying to reason with Worthington and customer service expert Michael Stone (David Thewlis) invites Lisa Hesselman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to his room in an effort to boost her confidence in Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's innovative stop-motion dramedy, Anomalisa (2015). 

The Service Entrance

Hotels don't run themselves and Emil Jannings learns the harsh realities of the domestic pecking order when he is demoted from doorman to lavatory attendant at Berlin's plush Hotel Atlantic in F.W. Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924). Made with as few intertitles as possible, this thrillingly visual film is a classic example of the 'Kammerspielfilm' or 'chamber drama' that Murnau would introduce into American cinema when he moved to Hollywood in 1927. There's a hint of the street realism that was also imported from Germany in Roy Del Ruth's Blonde Crazy (1931), which sees James Cagney and Joan Blondell begin a crime spree while chiselling guests as a bellhop and chambermaid at an upmarket hotel.

Despite being indispensable to his clients, Frankie Howerd quits his job as a hall porter at London's Royal Connaught Hotel on inheriting £10,000 in Gordon Parry's A Touch of the Sun (1956). However, he doesn't take to being a guest at a posh Riviera location and returns to take over the Connaught, only to run into staffing difficulties. Remaining in a comic vein, Jerry Lewis and Bronson Pinchot respectively undertake lobby duties in The Bellboy (1960) and Blame It on the Bellboy (1992). Making his directorial debut, Lewis gives a virtually wordless masterclass (while also cameoing as his garrulous self), as he lurches from one comic crisis to another at the famous Fontainebleau hotel in Miami. However, Pinchot sparks the mayhem at the Hotel Gabrielli in Venice in Mark Herman's farce when he delivers the wrong messages to estate agent Melvyn Orton (Dudley Moore), hitman Mike Lorton (Bryan Brown) and portly mayor Maurice Horton (Richard Griffiths). In Ashwni Dhir's Bollywood remake, One Two Three (2008), the hotel is the Blue Diamond in Mumbai, while the muddled name shared by a novice assassin, a harassed secretary and a lingerie salesman is Laxmi Narayan. 

Former SS officer Dirk Bogarde lives under an assumed name in Liliana Cavani's dark drama, The Night Porter (1974). But his cover looks set to be blown when concentration camp survivor Charlotte Rampling checks into the Hotel zur Oper in Vienna with her American conductor husband. On a lighter note, the concierge at the Bradbury Hotel in New York has to decide between his ambitions and his emotions in Barry Sonnenfeld's For Love or Money (1993), as Michael J. Fox risks alienating the one man who can help him open his own hotel, billionaire Anthony Higgins, by developing a crush on his perfume-selling mistress, Gabrielle Anwar. Romance also complicates the relationship between single mom Jennifer Lopez and senatorial candidate Ralph Fiennes in Wayne Wang's Maid in Manhattan (2002), which saw the Waldorf Astoria assume the name of the Beresford Hotel.

A more serious story centred on a politician sees the staff of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles recall the events leading up to the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Emilio Estevez's Bobby (2006). Among them are manager William H. Macy, beautician Sharon Stone, retired doorman Anthony Hopkins, busboy Freddy Rodriguez, telephonist Heather Graham, kitchen supervisor Christian Slater and head chef Laurence Fishburne. We also get to know the employees at the Morrison Hotel in late 19th-century Dublin in Rodrigo García's adaptation of George Moore's novella, Albert Nobbs (2011). However, all is not as it seems, as neither maid Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska) nor boilerman Joe Mackins (Aaron Johnson) have a clue that butler Nobbs and painter Hubert Page are really women in disguise.

Glenn Close and Janet McTeer received Academy Award nominations for their performances. Yet while Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) converted four of its nine Oscar nominations, its ensemble cast missed out altogether. Ralph Fiennes did land a BAFTA nod, however, for his display as the concierge of the eponymous residence in the 1930s Republic of Zubrowka, who relies on lobby boy Tony Revolori to help prove that he did not murder guest Tilda Swinton after she bequeathed him a valuable painting. Another employee gets uncomfortably close to a guest in Ingo Haeb's The Chambermaid Lynn (2014), as cleaner Vicky Krieps hides under the bed while Christian Aumer indulges in a kinky session with dominatrix Lena Lauzemis. 

