The Coolest Hotels From Movies and Why They are Still Worth a Visit

By Mia Taylor

 

NEW YORK - Here's a bit of pop culture that's bound to make many people feel old - the hit movie Pretty Woman is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

 

The romantic comedy about a relationship between a wealthy businessman and a call girl was Julia Roberts' breakout role and the movie itself became a cultural phenomenon, putting shopping on Rodeo Drive and the luxurious Beverly Wilshire hotel on full display, allowing the rest of us to drool and daydream.

 

For die-hard fans of the blockbuster hit, or those who simply enjoy luxurious living, the hotel has developed various movie related experiences to commemorate this silver anniversary.

 

If you don't have the deep pockets Richard Gere's character did in the movie, there is the budget option of popping into the hotel's bar, THE Blvd., and ordering its Pretty Woman cocktail. After savoring your drink, take a selfie with the replica on display of the stunning red gown Julia Roberts wore so famously in the movie.

 

For those seeking an experience that more closely resembles the posh glamour featured in the movie, the hotel is offering daylong spa experiences tied to the Pretty Woman theme, as well as entire shopping oriented stays.

 

The Pretty Woman for a Day packages are available for various price ranges - the most expensive of which includes staying in the Pretty Woman suite (also known as the Presidential Suite), a personal shopping consultation and chauffeured Rolls-Royce transportation to Greystone Mansion for a romantic picnic.


"We've always enjoyed our relationship with the movie and consider it to be a bit of fun," says Beverly Wilshire Regional Vice President and General Manger Ben Trodd.

 

A full 25 years after the movie's release, people still come into the hotel asking about its ties to Pretty Woman.

 

If you're not a Pretty Woman fan, but are still a movie buff, there are hotels across the country that have been featured on the silver screen, offering guests a glimpse of other moments in Hollywood history.

 

In fact, a recent study from Marriott Rewards Credit Card showed that millennials are particularly attracted to such an experience - with one in five, or 20% expressing interest in visiting hotels that have appeared in film, compared to only 11% of Gen X and 7% of baby boomers.

 

 

With that in mind, here's a look at a few of the old standards, (that continue to impress), as well as some of the lesser known hotels that have appeared in movies and some up and comers.

 

W Washington D.C.

In addition to being the site of numerous movies over the years, the W Washington D.C. is a great place to celebrity watch, says General Manager Meade Atkinson.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Jon Hamm and Bradley Cooper have all been guests.

 

Movies that have shot scenes here meanwhile include The Godfather II, No Way Out, Contact and most recently the 2014 film X Men: Days of Futures Past.

 

If that's not enough of a draw, the W is also the closest hotel to the White House, which presents some of its own unique opportunities.

 

"The most perfect thing we can show a customer is when Marine One is coming out for a landing and the president is getting out on the White House lawn," says Atkinson.

 

For the history buffs, it might be interesting to know that the property was originally known as The Hotel Washington, and is the oldest continually operating hotel in the city, dating back to 1888.

 

It is also the only Washington D.C. hotel in which Marilyn Monroe ever stayed and is the location from which Elvis penned his famous letter to President Richard Nixon, asking to be deputized as an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. How cool is that?

 

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

For those in search of something a little quieter or more off the beaten path, it is a lesser-known fact that the Grand Hotel, a picturesque property on a small island, has been the location of at least two movies.

 

In 1947, Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams came to film This Time for Keeps. Years later, the property was the stunning setting for Somewhere in Time, a love story starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer.

 

Originally opened in 1887 as a summer retreat for vacationers, the 390-room hotel is a National Historic Landmark and visiting feels like a trip back in time. There are no cars allowed on the island, horse drawn carriages and bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation. The hotel's original architecture has also been preserved over the years, as have many of its traditions.

 

"The hotel today retains the same antique character that the movie Somewhere in Time played up," says Melanie Tucker, owner of Rare Finds Travel, an agency that specializes in unique travel experiences. "It looks just like it did in the movie, very old fashioned. And you still have to wear a coat and tie at dinner."

 

The movie continues to have a significant following, including a fan club that meets at Grand Hotel each October.

 

Five U.S. Presidents - Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy, and Truman - have all visited the property.

 

The hotel's front porch meanwhile, at 660 feet long, is the longest in the world. In the late 1800s, the porch was the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, and a "flirtation walk" for island romantics.

 

More recently, thanks to its many activities and kid's programs, Travel + Leisure Family magazine rated the Grand Hotel one of the 10 kid-friendliest resorts in the U.S.

 

The Waldorf Astoria, New York, NY

One of the nation's iconic hotels, The Waldorf Astoria has hosted literally dozens of movies, countless celebrities, and a long list of television shows, and the list continues to grow.

