White Stallion Ranch Makes 2023 List of Top 25 Historic Hotels of America in Film, TV History
Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing, celebrating, and promoting the finest historic hotels in the United States, has announced The 2023 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America in Film and Television History List.
The White Stallion Ranch in Tucson made this year’s list.
The historic hotels and resorts selected for this announcement have been the settings for iconic scenes in beloved blockbusters, art house favorites, cult classics, and primetime television programs. Guests of these hotels can retrace the steps of many movie makers and film stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Alfred Hitchcock through the storied lobbies and guestrooms, and stand in the same historic places that brought unforgettable characters like Tarzan, Amy March, and Luke Skywalker to life.
Often, historic hotels have been the co-stars in movies, playing their parts through the talents of architects, interior designers, historic preservationists, and nature conservationists. Explore this year’s list to find out how the history of film intersects with historic hotels, from luxury seaside resorts to dude ranch escapes.
River Street Inn (1817) Savannah, Ga.
Set within a beautifully restored, 200-year-old riverside warehouse in Savannah, Georgia, and overlooking the magical Savannah River on historic River Street, the River Street Inn provides interior and exterior locations for filmmakers who want to frame their subjects in something historic, charming, and unique. Established in 1817, River Street Inn is part of the Savannah Historic District, which was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1966, and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1999. Considering the historic nature of downtown Savannah, the Waterfront, and Factors Walk, it is not surprising that the film industry chooses this area often for movies and television. The River Street Inn is home to many of these on-site movie and television films as well as utilized as a famous silhouette in several film backgrounds. Robert Downey Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Liam Hemsworth, and Tim Daly are just a few of the leading actors that have walked through the corridors of this iconic hotel or have filmed immediately outside its doors. Movies filmed within the hotel or in the surrounding block include The Gingerbread Man (1998), The Do-Over (2016), Lady & the Tramp (2019), Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018), and Academy Award-winning film Glory (1998). In the movie Lady & the Tramp (2019), the famous spaghetti date scene was filmed on the exterior southwest corner of the River Street Inn. Additionally, during a scene where the two pups stroll through a market, this location is really the River Street Inn’s valet area.
Omni Royal Orleans, New Orleans (1843) New Orleans
When James Bond (Roger Moore) escapes from the villain “Mr. Big” in Live and Let Die (1973), Bond tells his team to regroup at the Omni Royal Orleans in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. (“Royal Orleans hotel,” Bond tells the cab driver after arriving at the airport.) Located at the fashionable intersection of St. Louis and Royal streets, the Omni Royal Orleans exudes the class and elegance that James Bond would choose for his stay in the Crescent City. Dating to 1843, the hotel was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2010. It appears in a long list of contemporary popular television programs in addition to a few films: NCIS New Orleans (2014-2021), Your Honor (2020-2023), Queer as Folk (2022), Interview with a Vampire (2022), and Daisy Jones and the Six (2023). Movies and shows have been filmed at the rooftop pool area, Rib Room Restaurant, ballrooms, Royal Garden Terrace Courtyard, and various suites. These locations are all open to being visited, booked, or reserved. Cast and crew have stayed the night at the Omni Royal New Orleans, and guests can request to stay in a room once occupied by stars.
The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tenn.
Listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the original Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, opened in 1869 as a symbol of wealth and prestige for the growing city. Its grandeur, both in size and in richness of design, have made it a desirable filming location in the region. Three film adaptations of John Grisham novels have been filmed at The Peabody Memphis: The Firm (1993), The Client (1994), and The Rainmaker (1997). The Peabody Memphis served as the setting for several scenes in The Firm, starring Tom Cruise. The most memorable scene involves a lavish party on hotel’s rooftop in which Mitch McDeere (Cruise) is persuaded to accept a job at a Memphis law firm. The Peabody’s fine dining restaurant Chez Philippe is the setting for a scene in The Client, in which Tommy Lee Jones’ character District Attorney ‘Reverend’ Roy Foltrigg is dining with FBI agents at the restaurant’s best table and a fan asks for his autograph. The Peabody’s historic Continental Ballroom appears in The Rainmaker as the room in which Matt Damon’s character takes the bar exam. The Peabody Memphis is also known for light-hearted moments in film, often due to its charming signature tradition of timed displays of live ducks promenading through the lobby, an event called the “Peabody Duck March.” The hotel’s duck march has appeared on screen in the comedy Soul Men (2008), starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac, and in The Open Road (2009), starring Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges. The Peabody Marching Ducks have also appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and on Sesame Street when Bert and Ernie celebrated Rubber Ducky Day.
