Director Wes Anderson takes T+L on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Grand Budapest Hotel, his latest film opening Mar. 7.

For his new release—which stars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Ralph Fiennes as a debonair hotel concierge—Wes Anderson traveled though Eastern Europe on a hunt for set locations and characters. “I like working abroad because the whole process is an adventure, and it’s the most fun way to learn about a place,” he said. One takeaway: “Prague has been all cleaned up, but Budapest still has a little bit of a time-warp feeling.” Known for creating meticulously crafted sets and fictional worlds, the filmmaker borrowed references from Ernst Lubitsch musicals, Jugendstil architecture, and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain for his own version of a grand hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. Here, a view from the director’s chair.

The Hotels: While scouting in Europe, Anderson consulted with real concierges at the Imperial Hotel in Vienna and Hamburg's Hotel Atlantic Kempinski.

The Set: Anderson combed the Photochrom Print Collection at the Library of Congress for tinted Austro-Hungarian cityscapes. “It’s partly inspired by Carlsbad’s Grandhotel Pupp.” Eastern Germany’s 1912 Görlitzer Warenhaus department store served as the hotel lobby.

The Style: Anderson based the mood on favorite classic films such as Grand Hotel and Trouble in Paradise. He also had a particular fondness for Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. “One scene is an homage to Torn Curtain,” he hinted.

Shane Mitchell is Lifestyle Editor at Travel + Leisure.