Echoes of this film can be heard in Pascale Ferran's Bird People (2014), which sees Silicon Valley engineer Josh Charles fall for maid Anaïs Demoustier at the airport hotel where she works on the outskirts of Paris. And feelings almost get in the way of a near-blind apprentice's bid to secure a position at the prestigious Bayerische Hof Hotel in Munich when Saliya Kahawatte (Kostka Ullman) is distracted by delivery girl Laura (Anna Maria Mühe) in Marc Rothemund's charming fact-based treatise on overcoming disability, My Blind Date with Life (2017).

Lesser Establishments

Not every movie lodging would find its way into the Good Hotel Guide. Take the rundown London premises where busboys Gerald Rex and John Singer help porter Leslie Fuller capture a gang of jewel thieves in Maclean Rogers's quickie comedy, Front Line Kids (1942). Peter Ustinov and Yvonne De Carlo have their own wartime problems in Ken Annakin's Hotel Sahara (1951), as Italian, British, German and French soldiers roll up at their oasis resort during the North African campaign. Frank Sinatra would welcome such footfall, as he needs to find $5300 in 48 hours or lose the Garden of Eden hotel in Miami in Frank Capra's charmer, A Hole in the Head (1959), which earned Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen an Oscar for their catchy song, 'High Hopes'.

Owner Peter Butterworth has problems of his own in Gerald Thomas's Carry on Abroad (1972), as the first guests arrive at the Palace Hotel on the Mediterranean island of Elsbels before building work is finished. The Happiness Hotel is in no better condition in Jim Henson's The Great Muppet Caper (1981), as identical twin reporters Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear travel to London to interview jewel robbery victim Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg), only to mistake receptionist Miss Piggy for the eminent fashion designer. There are two hotels for the price of one in Tony Richardson's adaptation of John Irving's The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) as Beau Bridges transplants his wife and five children (one of whom is Jodie Foster) from Dairy, NH to Vienna, where he plans to turn an abandoned girls' school into their new home.

The Hotel Tadoussac in Quebec served as Richardson's principal location, but the Arcade Hotel in Memphis plays itself in Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train (1989), as night clerk Screamin' Jay Hawkins and bellboy Cinqué Lee welcome visitors to a flophouse that has a portrait of Elvis Presley in every room. Writer John Turturro finds himself in no more salubrious surroundings in Joel and Ethan Coen's Barton Fink (1991), when he arrives in Hollywood to work for Capitol Pictures in 1941 and discovers the wallpaper peeling in his room at the seedy Earle Hotel. Set a few years earlier, Steven Soderbergh's interpretation of A.E. Hotchner's memoir, King of the Hill (1993), sees adolescent Jesse Bradford deposited in the dingy Empire Hotel in St Louis by his travelling salesman father after his ailing mother enters a sanatorium. 

The porcine hero of George Miller's Babe: Pig in the City (1998) also finds himself alone in the smoke, as the adorable sheep pig seeks sanctuary in the Flealands Hotel in Metropolis. Strays Friday, Georgia and Lenny also find a new home, as orphans Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin discover a new use for an abandoned guest house in Thor Freudenthal's Hotel for Dogs (2009). Luckily, these domiciles for animals are less forbidding than either the establishment run by Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson in the latter's Guest House Paradiso (1999) or the Los Angeles refuge for waifs and strays in Wim Wenders's The Million Dollar Hotel (2000). The arrival of chef Toni Collette improves things for the guests staying at the eponymous health spa run by Daniel Craig's family in Terence Gross's Hotel Splendide (2000), but there's nothing amusing about the dark deeds that Nigerian night clerk Chiwetel Ejiofor and Turkish cleaner Audrey Tautou uncover at the Baltic Hotel run by Sergi López in Stephen Frears's London trafficking thriller, Dirty Pretty Things (2002).

The mood is altogether more whimsical in Dan Ireland's Mrs. Palfrey At the Claremont (2005), an adaptation of an Elizabeth Taylor novel that sees Joan Plowright move into a residence hotel in London and try to pass off writer Rupert Friend as her grandson. However, when the neglectful Lorcan O'Toole does eventually show up, the elderly widow has to pretend he's her accountant. Deception is also key to Charlene Kelly and Kieran Coppinger checking into a Galway hotel for a little afternoon delight in Len Collin's Sanctuary (2016), as, until 2016, Irish law prevented couples with intellectual disabilities from having sex outside marriage.

