Hotels have played important characters in the movies for quite some time now. Try to imagine Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere without the pool at the Chateau Marmont, or Garry Marshall’s Pretty Woman without the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire. This year’s Oscar contenders make stellar use of some lesser-known but equally picturesque hotels—and they’re ones you can actually stay at.
For Youth (Fox Searchlight), about two old friends on vacation, director Paolo Sorrentino used Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort & Spa (doubles from $250), a 139-year-old property in Switzerland overlooking the Rhine Valley. It has a grand ballroom befit- ting the lions played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, plus a glass-enclosed spa—necessary for a scene in which oc- togenarians ogle a Miss Universe winner. “The hotel, even if it has a beautiful modern spa inside, is very consistent with the age of the characters,” Sorrentino says.
In Carol (Weinstein Co.), set in 1952, director Todd Haynes tells the story of a romantic road trip taken by two women—played by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara—who check in to Chicago’s Drake Hotel. “It’s a moment of glamour and glory,” says production designer Judy Becker. The only problem: filming was in Cincinnati. So Haynes chose instead to shoot where he was staying: the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (doubles from $129), a landmark built in 1931 whose Art Deco interiors and marble steps stood in nicely.
In Ex Machina (A24), a reclusive billionaire named Nathan designs a lifelike robot in a minimalist compound, played by Norway’s Juvet Landscape Hotel (doubles from $180). Production designer Mark Digby spotted the hotel, which has nine glass-walled cabins on stilts, during a helicopter ride. “The Juvet is powerful and private. Which is what Nathan is,” Digby says. As for putting the spectacular hotel on full display, Digby laughingly admits he’s got mixed feelings: “Maybe not everybody should know about this.”