10 great places to check into movie-hotel history

They may not receive any awards at Oscar time, but real hotels are often used as "supporting players" in notable films. On the eve of this year's Academy Awards, Tony Reeves, author of The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations, nominates 10 of his favorite silver-screen hotels for Tim Smight for USA TODAY.

Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles

Opened in 1923, downtown L.A.'s grand hostelry has been associated with moviedom for decades. In the 1930s and '40s, its ornate ballroom played host to the Academy Awards ceremonies. "The Biltmore has also been a familiar screen presence over the years," Reeves says. "Among other roles, it served as the 'Beverly Palms' in Eddie Murphy's blockbuster Beverly Hills Cop and became New York's 'Sedgewick' in Ghostbusters. The Biltmore is also where Michelle Pfeiffer vamps it up in The Fabulous Baker Boys." 213-624-1011; millenniumhotels.com/millenniumlosangeles

San Domenico Palace Taormina, Sicily

Built on the site of a 15th-century monastery and incorporating some of its original structure, the luxurious San Domenico sits on a bluff overlooking the Mediterranean. "It's a gorgeous setting that's featured in Michelangelo Antonioni's classic 1960 film L'Avventura," Reeves says. "The film ends with a famous scene on the hotel's terrace, with the peak of Mount Etna visible on the horizon." www.sandomenico.thi.it

Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain

"This palatial hotel's courtyard stands in for the 'Cairo Officers Club' in David Lean's 1962 epic Lawrence ofArabia," Reeves says. "Star Wars fans will also recognize the Alfonso as the exterior of Princess Amidala's 'Naboo Palace' in Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones." hotel-alfonsoxiii.com

York Hotel San Francisco

Located in the heart of San Francisco a few blocks from Union Square, the York recently completed a major renovation. "The hotel is now much grander than it appeared in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock suspense classic Vertigo," Reeves says. "As the 'Hotel Empire,' the York is where — in the eerie green glow of its illuminated sign — Kim Novak was transformed into the 'dead' Madeleine in the film." 800-553-1900; yorkhotel.com

Sidi Driss Matmata, Tunisia

" 'Iconic' is an overused word when it comes to film locations, but if any place deserves the term, it's the Sidi Driss," Reeves says. The unusual sunken hotel — a traditional Berber underground structure of "cave rooms" radiating from a large central pit — was used by George Lucas in the Star Wars saga. "Most memorably, the Sidi Driss served as Luke Skywalker's subterranean home on the desert planet of Tatooine," Reeves says.

The Plaza New York

Overlooking Central Park, the distinctive Plaza — built in 1907 and currently undergoing a $400 million renovation — is a familiar movie star. "Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee figured out the function of the bidet here, and Dudley Moore entertained working girls in the hotel's famous Oak Bar in Arthur," Reeves says. "But my favorite Plaza scene is the abduction of Cary Grant from the hotel's lobby in Alfred Hitchcock's classic North by Northwest." 212-759-3000; fairmont.com/theplaza

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