featured-image-movies that take place in hotels

When it comes to movie locations, certain situations pop up quite a lot. Parks, elevators, trains, and so on.

But at the top of the list of locations for movie plots to play out is probably hotels. Hotel movies are their own subgenre. They are home to some of the best movies.

It is a perfect place to take characters out of their routines and have them do things only relevant to the plot.

No distractions like friends, family, neighbors or jobs to take time away from the story.

Some movies take a step further and use the hotel actively as a plot point, like a horror film. Either way, there are a lot of hotels that have played host to great movies. 

In this post, I’ll be looking at a bunch of movies that take place in hotels. There were so many that I could make separate sections based on the genre. Fun, more segmentation. 

While I love movies, I also like a bit of merch. So here are 5 of the best I found related to the movies I’ll be talking about.:

Merch for Movies that take place in Hotels

The Grand Budapest hotel may not be real. But the design elements that went into it are still worth a watch and read. Plus commentary from people that worked on it, all in one very good-looking hardcover.

Hotel Rwanda leaves you shaken and lacking a little faith in humanity. But the man the movie is based on, is the antidote to that.

From Lost in Translation. You know the one. Pink wig. In front of a zebra print. Smiles you have after an evening you didn’t expect.

If The Shining left you speechless and more than a little confused, this book is perfect for you. It takes a dive into the creative philosophy of this genius filmmaker.

From the movie 1408. Set in the fictional Dolphin hotel, it’s a freaky experience you can carry around in your pocket.

Haunted hotel movies

What better place to start than with what hotels are primarily for. Food, rest and a bit of terror for you and yours. 

An unfamiliar location. Check. Surrounded by strangers or deserted. Check. A kitchen that prepares your food could be rat-infested and a petri-dish for new infections. Check.

Maybe the last one hasn’t quite seen a movie adaptation yet, but you can see how that could be the plot of a 90-minute movie. 

The Shining

There is no movie – past, present or future – that will ever top the horror created by Stanley Kubrick based on a Stephen King novel.

A movie so good that documentaries have been made about the film, the novel, the hotel, the filmmaking process, the writer’s thoughts, the director’s thoughts as said by those close to him, the writer’s thoughts on the director and so on. 

When someone like Kubrick, who could probably find a way to keep viewers off-balance even if he were making a Disney live-action cash-grab, works off material made by Stephen King, you know things are going to get unsettling.

Unsettling was what the first 10 minutes were. What came after was cinematic genius, and the feeling of unease just kept on growing in the background.

the-shining-tricycle-twins-movies that take place in hotels

What is really weird was that Stephen King absolutely hated the adaptation and felt that it was not at all true to the book

Faithful to the book or not, anyone who watches the movie is unlikely to ever forget it. The hotel will stick in the mind too, thanks to the shots of the same locations over and over again.

They were done to familiarize the audience with the place, so they get a little jolt when s%*t goes down in those familiar spots. 

The exteriors of the hotel were shot using the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. The interior shots were filmed in a studio. 

The interiors were based on a real-life hotel. That would be the Ahwahnee Hotel in California

But it is the Stanley Hotel in Colorado that inspired Stephen King to write the novel in the first place. 

It is saying something when a movie can claim itself as the best horror movie set in hotels. The Shining can certainly back up that claim. 


Should this really be on this list? Is a motel a hotel? Does it really matter?

It’s a great movie, the motel is a big player in Hitchcock’s plot and it is considered cinematic royalty. So it’s on the list. 

The best horror movies have the ability to give an audience the creeps. Norman Bates achieves this in record time with his serial killer vibes. 

The Bates Motel even received prime TV treatment starring Vera Farmiga as a future-hag-on-a-chair. 

Filming though was done on a studio set in Hollywood and is a major attraction for movie tourists. 


Oh, look, another Stephen King adaptation. Not as revered as The Shining, or as well-known. One could even argue it is hardly known. 

It did make 132 million dollars back in 2007. So it is hardly a failure. But I did not know of it until a week back when I came across a review of this movie

It is also one of the last movies to watch while you’re in a hotel room by yourself. 

1408-sam-johnson-john-cusack-movies that take place in hotels

This cult classic is based on a short story written by King and the protagonist is an author who writes about supernatural phenomena. He’s challenged by an anonymous postcard to spend a night in room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel.

The room has been responsible for 56 unexplained deaths so far and John Cusack’s character takes up the challenge. Needless to say, hijinks ensue. 

The exteriors of the fictional Dolphin Hotel is based on the Roosevelt Hotel in NYC. 


Comedy hotel movies list

As attractive as horror set in a hotel is, hotels are also a great place to flex a filmmaker’s comic chops. 

I am not sure what aspect of a hotel really lends itself to comedy. Just the general advantage of having the movie characters taken out of their usual surroundings into a new one.