 

Its glittering association with all things Hollywood dates back to 1945 when the hotel was chosen as the setting for the first ever on-location movie, Weekend at the Waldorf. That movie included a dinner scene with Ginger Rogers, Van Johnson and Lana Turner shot in the hotel's Starlight Room.

 

Since then, more than 20 movies have been filmed at The Waldorf Astoria, among them the 1992 film Scent of a Woman, whose unforgettable tango scene was shot in The Vanderbilt Room; and 2001's Serendipity, in which John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale ride the Grand Ballroom elevator cars. More recent additions to the list include The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz and Maid in Manhattan with Jennifer Lopez.

 

"Almost all of the action from Maid in Manhattan is taking place in the hotel, there were scenes right outside the building, up on all of the floors, throughout the whole hotel. We still have location managers talking about being on the set of that one," says Martin Andersen, the hotel's director of entertainment sales.

 

"Coming to America is the movie everyone associates with The Waldorf, even though the movie is so old, from the1980s," he adds. "When we look at social media, we still see a lot of people talking about that movie and the fact that it was filmed here."

 

Among the hotel's television appearances are bar scenes at its Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse that were part of Sex and the City, and a ballroom scene in Gossip Girl.

 

The hotel's list of appearances continues to grow each year. The not yet released Robert DeNiro movie The Intern was also shot at The Waldorf, says Andersen.

 

For those wanting a closer glimpse of the hotel's unique history, the property now offers a historic tour every Thursday and Saturday at 10:15 a.m. that includes lunch at Peacock Alley or Oscar's restaurant.

 

The Plaza, New York, NY

Rivaling or perhaps slightly edging out The Waldorf when it comes to its legendary history, The Plaza has a staggering number of movies on its resume.

 

Beginning in 1959, when it debuted in the film North by Northwest, The Plaza Hotel has consistently appeared in movies ever since, among them Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (in which Donald Trump, the property's then owner, makes a cameo appearance), American Hustle, Funny Girl, The Way We Were, Love at First Bite, Arthur, Cotton Club, the first two Crocodile Dundee movies, King of New York, It could Happen to You, Almost Famous, Sleepless in Seattle, The First Wives' Club, Dirty Sexy Money and Bride Wars.

 

"The Plaza - if it's not the most filmed hotel in this country, it's one of them," says Laura Michonski, site director for NewYork.com. "There have been over 40 films there, most recently The Great Gatsby.

 

There are numerous offerings these days at the hotel that are tied to The Great Gatsby, including a Fitzgerald Suite" in honor of the story's author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

 

A Great Gatsby page on the hotel's website details all of its related options, including such things as food offerings tied to the movie in The Plaza Food Hall and Caudalie "Grape" Gatsby spa treatments at the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa.

 

For literary groupies, the hotel's Oak Room bar, built in 1907, is a big attraction. It was once a hot literary hangout, particularly during the 1930s when it attracted the likes of Dorothy Parker and Fitzgerald.

 

If its connection to movies isn't enough of a draw, The Plaza's plush accommodations and prime location should help. A beautiful 19-story luxury hotel, it is located on the most exclusive street in New York City, Central Park South.

 

One last interesting, parting fact - the Beatles stayed here during their first U.S. visit in 1964.

 

Fontainebleau, Miami Beach, Fla.

Another one of America's storied hotels, the Fontainebleau, built in 1954, is a place with a long movie history and a lot of modern appeal.

 

Rated the number one hotel in Miami Beach by Travel + Leisure magazine, the Fontainebleau was stylish enough to be the backdrop for James Bond in Goldfinger, glamorous enough for The Rat Pack and grand enough for the larger then life personality of Elvis Presley.

 

"The Fontainebleau is one of those unique properties. Just like some people have bigger, brighter, shinier personalities, so do some hotels and that hotel definitely does," says Lisa Cole, a communications director for Hilton Worldwide, who worked in the Fontainebleau public relations department from 1979 until 2005 and served as the property's movie liaison. "It's partly because the property's architect and original owner - that's what they wanted, a showpiece. They wanted people to go 'ooh, ah and wow.' That's the stage that was set when this property was built. It's a hotel that has a bigger then life personality and a place that attracts bigger then life people."

 

Among the property's coolest highlights include it being the setting of a Frank Sinatra special, taped in 1960 to welcome Elvis Presley back home from his two years of military service in Germany, as well as it being featured prominently in the 1983 film Scarface.

 

Other movies filmed here include Go For It; Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach; The Bodyguard and also The Specialist.

 

In 2008, the hotel went through a $1 billion reinvention and then reopened with an A-list bash that included a Victoria's Secret fashion show and performances by Usher, Mariah Carey and Robin Thicke.

 

"It's a beautiful property. It's quite the place to go," says Cole.

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