Palmer House®, A Hilton Hotel (1871) Chicago
The Palmer House®, A Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, is America’s longest-operating hotel and its on-camera gravitas is undeniable. Palmer House, which was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2007, dates to 1871 and is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The hotel offers filmmakers luxurious settings and large rooms that can accommodate a film crew, gilded lobby with a formal staircase, marble-topped tables, velvet seating, and a ceiling mural depicting Greek mythology. Several notable films shot scenes at the hotel: Curly Sue (1991), Academy Award-winner The Fugitive (1993), and Miracle on 34th Street (1994). It has also appeared as the setting for recent television shows set in Chicago, including Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire. Recently recognized as one of The 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America for a Romantic Proposal and built to be a wedding present from Potter Palmer to his new bride, Bertha, the Palmer House hosted the fifth season of the reality television show Married at First Sight. The reality television show features a few couples, paired up by relationship experts, who agree to marry when they first meet. Scenes were filmed in the hotel’s elegant halls and romantic ballrooms, and in the hotel’s ultimate bridal suites, perfect for the brides to prepare hair and make-up and spend the last moments as bachelorettes with their bridal party.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (1876) Riverside, Calif.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California, has attracted filmmakers for over a century with its ornate antique features, castle-like towers, Mediterranean domes, flying buttresses, and sprawling arcades. A member of Historic Hotels of America since 1996 and designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. It dates to 1876 and has been expanded several times since its original construction. The six-story tall inn resembles a colonial-era Spanish mission with thick stucco walls, heavy carved doors, spiraled columns, and gabled red-tile roofs. The ornate central lobby leads to rooms with wood paneling imported directly from a Belgian convent and a grand, art-decked hall with a draped canopied ceiling. The richness and drama of the space made it a fitting setting for movies like The Vampire (1918), a silent film; Idiot’s Delight (1938) starring Clark Gable; The Wild Party (1975), produced by Merchant Ivory Productions, and starring James Coco and Raquel Welch; Vibes (1988) starring Jeff Goldblum; science fiction and fantasy show Sliders: The Exodus, Part I & II (1997); and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), a period drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio. In 1982, singer Eddie Money filmed a vampire lore-inspired music video for his song, “Think I’m in Love,” at the inn.
The Jefferson Hotel (1895) Richmond, Va.
Listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, The Jefferson Hotel has a long, illustrious history as a cultural landmark and grand dame hotel in Richmond, Virginia, since it opened its doors on Halloween 1885. Despite its fame and architectural grandeur, the hotel was forced to close in the 1980s and welcomed no guests for about six years. Its story does not pause there, however, because film history was made at The Jefferson Hotel even when its guestrooms were empty. In 1980, filmmakers selected the hotel to serve as the set for My Dinner With Andre (1981), a critically acclaimed art house classic. Director Louis Malle shot the famous scripted conversation between actors Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn–playing versions of themselves–in the Grand Ballroom, which was transformed for the film to look like Café des Artistes in New York. After the filmmakers left, the hotel underwent a tremendous renovation and reopened on May 6, 1986. Three years later, in 1989, the historic hotel was inducted into Historic Hotels of America as a charter member.
Jekyll Island Club Resort (1886) Jekyll Island, Ga.