Inns, Motels and B&Bs

In making his last film in Britain for 11 years, Alfred Hitchcock ventured down to Cornwall to adapt Daphne Du Maurier's wrecking adventure, Jamaica Inn (1939). In her first major screen role, Maureen O'Hara plays an Irish orphan who crosses the water in 1819 and discovers that uncle Leslie Banks is in cahoots with a justice of the peace Charles Laughton in running ships with valuable cargoes aground on the rocky coast. Hayley Mills also stumbles across some smugglers when she travels to Crete with musicologist aunt Joan Greenwood in James Neilson's The Moon-Spinners (1964). But, while innkeepers Irene Papas and Eli Wallach warn her to steer clear of Peter McEnery, Mills finds him too dashing to resist. And knowing who to trust is also vital for the survival of the children of a recently executed minister in King Hu's wuxia masterpiece, Dragon Inn (1967), as wandering swordsman Shi Jun takes them to Cao Jian's Dagon Gate Inn in 1457 China to protect them from an ambitious eunuch, Bai Ying. 

Thankfully, there's nothing nefarious about the institutions Bing Crosby seeks to popularise in Mark Sandrich's Holiday Inn (1942) and Michael Curtiz's White Christmas (1954). The latter took its title from an Irving Berlin song that Crosby performed in the former, as he and Fred Astaire try to make a success of a Connecticut hideaway that's only open on the major American holidays. But Der Bingle needs the assistance of Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney to save the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, which has fallen on hard times since being taken over by Kaye and Crosby's former army commander, Dean Jagger. A bit of music also enlivens proceedings on the Greek island of Kalokairi, where Meryl Streep has been running the Villa Donna since she stopped singing with Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in the girl group, Donna and the Dynamos. However, her peace is about to be shattered in Phyllida Law's Mamma Mia! (2008) when daughter Amanda Seyfried invites potential fathers Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård to her wedding.

It's hard to imagine Norman Bates catering for all your party needs. But, ever since Alfred Hitchcock cast Anthony Perkins in the role in Psycho (1960), folks have kept checking into the Bates Motel in sequels Psycho 2 (Richard Franklin, 1983) and Psycho 3 (Anthony Perkins, 1986), the prequel, Psycho IV: The Beginning (Mick Garris, 1990), Gus Van Sant's 1999 shot-for-shot remake or the TV spin-off, Bates Motel (Tucker Gates, 2013). However, one suspects that Frank Zappa would have given Norman a run for his money if he had passed near Fairvale during the making of his mockumentary, 200 Motels (1971), which Zappa co-directed with Tony Palmer.

John Hawkes channels his inner Anthony Perkins to play the twitchy manager who welcomes 10 unexpected guests to his desolate Nevada motel following a torrential downpour in James Mangold's psychological thriller, Identity (2003). An accident also impacts upon odd jobbing siblings Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff's in Alex and Gabriel Polsky's The Motel Life (2012), while fate brings recovering drug addict Anna Friel, pornographer Kevin Pollak, pregnant waitress Caroline Dhavernas and bickering marrieds Wendy Crewson and Peter Keleghan to the premises where Craig Ferguson works as the drunken caretaker in Gary Yates's Niagara Motel (2005).

Willem Dafoe takes his responsibilities much more seriously at the Magic Castle motel, located near Walt Disney World in Kissimmee. However, as Sean Baker reveals in The Florida Project (2017), he has his hands full keeping tabs on six-year-old Brooklynn Prince and her new friend, Valeria Cotto, who lives at the neighbouring Futureland motel. Slightly older than Prince and her moppet pals, Billy Gray discovers alien Michael Rennie staying at widowed mother Patricia Neal's Washington guest house in Robert Wise's sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Stranger Robert Redford might also be from another planet, when he arrives in Dobson, Mississippi during the Great Depression and takes a room at the Starr Boarding House. However, even though he has come to lay off some local railway workers, Redford causes more sparks to fly in Sydney Pollack's adaptation of Tennessee Williams's play, This Property Is Condemned (1966), when landlady Kate Reid discovers he's been turning the head of her free-spirited daughter, Natalie Wood.

