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Travel

Exploring the stunning real-life locations of Wes Anderson movie ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

@Russellisation

Having created a rich filmography, complete with colourful cinematic visions and imaginative, eclectic vistas, Wes Anderson reached the peak of his craft in 2014 with the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a frenetic comedy crime caper that threw the filmmaker’s iconic castmembers into a globetrotting adventure. 

Featuring the familiar faces of Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody, the 2014 masterpiece was nominated for nine Academy Awards in 2015, winning four including Best Achievement in Production Design. 

Whilst some regard The Grand Budapest Hotel as one of the director’s finest ever films, one aspect of the movie that most can agree on is that it is Anderson’s best-looking project, capturing stunning locations across the world for his wild story. Looking into exactly where Anderson and his team travelled to capture the stunning masterpiece, let’s dive into the filming locations of The Grand Budapest Hotel and bask in their eccentricity.

The real-life locations of The Grand Budapest Hotel:

Görlitzer Warenhaus Department Store, Görlitz, Germany 

The elaborate interior of the titular hotel in Wes Anderson’s movie is undoubtedly one of the most memorable aspects, with its ornate red and pink walls and marvellous ceiling providing the perfect backdrop for this romantic crime caper. 

Unfortunately, this mighty hotel standing on the cliffs of Budapest doesn’t actually exist in real life, though this isn’t to say its extraordinary interior doesn’t exist somewhere else. Standing in for the hotel is an abandoned Art Nouveau department store in Görlitz, Germany, named Görlitzer Warenhaus Department Store. 

The gorgeous, historical building comes complete with many of the aspects from the finished Wes Anderson movie, including grand staircases, elevators and a grand atrium that provides the backdrop for many iconic scenes. “When I first saw the building, I thought: It’s perfect. Just perfect,” production designer Adam Stockhausen told The Hollywood Reporter, with the film’s producer Jeremy Dawson also exclaiming his excitement, adding, “We saw right away it would work — the building had the height and scale, the grandness, we needed. It had beautiful bones”. 

Whilst the original building is out of use, Stockhausen and the rest of the production team set out to transform the interior of the department store to fit Anderson’s vision, with the preparation being a grand task, even if much of the groundwork was already set out. 

As Stockhausen further revealed, “The columns, the staircases, that really magnificent window and that huge chandelier, that was already there, that’s all original…We built everything else”.

(Credit: Alamy)

Castle Osterstein, Saxony, Germany

Görlitzer Warenhaus Department Store had proven to be the jewel in the production’s crown when Wes Anderson and his team found the location in Görlitz, Germany, but this was far from the only location they required. 

In fact, not too far from the location of the department store was Castle Osterstein, the place used to capture all the scenes for Check-Point 19. A prison both in real life and in the movie, Castle Osterstein was used from the 18th century until the end of WWII, with the 13th century fortification used as a place to hold prisoners and victims of war. 

As production designer Adam Stockhausen further revealed, “It was used as a political prison [after World War II] that went out of use after [German] reunification”. Revealing more about the location’s history, he added, “It’s officially decommissioned and is now awaiting museum status”. 

No longer a prison, the Renaissance Castle Osterstein is now a nursing home, occasionally used for thrilling Hollywood movies. 

(Credit: TillF)

Pfunds Molkerei, Dresden, Germany

Of the many pretty locations in Anderson’s film, you may not remember Mendl’s pastry shop that featured actor Saoirse Ronan as a talented patissier, until you see its glowing pastel pink interior that is.

Whilst the exterior of the stunning shop is taken from a storefront in a picturesque street of Görlitz, the all-important interior of Mendl’s was filmed in Pfunds Molkerei, a well-known 19th Century creamery in Dresden. Speaking about the unique location, production designer Adam Stockhausen explained, “Inside the shop is all hand-painted tile…and it’s just overwhelmingly beautiful”. 

Unfortunately for Wes Anderson fans with a particularly sweet tooth, the ‘Courtesan au Chocolat’ pastries were also created for the film too, by Müller Anemone from the bakery Café CaRe’s, also located in Gorlitz. 

Inspired by the stuffed Religieuse, whilst the ‘Courtesan au Chocolat’ may be tricky to purchase in real life, the team behind the movie have been kind enough to provide a delectable recipe, right here.

(Credit: Alamy)

Sphinx Observatory, Switzerland

The sight of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and Zero (Tony Revolori) on the snow-topped mountain observatory is one of the most memorable moments in Wes Anderson’s film, even if it is merely a small moment in the grand movie. 

So, the location you see in the film doesn’t quite exist, with Anderson creating a miniature model for use in the movie, though, crucially, the model is based on a very real life location, namely the Sphinx Observatory in Switzerland.

One of the highest-altitude buildings in Europe, the Sphinx Observatory opened in 1937 and stands at approximately 11,700 feet above sea level. Whilst scientists use the space to study the stars and collect crucial data, the general public can also use a viewing deck to look over the peaks of Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger.

(Credit: Julius Silver)