The historic Jekyll Island Club Resort is an iconic resort that exudes Gilded Age glamor and modern luxury. Designated a National Historic Landmark District by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and nestled in a barrier island off the Georgia coast, the Jekyll Island Club Resort opened in 1887 as a retreat for America’s wealthiest families. From the lofty tower to the encircling verandas and original heart pine floors, Victorian charm still permeates the public areas and rooms. These traits have allowed the resort to serve as a backdrop for several period films, including The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) directed by Robert Redford and starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron. Fans of Robert Redford’s 2000 film can dine in the Grand Dining Room as characters in the movie did or stroll across the front lawn, also used in filming. Redford and scenic directors chose the resort’s pool as the perfect location for one scene; they covered up the pool and transformed it into an outdoor dance floor. The most popular spot from the film at the resort is a replica of the watering hole enjoyed by Matt Damon. “The Bar,” nestled within the Riverfront Lobby just outside of the Grand Dining Room, offers guests a chance to pull up to the counter or to enjoy their libation from the comfort of leather chairs perched in front of a grand fireplace. Guests of the resort can venture to the Jekyll Island Golf Club and tee off on the same course depicted in the film.
Union League Club of Chicago (1886) Chicago
A downtown Georgian Revival landmark, the historic Union League Club of Chicago is a stately and sophisticated social club and hotel dating to 1886. Its rich interiors have served as filming locations for films including My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) and television shows such as Empire (2015-2020). The Union League Club of Chicago and the Empire production team developed a close relationship during their time filming at the clubhouse. The historic hotel co-starred in scenes with Phylicia Rashad, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, and Taye Diggs. The Empire production crew transformed the hotel’s Presidents Hall into a large conference room and used the Lincoln Ballroom for the location of an elegant gala. My Best Friend’s Wedding also filmed a scene in the hotel’s Presidents Hall, a desirable location because of its expansive pillars, wide ceiling, beautiful artwork, and fireplace. After filming, the movie crew left the furniture it had installed for the set. Though the furniture has since been reupholstered for upkeep, the same design was used and the pieces remain in the Presidents Hall to this day. The PBS genealogy show Finding Your Roots (2012-), hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., used the Lincoln Ballroom for interviewing the musician Sting. Sting’s only request of the staff during his time at the club was an electric tea kettle. The Union League Club of Chicago still has the electric tea kettle purchased for him and staff there refer to it as “Sting’s Kettle.” Visitors can request a clubhouse tour to learn more about the history of the building.
Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Mich.
Grand Hotel has been an icon of summer resorts since 1887 and a movie icon since 1980. Designated a National Historic Landmark District by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the hotel is located on Mackinac Island, Michigan, where cars are not allowed and horse-drawn carriage remains the preferred mode of transportation. Adding to its romantic appeal, the Gilded Age resort of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, is often synonymous in popular imagination with the film Somewhere in Time (1980). Starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, this time travel romance was filmed on location. The filmmakers not only took advantage of the hotel’s sweeping views and Victorian exteriors, they shot much of Somewhere in Time inside the Grand Hotel itself. The movie became a cult classic over the subsequent decades and still claims a following. In fact, Somewhere in Time fans meet annually at the Grand Hotel in late October. For a truly immersive experience, the Grand Hotel has two bookable suites dedicated to the film: the Somewhere in Time Suite and the Jane Seymour Suite. Both rooms are decorated with memorabilia from the movie. The resort also offers a special Somewhere in Time Weekend event package. Visitors to the island can also visit the “Somewhere in Time Gazebo,” a romantic Queen Anne-style gazebo featured in the film, located at the state park west of Fort Mackinac.
Hotel del Coronado (1888) Coronado, Calif.
The Hotel del Coronado seaside resort—with its elegant red cupolas and towers—opened in 1888. Its founders dreamed of creating a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western world” and it has, perhaps beyond their wildest dreams. In 1958, the hit sensation Some Like It Hot (1959) was filmed at Hotel del Coronado. The film showcased the talents of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon, while also highlighting the hotel’s assets: a spectacular sun-drenched silhouette of Victorian architecture, the perfect backdrop for the film’s 1929 setting. The classic comedy is the humorous story of two musicians who attempted to flee the Chicago Outfit after witnessing the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Many film critics consider Some Like It Hot to be one of the greatest films of all time and it is listed on the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry today. Named the #1 comedy of all time by the American Film Institute, the movie has an honored place in film and Del history. Although only exterior scenes were filmed at the hotel, the interior scenes do look very Del-like (right down to the placement of the lobby elevator and stairs). Hotel del Coronado was designated a National Historic Landmark District by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1977, inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2018, and awarded Historic Hotels of America Best Historic Resort in 2021.
