Roll out the red carpet at five hotels used as movie sets
The sleepy market town of Amersham is popular with commuters, as it is both located at the end of London’s Metropolitan tube line and yet also in the foothills of the Chiltern Hills, an officially designated ‘Area of Natural Beauty’.
The High Street boasts not one but two hotels featured in the 1994 romcom Four Weddings and a Funeral. When Charles and Carrie escape to ‘The Lucky Boatman’, the half-timbered Tudor exterior seen on screen is actually The Kings Arms, a pub-turned- hotel once frequented by Oliver Cromwell. The action then cuts to this four-star coaching inn for drinks by the inglenook fire. The pair retire to room 101, now one of the hotel’s courtyard suites given a tasteful makeover by designer Ilse Crawford.
Swiss architect Richard Seifert originally designed this as an office for the Rank Organisation – one of Britain’s largest film companies at the time. However, such was the demand for rooms in Swinging Sixties London that it opened as a hotel in 1967. The Royal Lancaster quickly became a hip hangout. The staff wore miniskirts, Cary Grant married the hotel’s PR agent, and The Beatles held an after-party here following the 1968 premiere of the Yellow Submarine film. More significantly, Michael Caine could be seen striding through the foyer in The Italian Job, on his way to room 1720. An £80 million refit for its 50th anniversary has returned a little mid-century glamour to the 411 rooms, many with widescreen views across Hyde Park opposite.
The 1990 film of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book The Witches was set at this Newquay institution, causing much excitement among the hotel’s staff as star Anjelica Huston received regular calls and flower bouquets from her then-boyfriend Jack Nicholson.
While the listed, 1900 hotel is grand enough to also count Kings George VI and Edward VII among its previous guests, it is the location of The Headland that stands out. As the name would suggest, it is perched on its own private peninsula that faces out into the Atlantic.
Just a few minutes’ walk away is the half-mile-long Fistral Beach, one of England’s finest, blessed with soft white sands and waves rising up to 12 feet high.
The legendary Pinewood Studios is four miles from this Edwardian country club so it has been a regular fixture on the silver screen. The third James Bond film, 1964’s Goldfinger, was one of the first to be filmed here, as Sean Connery’s 007 takes to the 27-hole golf course. A later Bond film,Tomorrow Never Dies, also filmed scenes in the ballroom, while Daniel Craig came to a grisly end on the front steps in his pre-Bond thriller, Layer Cake.
Far more in keeping with the current clientele are the scenes from Bridget Jones’s Diary when Hugh Grant whisks Renee Zellweger away for a romantic getaway. Follow in their footsteps by strolling beside the lake and retiring to the four-poster bed in the Pennsylvania Suite.
The great British architect Robert Adam began work on Luton Hoo in 1767, before it was rebuilt following a fire in the mid-19th century. That combination of neoclassical grandeur and Victorian charm has made it a popular backdrop for filmmakers. Visit the Adam’s Brasserie to view a gallery of stills from movies made on site. These include Vanity Fair, Four Weddings and a Funeraland Eyes Wide Shut, the final film by legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who apparently chose the hotel after camera testing several other sites.
The hotel’s Mansion State Suites are similarly fit for a movie star, while the 1,000-acre, Capability Brown-designed grounds also contain a luxury spa and golf course.
Want to continue your cinematic journey? Pick up issue 208 of Discover Britain or read one of the features below