London Filming Locations: Paddington (2014)

Peru is a country that has long fascinated me and is one I’d love to visit. I know it of course for the world wonder that is Machu Picchu, ex-Leicester player Nobby Solano (13 appearances!), Deportivo Wanka football club but most famously it’s the original home of Paddington Bear. A lot of the British population have a huge affection for this fictional bear due to Michael Bond’s books and the 1975 TV series and thankfully this 2014 movie didn’t disappoint with this warm and witty story. Continue reading

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Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2014

Another year has passed and despite my reservations about the future of such ‘top 10……filming locations’ this time last year, I have managed to do enough locations to warrant another list. It’s quite 007-centric and has in the main included just topping up pre-existing entries. Here then, in no particular order, is the Top 10……filming location trips for 2014…

1) Entrapment, 1999 (Click here)

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2) The Hangover Part II, 2011 (Click here)

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3) The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974 (Click here)

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4) Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997 (Click here)

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5) The Wolverine, 2013 (Click here)

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6) Godzilla, 1954 (Click here)

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7) Notting Hill, 1999 (Click here)

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8) The World Is Not Enough, 1999 (Click here)

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9) Skyfall, 2012 (Click here)

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10) Quantum Of Solace, 2008 (Click here)

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For the best filming locations for other years please click on the links below:

2009     2010     2011     2012     2013

Top 10……Films Set Around Christmas!

It’s Christmas time and holiday cheer is very much on the horizon which often involves people watching classic festive films like ‘Scrooge‘, ‘A Christmas Carol‘, ‘Santa Clause: The Movie‘, erm ‘Jingle All The Way‘ or many of the special TV episodes filmed for this time of the year.

Others like ‘Home Alone‘ (1990), ‘Die Hard‘ (1988), ‘Gremlins‘ (1984) and ‘Lethal Weapon‘ (1987) which are just set during the Christmas season are also popular choices so I have delved into the archives to find some movies (of course ones that I have been to some filming locations of!) with seasonal connections whether it be a major one or a really tenuous link!

So here then, in no particular order, is the TF top 10……

1. In Bruges (2008) – Certainly not the first one that comes to mind when you think of films taking place at Christmas! Two Irish hit-men hide out in Belgium during the holiday season not that it’s at all important to the storyline. The woman at the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel, where they stay, is doing something with the Christmas tree in one scene and their angry boss, Ralph Fiennes, shouts at his wife in front of their tree and kids in another.

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2. Ghostbuster II (1989) – The sequel is set in New York City during the Christmas period and culminates on New Years Eve as a crowd of locals sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. A Christmas tree is visible during at least one scene and I guess one other festive link this has is that it was made (according to some critics!) to sell toys at Christmas time!

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3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – This Stanley Kubrick-directed erotic thriller is not your traditional Christmas film in any way! It opens at a big Christmas party before  Tom Cruise’s jealous character goes on a sexual odyssey so that he can feel equal to his “cheating” wife. However, not all is straight forward as he soon witnesses a secret sex society and people begin dying. It’s lacking in festive tunes and the common joviality shown by many at that time of the year. Christmas trees can be seen throughout as London doubles up for New York in holiday season.

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4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – In his one and only appearance as James Bond, George Lazenby takes the reins of the double agent in the sixth 007 movie. Part of the film takes place at Grindelwald in Switzerland during the Christmas season snow is all around. Festive connections include a Christmas tree at the Piz Gloria clinic, presents for the ladies and there’s even a Christmas song called “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown.”

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5. Love Actually (2003) – By far the most festive film in this list as a large group of inter-related people are followed for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, exploring their various love-states. An all-star cast take part in this feel-good film.

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6. About A Boy (2002) – Bachelor Will (Hugh Grant) has no job and doesn’t need to have one as he can just live off the royalties of “Santa’s Super Sleigh”; a Christmas song his father composed in the past. Towards the end of the film we see Will hosting a Christmas gathering at his place with his new extended support system.

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7. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – Thirty-something singleton Bridget is introduced to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) at her parents’ Christmas party and is not impressed. He’s snooty and wears Christmas jumpers but as we know that eventually changes over time among several pivotal holiday-themed/snow scenes.

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8. The English Patient (1996) – A Hungarian cartographer choosing to maintain the assumption by others that he is an Englishman is badly burned in a plane crash during World War II and relays parts of his past via flashbacks and one of these includes a Christmas party scene where amidst a chorus of Silent Night, Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is seduced by Almásy (Ralph Fiennes).

