Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel, Udaipur, India
Featured in: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
The plot: Six English retirees move to the unexpectedly dilapidated Indian retirement hotel. Though initially disappointed, they find themselves gradually captivated by what both the hotel and India have to offer.
Star power: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith
The scene: The Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel isn’t the heritage hotel the title refers to, but where the retirees stay during one of their excursions. The characters share a sad meeting on the rooftop bar during sunset at this former haveli (a rich merchant’s town house) that dates back to the 17th century. At one point Judi Dench downs a glass of martini thinking it is water, exclaiming “That’s even better!”
Fun facts: Director John Madden chose the hotel for its view overlooking the famous Lake Pichola and the Lake Palace Hotel – which actually looks like it’s floating on the water, and is only reachable by boat. Former US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was once a guest here.
Armani Hotel Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Featured in: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
The plot: The plot can get very complex – involving different countries, obscure villains and secret groups – but the gist of it is that globe-trekking Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is saving the world from some Russian bombers planning to start a nuclear war.
Star power: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner
The scene: The hotel is located within the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa at roughly 830 meters high. In this film Cruise performs his wildest stunt yet – scaling the walls of the building at more than 180 stories, kicking in several windows and at one point leaping right out the building!
Fun facts: The cameras, lights and technical equipment used for shooting the scenes were so large that the crew had to break dozens of windows to transport them. Cruise, known for his professional work ethic, did 90 per cent of the stunts himself in the movie, except one that’s too daredevil even for him – hanging off the edge of the building with just one arm, swinging in mid-air. That was done by stuntman Casey O’Neill.
The St Regis Atlanta, US
Featured in: Flight (2012) – Oscar nominee for best actor and best original screenplay.
The plot: This film's subject matter deals with a frequent flyer’s worst nightmare – an irresponsible pilot. Whitaker (Washington) flies the plane while high on cocaine, mixes vodka into his orange juice mid-flight, encounters a technical malfunction and miraculously lands the plane after rolling it. He tries to avoid legal responsibility as his toxicology report is published during investigation.
Star power: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle
The scene: As he recovers from minor injuries, Whitaker meets with his lawyer (Cheadle) over a daily executive breakfast buffet at the wine room of St Regis Atlanta to discuss how to make away with the drug use report which could put him behind bars – a luxurious backdrop for the shady business at hand.
Fun facts: You cannot actually enjoy the specific executive buffet at The St Regis Atlanta featured in this film, since it was made especially for the Flight scenes. Most of the furnishings were left as is during the three scenes shot on site and the troubled pilot even says: “Meet me at the St Regis’,” at one point. Washington is so tall that the leg of his chair had to be sawed off during the breakfast scene with Cheadle in order make the two actors level in height. That very chair is now kept in the hotel.
Hotel Adlon, Berlin, Germany
Featured in: Unknown (2011)
The plot: Dr Harris (Neeson) goes to a biotechnology summit with his wife (Jones). He has an accident, only to wake up four days later realising someone has assumed his identity. Behind all this is an evil plot to destroy the world.
Star power: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones
The scene: The end of the film takes place exclusively inside the hotel, where Dr Harris tries to stop an assassination plot. Most people escape the tragic fate unscathed, but not Hotel Adlon, which was blown to pieces.
Fun facts: The five-star historic hotel began business in 1907 and suffered major bombing during WWII, with only one small wing left standing. The war survivor, unfortunately, had to experience the trauma anew in the film’s explosion scene.
Fun fact 2: With more than 100 crew members and tons of equipment and extras, the production team had to take extra measures, such as building a separate reception desk, to minimise disturbance caused to other guests staying in the hotel.
The Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles
Featured in: Argo (2012) – winner of Oscars’ Best Picture and directed by Ben Affleck.
The plot: It’s 1979, and Iranian forces have taken hold of the US embassy and six US diplomats have fled to the Canadian foreign embassy, where they are hiding. The risk of being discovered gets higher with each passing day. The CIA is at a loss of what to do. Mendez (Affleck), a CIA specialist, believes the more outrageous the plan is, the more likely it is it will work. So in the end the six diplomats and Mendez pretend they are part of a film production crew scouting locations for a science fiction flick, Argo, in order to escape undetected.
Star power: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston
The scene: In an effort to make their "credible movie" guise as convincing as possible, CIA personnel Mendez teams up with Hollywood producers to organise an elaborate film read-through in the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which was decorated with specific curtain drapes to match the 70s time frame.
Fun fact: The film was not allowed to shoot in Iran, and so for a movie based on a historical event, nearly all locations are fictional. The US Embassy is actually the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in North Hills in LA and an old, closed down terminal at the Ontario International Airport (with added Farsi signs) is used to substitute Tehran Airport.