Five hotels that have been movie sets

22 Feb 2012

As the awards season gears up for its climax with the Oscars on February 26, it is apt to look at times when Hollywood and the hotel industry have come together to create classic film moments. In some instances this mutually-beneficial relationship elevates the hotel to icon status so that it is forever immortalised in pop culture, drawing film fans from around the world for years to come. 

Here are five properties that have been part of Hollywood’s magic.

The Hilton Chicago, Chicago 

Film shot: The Fugitive

Chicago is the backdrop to the classic 1993 blockbuster based on the 1960’s television series of the same name. Dr Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), a man accused of murdering his wife, escapes en route to prison thanks to a train crash. While staying out of the reach of the police and chief deputy marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), Kimble attempts to find the real murderer. A chase scene near the end of the film shines the limelight on the Hilton Chicago, starting at the hotel’s Michigan Avenue entrance and weaving all around the hotel from the Grand Ballroom, through to the Conrad Suite and even to the back-of-house laundry area. View a trailer of the film here.

Duration of filming: The filming lasted for two weeks, with the crew working 12 hours a day.

Special arrangements during filming: Inevitably the chase scene was noisy and chaotic so the hotel had to make an arrangement with the director of the film, Andy Davis, that if any of the guests complained about the noise level from the shooting the film company would have to compensate.

Funny incident: Harrison Ford made an impromptu appearance dressed as Indiana Jones at an event for Special Olympics children held at the hotel’s International Ballroom.


The Lebua at State Tower, Bangkok

Film shot there: Hangover 2

The sequel to the popular Hangover movie is set throughout Thailand, starting off in Krabi and eventually shifting to the sprawling metropolis with large chunks of the movie filmed in Bangkok’s China Town and along Chao Phraya River. The plot, as with the first, is a comic retracing of steps taken the night before during yet another Bachelor party-gone-wrong, this time the search is on to find Stu’s (Ed Healms) brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee). The crazy plot culminates atop the Lebua hotel at the Sirocco restaurant and the Skybar. View a trailer of the film here.

Duration of filming: Four days

Special arrangements during filming: The Lebua created a special cocktail for the stars, which is still served today, the aptly named Hangovertini. The suites rented out by the production team – the two-bedroom Tower Club suite and the Riverview Suite – have also been renamed Hangover Suites.

Funny incidents: The hotel would not disclose any funny incidents.

Park Hyatt Tokyo, Tokyo

Film shot there: Lost In Translation

The unique charm of Tokyo’s flashing lights and speedy culture is portrayed perfectly through the beautiful film, Lost In Translation. Bob Harris (Bill Murray), an ageing actor going through a midlife crisis, comes to the city for a foreign brand endorsement only to be completely baffled by how Tokyo works. Fortunately, he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a recent college graduate (and wife) tagging along on her husband’s business trip to the city that is foreign to her too. The entire story is set in the hotel – in fact the two protagonists are living at the hotel and meet there.

Duration of filming: 17 days

Special arrangements during filming: The Park Hyatt generally does not allow filming on its premises in order to maintain customer privacy and comfort, particularly since the filming took place during peak season and the hotel was running a high occupancy. Permission was only granted after reviewing the script, which revealed that the filming schedule was short and used small, lightweight cameras that were not too intrusive. The crew was also downsized in order to keep impact to a minimum and all scenes in the public areas, such as in the gym or pool, were shot outside of opening hours.

Funny incidents: A spokesperson for the hotel states nothing out of the ordinary happened on set because the crew worked efficiently to get everything done as fast as possible.


The Peninsula, Hong Kong

Film shot there: The Man with the Golden Gun

This 1974 film was the ninth in the James Bond series, starring Sir Roger Moore. The plot sees Bond not only trying to find the whereabouts of the Solex Agitator – a solar powered device thought to be the solution to an energy crisis – but is also trying to track down his assassin Francisco Scaramanga. The hunt leads him from London to Hong Kong, amongst other places, where he confronts Scaramanga’s mistress at her Peninsula hotel room – a scene that was of course shot at the iconic hotel. View a trailer of the film here.  

Duration of filming: Three weeks

Special arrangements during filming: Though the hotel generally does not allow its staff to be filmed, an exception was made for this film. Furthermore, the hotel – the first to introduce a fleet of Rolls Royce cars – allowed the crew to use two cars in the film.

Funny incidents: The hotel could not disclose any funny incidents due to the film being shot so long ago, with no key staff that were there in 1974 still working there today.


The Savoy, London

Film shot there: Girl Panic with Duran Duran

The iconic English band’s latest music video/short film features five supermodels impersonating each of the band members: Naomi Campbell as lead singer Simon Le Bon, Cindy Crawford as bass guitarist John Taylor, Helena Christensen as the drummer Roger Taylor, Eva Herzigova as the keyboardist Nick Rhodes and Yasmin Le Bon as an additional guitarist. The film, directed by renowned Jonas Ackerlund and set in all parts of the newly renovated Savoy hotel, looks into the decadent and outrageous behaviour of rock stars while also providing a nostalgic look back into an era when supermodels didn’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day. View the short film here.

Duration of filming: Two days

Special arrangements during filming: The hotel let the crew use the Royal Suite, the first time in the hotel's history that approval was given for the suite to double as a film set.

Funny incidents:  Simon Le Bon, who acts as a waiter at one of the rock stars’ parties, spilled a tray of champagne glasses during the shoot.

Alisha Haridasani

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