The Historic Magnolia House (1889) Greensboro, N.C.
The Historic Magnolia House in Greensboro, North Carolina, is a vibrant hotel and fully restored “Green Book” historic site. While the hotel itself has not been featured in a film or television show, it does offer guests a rare chance to learn about the history of The Negro Motorist Green Book that was featured in the Primetime Emmy Awards-nominated television show Lovecraft Country (2020), the documentary The Green Book: Guide to Freedom (2019) directed by Yoruba Richen, and the Academy Award-winning film Green Book (2018) directed by Peter Farrelly. First published in the 1930s, Victor Green’s travel book was a lifesaving guide for non-white travelers navigating Jim Crow America. It listed restaurants, motels, service stations, barber shops, nightclubs and more where African Americans could expect safe service. The Historic Magnolia House was listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book almost every year between 1955 and 1961. From the moment guests walk through the front door of The Historic Magnolia House, they stand in the historic steps of African American travelers who stayed there during the Jim Crow Era. In 1949, Arthur and Louise Gist transformed their Greensboro home—which dates to 1889—into a motel where Black travelers could rest. At the time, most motels were whites-only and the Gists thus offered an important service by opening their house to other African Americans. Guests at The Historic Magnolia House during its heyday include Martin Luther King, Jr., writers Carter G. Woodson and James Baldwin, musicians Tina Turner and Ray Charles, baseball star and businessman Jackie Robinson (who starred in his own dramatized biopic, The Jackie Robinson Story, in 1950), and Lena Horne, the performer and civil rights activist remembered for her roles in Stormy Weather (1943), Cabin in the Sky (1943), and The Wiz (1978). The Historic Magnolia House is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2022.
White Stallion Ranch (1900) Tucson, Ariz.
The White Stallion Ranch in Tucson has been the setting for over 25 feature-length films, many of them Westerns made between 1940 and 1970. The ranch began as a family farm in 1900 and 116 years later, in 2016, it was inducted into Historic Hotels of America. Its star apparently rose around the time that the Academy Award-nominated film Arizona (1940) shot scenes at the ranch in 1940. A new owner acquired the ranch in 1945 with a dream of relocating from Chicago to Arizona’s warm desert climate. The farm experienced a cultural renaissance during its time as the new owner, who constructed six new buildings that could be outfitted for guests. As such, the cattle ranch took its first steps toward operating as a traditional, upscale resort. The success of Arizona and the ranch’s growing amenities for guests attracted more Hollywood producers to use the site to film various aspects of their movies. Among the films shot within the vicinity of the ranch during this era of classic Westerns were The Last Round-Up (1947) starring Gene Autry; Winchester ‘73 (1950) starring James Stewart and later selected for the National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Board; and The Last Outpost (1951) starring Ronald Regan and Rhonda Fleming. The ranch’s true metamorphosis into a vacation destination resort occurred in the 1960s. Allen and Cynthia True purchased it in 1965 and developed it, acquiring some 3,000 acres of land and building additional facilities to accommodate guests. Its popularity soared, and for decades since the historic, family-owned, dude ranch continues to catch the eye of movie producers and location scouts into the 21st century.
The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) San Francisco
Since 1907, The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco has served as the residence for U.S. presidents, world leaders, and entertainment stars when they are in San Francisco. The landmark hotel is also known for setting the scene of numerous films and television shows for over 85 years. The Academy Award-winning film Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938)—the highest grossing film of the 1930s—was filmed at the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco, and more recent films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) have been filmed on-site as well. Other notable films include Vertigo (1958), Towering Inferno (1974), and The Rock (1996). Vertigo (1958), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, was filmed in the heart of San Francisco, where the characters were residents in an apartment building across from The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco. Alfred Hitchcock stayed at the hotel during the filming of this production. In the early 1970s, the Academy Award-winning film Towering Inferno (1974) filmed scenes at the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco. The Rock (1996) features a thrilling scene filmed on the hotel’s iconic Penthouse Balcony, and the following chase scene goes down the hotel escalators and into the hotel’s main kitchen. The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2001.
