While they may be completely different from one another, the greatest fictional hotels have one thing in common: they’re almost characters in themselves. What would The Shining be without The Overlook Hotel? Or Fawlty Towers without, well, Fawlty Towers? We might not fancy spending the night in one [let alone a holiday], but the greatest fictional hotels are truly unforgettable creations. Here’s our list of five of the best.
Fawlty Towers – Fawlty Towers
Set in a typically English hotel in Torquay, in the so-called English Riviera, Fawlty Towers is still considered one of the greatest British comedies ever made. Surely a large part of that is down to the hotel itself, which is perfectly suited to the madcap antics of its owner, Basil Fawlty. Filmed at the Wooburn Grange Country Club in Buckinghamshire, it’s nevertheless based on a real hotel in Torquay, called the Gleneagles Hotel. Similarly staffed by a hilariously rude and very definitely hands-on owner, it set the blueprint for the whole thing. And perhaps that’s one of the reasons it works so well: frightening as it may seem, places like Fawlty Towers really do exist.
Photo Credit: www.theedinburghblog.co.uk
Bates Motel – Psycho
One of the most well-known buildings in cinema history, the isolated Bates Motel may look like the kind of place you’d find at the side of roads all across America, but its owner, Norman Bates, is anything but normal. Home of the infamous shower scene, as well as Bates’ terrifying collection of stuffed animals, the Bates Motel is the very stuff of nightmares. The original set is still standing, and continues to be one of Universal Studios’ main attractions.
The Overlook Hotel – The Shining
Perhaps the true central character of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, the isolated Overlook Hotel has a life of its own. Its exterior was based on Timberline Lodge, a mountain lodge in Oregon, and its interior was based on the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park; but the majority of what we see on screen was filmed on a set in Hertfordshire, which at the time was the largest ever built – and it needed to be. It’s a cavernous, mazelike, disorientating place, and that was Kubrick’s intention all along (architecturally it doesn’t even make sense). Built, of course, on an Indian burial ground and haunted with all manner of apparitions, it’s just about the last place on earth you’d want to spend your holiday.
Hotel Earle – Barton Fink
The Coen Brothers themselves acknowledged that the Hotel Earle, the residence of the eponymous hero of their cult classic, Barton Fink, is central to the film. It serves a similar role to The Shining’s Overlook Hotel, in that it mirrors the psyche of the main character. Situated in the less glamorous area of Hollywood, it has the gloomy, forlorn feeling of a place that was glamorous decades ago; its art deco furnishings are faded, the fixtures are crumbling and the wallpaper’s peeling. But, in generating much of the film’s claustrophobic atmosphere practically on its own, it’s a true masterpiece of design, and the kind of worn-out, forgotten place that you could certainly imagine existing in real life.
The Great Northern Hotel – Twin Peaks
The focal point of David Lynch’s wonderfully bizarre TV series, Twin Peaks, the Great Northern Hotel is the scene of many of the series’ most important moments, and the semi-permanent residence of protagonist Agent Dale Cooper. It may seem like something that could only come from the crazy imagination of David Lynch, but the two hotels on which it’s based – The Salish Lodge and Spa, just outside of Seattle, and the Kiana Lodge, on Puget Sound – are eerily similar to their fictional counterpart.
Written by Chris is an avid travel blogger who has reviewed a huge variety of different hotels across the UK - everything from London's finest 5 star hotels to Scotland's grandest Highland resorts.