You don’t have to be a film geek to be fascinated by London hotels in famous films. There’s something about the glamour of a smart hotel that lends itself to scene-setting. The anonymity of hotels means they’re good places for romantic assignations in chic hotel bars, secret meetings and perfect crimes – all fictional, of course. Some hotels are chosen for their period features, their classy restaurants or their ability to act as a stand-in for a foreign location. The most recognisable ones are perfect for sprinkling a little bit of London stardust onto a movie. So if you want an extra reason to stay in a London icon, check this list of London hotels in famous films.
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London hotels in famous films
Hitchcock’s ‘Frenzy’ had scenes shot in Hilton on Park Lane and Hilton Hyde Park (which was actually called the Coburg at the time of filming in 1972). The Hilton on Park Lane is used for a scene in which the prime suspect (played by Jon Finch) goes to meet an old RAF friend to ask for help. The towering hotel was the first Hilton to open in the UK and had been open for ten years when the film was made. Nowadays it is probably best known for its 28th floor restaurant, Galvin at Windows.
The richly elegant Royal suite at the Lanesborough is the setting for the tense pool room scene between Tom Cruise and Sydney Pollack in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. The suite has been refurbished since then, but remains impossibly grand: double doors mark the entrance, and there are seven en suite bedrooms, not to mention a dining room.
Michael Caine lives it up in suite 602 of the Lancaster after he’s newly released from a two-year prison stint in ‘The Italian Job’, and in a later scene it’s also where the ‘job’ itself is set in motion. Although the decor at the four-star hotel has moved on from the Sixties, the Brutalist exterior looks much the same, and the location overlooking Hyde Park is hard to beat.
One of London’s original upmarket hotels, built in 1865, the exterior of the building is imposing enough to have functioned as a stand-in for St Petersburg’s Grand Hotel Europe in 1995’s ‘GoldenEye’. Most recently the hotel was used as a location for ‘Burnt’, starring Bradley Cooper. After several rounds of refurbishment, the interior is now a match for the façade, and the Langham has been restored to five-star splendour.
Whatever you think of Woody Allen’s 2005 film ‘Match Point’, the Covent Garden Hotel looks a treat in it. Here the Parisian-style Brasserie Max is the setting for a dinner between the four main protagonists. Part of the Firmdale hotel group, the decor throughout is contemporary but comfortable, with an edge of glamour. This, plus the private screening room, makes the CGH a tempting choice for film stars.
The iconic hotel is seen several times in the Richard Curtis rom-com ‘Notting Hill’, most memorably in a farcical scene in which Hugh Grant is required to pretend to be a journalist for Horse & Hound in order to gain access to the woman he loves (Julia Roberts). The hotel’s location on Piccadilly, close to the Royal Academy, Fortnum & Mason and Green Park, looks like a film set, and if you stay in one of the 136 deluxe rooms or dine in the Michelin-starred restaurant, you’ll feel like a star too.
Given its fame and good looks, the Savoy should have featured in more films than it has, though it did start early, with ‘Kipps’ in 1921. In ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’, movie star Anna (played by Meryl Streep) stays there, as does Julia Roberts’ character in ‘Notting Hill’. Check out the American Bar for a blast of old-time elegance.
The Gothic Revival glory of the St Pancras was filmed many times in the years before its magnificent return to life as a working hotel. Scenes from ‘Batman’, ‘Shirley Valentine’, ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ were all shot here. Most spectacularly, in the latter, Harry rides across the front of the building in his flying car. Guests these days get to enjoy George Gilbert Scott’s building plus twenty-first century five-star comforts.
The Grade-II listed Art Deco ballroom at the Park Lane hotel was showcased in the 2008 film ‘Brideshead Revisited’, where it was the setting for Julia Flyte and Rex Mottram’s engagement party. Other films shot in the hotel include ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘The Golden Compas’, ‘The End of the Affair’ and ‘Atonement’. What makes the hotel so tempting for location scouts appeals to hotel guests too – though recently revamped, the place retains its 1930s atmosphere.
The period charms – Edwardian with a 1930s extension – of the Town Hall hotel (once Bethnal Green’s actual town hall) have been employed as the backdrop to a number of films, most notably ‘Atonement’ (which made use of the Art Deco council chamber) and ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’. The hotel is firmly aimed at the kind of guest who would appreciate those assets too, with its low-key, hip vibe, mid-century modern furniture and subtle mod cons.
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