Ten documentary films about very strange hotels

8 de juliol de 2021

Exotic, Luxurious, cheap, decadent, erotic. There are hotels for every taste and budget. Those of us who love to travel are always on the lookout for hotels, hostels, motels and airbnb houses that break the mold to provide us with an unparalleled travel experience.

But before we risk being guests in rooms with waterbeds, rickety hallways or bathrooms with peep holes, we can travel without leaving our homes by watching documentaries online about the strangest and most bizarre hotels around the world.

What are the best documentaries about the strangest hotels in the world?

In this list that Guidedoc has designed especially for you, we will take a trip around the planet through ten non-fiction films about weird and amazing hotels.

But moreover, it doesn't only matter how strange the place is, but the genuine ways the filmmakers have chosen to show them!

Whether on a Caribbean island paradise, in a remote Colorado mountain town, in the middle of the ocean, in the capital of a former Soviet nation, or even aboard a ghost bus in Silicon Valley, these hotels will make us change the way we understand travel, tourism and pleasure.

The following are the top ten documentaries about strange hotels:


Hotel 22


The bus route 22 of silicon valley at night in the short film Hotel 22


In the middle of the mecca of technology, the famous and - supposedly perfect - Silicon Valley, a hotel emerges spontaneously inside a bus on the city's route 22.

Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, this short film - which you can watch online at Guidedoc - documents how the city's homeless people take advantage of the infinite route of Bus number 22 to fall asleep after a long day on the streets.


All Inclusive


A cruise ship full of tourists in the short film All Inclusive


Cruise ships are the maritime hotels par excellence.

There are thousands of these ships equipped with the same services of a hotel sailing the oceans and seas of the planet simultaneously, offering their guests unimaginable pleasures.

This award-winning short film selected at the prestigious International Documentary Festival Amsterdam offers an aseptic and satirical look at traveling and staying at sea.




A roadside motel run by Gerald Foos in the documentary Voyeur


Our first stop is in Colorado, United States, at a motel run by a man named Gerald Foos. At first glance, the place looks like any other roadside motel. If we were there, we would check in, leave our luggage next to the bed and take a shower, without even turning to see an object out of place.

But the creepy thing occurs above our heads. If we are taking a shower, Gerald Foos could be peering through a ventilation window fixed in the ceiling looking at us naked. This is possible thanks to a perfectly hidden passage this sadistic owner built throughout the motel for that purpose.

In "Voyeur", directed by Myles Kane and Josh Koury, we unravel the strange case of Foos alongside journalist Gay Talese, who for several years has been conducting an investigation into the voyeur’s experience.

The most comical - and at the same time uncomfortable – thing about the documentary is that Foos himself tells everything about his sadistic practice without any embarrassment or regret, even filling himself with pride knowing he owns a motel specifically tailored to meet his needs.

Hotel Jugoslavija


A dark hallway in the Hotel Jugoslavija, the documentary


Sometimes behind the bricks and concrete of buildings, there are small and big stories that deserve to be told.

Mixing memories of childhood vacations in an iconic hotel in socialist Belgrade, the filmmaker behind Hotel Jugoslavija films in his adulthood the spaces of this building of gray and static architecture.  

Sunshine Hotel

An old man looks through the window in the documentary Sunshine Hotel

As if the roof of Gerald Foos's motel wasn't weird enough, if you looked up in one of the rooms of the next motel, what you see would be just chicken wire. Yes, you read well, chicken wire.

We are talking about the historic Sunshine Hotel, a flophouse built-in 1920 at 241 Bowery in Manhattan, New York. Conceived as a shelter for marginally displaced guests, this mundane but picturesque hotel opens its doors to the camera of filmmaker Michael Dominic in "Sunshine Hotel".

Nathan Smith, the friendly and talkative manager of the place, serves as a guide in our tour around the decadent facilities of the hotel and introduces us to several of the unforgettable guests who basically live there.

Many of these characters suffer from alcoholism or mental problems and usually share stories of violence and truncated dreams, experiences that make us reflect on the rougher side of life and how this space means for them the last corner to take refuge in a life that has turned their backs on them


Hotel Monterey

A pregnant woman in a dark room in Hotel Monterey, by Chantal Akerman


We don’t even have to go outside Manhattan to reach our next destination: Hotel Monterey. We enter here guided by one of the greatest female filmmakers in the history of cinema, Chantal Akerman.

Her 62 minutes-long documentary “Hotel Monterey” is basically a first-person sensory experience in which a normal hotel becomes a mystical and ghostly place. Vacuum, silence and a slow movement of the camera are the only means Akerman uses to give a dim life to the corridors, rooms and other nooks and crannies of the Hotel.

There is a moment in the film when we see a fixed shot of one of the guests as he smiles at the camera in an almost horrendous way. In another scene, we just contemplate for several minutes a long and dark corridor.

It is an experiment with time, an impressionistic game where the state of mind of this risky female artist is poured over the wallpapers, the dying lights and the proud walls of a building that, filmed in another way, would be a forgettable place.


Sites of Sites


A worker in a construction site in a Domincan Republic beach in the documentary Site of Sites


How strange is it to build perfect artificial beaches on the territory of what is already a Caribbean island paradise? In this tragicomic documentary, we become observers of this irony made reality. 

On a Dominican Republic coast, humble workers build a state-of-the-art all-inclusive resort for the mass of wealthy tourists expected to visit this summer oasis, which is, at the same time, a concrete metaphor for the inequalities of a country.


Artist On Vacation


An artist moves through a forrest in the documentary Artist on vacation


From the Caribbean we go to the Adriatic Sea. On a golden coast stands a luxurious, light-colored hotel, the setting for the meeting of a group of people with unpredictable behavior

In tv reality-show style - but more arty - this film documents the stay of eleven world-renowned artists from the Balkan region in this privileged location.

Things can get out of control when this group of personalities face boredom and there - right there - artistic creation unexpectedly emerges.

Hotel Nueva Isla

Jorge in a decadent room in Hotel Nueva Isla the documentary

Fifty years ago, the Hotel Nueva Isla, an iconic building in a central Havana location, was a peaceful and luxurious place for anyone who wanted to visit the island of the new Cuban revolution.

But today, with its gradual deterioration, the Hotel Nueva Isla is a dilapidated and decadent building.

Now instead of sheltering wealthy tourists, it is home to several single and accompanied people who inhabit its defenestrated spaces due to the lack of housing. 

This documentary, premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival, follows one of its last inhabitants, Jorge, as he tries to discover a treasure they say is hidden somewhere in the hotel.


The Pink House


A woman that works in the brothel The Pink House

With its pink decorations and lights, The Pink House makes its presence felt without much difficulty in the Australian mining town where it has been built for years.

This iconic local motel is in crisis. You see, the internet and accessible porn has meant that the women who work at this brothel have less work than in other golden days.

This erotic documentary portrays the women who try to keep The Pink House with at least some of the decorum that once made it the best place to spend the night with pleasure.


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