How to Travel Like You’re in a Wes Anderson Movie
Kitschy, quirky, eccentric, and almost always a tad melancholy – we absolutely love watching director and screenwriter Wes Anderson's intricately self-contained worlds play out on screen. Here, we take his vision and give it real world context, with 8 iconographically-inspired trips.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
With a thriving romantic cafe culture, streets lined with neoclassical facades, and hot springs and Turkish bathhouses around every corner, Budapest is a real life microcosm of Anderson's highly-stylized world. Start your stay at the dramatic Corinthia Hotel Budapest, a 1896 grand dame with a Neo-Baroque ballroom (that was once a communist-era theater) dripping in chandeliers; an impeccably symmetrical Art Deco spa with a colonnade-supported gallery; and six-story glass-roofed atrium with a sweeping central staircase. Explore the Buda Hills aboard the Children’s Railway, or the Gyermekvasút, a line operated by kids 10 to 14 (under the supervision of adults) who sell tickets, manage traffic and conduct the train. The railway makes seven stops throughout the city, including the highest peak in Budapest – János Hill. After catching a goodbye salute from the fully uniformed (red conductor's hats, and all) pre-teens, shop for your own Anderson-esque threads at Nanushka. Sandra Sandor’s flagship store features impeccably tailored menswear for women, in playful colors like bubblegum pink, and retro hues and patterns like rusty orange and classic tweed.
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Karlovy, Czech Republic
This pastel-hued Czech spa town has old-world flare in every conceivable form: Baroque grand hotels, twin-steepled churches, neo-Renaissance colonnades, and an endearing funicular, the combination of which inspired the Academy Award nominated The Grand Budapest Hotel. Karlovy Vary isn’t hurting for royal accommodations, but the Grandhotel Pupp has been setting the standard since 1701, working with a most impressive Neo-Baroque Festive Hall which can seat 750 people around its red-velvet-curtain-shaded stage; the Pupp Royal Spa with a sauna, steam bath, ice fountain, relaxation pool, microclimatic salt cave, and recreational pier; and 228 individually-designed guest rooms. To get a lay of the perfectly pastel-hued land, head to Stag’s Leap, arguably the best lookout point in town. For more enchanting sights, pop just over the border and into Germany, where you’ll find another endearing spa town, and the Bad Schandau elevator, a historic 50-meter tall tower which lifts visitors to the Ostrauer Scheibe viewing point (which also has a lynx enclosure, naturally).
Camp Wandawega, Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega isn't just a Wes Anderson set come to life (ahem, Moonrise Kingdom) – the storied resort has a background that's as film-worthy as its locale and retro style. In 1925, the Wandawega Hotel was built, a law-defying maze of a building with trapdoors, hidden stock rooms and multiple exits, all to conceal an illegal speakeasy, and underground gambling and prostitution rings. Nefarious activities continued to rule the spot until 1950, when the resort focused on actually being a resort, and in the 70s, it even had a stint as a Catholic Latvian summer camp. Fast forward to today and resort guests can rent out cabins and bunkhouses adorably decked out in period antiques and vintage college pennants, books, and sports equipment. Don’t come looking for any type of luxury – Wandawega is so self aware that they even stress guests first read their “Manifesto of Low Expectations” before committing to a stay. When not exploring the camp’s 25 acres of woods and trail (on foot or by borrowable Schwinn bike) you can pick out your own kitschy items at the nearby Elkhorn Antique Flea Market.
New York, New York
Stop by the reception desk at The Jane Hotel, a West Village landmark that once housed surviving members of the Titanic (and then served as a flophouse), and you’ll be handed a solid brass key by a fully uniformed bellhop. While the hotel has had quite the history lodging sailors, and later NYC’s bohemian crowd, the spot now entertains the city’s hippest visitors and locals, with velvet settees, teeny-tiny bunk-style sleeper train rooms, wildly patterned wallpapers, and lighting operated by the turn of an old-timey key. For an evening at leisure, head to the the Metrograph, on Ludlow, to catch archive-quality black and whites and lauded indie cinema on 35mm, from the vantage of 1920s-esque red velvet seats. For a post-movie meal, Sadelle’s, in Soho, is your place. Step under the blue and white striped awning and splurge on Russian caviar (it’s what they’re known for), salmon rillette, and steak tartare, as you force your friends to capture your sepia-tone glow – the space is entirely candlelit – on film (yes, actual film).
