Some film-makers live in hotels, others end up owning them. Claire Wrathall focuses on six of the best ...
From INTELLGENT LIFE magazine, Summer 2011
Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize
The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest in Belize reminded Francis Ford Coppola of the “jungle paradise” in the Philippines where he shot “Apocalypse Now”, so he bought a dilapidated estate, deep in its dark heart on the steep banks of the Privassion river, which he dammed to create electricity and a swimming pool. Twelve years later, in 1993, he turned it into a rustic-luxe hotel—six thatched casitas, seven villas on stilts. It’s an idyllic retreat which hosts writers’ workshops every year. In Villa 7, where Coppola himself stays, is a wall hung with family snaps, notably one featuring a teenage Sofia Coppola with her father and her cousin Nicolas Cage. Doubles from $274 b&b
Les Manoirs de Tourgéville, France
So taken was Claude Lelouch by the Normandy landscape around Deauville, where he shot his 1966 classic “Un homme et une femme”, that he decided to build himself a traditional Norman manor house nearby. He subsequently opened it as a hotel which became the place to stay during the annual American Film Festival. Now part of Groupe Floirat, which owns St Tropez’s Hotel Byblos, it reopened last summer with five unusual ring-shaped annexes containing 57 rooms, each named after a French or American actor. There’s also a 50-seat cinema. Doubles from €140
Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles
This is West Hollywood’s movie hotel par excellence, a fantastical 1920s castle and grounds modelled on Château d’Amboise in the Loire. Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang were long-stay guests, but it’s most associated with Nicholas Ray, who moved into Bungalow 2 after his divorce from Gloria Grahame in 1952 and was still there when his “Rebel without a Cause” was released in 1955. Indeed, the set for the James Dean character’s family house was based on the bungalow, so Ray could rehearse his cast at home, as it were. Now owned by the hip hotelier André Balazs, it remains cool, laidback, resolutely retro—and a movie-star haunt to this day. Doubles from $473
Hotel Chelsea, New York, and the Dorchester, London
Arthur C. Clarke wrote the screenplay for “2001: A Space Odyssey” while living at New York’s famous though modest Chelsea Hotel (it reversed its name in 2007). The film’s director, Stanley Kubrick—a man for whom hotels had some significance: think of “The Shining”—chose rather different lodgings. He and his family moved into a suite at the ever-opulent Dorchester for the duration of the epic shoot, which began in Borehamwood in 1965 and finally wrapped at Elstree in December 1967. No wonder the film went $4.5m over its $6m budget. Hotel Chelsea: studio with shared bath from $106; The Dorchester: doubles from £318
Moulin du Jardinier, France
Three years after finishing “A Passage to India”, David Lean came across a ruined 15th-century mill in the hills above the Côte d’Azur. It took him two years to transform it into a palatial villa fit for a movie mogul (the master bedroom has two bathrooms). There are seven acres of gardens, plus a heated pool, half-tennis court and staff. From €12,500 a week (sleeps nine)
Claire Wrathall writes about travel for the Financial Times and blogs at arbitrix.net.
Illustration: Neil Gower; Picture credit: olofw (via Flickr)