The Plaza (1907) New York City
Designed in a style reminiscent of a French chateau and located off Central Park in New York, The Plaza’s imposing exterior and opulent interior have captivated the imaginations of guests and movie-goers for years. In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller North By Northwest marked the first time The Plaza was prominently featured on the big screen. It is from this hotel that the movie’s hero, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), is kidnapped. In The Way We Were (1973), Barbara Streisand meets Robert Redford by chance at the Fifth Avenue entrance of The Plaza. The Plaza’s place in the cult classic Home Alone 2: Lost In New York came in 1992, when the opulence of the location and the lofty standards of the luxury hotel made it the ideal location for abandoned scamp Kevin McCallister to check-in with his dad’s credit card. The 59th street lobby and Suite No. 411 are the key features of The Plaza shown in the film. In homage to the film and its fans, The Plaza offers a package that recreates a day in the life of Kevin McCallister at The Plaza. The package comes with a 4-hour private limousine ride around New York City to visit other famous Home Alone 2 filming locations from the movie including the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall. Of course, no limousine ride would be complete without a hot cheese pizza to savor while reliving Kevin’s famous limo pizza scene. During the filming of Home Alone 2, the film crew asked what was under the lobby carpeting, because they wanted a scene of Kevin sliding through the lobby. When the carpet was removed, the hotel discovered original tiling from 1907 that now remains uncovered. The Plaza was designated a National Historic Landmark District by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1986 and it and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1991.
The Hermitage Hotel (1910) Nashville, Tenn.
Filmmaking has played a role in the history of Nashville, Tennessee’s The Hermitage Hotel since its early years, almost immediately after the hotel opened in 1910. When Tennessee’s “first moving picture play” was filmed in 1914, the filmmakers stayed at The Hermitage Hotel as they moved around the region, and they used the vantage point from the hotel’s roof to capture footage of the surrounding city. Many decades later, filming for a portion of a made-for-television movie Roots: The Gift (1988) starring Louis Gosset, Jr., took place over six days at The Hermitage Hotel. Reba McEntire filmed portions of a music video for her song, “Sunday Kind of Love,” in the hotel’s ballroom that same year. With Nashville being Music City, The Hermitage Hotel is naturally popular place for country music videos. In addition to “Sunday Kind of Love,” Josh Turner filmed there for “I’m Your Man”, Ronnie McDowell for his cover of the classic hit “I Don’t Want to Set The World on Fire,” and Marty Stuart for “That’s What Love’s About.” The television show Nashville (2012-2018) filmed numerous scenes at The Hermitage Hotel over the course of its six seasons. Finally, The Hermitage Hotel has been a popular place not only as a location for filming but as a host for numerous acting legends when they visit Nashville. One story tells of how Charlie Chaplin arrived at the hotel’s front desk carrying a custard cream pie, which had been presented to him earlier by a fan. The Hermitage Hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 2020, and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1996.
Fairmont Copley Plaza (1912) Boston
The Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts, is a historic Renaissance Revival-style luxury hotel with a rich history of co-starring in major motion pictures. It is a recognizable setting featured in cult classic The Boondock Saints (1999), Bride Wars (2009), Academy Awards-nominee American Hustle (2013), Academy Awards-winner Little Women (2019), Julia (2022), and Academy Awards-nominee Don’t Look Up (2021). In Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig, the Fairmont Copley Plaza’s Grand Ballroom set the scene for an opulent French ball attended by Amy March (Florence Pugh) and Laurie (Timothée Chalamet). For its part, the Fairmont Copley Plaza is included in a Little Women Film Tourism Map created by the Massachusetts Film Office. At the end of Don’t Look Up, directed by Adam McKay, the hotel’s OAK Long Bar + Kitchen was chosen for a scene toward the end of the film when Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry’s characters lament the end of the world in a ransacked, empty restaurant. It was an extensive takeover of the entire restaurant, and production used all of OAK’s furniture as seen in the movie. Finally, the hotel has “played” two other historic Fairmont hotels also recognized on this list. In Julia, the Fairmont Copley Plaza’s Presidential Suite was the filming location for Julia Child’s guestroom at the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco. In Bride Wars, Ann Hathaway and Kate Hudson play old friends who grew up together dreaming of having their respective weddings at The Plaza in New York, which is actually played by the Fairmont Copley Plaza in the movie. The Plaza is a sister hotel to Fairmont Copley Plaza, both managed by Fairmont and designed by the same architect: Henry Janeway Hardenbergh.