Another chance meeting leads to a 26-year romance for New Jersey accountant Alan Alda and Oakland housewife Ellen Burstyn, as they revisit the Californian coastal guest house where they first bumped into one another in Robert Mulligan's take on Bernard Slade's stage hit, Same Time Next Year (1978). Love is also in the air, as Talia Shire, mother-in-law Colleen Dewhurst and daughter Nina Siemaszko compete for the affections of English handyman Roger Moore when he comes to Peelers Point, Maine to repair their ramshackle premises in Robert Ellis Miller's Bed and Breakfast (1992). However, landlady Pauline Flanagan leaves daughter Brenda Blethyn in no doubt about her antipathy when she tilts her cap at newly released jailbird John Hurt when he moves into her Dublin rooming house in John Lynch's Night Train (1998). Christian landlord Paul McGann is more vehemently disapproving when gay couple Sean Teale and Tom Bateman attempt to stay at the St Jude guest house. But, as Joe Ahearne reveals in B&B (2017), their attempt to exact a measure of revenge is derailed by the arrival of a mysterious Russian with designs on McGann's closeted son, Callum Woodhouse.

Horror Hotels

As if the sinister occurrences at the old Bates place weren't bad enough, plenty of other lodgings have witnessed unspeakable acts. Take, The Raven's Inn in John Llewellyn Moxey's City of the Dead (1960), for example, where Venetia Stevenson is staying while studying the outbreak of witchcraft in Whitewood, Massachusetts with Professor Christopher Lee, who must have noticed the similarity between landlady Patricia Jessel and the witch who made a pact with the devil before she was burned at the stake in 1692. By contrast, aristocratic vampire Delphine Seyrig is more stealthy in her pursuit of newlywed Danielle Ouimet in Harry Kümel's ravishingly beautiful Daughters of Darkness (1971), whose interiors were filmed at the Grand Hôtel des Thermes in Ostend and the Hotel Astoria in Brussels. 

Religiously repressed sisters Aurora Bautista and Esperanza Roy impose their strict moral code on the female guests staying at their faded Spanish resort hotel in Eugenio Martin's A Candle for the Devil (1973). However, Judy Geeson is convinced that sibling Loreta Tovar wouldn't just check out and vanish without informing her. Patrons also start perishing after sisters Barbara Magnolfi and Stefania D'Amario book into a plush Neapolitan hotel to grieve for their late father in Enzo Milioni's The Sister of Ursula (1978) and a deteriorating mental state also drives recovering alcoholic writer Jack Nicholson to the brink of insanity after he accepts the post of off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies in Stanley Kubrick's variation on Stephen King's bestseller, The Shining (1980).

Filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon, this masterly chiller is given a makeover by Mick Garris in Stephen King's The Shining (1997) and there's more from the master storyteller in Mikael Håfström's 1408 (2007), as sceptic John Cusack ignores the advice of Samuel L. Jackson, the manager of The Dolphin in Leighton Avenue in New York, in order to investigate the anonymous postcard warning 'Don't enter 1408'. But similar restraint is at a premium, as farmer Rory Calhoun prefers his guests to be on the menu in Kevin Connor's Motel Hell (1980), while the title pretty much tells you all you need to know about landlady Anna Chappell's approach to hospitality in Jim McCullough's Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1983). 

Similarly, the survivors of Jim Gillespie's original 1997 slasher must have a shrewd idea of what's in store for them when they descend on the hotel on the island of Tower Bay in the Bahamas in Danny Cannon's I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998). However, even those familiar with either Claude Autant-Lara's L'Auberge rouge (1951) or Kim Jee-woon's The Quiet Family (1998) will be surprised by the musical spin that Takashi Miike puts on the old adage about the family that stays together slays together in The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) after Kenji Sawada opens the White Lover's Inn on an old rubbish tip near Mount Fuji.

Jessica Hausner provides a rare oasis of menace and suspense, as Franziska Weisz lands a job in an establishment abutting an Austrian wood and discovers that her predecessor disappeared in suspicious circumstances in Hotel (2004). Despite the far-fetched premise, Nimród Antal also manages to ratchet up the tension in Vacancy (2007), after Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale discover that their room at Frank Whalley's deserted motel has previously been used to make snuff movies. Because things keep going bump in the night, amateur ghost hunters Sara Paxton and Pat Healy take jobs at the Yankee Pedlar Hotel in Torrington, Connecticut. However, they get more than they bargained for when actress-turned-medium Kelly McGillis books a room in Ti West's The Innkeepers (2011). Corey Feldman plays another paranormal investigator in Joe Raffa's Jack's Motel, while five stranded friends come to regret taking refuge in an abandoned roadside retreat when they are targeted by the restless spirit of a young girl who was murdered there in Brett Donowho's No Tell Motel (2012). 