Couple that with the ease with which they can run into each other and avoid each other, depending on what the plot needs, and you have a comic caper on your hand. 

Grand Budapest Hotel

I’m a little hesitant to call Grand Budapest Hotel a comedy. It’s a Wes Anderson movie, so humor is of the kind you expect from Wes Anderson movies.

I guess it depends a lot on how funny you think movies on a horny hotel manager and his aide are. The setting is not very funny either. It is set in a Europen country in 1932 on the brink of war. 

But it’s a fun ride with excellent cinematography and the sequence of chaotic events system Anderson has perfected over the years. 

Ralph Fiennes turns in a memorable performance as the ‘energetic’ hotel manager accused of a murder that sets the plot into motion. 

1408-sam-johnson-john-cusack-movies that take place in hotels

Unfortunately, the picturesque Grand Budapest Hotel is not real and the movie was filmed in a German studio. But we’ll always have the movie poster to remember dear Mr. Gustave. 

Home Alone 2: The return of the plot from Home Alone 1 but in NY

Yeah, that’s all there is to this. Another fun ride driven by a wonderful Macaulay Culkin. But instead of his home in Chicago, he’s left to his own devices in the Plaza Hotel in NY.

The baddies from the first returns to make this another movie perfect for holiday viewing for the family. 

The Plaza hotel where Culkin is stranded is prime real estate and is a perfect base of operations for the scheming 12-year-old.


Drama hotel movies

Probably where the fish-out-of-water aspect is used best are drama movies. Of course, there will be the odd Hotel Rwanda, a truly horrifying film based on horrifying events, but other than that these are great ways to learn about the movie characters. 

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

None better than the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at doing exactly this. Set in the bustling town of Khempur in India, the movie has various British tourists converging on this well-maintained mess of a structure.

Each character comes with their own baggage (pun!) and character motives to the titular hotel run by a well-meaning goof played by Dev Patel. 

ravi-khempur-marigold-hotel-movies that take place in hotels

A powerhouse cast with the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Sir (?) Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson makes this an awesome watch with the occasional gut-punches thrown in. 

It is in the drama section after all. The best exotic hotel is based on a real hotel called Ravla Khempur and is expected to be in better condition than the one shown in the movie

Hotel Rwanda

This is more of a war movie set in a hotel than a hotel movie.

Set in war-torn Rwanda, the story follows a hotel manager and his family and the utter horror visited upon them when civil war breaks out. 

Based on true events, where 1 million Rwandans were massacred in the first 10 days, the movie is a shocking look through the eyes of a real-life hero

Not really a great argument for movie tourism, but is easily the most harrowing experience among all the movies listed here. 

Lost in Translation

Going back to mellow, friendly movies, we have the Bill Murray-starrer directed by Sofia Coppola. 

It shows a burnt-out movie star going to Tokyo to collect a paycheck for sponsoring a Japanese whiskey (whisky?). 

lost-in-translation-murray-johansson-movies that take place in hotels

There, he meets a newly-wed Scarlett Johansson who’s left to spend her time on her own after the husband is off working. I wanna say idiot, but I guess plot. 

The two characters, both in very different yet similar situations bond over the common crappiness of their existence. In a Park Hyatt in the Shinjuku prefecture of Tokyo. 

Other than the fact that the movie is an excellent argument for traveling to Tokyo, the movie is excellent and shows a very different side to the usually comical Bill Murray. 


Romantic hotel movies

Limited exits and mazy layouts. Where else would you want to conduct your romance?

I don’t watch many movies to enjoy romance. But when I do, I prefer it to hotels.

Pretty Woman

No better example of this than the penthouse suite of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Julia Roberts became America’s sweetheart playing a hooker with a heart of gold giving solace to a rich dude with a heart of gold (now that’s funny, moving it to comedy hotel movies) in a penthouse suite overlooking the city, in between extravagant shopping trips set to catchy music. Phew.

pretty-woman-beverly-wilshere-movies that take place in hotels

I’m not even sure at this point if I’m trying to recommend a movie or insulting movies I like and hoping strangers take the time to read my rants.

A Room with a View

The second movie on this list with Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith. This romance is set in Florence, Italy. The land of wine. A land of wine anyway. 

Helena Bonham Carter plays the lead (in a romance!!) who travels from jolly England to sunny Florence and finds love in future-movie-baddie Julian Sands while being accompanied by Professor McGonagall and M. 

I should make writing movie synopses my full-time job. Or not. Comment away.


Final Word

I like starting posts that can be added to indefinitely, at an indefinite point in the future. There is no shortage of movies set in hotels.

It covers all genres under the sun and is a rich plot device. 

Let me know your favorites from the list and if there are favorites I should add to the list.

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