OHEKA CASTLE (1919) Huntington, N.Y.
The grand historic hotel OHEKA CASTLE appeared as the palatial “Xanadu” estate in the opening montage of the film Citizen Kane (1941). Considered by critics to be one of the greatest films of all time, Citizen Kane was produced, directed, and co-written by its starring actor, Orson Welles. Xanadu in Citizen Kane is in Florida, but OHEKA CASTLE is nestled in Huntington, New York, on Long Island’s north shore. It is not difficult to see how OHEKA CASTLE caught Welles’ attention: built by financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn in 1919, The New York Times declared it, “the finest country house in America.” During the Roaring Twenties, the estate entertained Hollywood luminaries, esteemed heads of state, and distinguished royalty. The chateau remains the second-largest private residence ever built in the United States and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2004. Today, OHEKA CASTLE’s stunning European style, dramatic surroundings, and proximity to New York City continue to make the castle a popular backdrop for professional film, television, video, and still photography productions. OHEKA CASTLE has appeared in music videos for “Haunted” (2013) by Beyonce, “Brokenhearted” (1994) by Brandy, and “Blank Space” (2014) by Taylor Swift. Recently, it portrayed a Hungarian castle in the second season of Succession (2018-) on HBO. OHEKA CASTLE was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2004 and is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Hawthorne Hotel (1925) Salem, Mass.
In 1970, the cast and crew of Bewitched (1964-1972) stayed at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts, while filming episodes for the classic television show’s special: “Bewitched: The Salem Saga” (1970). Local landmarks featured in the television special included The House of the Seven Gables, The Witch House, and the Fisherman Statue. The hotel exterior and interior appeared in the show, too: in the background of Salem Common and in a scene filmed by the hotel elevators. For years after it aired, the hotel was flooded with calls asking if it was the “Bewitched Hotel.” The Hawthorne Hotel is often ranked as one of the most haunted hotels in America and its folklore was recently featured in the 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Haunted Hotels. Guests have reported moving furniture, sightings of a ghostly woman, and unexplained noises. In 2007, Syfy’s popular paranormal show, Ghost Hunters (2004-2016), visited the hotel to investigate. More recently, actors Robert de Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper filmed scenes at the hotel for their movie Joy (2015). The beautifully restored, stately Federal-style hotel opened in 1925 and is in the Salem Common Historic District in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is named for the author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who spent his childhood in Salem.
The Inn at Death Valley (1926) Death Valley, Calif.
Death Valley National Park in California has been a popular filmmaking destination since Cecil B. DeMille directed the silent film Chimmie Fadden Out West on location in Death Valley in 1915. Located about five hours from Los Angeles, it is easily accessible to the major studios and provides one of the most unique desert landscapes in the world. Inside the park, The Inn at Death Valley opened in 1926 and the inn has served filmmakers, cast, and crew, as well as holidaymakers for almost a century. The inn was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2012. Guests can experience fine dining in one of the world’s most remote settings, relax by a spring-fed pool, stroll through spectacular palm gardens, and play a round on a golf course that is a record 214 feet below sea level. Many actors—including Bette Davis, John Wayne, and Marlon Brando—enjoyed staying there so much that they went back after filming ended. Indeed, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent a portion of their honeymoon in the resort. In the 1970s and 1980s, while filming the original Star Wars trilogy at Death Valley National Park, some cast members stayed at The Inn at Death Valley. Non-human actor Margie the Elephant, who played a “Bantha,” a fictional desert beast of the Star Wars universe, made the nearby Oasis Gardens her home during filming. The historic inn itself appears in films The Lively Set (1964) and Winter Kills (1979). The Inn at Death Valley was most recently seen on the silver screen as a location for Valley of Love (2015), a French film starring Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert.
The Don CeSar (1928) St. Pete Beach, Fla.
