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Yoshio Sato - © 2003 Focus Features

15 Famous Movie Hotels You Can Visit in Real Life

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Yoshio Sato - © 2003 Focus Features

While there are a number of memorable fictional movie hotels (the Grand Budapest Hotel, the Bates Motel, and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are a few that come to mind) there are many more that are real, working businesses that offer guests a chance to experience some of their favorite movie locations, while also offering a great night’s sleep. Here are 15 movie hotels you can book in real life.

1. PARK HYATT TOKYO // TOKYO

Located in the heart of the city, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is the five-star hotel at the center of Sofia Coppola's Oscar-winning Lost In Translation. Along with its spectacular views of the neon lights of downtown Tokyo and Mount Fuji in the distance, you can also order a glass of Suntory Whisky at the New York Bar in the 52-story skyscraper where Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) first met and began their wild adventure through Japan.

2. MOUNTAIN LAKE LODGE // PEMBROKE, VIRGINIA

Mountain Lake Lodge

Although it takes place at the fictional Kellerman's Resort in New York's Catskill Mountains, Dirty Dancing (1987) was actually filmed at two locations: Lake Lure in North Carolina and the Mountain Lake Hotel in Pembroke, Virginia, which is still a popular vacation spot. The hotel hosts Dirty Dancing weekends with group dance lessons, a tour of the filming locations, and a watermelon toss. The resort even features the Virginia Cottage (or “Baby’s Cabin”), where the Houseman Family stayed in the film. It’s also where “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner!"

3. THE PLAZA HOTEL // NEW YORK

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New York City's Plaza Hotel is a famed shooting location for many Hollywood movies, including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) stayed at the luxury hotel when he was separated from the rest of his family (again) in this 1992 sequel. The legendary hotel also served as the new home for Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) when he came to New York from Australia in Crocodile Dundee (1986), as well as the location where William Miller (Patrick Fugit) finds Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), who almost overdosed at the end of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000).

Other movies that were filmed at The Plaza include North by Northwest (1959), Arthur (1981), American Hustle (2013), and The Great Gatsby (2013).

4. BEVERLY WILSHIRE // BEVERLY HILLS

Beverly Wilshire

The primary filming location for Pretty Woman (1990) was the historic Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The luxury hotel even offers guests a glamorous “Pretty Woman For The Day” package, which starts at $15,000 and features a stay in the “Pretty Woman Suite” (the hotel’s Presidential Suite), a personal shopper on Rodeo Drive, a couple’s massage, a “shoeless” picnic with cuisine inspired by the movie, and a night at the Los Angeles Opera. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel also made appearances in Clueless (1995), Sex and the City: The Movie (2008), and Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971).

5. HOTEL DEGLI ORAFI // FLORENCE

Hotel Degli Orafi

If you’d like to stay in the beautiful and romantic room from James Ivory’s A Room with a View (1985), ask for Room 414 on the fourth floor in the Hotel Degli Orafi in Florence, Italy. It’s true, the room has an amazing view of the Arno river and the Ponte Vecchio.

6. CHATEAU MARMONT // LOS ANGELES

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Sofia Coppola shot her fourth film, 2010's Somewhere, almost entirely on location at Los Angeles's Chateau Marmont, a luxury hotel known for its celebrity guests and residents. In fact, the film’s star, Stephen Dorff, stayed at the hotel during production to get into the mindset of his character and to easily get to set every day.

"I was living in Paris, and I was homesick," Coppola explained to LA Weekly of why she shot the film at the hotel. "In France, it's so different, and I was thinking about L.A., how it seems like our whole pop culture is so interested in celebrity, and now people all know about the Chateau Marmont. There have been iconic L.A. movies that I always loved, and I thought, 'We haven't had one showing today, this era of L.A.' "

Many L.A.-based artists and writers such as Billy Wilder, Hunter S. Thompson, Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Tim Burton have all stayed and worked within the Chateau Marmont at one time during their careers, while The Doors' frontman Jim Morrison took up a brief residence at the hotel. Unfortunately, John Belushi also died of a drug overdose in one of its rooms in 1982. At the end of La La Land, Oscar winner Emma Stone's Mia Dolan finds herself at the legendary hotel.

7. CAESARS PALACE // LAS VEGAS

The Hangover (2009) was shot almost entirely on location at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (and no, Caesar didn’t really live there). Aside from the Wolfpack’s villa—which was a sound stage in Hollywood—a majority of the hotel and casino were used for filming, including the front desk, lobby, entrance driveway, pools, corridors, elevators, and the infamous rooftop, where Doug (Justin Bartha) was found at the end of the comedy. Other movies that were filmed at Caesars Palace include Rain Man (1988), Iron Man (2008), Dreamgirls (2006), and The Big Short (2015).

8. FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH // MIAMI BEACH

Fontainebleau Miami Beach/Facebook

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is featured at the beginning of Goldfinger (1965) and is where James Bond (Sean Connery) first met the villainous Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe). It was also the location of the iconic scene where Bond discovers the dead body of the character Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) after the lethal henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) suffocated her by painting her in gold.

In addition, the luxury hotel was also the setting for Jerry Lewis’s The Bellboy (1960) and Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988).

9. PLAZA HOTEL // LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO

Historic Plaza Hotel/Facebook

Founded in 1882, the Plaza Hotel is an historical landmark in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Coen brothers renamed the hotel The Eagle Pass Hotel in No Country For Old Men (2007). The hotel is where the heart-stopping shootout between Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) took place.

10. TIMBERLINE LODGE // MOUNT HOOD NATIONAL FOREST, OREGON

Just outside of Portland, Oregon and near the peak of Mount Hood rests the Timberline Lodge, which was featured in The Shining (1980). While its interiors were filmed at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England, director Stanley Kubrick used the Timberline Lodge for the exteriors of The Overlook Hotel. Although the hotel doesn’t have a Room 237, the hotel’s most requested room is number 217—the mysterious and haunted room from Stephen King’s best-selling novel, on which the film is based. King also used the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado as inspiration for the book.

Today, the Timberline Lodge is a popular vacation spot for its amazing ski slopes and snowboarding. There's also an annual Overlook Film Festival, which showcases the strangest and brightest films in horror.

11. JUVET LANDSCAPE HOTEL // VALLDAL, NORWAY

Knut Bry/Juvet Landscape Hotel

Located in the side of a mountain in northern Norway, the modernist Juvet Landscape Hotel was the filming location for tech billionaire Nathan Bateman’s (Oscar Isaac) isolated home in 2015's Ex Machina. While Norwegian architects Jensen & Skodvin designed the hotel with the idea of simplistic modern design in a tranquil setting, producers chose the scenic location to emphasize the character’s power and good taste. 

“We wanted it to be among nature, we wanted it to be stunning, and we wanted it to be exclusive,” Ex Machina’s production designer, Mark Digby, told Vanity Fair. “We felt someone as powerful, as rich as this, and as intellectually competent as him, would have a good sense of design.”

12. HOTEL DEL CORONADO // CORONADO, CALIFORNIA

One of the greatest comedies in American cinema history, a number of scenes from Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1958)—which follows two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who flee town after witnessing a mob hit and later disguise themselves as women to join an all-female band—was filmed at the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, California. The historic hotel, which appeared as the Seminole Ritz Hotel in Miami, was selected because it fit the film’s 1920s era setting with its Victorian architecture.

Fun Fact: Author L. Frank Baum wrote three books in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz series at the Hotel del Coronado during the early 20th century. He designed elements of the Emerald City based on the hotel.

13. RELAIS BOURGONDISCH CRUYCE // BRUGGE, BELGIUM

In In Bruges (2008), Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are sent to Belgium and hole up at the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, which is located at the intersection of two canals in Brugge, until the two hit men get further instructions from their crime boss (Ralph Fiennes). The boutique hotel is considered one of the most romantic hotels in Europe, while Lonely Planet even called the bed-and-breakfast, "The very epitome of a Bruges experience."

14. MILLENNIUM BILTMORE HOTEL // LOS ANGELES

Millennium Biltmore Hotel

First opening its doors in 1923, Hollywood has long had a fascination with Los Angeles's Millennium Biltmore Hotel. The historic hotel has appeared in a number of big movie productions, from The Sting (1973) and Chinatown (1974), which filmed in its Gold Room and Limousine/VIP Ramp, respectively, to Ghostbusters (1984) and Beverly Hills Cop (1984), which used its Music Room and Rendezvous Court, respectively, as filming locations. The hotel has also appeared in many other movies, including Bachelor Party (1984), Splash (1984), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), and Cruel Intentions (1999).

As legend has it, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel was also the last place Elizabeth Short (a.k.a. the Black Dahlia) was seen before her dead body was discovered bisected in a vacant lot in 1947.