Step into Natalie Portman’s shoes at Hotel Raphael, the actual set location from Anderson’s self-financed short film, Hotel Chevalier, in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. The 1925, family-run palace doesn’t skimp on French-style luxury, with Renaissance artwork, glamorous Old World decor, and Golden Key concierge service. Over at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, in the 3rd, you’ll find a menagerie of delightfully idiosyncratic curios, namely taxidermied polar bears, narwhals, and falcons, antique furniture (including an upholstered doghouse), and varied weaponry, all well worth your time. For a taste of haute French cuisine, break out your Margot Tenenbaum cashmere gloves and head to Le Restaurant de la Gare, where soaring white columns, vintage furnishings and geometric pendant lighting show off a newly renovated side of what was once the Passy-La-Muette metro station.
Bar Luce was pulled straight from Anderson’s fantastical imagination – and we mean that literally, since he designed the spot himself. As expected, Formica furniture in nostalgic 60s-era hues, wood panelled walls, and mod pinball machines set the scene, but the director credits popular 20th century Milanese design and some of his favorite Italian films as inspo. Book ahead for dinner at Tram Ristorante ATMosfera, a restaurant that operates on two historic streetcars which ferry diners through the heart of Milan while they enjoy a four-course meal. Once full, it’s time to tuck away at the Hotel Principe Di Savoia, where hand-painted frescoes, 19th-century furnishings, and crystal chandeliers are all without comparison, but the Presidential Suite swimming pool steals the show. One look at the suite's Pompeii-style spa, Turkish bath and private Jacuzzi and pool tiled with perfectly symmetrical ying-yang fish, and it's easy to see how its entertained a number of celebrities and royals.
New Delhi, India
Step back in time and into Wes Anderson’s fictional Darjeeling Limited on Indian Railway’s Royal Rajasthan on Wheels. The 8-day sleeper train runs from New Delhi to Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Agra, and back. Excursions are punctuated by ceremonial greetings, with the laying of flower garlands and rides on intricately ornamented elephants. Back on board, feast on Indian delicacies in one of the two dining lounges (decked out in wood and crystal, and gold and brass), indulge in luxe wellness services at the Royal Spa, and relax in your regal suite. All rooms are draped in rich silks, velvet linens, and embroidered tapestries. And in true Anderson style, each works with a different limited color palette – something denoted by the suite’s name, be it Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, or Pearl.
Any sojourn in London should first include Claridge’s Afternoon Tea, where Art Deco design meets a tea menu of 24 far-reaching varieties (thanks to their dedicated tea connoisseur) and fresh raisin and apple scones with Marco Polo jelly and Cornish Clotted cream, served on minty green striped China. But don’t fill yourself up there, because dinner comes later at the Gallery, at sketch. While the space may be working with a strictly monochromatic pink palette, it certainly hits more than one note. Designer India Mahdavi’s mod aesthetic embraces and unites British artist David Shrigley’s original drawings and Master Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s menu. At day's end, retire to the Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, an actual Edwardian town hall that now boasts a speakeasy cocktail bar and basement pool beautifully accented by a white marble deck and brass railings. In your pied-à-terre-style room you’ll find a harmonious decorative scheme of bright white walls, bespoke furnishings and deep soaking tubs.
Our Anderson-esque Travel Must-Haves:
From top left: Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle | Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 | Kate Spade Telegram Note Pad | Floto Leather Luggage Tag | Eskuche Headphones | Women’s Harris Tweed Jacket | Ray-Ban Cats 5000 | Heavy Weight Watch Cap Beanie | True Religion Men’s Two Tone Knit Scarf | Steamline Luggage – The Correspondent
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