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9. When Harry Met Sally (1989) – Several Christmas and New Year’s-related scenes take place in this romantic comedy which spans over 15 years.

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10. I am Legend (2007) – A viral outbreak occurs on Christmas Eve 2009 in Manhattan, and quickly spreads across the world. The epidemic seemingly begins in the lead up to the Christmas season and festive decorations can be seen throughout the early parts of this Will Smith movie.

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Bonus: The Bourne Identity (2002) – Remember when Bourne and Marie seeked refuge in the French countryside? Well, they go to stay at her stepbrother’s place where Bourne notices the Christmas lights are still on. That sign of recent occupancy tells him that they have to leave before the owners return. It is also snowing throughout most of the film which is usually a good indication that it’s the holiday season.

London Filming Locations: The World Is Not Enough (1999)

It was pretty much a law of diminishing returns where the Pierce Brosnan Bond-era was concerned and by the time of his third outing as the double agent things were starting to get more and more ridiculous regarding plot, excessive action scenes and an over-reliance on technological devices of some sort. Still, it was enjoyable enough and the follow up ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) made it seem not so bad after all!

The MI6 Headquarters building is Vauxhall Cross (below); the same building which would reappear in ‘Skyfall‘ (2012). It’s located at 85 Albert Embankment next to Vauxhall Bridge.

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The pre-titles sequence along the River Thames is actually the longest one of all the 23 James Bond films clocking in at just over 14 minutes. It starts off at the MI6 building, and goes past Westminster, which is clearly seen alongside Big Ben, as the chase continues on down to Tower Bridge.

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Perhaps the most memorable part of the chase was on 10 minutes at Glengall Bridge (below) in the East End’s docks where, with the bridge closing in true dramatic movie style, Bond hits a special button which allows the boat (Q’s retirement recreational boat no less which is on show at the ‘Bond In Motion’ exhibition at London Film Museum) to go under the water to avoid the bridge. No doubt the underwater scene was shot in the studio but it was classic Bond with him slyly finding a moment to adjust his tie!

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The bridge, which opened in 1990, is located at Millwall Inner Dock and Crossharbour Station on the DRL Line is technically the closest station though many of the other stops on this line are in close proximity too. I actually walked from Canary Wharf which is three stops away!

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From there the chase proceeds along Ornamental Canal (below) at Wapping Lane where he soaks a couple of traffic wardens at the right-angle bend as they motor on towards the purposely built canoeing clubhouse.

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A brief detour on tarmac and then its back on the water as the scene comes to a climax in Greenwich at the Millennium Dome (below) as it was known then. These days its sponsored and is called the O2 Arena. Sadly, my photo below is a rather poorly scanned photo which I took back in 2005. 

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Not quite London, but Luton is near enough to the nations capital for its airport to have been re-named London-Luton in 1990 to re-emphasise the airport’s proximity to London……and if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for Tokyo Fox!! So with that in mind let us remind you that Luton Hoo, Hotel, Golf & Spa (also used in ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘ and ‘Four Wedding’s And A Funeral‘) in Bedforshire was actually used to portray the interior of Electra’s Baku palace in Azerbaijan.

Click here to see 15 ‘fake’ Bond filming locations.

After that, the action moves on to a few places including Turkey where the Maidens Tower (below); a tiny islet off the coast at Uskudar, is where ‘M’ (Judi Dench) is taken prisoner.

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Bonus: London has of course regularly appeared in many Bond films and is the true home of 007. It made a brief appearance on 15 minutes in ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ (2008) when Daniel Craig’s Bond is driven into the entrance of a high rise apartment (below) belonging to a deceased double agent where he and M realise the extent of the mysterious organisation. The flats are called The Water Gardens and they’re on Burwood Place close to Edgware Road tube station.

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The city of London featured extensively throughout the awesome follow up ‘Skyfall‘ (2012) which you can see in detail here.

