Hotels on the Big Screen

Hotels for decades have played starring roles on the big screen. For road warriors who are relaxing this holiday week and looking for a movie rental involving their homes away from home, here's a list of some in which hotels -- real and imaginary -- play prominently. It's an informal compilation done in consultation with frequent travelers and people who work in the hotel business. Movie information comes from the Internet Movie Database,

Grand Hotel

Drama/romance, 1932.

An all-star cast plays out the soap opera inside Berlin's most luxurious hotel. Greta Garbo, playing an eccentric dancer, utters her famous line, "I want to be alone." John Barrymore plays an upper-crust jewel thief. "The good cast of characters makes it a classic," says frequent traveler Marc Hall of Seattle.

Room Service

Comedy, 1938.

The Marx Brothers send a hotel manager into apoplexy as they do whatever it takes to keep from getting thrown out. One memorable line: "Hello? Room Service. Bring up enough ice to cool a warm body."

Hotel Rwanda

Drama/history/thriller, 2004.

True story about a hotel manager in Kigali who saved Tutsi refugees by putting them up as guests during the genocide in Rwanda. The manager's heroism makes it the best hotel movie ever for Vijay Dandapani, COO of Apple Core Hotels, he says.


Horror/thriller, 1960.

A Phoenix office worker goes on the run after stealing money from her employer's client. She checks into the empty Bates Motel on a forgotten highway. She never checks out. "After seeing the gruesome occurrences at the Bates Motel as a child, I don't think I've ever looked at an out-on-the-skirts-of-town motel the same again," says frequent traveler Dan Dement of Carlsbad, Calif.

Pretty Woman

Comedy/romance, 1990.

The Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles serves as the backdrop for this Cinderella-style movie that pairs a business tycoon (Richard Gere) with a congenial prostitute (Julia Roberts) whom he hired for reasons other than the obvious. Emmanuel Gardinier, general manager at Little Palm Island Resort in the Florida Keys, especially likes the compassionate general manager character (Hector Elizondo) who's "concerned about the details" of providing guest service. Lisa Grossberg, general manager of Manhattan's Buckingham Hotel, also likes the movie for the same character and just because "it's a good romantic story."

Lost in Translation

Comedy/drama/romance, 2003.

An aging movie star (Bill Murray) doing a commercial for whiskey and a bored newlywed (Scarlett Johansson) tagging along with her photographer-husband form a friendship during a stay at the luxurious Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo. "The plot is easy for us business travelers to embrace -- a lonely guy who is in a foreign city by himself working on a project he is less than thrilled about," says Hall, the Seattle business traveler.

The Shining

Horror/thriller, 1980.

Based on a Stephen King novel, the movie shows a family spending a winter looking after the snowbound, haunted Overlook Hotel. Frequent traveler Kenneth Morgan of Bridgeport, W.Va., says that there's "no better movie in terms of a hotel coming to life in a very sinister way."

Dirty Pretty Things

Crime/drama/thriller, 2002.

An immigrant Nigerian doctor in London takes a night desk job at a seedy hotel, where it turns out that a gruesome organ farming ring operates. "Dark, gritty and not remotely glamorous, but a gripping film," says hotel publicist Meg Lamb Nesterov of New York. Frequent traveler Bob Rumerman of New York says, "It's as scary in its own way as Psycho or The Shining."

Ocean's Eleven

Comedy/crime/thriller, 2001.

In this remake of the 1960 film of the same name, Danny Ocean and 10 accomplices attempt a big heist at three major Las Vegas hotel-casinos. The lavish Bellaggio came out looking like a star because the movie captured its "rich design, grand entry and overall feeling of opulence," says Mairead Hennessy, general manager of the Hyatt Regency at the Pittsburgh airport.

Maid in Manhattan

Comedy/romance, 2002.

A Cinderella story about a single mother from the Bronx who works as a maid in a luxury hotel and falls in love with a politician guest. Trivia: Set at Christmas, the movie was shot in July, says Kevin Croke, sales director at Manhattan's Roosevelt Hotel. Watch for taxis passing with windows open.

Dirty Dancing

Drama/music/romance, 1987.

A teenage girl stays at a Catskills resort with her family and falls for her dance instructor. It's a favorite of Peter Strebel, president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, because it came out when he was 17 and worked as a clerk at a similar resort filled with "kids looking for fun and romance." Strebel says, "This film represents a time when love could blossom in the summer, and Patrick Swayze was the guy everyone wanted or wanted to be."

Same Time, Next Year

Comedy/drama/romance, 1978.

A man and woman meet annually starting in the 1950s for a weekend at a romantic inn despite being married to other people. It was shot at the Heritage House Inn near Mendocino, Calif. It's a favorite of Jay Rasulo, chairman of Disney's theme parks unit. "The film is a reflection of America's culture and politics during a fairly tumultuous time," he says. "It was their meetings at this inn, with its spectacular views and dutiful innkeeper, that represented the one constant in their lives during a period of such great change."

My Father The Hero

Comedy/romance, 1994.

A man takes his teenage daughter with him on a vacation to a resort in the Bahamas, and she falls for a hotel employee. It's Choice Hotels CEO Charles Ledsinger's favorite hotel movie because the story line "reflected a father who had his hands full with a teenage daughter, something that reminds me of when my daughters were teenagers." The movie's tag line: "Fathers have just one problem with raising their daughters. They grow up!"

What's Up, Doc?

Comedy, 1972.

The story, which takes place in San Francisco, centers on four identical plaid overnight bags and the people who own them. "I will never forget Ryan O'Neal destroying his room," says frequent traveler Ted London of Sacramento.

The Out-Of-Towners

Comedy, 1970 with a 1999 re-make.

An ad executive and his wife fly to New York so he can interview with the top bosses about a promotion, Their dream trip turns into a nightmare. The couple, for instance, arrive at the Waldorf-Astoria long past check-in, only to find that the hotel had given away their room. Jack Lemon and Sandy Dennis starred in the first one; Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn in the second.

Plaza Suite

Comedy/drama, 1971.

Neil Simon comedy about life in a hotel suite at New York's Plaza Hotel. Walter Matthau plays three roles: an inattentive husband, a brash movie producer and a father-of-the bride.

A Room With A View Comedy/drama/romance, 1985.

The movie tells a story of a young Englishwoman in the early 20th century who visits Florence and receives a hotel room without a view. "The film really captures the magic of visiting new places for the first time, and shows how exposure to different cultures can truly be life-changing," says Daniel Maskit, a Los Angeles-based film industry visual-effects expert.