Motel Swell: Eleven Movie Hotels You Can Sleep At

Wes Anderson's THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL opens today! Celebrate by booking a trip to any of these famed movie inns.

Hotels make great settings for movies; they provide insular locations, they take characters out of their comfort zones and they allow disparate people to bump into each other, creating immediate drama. Some of our favorite movies are set in hotels, while other favorites simply have vital scenes that take place in them.

The Grand Budapest Hotel opens today (read our review here!) -- and thinking back on some of our favorite hotel-based movies. While some hotel movies are shot on sets, many used actual locations, and hardcore film lovers get a true thrill when visiting a place where movie history happened. In that spirit here is a list of ten great movie hotels you can visit -- and stay in! -- today. The list keeps within the continental United States, just to make things easier on your wallet.

Fontainebleau, Miami Beach, Florida

This luxurious Miami Beach resort is known to James Bond fans from the opening of Goldfinger, where sweeping helicopter shots bring us to a half-naked 007 getting a massage poolside. Speaking of the pool, that’s where Tony Montana had one of his most famous scenes in Scarface ("I love this city, it's like a big chicken ready to get plucked!" If you’ve watched the TV version). Discriminating cineastes will recognize it as the hotel from Jerry Lewis’ The Bellboy; the star performed nightly shows for guests while filming there.

4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

(305) 538-2000

The Culver Hotel, Los Angeles, California

This movie hotel might be more famous for its extracurricular movie activities than its screen presence. The Culver Hotel infamously served as the home base for The Wizard Of Oz’s munchkins, who turned it into a debauched pleasure palace when not filming on the Yellow Brick Road just across the street. Under The Rainbow, a well-forgotten Chevy Chase/Carrie Fisher movie about the munchkin escapades, was shot there.

9400 Culver Blvd, Culver City, California 90232

(310) 558-9400

The Millennium Biltmore, Los Angeles, California

You’ve seen Los Angeles’ Biltmore in dozens of movies (Bachelor Party, Beverly Hills Cop, Spider-Man), but its most famous moment may have been when it subbed for New York’s Sedgewick Hotel, where the Ghostbusters took down iconic ectoplasmic entity Slimer, while destroying the hotel’s ballroom.

506 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 624-1011

Hitching Post, Forest Lake, Minnesota

The Coen Brothers made excellent use of real world locations in their film Fargo (all the better to make us believe it was a true story), and chief among them is the Hitching Post Motel in Forest Lake, Minnesota. This is the location where the cops finally catch Jerry Lundegaard, break into his hotel room and drag him out of the bathroom window where he’s trying to escape. You can sleep in the bed where William H. Macy cried like a baby!

23855 Forest Blvd N, Forest Lake, MN 55025

(651) 464-1900

Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana

This is a little bit of a cheat -- Louisiana’s Oak Alley Plantation doesn’t play a hotel in Interview With The Vampire. It’s the site of Louis’ plantation, where he and Lestat spend a few years feeding off of slaves until Louis decides to burn the whole place to the ground. The film shot the main plantation scenes there, as well as utilizing the local graveyard. Today the plantation serves as a stately hotel -- for those willing to look past its ugly history.

3645 Highway 18, Vacherie, LA 70090

(225) 265-2151

Safari Inn, Burbank, California

The motel where Clarence and Alabama hide out -- and where James Gandolfini’s hit man Virgil gets corkscrewed, burnt and his skull walloped with a toilet lid -- still stands in Burbank, California. The exterior of the Safari Inn looks exactly like it does in True Romance, but the interior leans more towards standard cheapie motel and away from the beautifully kitsch designs of the movie.

1911 West Olive Avenue Burbank, Ca 91506

(818) 845-8586

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California

This is the swankiest hotel on the list, and the one you’re least likely to ever stay in. Eight presidents have slept here, and in the 1920s and ‘30s it was THE destination spot for Hollywood’s elite. Located across the bay from San Diego, movie magic made it double for Miami in Billy Wilder’s seminal Some Like It Hot. This is where Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis cross-dress to outwit the mob and end up giving us one of cinema’s greatest closing lines: “Nobody’s perfect.”

1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118

(619) 435-6611

Hotel Vertigo, San Francisco, California

Guess what was shot here? Hitchcock’s Vertigo could be the basis of an entire San Francisco vacation, but one of the movie’s locations has totally embraced its place in history. In the film Jimmy Stewart’s Scottie follows Kim Novak’s Madeleine to a hotel, where he sees her open a window and peer out onto the street. That hotel -- the Empire in the movie -- still stands, but it’s now Hotel Vertigo. You can get Novak’s room -- 401 -- and you’ll find Hitchcock’s movie running 24/7 in the lobby.

940 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

(415) 885-6800

Lake Lure Inn, Lake Lure, North Carolina

Dirty Dancing is set in the Catskills but was shot in Virginia and North Carolina. You can choose to which of the two states you make your pilgrimage, but many of the most iconic scenes in the film were shot in North Carolina, at Lake Lure. The Lake Lure Inn is where the cast and crew stayed during shooting and near where many of the film’s iconic moments happened, including the lake lift and Baby’s dance across the bridge (which, like many of the locations, is now gone).

2771 Memorial Hwy, Lake Lure, NC

(828) 625-2525

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado/The Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Oregon

How are you going to have a list of hotels in movies without The Shining? The problem with that film, though, is that it was shot on soundstages in London; some of the film’s establishing shots were filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, but there’s little to truly see there. More compelling for movie tourists is the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, which is the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write the original novel. The hotel leans heavily on its Shining history, and even runs the film on a 24 hour loop in guest bedrooms.


333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517

(800) 678-8946

The Timberline:

27500 W Leg Rd, Timberline Lodge, OR 97028

(503) 272-3311

This was originally published in the March issue of Birth.Movies.Death. Watch The Grand Budapest Hotel at the Alamo Drafthouse this month!