For other London filming locations click on the links below:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace    Trainspotting    Mission: Impossible    Lara Croft Tomb Raider    The Bourne Ultimatum   Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone   James Bond    About A Boy    Quadrophenia    Bridget Jones’s Diary    Goodnight Sweetheart    Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels    Basic Instinct 2    Batman Begins/The Dark Knight    The Italian Job    Snatch    Rom-Com Special    Skyfall    Notting Hill

London Filming Locations: Notting Hill (1999)

Despite the huge success of ‘Four Weddings & A Funeral‘ in the mid-nineties, that film totally bypassed me and it wasn’t till five years later that I actually saw any kind of Hugh Grant film. That movie was of course ‘Notting Hill‘ (1999) and what do you know but 15 years on, my wife and I found ourselves staying at a rented apartment on Ladbroke Grove which is right in the heart of where much of this 1999 rom-com was shot.

Now, this is not the first time some of these pictures have appeared on here as there was a Rom-Com special in December 2012 which cobbled together my efforts not only from ‘Notting Hill‘ but also from the aforementioned ‘Four Weddings & A Funeral‘ (1994) as well as ‘Love Actually‘ (2004).

Straight up on 2 minutes is Saints Tattoo Parlour (below) on 201 Portobello Road which a guy emerges from in disbelief that he got an ‘I love Ken’ tattoo.

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Another place to get the briefest of references is the failed restaurant of William Thacker’s (Hugh Grant) mate Tony; an architect turned chef who ploughed all of his money into the business. That place is seen on 3 minutes and is actually an art store (below) called Portfolio. The address is 106 Golbourne Road and it’s a short walk north of Ladbroke Grove Underground station.

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Anyway, what you really want to know is whereabouts the next couple of filming locations are. The famous blue door (below) of the house where William and Spike (Rhys Ifans) live is 280 Westbourne Park Road. It first appears on 3 minutes as William heads off home from Portobello Road which is just a few meters away. It’s Spike though who steals the limelight outside the door on 80 minutes when he poses for the paparazzi in his underpants!

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Just around the corner from their flat is the book shop (below) where normal guy William works and indeed first meets the very famous Anna Scott (Julia Roberts). It is seen for the first time on 5 minutes and is at 142 Portobello Road. Its now aptly named Notting Hill whilst the actual travel bookshop on which it was based is at 13 Blenheim Crescent.

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The interior scenes of the shop were actually shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood(below) along with a few other inside shots. There is a facade of the shop on display in the theme park which I have visited twice; in 2002 and 2011 respectively.

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Having got his coffee at 303 Westbourne Park Road (below), William proceeds to turn the corner into Portobello Road on 11 minutes where he spills his coffee all over Anna. It’s still a coffee shop but these days it’s home to a branch of Coffee Republic.

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William turns up at The Ritz (below), where is Anna is staying, on 22 minutes and gives an impromptu interview on behalf of Horse & Hound magazine to Anna as well as her co-stars. The high class establishment features again on 51 minutes.

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The first place William and Anna go on a date is to his sisters birthday party at 91 Lansdowne Road (below). This is the home to Max and Bella and as well as that first appearance  on 33 minutes it is also seen at dinner time half an hour later.

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The Coronet Cinema (below) at 103 Notting Hill Gate plays host to a couple of movies within the movie. First up on 48 minutes is when William and Anna watch something with the former wearing a snorkel mask/goggles and on 56 mins he is alone as he watches Anna starring in sci-fi film ‘Helix‘ in the wake of discovering her husband is in town.

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After that first cinema scene, William and Anna go to Japanese restaurant Nobu (below) on 49 minutes whereby Anna gives as good as she gets. This expensive place is part of the Metropolitan Hotel and is located at 19 Old Park Lane. 

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The final ‘Notting Hill’ location is The Savoy (below) at 1 Savoy Hill on the Strand which appears on 108 minutes. All good rom-com movies need someone chasing after their true love and this one is no different but rather than the usual dash to the airport we see William and friends driving through busy London traffic to get to the press conference in the Lancaster Room where he very publicly proposes.

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Many thanks to Tony Reeves
 
For other London filming locations click on the links below:Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace    Trainspotting    Mission: Impossible    Lara Croft Tomb Raider    The Bourne Ultimatum   Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone   James Bond    About A Boy    Quadrophenia    Bridget Jones’s Diary    Goodnight Sweetheart    Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels    Basic Instinct 2    Batman Begins/The Dark Knight    The Italian Job    Snatch    Rom-Com Special    Skyfall    The World Is Not Enough

Back To The Future Secret Cinema

Since it was first launched in 2007, Secret Cinema has kept growing and punters have continued to stump up a fair whack to take part in an offline event where in the past they didn’t even know what film they’d be seeing. In it’s most notable release so far, ‘Back To The Future‘ was revealed in advance and the tickets for the dates in July and August disappeared in no time. Luckily, Stuart (my brother-in-law) and Lorna (my sister) managed to get us all tickets not that my wife and I had any idea what it was all about when we were presented with the tickets following our family get-together the day before.