Maybe the vengeful Angela should check out the ghoulishly good resort run by Dracula (Adam Sandler) in Genndy Tartakovsky's CGI animation, Hotel Transylvania (2012), as no humans are allowed. That said, a half-human is put through boot camp to ensure he turns into a full vampire in Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015), but Gabriela Marcinkova is less than amused when snowboarder boyfriend Laurie Calvert's juvenile prank leaves them stranded in Margarete Tiesel's Alpine ski lodge, just as the locals begin to have an adverse reaction to the chemicals used to make fake snow in Dominik Hartl's Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016).

Cinema Paradiso Recommends

Having taken you on a tour of movie hotels from the palaces at the top end of the market to the dangerous dives where murder breeds, Cinema Paradiso can finally reveal where to find the best bed and board on screen.

  • The Murderer Lives at 21 (1942) L'assassin habite... au 21

    1h 24min

    With a serial killer on the loose leaving calling cards bearing the name 'Monsieur Durand', Inspector Wenceslas (Pierre Fresnay) becomes convinced that the culprit is residing at Pension des Mimosas, a boarding house at 21 Avenue Junot in Montmartre. However, when he takes a room posing as a Protestant clergyman and starts putting suspects behind bars, more young women are dispatched and Wens has to admit to actress girlfriend Mila Malou (Suzy Delair) that he's stumped. With Armand Thirard casting a pall of suspicion over the residents shuffling furtively around Andrej Andrejew's evocative sets, this is both a classic whodunit and a prototype film noir.

    Director:
    Henri-Georges Clouzot
    Cast:
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    Genre:
    Thrillers, Drama, Classics, Comedy, Collections
    Availability:
    DVD, Blu-ray
  • Key Largo (1948)

    Play trailer
    1h 37min

    Maxwell Anderson's play only ran 105 performances on Broadway, but John Huston and co-scenarist Richard Brooks turn it into one of the most compelling pictures of Humphrey Bogart's career. War veteran Frank McCloud (Bogart) finds only six guests registered at the Hotel Largo when he travels to Florida to tell owner James Temple (Lionel Barrymore how his son died heroically at Monte Cassino. But, as Temple and daughter-in-law Nora (Lauren Bacall) batten down the hatches against an approaching storm, McCloud discovers they are hosting notorious gangster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson). Clare Trevor might have won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Robinson's drunken moll, but this is an ensemble masterclass.

  • Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1953) Les Vacances De Monsieur Hulot

    Play trailer
    1h 24min

    Filmed at the Hôtel de la Plage in Saint-Marc-sur-Mer, this is simply the funniest French film ever made. Written, directed and starring Jacques Tati, it's a largely wordless comedy of seemingly inconsequential incidents that build into a deftly satirical study of postwar France. Whether causing chaos by playing tennis and ping pong or while having trouble painting a boat bobbing on the tide, the hapless Hulot is the epitome of the innocent who remains blithely unaware of the chaos happening around him. Such was Tati's affection for such shabbily cosy digs that he set the story that Sylvain Chomet animated in The Illusionist (2010) in a backstreet guest house in Edinburgh.

    Director:
    Jacques Tati
    Cast:
    Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Louis Perrault
    Genre:
    Classics, Comedy, Collections
    Availability:
    DVD, Blu-ray
  • Separate Tables (1958)

    1h 36min

    Adapted from two short plays by Terence Rattigan, Delbert Mann's poignant exploration of mid-life crises is set in the Beauregard Private Hotel in Bournemouth. It's owned by Pat Cooper (Wendy Hiller), who is engaged to American John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster). But, while he tries to sever his ties to old flame Anne Shankland (Rita Hayworth), mummy's girl Sibyl Railton-Bell (Deborah Kerr) becomes concerned when the local paper runs a salacious story about a fellow resident, Major David Pollock (David Niven). Niven won the Best Actor Oscar for his 23-minute performance and his scenes with Kerr are beautifully judged. But Hiller's understated turn was equally deserving of the Best Supporting Actress award.