Built in 1928 to resemble a Mediterranean-style castle and affectionately called the “Pink Palace,” The Don CeSar of St. Pete Beach, Florida, is a classic resort with unforgettable architecture and private beach. The resort was inducted into Historic Hotels of America as a charter member in 1989. Popular films that shot scenes at The Don CeSar include HealtH (1980) starring Lauren Bacall, Carol Burnett, and James Garner; Once Upon a Time in America (1984) starring Robert DeNiro and James Woods; Forever Mine (1999) starring Ray Liotta; and The Infiltrator (2016) starring Bryan Cranston. These movies made great use of the historic hotel’s preserved and restored settings: the private beach, stunning lobby, restaurants and bars, pools, and guestrooms—all of which are available for visitors to drop by or book today. Additionally, the rock band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers worked with the hotel and MTV to film a music video on the hotel roof in 1985. The footage showing the band with the iconic hotel in the background was used in the MTV documentary Southern Accents (1985). Today, visitors can learn more about films made at The Don CeSar by stopping at a display near its restaurant, Society Table.
Hilton Chicago (1927) Chicago
The Hilton Chicago is a Chicago landmark – the city’s third-largest hotel – overlooking Grant Park, Lake Michigan, and the Museum Campus. Established in 1927, the hotel has appeared as the backdrop to countless prominent films and television shows. The Hilton Chicago appears in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), Road to Perdition (2002), and The Fugitive (1993), as well as ER, in which the heliport of Hilton Chicago portrays the hospital helipad. In The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pantoliano, the Hilton Chicago’s plush Grand Ballroom played an important role in the tense climax of this movie. Perhaps the most beloved scene captured at the Hilton Chicago is the end of Home Alone II: Lost in New York (1992), when Kevin McCallister is reunited with his family after his solo adventure in the Big Apple. The New York hotel suite portrayed in the film was in fact the Conrad Suite of the Hilton Chicago. It is one of the hotel’s thirteen specialty suites and nicknamed the “Midwest White House,” given the number of presidents who have passed through this suite. Visitors are welcome to learn more about the Hilton Chicago’s film and television history at the hotel’s history corridor, where a reel clip station is set up to show the hotel’s starring roles.
The Hollywood Roosevelt (1927) Los Angeles
As one of the most historic hotels in Los Angeles, The Hollywood Roosevelt has seen decades of famous faces. In 1929, the hotel was the location of the very first awards ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences —also known as the Academy Awards® or the Oscars® —and hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in the hotel’s Blossom Room and attended by the who’s who of Golden Age Hollywood. Ever since, it has welcomed icons from Shirley Temple to Angelina Jolie. Today, the hotel still buzzes with industry executives and talent, and is a popular destination for locals and tourists from around the world. One hit movie that was filmed at the hotel is the biographical crime comedy-drama Catch Me If You Can (2002) produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, with Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, and Nathalie Baye. In the film, the hotel’s Tropicana Pool was turned into the Tropicana Motel. They rented out the entire pool area, stairway in entrance of the pool, Rosy Café, and Cabana Room 208. Today, guests can access these locations. Other popular movies filmed at The Hollywood Roosevelt are A Star is Born (2018) with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga; Almost Famous (2000); and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) starring Eddie Murphy. TV shows with scenes filmed at the Roosevelt include Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-), I Love Lucy (1951-1957), and many more.
Hotel Warner (1930) West Chester, Penn.
Hotel Warner has been one of West Chester’s most celebrated historical landmarks since it opened as a movie theater in 1930. In fact, this spectacular historic hotel is among the few former or current historic movie theaters listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Before its transformation into a desirable hotel destination, the building served as the magnificent Warner Theater. In the late 1920s, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Warner Bros. Pictures selected West Chester, Pennsylvania, to be the location for its own opulent 1,650-seat venue. The theater was designed by the firm Rapp & Rapp of Chicago, one of the leading designers of palatial movie theaters in the early 20th century. Their work on the Warner Theater—also known as the “High Street Theater” or the “Showplace of Chester County”—included the theater, restaurant, and a series of small stores. The brilliant Warner Theater debuted in 1930 with a showing of The Life of the Party (1930), an all-talking Technicolor comedy starring Winnie Lightner. Child star Davey Lee even made a personal appearance on opening night, who sang and danced on stage. When its days as a movie theater ended in the 1970s, developers renovated the Warner Theater to host live entertainment. Nevertheless, the theater eventually closed in 1984. The façade and lobby were preserved and saved from demolition, and in the early 21st century the building was transformed into a hotel, with a new tower that complemented the theater’s historic design. Centrally located to countless restaurants, sidewalk cafes, brew pubs, and eclectic shops, Hotel Warner is the only hotel in West Chester’s historic downtown. Visitors can enjoy a stroll through the historic streets and discover the rich architecture and vibrant past of this nationally acclaimed neighborhood.