15. SANDTON HOTEL DE FILOSOOF // AMSTERDAM

James Bridges - © TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved

The whirlwind romance between Augustus (Ansel Elgort) and Hazel (Shailene Woodley) in The Fault in Our Stars (2014) took place at the Hotel de Filosoof in Amsterdam, where author John Green wrote the novel on which the film is based. Although the couple stayed at the hotel, its interiors were actually filmed at the American Hotel across town.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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10 Facts About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
May 29, 2017
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Library of Congress

On Veterans Day, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown soldier who died during World War I. Since then, three more soldiers have been added to the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) memorial—and one has been disinterred. Below, a few things you might not know about the historic site and the rituals that surround it.

1. THERE WERE FOUR UNKNOWN SOLDIER CANDIDATES FOR THE WWI CRYPT. 

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To ensure a truly random selection, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from four different WWI American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat and received the Distinguished Service Medal, was chosen to select a soldier for burial at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington. After the four identical caskets were lined up for his inspection, Younger chose the third casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it. The chosen soldier was transported to the U.S. on the USS Olympia, while the other three were reburied at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery in France.

2. SIMILARLY, TWO UNKNOWN SOLDIERS WERE SELECTED AS POTENTIAL REPRESENTATIVES OF WWII.

One had served in the European Theater and the other served in the Pacific Theater. The Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, chose one of the identical caskets to go on to Arlington. The other was given a burial at sea.

3. THERE WERE FOUR POTENTIAL KOREAN WAR REPRESENTATIVES.

WikimediaCommons // Public Domain

The soldiers were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. This time, Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle was the one to choose the casket. Along with the unknown soldier from WWII, the unknown Korean War soldier lay in the Capitol Rotunda from May 28 to May 30, 1958.

4. THE VIETNAM WAR UNKNOWN WAS SELECTED ON MAY 17, 1984.

Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg, Jr., selected the Vietnam War representative during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.

5. BUT THE VIETNAM VETERAN WASN'T UNKNOWN FOR LONG.

Wikipedia // Public Domain

Thanks to advances in mitochondrial DNA testing, scientists were eventually able to identify the remains of the Vietnam War soldier. On May 14, 1998, the remains were exhumed and tested, revealing the “unknown” soldier to be Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie (pictured). Blassie was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. After his identification, Blassie’s family had him moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Instead of adding another unknown soldier to the Vietnam War crypt, the crypt cover has been replaced with one bearing the inscription, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”

6. THE MARBLE SCULPTORS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY OTHER U.S. MONUMENTS. 

The Tomb was designed by architect Lorimer Rich and sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, but the actual carving was done by the Piccirilli Brothers. Even if you don’t know them, you know their work: The brothers carved the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, the lions outside of the New York Public Library, the Maine Monument in Central Park, the DuPont Circle Fountain in D.C., and much more.

7. THE TOMB HAS BEEN GUARDED 24/7 SINCE 1937. 

Tomb Guards come from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard". Serving the U.S. since 1784, the Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit in the military. They keep watch over the memorial every minute of every day, including when the cemetery is closed and in inclement weather.

8. BECOMING A TOMB GUARD IS INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT.

Members of the Old Guard must apply for the position. If chosen, the applicant goes through an intense training period, in which they must pass tests on weapons, ceremonial steps, cadence, military bearing, uniform preparation, and orders. Although military members are known for their neat uniforms, it’s said that the Tomb Guards have the highest standards of them all. A knowledge test quizzes applicants on their memorization—including punctuation—of 35 pages on the history of the Tomb. Once they’re selected, Guards “walk the mat” in front of the Tomb for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the time of year and time of day. They work in 24-hour shifts, however, and when they aren’t walking the mat, they’re in the living quarters beneath it. This gives the sentinels time to complete training and prepare their uniforms, which can take up to eight hours.

9. THE HONOR IS ALSO INCREDIBLY RARE.

The Tomb Guard badge is the least awarded badge in the Army, and the second least awarded badge in the overall military. (The first is the astronaut badge.) Tomb Guards are held to the highest standards of behavior, and can have their badge taken away for any action on or off duty that could bring disrespect to the Tomb. And that’s for the entire lifetime of the Tomb Guard, even well after his or her guarding duty is over. For the record, it seems that Tomb Guards are rarely female—only three women have held the post.

10. THE STEPS THE GUARDS PERFORM HAVE SPECIFIC MEANING.

Everything the guards do is a series of 21, which alludes to the 21-gun salute. According to TombGuard.org:

The Sentinel does not execute an about face, rather they stop on the 21st step, then turn and face the Tomb for 21 seconds. They then turn to face back down the mat, change the weapon to the outside shoulder, mentally count off 21 seconds, then step off for another 21 step walk down the mat. They face the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until the Guard Change ceremony begins.

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