    Director:
    Delbert Mann
    Cast:
    Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, David Niven
    Genre:
    Drama, Classics, Romance, Collections
    Availability:
    DVD, Blu-ray
  • The Night of the Iguana (1964)

    1h 53min

    One of Tennessee Williams's steamier plays posed John Huston a considerable directorial challenge. The action takes a while to get going, as disgraced Episcopal preacher Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) strands a party of Baptist teachers led by Judith Fellowes (Grayson Hall) in the Mexican backwater of Puerto Vallarta. But things start to heat up when he heads to the Costa Verde hotel in Mismaloya and discover it's now being run by an old friend's widow, Maxine Faulk (Ava Gardner). With prim Nantucket painter Hannah Jelkes (Deborah Kerr) and her poet grandfather (Cyril Delevanti) among the guests, this is adult entertainment of the most raucously sophisticated kind.

    Director:
    John Huston
    Cast:
    Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr
    Genre:
    Drama, Classics, Collections
    Availability:
    DVD
  • Fawlty Towers (1975)

    0h 30min

    What is there left to say about the 12 episodes that make up this supremely silly BBC sitcom? Its great strength lies in the scripts written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, as Torquay hotelier Basil Fawlty (Cleese) struggles vainly to be as hospitable as his profession requires while detesting the majority of his guests, despairing of his Catalan waiter, Manuel (Andrew Sachs), and being terrified of his fiercely efficient wife, Sybil (Prunella Scales). The production got no nearer to Devon than the Wooburn Grange Country Club in Buckinghamshire that provides the hotel exterior. But Cleese captures the strained enjoyment of the repressedly polite British on holiday to a tee.

  • The Shootist (1976)

    Play trailer
    1h 35min

    John Wayne bowed out of pictures with one of the most relaxed performances of his entire career. As notorious gunslinger John Bernard Books, he rides into Carson City, Nevada in January 1901 to learn from old friend Doc Hostetler (James Stewart) that he has terminal cancer. He checks into the boarding house run by widow Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and her teenage son, Gillom (Ron Howard), and starts to put his affairs in order. Refusing to print the legend as his friends and foes would prefer, Books insists on going out on his own terms and so does Wayne. The wonderfully atmospheric Krebs-Peterson House helped the production designers earn an Oscar nomination.

    Director:
    Don Siegel
    Cast:
    John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard
    Genre:
    Action & Adventure, Drama, Collections
    Availability:
    DVD
  • Groundhog Day (1993)

    Play trailer
    1h 41min

    Each time the alarm clock flicks from 5:59 to 6:00 am and Sonny and Cher's 'I Got You Babe' blare out from the radio, weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) wakes to endure another 2 February in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He had come to cover the festivities surrounding the winter prediction made by groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. But his scepticism traps him in a time loop and the pleasant surroundings of the Cherry Street Inn become a prison. Around 120 years old, the B&B is still open for business in Woodstock, Illinois, but it's unlikely Murray has ever returned, as he fell out with director Harold Ramis during shooting and they didn't speak for two decades.

    Director:
    Harold Ramis
    Cast:
    Bill Murray, Richard Henzel, Andie MacDowell
    Genre:
    Collections, Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Romance
    Availability:
    DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray
  • Hotel Salvation (2016) Mukti Bhawan

    Play trailer
    1h 35min

    Situated in the holy city of Varanasi, Mukti Bhawan is a 12-room hotel that affords guests a fortnight window to achieve Moksha, the Hindi concept of release from the trials and tribulations of life. Feeling his time is near, 76-year-old Lalit Behl checks into the shabbily bustling hotel on the banks of the Ganges. However, dutiful son Adil Hussain insists on accompanying him and becomes flustered when his father has a new lease of life with fellow resident Navnindra Behl. Impeccably played and directed with a delicate mix of sombre reality and whimsical wit by debutant Shubhashish Bhutiani, this depicts a very different India from the Bollywood version. 

    Director:
    Shubhashish Bhutiani
    Cast:
    Adil Hussain, Lalit Behl, Geetanjali Kulkarni
    Genre:
    Drama, Comedy, Collections
    Availability:
    DVD, Blu-ray
If you need more film recommendations, check out these ten of the highest ever grossing films in the UK.

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