The Lodge at Wakulla Springs (1937) Wakulla Springs, Fla.
Since opening in 1937, filmmakers have flocked to The Lodge at Wakulla Springs in Wakulla Springs, Florida, to take advantage of its lush surroundings and clear spring waters—and luxury resort amenities. In 1939, the hotel’s owner hired famed swimming coach Newton Perry to serve as the hotel’s general manager. Perry was a Hollywood insider, having served as a consultant for on-location water scenes for many years. He had pioneered a groundbreaking method for shooting film underwater, which inspired many up-and-coming filmmakers to seek his expertise. Perry used his connections in the movie industry to attract all kinds of upscale clientele to the hotel. The filmmakers he attracted began to use both the hotel and its surroundings as the setting for various films, starting with Richard Thorpe’s Tarzan’s Secret Treasure in 1941. Starring Olympic-class swimmer Johnnie Weismuller as Tarzan and the iconic Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane, the movie established The Lodge at Wakulla Springs as a desirable place to produce films. Eight more movies were shot in the area, including the likes of Academy Award-winning short film Amphibious Fighters (1943) and Night Moves (1975). Director Jack Arnold also filmed portions of the legendary Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) on-site, too, filming the movie’s tropical scenes in the area of Wakulla Springs. All underwater shots featured in the movie Airplane ’77 (1977) were staged just beyond the hotel’s front door. The film crew even erected a partial replica of a submerged passenger jet on the grounds. Parts of the jet plane are still scattered around the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. In addition to these major films, there have been independent films, documentaries, and news novelty newsreel footage using the backdrop of the lodge and springs.
Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort (1957) Honolulu
When Elvis Presley visited Hawaii over the years between 1957 and 1967, he only stayed at the historic Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii. After Presley was released from the Army in 1961, he headed to Hawaii to raise money for a USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor and to start filming his first major motion picture, Blue Hawaii. Filming locations at the hotel include the HauTree Bar, the Hilton Pier, the main lobby entrance, and the Tropics Bar & Grill. Presley and his entourage booked the entire 14th floor of the Ocean Tower (The Ali’i) at the Hilton Hawaii Village and stayed for over two weeks. Today, his guestroom suite is bookable and includes memorabilia from his time at the hotel, including memories of Blue Hawaii filming. For his contribution to the war memorialization effort, the World War II Foundation dedicated a plaque to him at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in 2021. The plaque is displayed in the Tapa Tower lobby’s history wall–right next to the hotel’s Historic Hotels of America plaque. In addition to Blue Hawaii, the beautiful Midcentury Modern resort hotel has set the scene for hit television shows including Wheel of Fortune (1983), Baywatch Hawaii (1999-2001), Magnum P.I. (2018-), and Hawaii Five-0 (2010-2020). It is a remarkable location within the generally stunning setting of Waikiki Beach. The hotel offers filmmakers and guests Waikiki’s widest stretch of white sand, a beachfront lagoon, lush tropical gardens and waterfalls, views of Diamond Head, and romantic seaside sunsets.
“Where else can a traveler stay in a scene from a famous movie or put themselves into the same setting used in an iconic film but at a historic hotel! Whether it’s a Hollywood blockbuster or a family vacation home movie, Historic Hotels of America provide authentic settings and locations made famous over the past century by numerous, movie and film stars, celebrities, directors, and producers. The unique features of historic hotels draw filmmakers to select these one-of-a-kind settings as the perfect location to stage their art,” said Lawrence P. Horwitz, executive VP of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Historic Hotels of America hotels and resorts are places where you can stay the night and be the star of your own travels.”