They're not just for a good night's sleep while out of town. Hotels and motels have been popular movie settings, providing a temporary home for the characters and serving as a backdrop for the unfolding of their stories.
We're looking at 20 classic titles that involve a hotel or motel in some form. From suspenseful thrillers to heartwarming comedies, these lodgings have been the stage for some of cinema's most memorable moments.
1 – 1408 (2007)
Based on a Stephen King short story, this horror film follows a skeptical writer who checks into room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel, which is known for its high suicide rate. As the night progresses, he experiences a series of increasingly terrifying and supernatural events.
2 – The Hangover (2009)
In this comedy classic, four friends travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party and wake up in their hotel room with no memory of the previous night and the groom missing. They must retrace their steps and uncover the events of their wild night to find him before the wedding.
3 – The Shining (1980)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this psychological horror masterpiece is set in the isolated Overlook Hotel. The caretaker and his family become increasingly unhinged as they experience supernatural events, and he eventually descends into madness.
4 – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Wes Anderson's whimsical comedy tells the story of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at the famous Grand Budapest Hotel, and his protégé as they get involved in a heist and a murder mystery.
5 – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Based on Hunter S. Thompson's novel, this dark comedy follows journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, as they travel to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race and indulge in various drugs and vices.
6 – Ocean's Eleven (2001)
In this heist film, Danny Ocean and his team attempt to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. The planning and execution of the heist take place in various hotels, including the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand.
7 – Vacancy (2007)
When a couple's car breaks down, they are forced to stay in a run-down motel for the night. However, they soon discover that the motel has hidden cameras in the rooms and is broadcasting their every move to a sinister audience.
8 – Pretty Women (1990)
This romantic comedy tells the story of a wealthy businessman who hires a prostitute to accompany him to various events. As they spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for each other.
9 – Psycho (1960)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this iconic horror film takes place mostly in the Bates Motel. The story follows Marion Crane, who checks into the motel and encounters the mysterious and disturbed owner, Norman Bates.
10 – Lost in Translation (2003)
In this drama, a middle-aged actor and a young woman strike up a friendship while staying at the same Tokyo hotel. They bond over their shared sense of alienation and loneliness, despite the language and cultural barriers between them.
11 – In Bruges (2008)
After a hit job goes wrong, two hitmen are sent to the picturesque Belgian city of Bruges to lay low. As they wait for further instructions, they explore the city and get involved in various misadventures. This Martin McDonagh-directed black comedy is hilarious while touching on some darker subjects.
12 – Coherence (2013)
This mind-bending sci-fi film takes place at a dinner party in a suburban home, but the characters soon discover that their reality is shifting and multiple versions of themselves exist simultaneously in different dimensions. While technically this doesn't take place in a hotel, almost the entire setting of this thought-provoking film takes place within the confines of a single house.
13 – Barbarian (2022)
Barbarian is a horror film that takes place in an Airbnb rental house, where nothing is quite what it seems. This film cleverly subverts expectations, playing on the viewer's preconceived notions of the setting and characters.
14 – Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
In this family comedy, Kevin McCallister accidentally boards a flight to New York City while his family goes to Florida for Christmas. He checks into the Plaza Hotel and must fend off two burglars who are trying to steal from him. This is objectively the best and most fun film of the franchise.
15 – The Lobster (2015)
In this dystopian black comedy, single people are sent to a hotel where they must find a romantic partner within 45 days, or they will be transformed into an animal of their choice and released into the woods.
The main character, David, chooses to become a lobster if he fails to find a mate. The film explores themes of love, conformity, and the absurdities of societal expectations.
16 – Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
The El Royale sits on the California and Nevada border, and when four strangers check into this hotel, dark secrets are revealed as the hotel guests continue to interact with each other at this desolate hotel.
17 – Identity (2003)
When a storm hits near a desolate Nevada motel, ten different strangers end up stuck at the inn. As the ten people spend more time at the motel, darker and more sinister things start happening as everyone is killed off one by one.
18 – The Florida Project (2017)
The Florida Project is a bittersweet movie about family, sacrifices, and the innocence of childhood. Moonee and her mom, Halley, live in a hotel close to Walt Disney World, and the two struggle to survive and keep their little family together when they're faced with a lot of hard challenges.
19 – Hotel Translyvania (2012)
While this is a family-animated movie, Hotel Transylvania is a great movie set entirely at a hotel. Dracula owns a high-end resort for monsters in Transylvania, far away from the human world. But when Dracula's daughter falls in love with a human, his entire way of living his life and doing his business is changed.
20 – Somewhere (2010)
Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) lives a wild, but uninspired life as a Hollywood actor taking residency at the Hotel Chateau Marmont. He also is the father of 11-year-old Cleo (Elle Fanning) who gets dropped into his lap after her mother leaves town. Now the two need to figure out how to make their lives work together.
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.