Lorna had told me in advance to keep my Sunday evening (August 10th) free but I just thought it would be tickets to watch a film or go to a music concert! As it was, my first guess was kind of right but in a way that was so different to anything I could ever possibly have imagined!

Despite the many Star Wars and 007 features on Tokyo Fox it’s actually ‘Back To The Future‘ which is my favourite film. However, regardless of that I was still very apprehensive about this event as I couldn’t understand what it actually was at first and with jet-lag kicking in I really wasn’t confident that we could stay awake for that long having been in bed so much earlier on the previous nights. Furthermore, when I did my research on the event the first Secret Cinema article I came across was one slating it for all number of reasons, most notably the £50+ ticket prices!

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After a morning of rain-soaked sightseeing we returned to our rented apartment for a much needed rest ahead of the nights events wondering how the rain would affect the occasion. We were pretty much still oblivious to what Secret Cinema entailed though when we arrived at Stuart and Lorna’s hotel in Stratford where they were staying for the night. On booking the tickets, each audience member is assigned a character name card and identity with many personal details on it (I was Roderick Poitras, an egg gatherer!) and one has to dress up as that extra to become part of the experience of being part of the production of this classic movie. We would certainly find out later on that it really is best to just go with the flow and get immersed in the world of cosplay in order to reap the full reward.

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The line to enter the “secret location” at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London stretched for miles and took us an hour or so till we entered via a bag search. This is a rare event in that mobile phones are confiscated from those who decide to bring them each night. It’s supposed to be some response to digital culture and of the course the organisers can use the excuse that mobiles didn’t exist in 1955 so allowing them would take away from the grandness of the event. What we didn’t realise though was that we could purchase disposable camera’s on sight (£6) which naturally we did and thereafter our attitude changed a little bit as it became just about taking pictures rather than enjoying it in the way that people used to do in days gone by!

So how to describe this event? It’s basically a BTTF festival with a bit of cosplay, theatre, cinema and live music thrown in for good measure. As soon as we entered we were on Twin Pines Ranch whereby we encounter the fairly surreal situation of interacting in character with some workers (a.k.a. trained actors speaking American English) amid real goats from Mr Peabody’s Farm.

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The site had been reconstructed to resemble the 1955 Hill Valley as close as possible with the courthouse square taking the central area. The clock tower is of course in front of that including a huge giant screen displaying the film. Hill Valley high school was to one side of the square and of course was playing host to the all important ‘Enchantment Under The Sea‘ dance which bookended the nights main event with Marvin Berry & The Starlighters performing. Lou’s Cafe was behind the square and the place for us to spend huge amounts of money on food and drink if we so desired! Just the £8 for my cheeseburger as not surprisingly this was not on sale at 1950’s prices!!

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The roads between the ranch and the courthouse square featured the houses of Biff, Lorraine, George, a few others and a bit further along was the Doc’s house and the Texaco gas station. Of course I’ve been to the actual houses used during filming in Los Angelesbut nevertheless it was still very exciting to see these rebuilt places with actors inside them mingling with the audience in character. This interaction had actually started while we were queuing outside and continued all night with sketches taking place randomly at any place and any time. “No jaywalking” was said by traffic policemen and other such folk throughout the night every time one of us “extras” committed the number one crime in Hill Valley!!

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Courthouse square was where the vast majority of the huge crowd sat to watch the film which began just after 9pm. I had originally thought that this would, in a way, be the least exciting part of the evening but on a night of delightful surprises I was happy to be proved wrong again.

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Throughout the film, I not only enjoyed watching it outside with thousands of likeminded fans (which was actually far more exciting than I thought possible for a film which is nearly 30 years old!) but we also got to witness and be part of live re-enactments with many of them acted out on a stage lying beneath the screen. Furthermore, there were numerous cars, vans, yellow school buses, cadillacs and skateboards whizzing around the square as the actors and stuntmen recreated key scenes from the film parallel to their appearance in the movie. It was a pretty awesome spectacle.

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Conditions were fairly windy at times but thankfully the rain also managed to mostly hold off for the duration of the event. Overall, there was so much going on throughout the evening and it really is quite difficult to paint a really true and accurate picture of what this particular Secret Cinema was all about. The attention to detail was really great and there were so many geeky BTTF references everywhere. Now, you have to understand that this is my account of how I got lost in cinema on the night. With this event though, nearly every single participant has a different and unique experience and therein lies the beauty of such an event.

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Top 10……Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Hot on the tail of the top (double oh) 7 hotels featured in James Bond films here are the top 10 recommendations for other places where you can spend a night amidst movie history. Just to get things clear you have to pay to stay in all of the listed accommodation rather than just rocking up and pitching a tent outside the filming location!! This list, which is in no particular order, will take you around the globe and offers the full spectrum of price range.

1. Sidi Driss, (from $9 per night) Matmatat-Al-Qadimal, Matmata (Tunisia): Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – No surprise that this one is featured. Coach loads of tourists stop off here every day yet very few of them actually stay the night! That’s probably because it’s very dirty with poor service! I was the only guest when I stayed there…..but it was a privilege to spend the night at Luke Skywalker’s home! Cheap too!More details here.

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2. On On Hotel (from $3 per night), 19 Phang-Nga Road, Talad Yai, Muang, Phuket  (Thailand): The Beach (2000) – Another ridiculously cheap place to stay. Leonard DiCaprio checks in to this rundown “Kao San Road” backpacker place but its nowhere near the legendary Bangkok spot where western travellers congregate. It is in fact way, way down south in Phuket town. More details here.

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3. Imperial Palace (from $49 per night), 3535 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109  (USA): Austin Powers International Man Of Mystery (1997) – This Nevada state city has been used in many movies over the years and could probably have it’s very own top 10 list (now there’s an idea!) but just the single hotel for this entry and that’s Alotta Fagina’s penthouse suite where Austin shagged her rotten to use his exact words!! It’s since been re-named as The Quad Resort & Hotel. More details here.

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4. Tiki Motel (from $?? per night), 7301 Santa Fe Avenue, Huntington Park, Los Angeles (USA): The Terminator (1984) – John Connor was conceived at this very run-down in what is perhaps the most pivotal point in the whole Terminator franchise. You could stay in the same room where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese did the deed but in all honesty you probably wouldn’t want to! More details here.

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5. Royal Eagle Hotel (from $627 per night), 26-30 Craven Rd, London W2 3QB (UK): Trainspotting (1996) – The boys take a break from Scotland and head down south to London to do a drug deal. Sick Boy leads the guys out of Smallbrook Mews, across Craven Road in a parody of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. The “small-time wasters” then wander into the Royal Eagle Hotel. More details here.

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6. Grand Hotel Evropa (from $30 per night), Vaclavske namesti 25, Prague (Czech Republic): Mission: Impossible (1996) – This was the headquarters of mysterious arms dealer Max (Vanessa Redgrave) in the first of this action spy film series based on the TV series from the 60’s and 70’s. More details here.

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7. Westin Grand (from $274 per night), Friedrichstrasse 158 – 164, 10117 Berlin  (Germany): The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – The luxury hotel where Landy stays. Bourne cleverly finds out at reception that she is staying in room 235. He then watches her leave from his position on the 4th floor and then takes the stairs down and goes through the hotels revolving doors where he gets in a taxi and follows her to the CIA hub. More details here.

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8. Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel (from $216 per night), Wollestraat 41-47, Bruges (Belgium): In Bruges (2008) – Dark, comedy thriller featuring Colin Farrell (Ray), Brendan Gleeson (Ken) and Ralph Fiennes (Harry) with the former two Irish hit-men lying low in the Belgian city at this canal-side hotel. More details here.

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9. Four Season’s Hotel (from $750 per night), Teyfikhane Sok No 1 SultanahmetIstanbul 34110 (Turkey): Midnight Express (1978) – This used to be the infamous Sultanahmet jail depicted in this biographical crime drama. More details here.

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10. Plaza Hotel (from $550 per night), 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019 (USA): Crocodile Dundee (1986) – What could be better than washing your backside in the same bidet that Mick Dundee (presumably) washed his posterior in? Well sadly that can’t be done here as the facilities don’t have bidets! The interior scenes were shot in the studio but you could still pretend and shout it from the window down to pedestrians on the street below!  More details here.

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