Patience you must have, my young Padawan. The latest instalment of George Lucas’ grand space-opera Star Wars is now mere days away, and with anticipation this high, The Force Awakens may well become the highest-grossing film of all time. Rather than scouring intergalactic locations light years away, filmmakers shot the film here on Earth, shooting in regions as wide-ranging as the sand dunes of Abu Dhabi and the rocky terrain of Skellig Michael in Dingle.
To celebrate the return of this long-awaited series, we’ve hand-picked eight hotels from filming locations throughout the series, including The Force Awakens, and they’re sure to transport you to a galaxy far, far away…
Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Though Tunisia doubled up as Tatooine in the majority of the original Star Wars films, filmmakers opted to shoot scenes on Luke Skywalker’s home planet in the sand deserts of Abu Dhabi for The Force Awakens. With elegant old-world architecture set against the region’s mangroves, the luxurious Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara is a serene retreat sitting on the cusp of urban life – the perfect sanctuary for an ageing Jedi Master.
The hotel’s 222 chic rooms and suites boast lavish cultural touches complete with picturesque views of the Mangrove Lagoon, and the en suites feature rain showers and bathtubs. Guests can unwind in the rooftop pool or Jacuzzi and enjoy a variety of dining options, ranging from authentic Thai cuisine to a live sushi bar.
Dingle Skellig & Peninsula Spa
Skellig Michael, Ireland
It was confirmed last year that Star Wars filmmakers had hired the beautiful, craggy green island of Skellig Michael for three days of filming. Skellig Michael is unpopulated and sits off the west coast of Ireland. Although it is not yet known which planet it will represent in The Force Awakens, its dramatic façade certainly looks the part. Four-star Dingle Skellig overlooks the scenic Dingle Bay, and is situated a short distance from the 1,000-year-old Gallarus Oratory church.
The bedrooms are spacious and traditional, and Dingle Skellig is suitable for families, having won awards for providing child-friendly accommodation. The Peninsula Spa offers beauty treatments and massages, with facilities including a sauna, a steam room and a sun shower for guests seeking some tranquility.
Dar Hi Nefta
Chott el-Jerid is a dry salt lake in south-west Tunisia and the region’s salt flats were used as the backdrop for Tatooine in Star Wars: A New Hope. Tatooine was of course the childhood home of Anakin Skywalker, who of course later wreaked havoc as Darth Vader. Situated in the otherworldly Nefta desert, Dar Hi Nefta is a contemporary lodging that falls somewhere between a B&B and a boutique hotel.
This is a discreet hideaway, with 17 rooms and a variety of living spaces, linked by plazas, walkways and passages. The rooms are divided into four conceptual types, including elevated houses that overlook local life and private “troglodyte” terraces. Dar Hi has a natural source of hot water flowing under its basement, and this extends to the natural warm water of its swimming pool. The views are impressive, and the atmosphere is one of total serenity, making it suitable for budding Jedi knights.
Belvedere Grindelwald is a family-run four-star nestled at the foot of the world-famous Eiger mountain. Anything with a name like Eiger fits right at home in the Star Wars universe, and the Bernese Alps served as a backdrop for Princess Leia’s birth planet Alderaan in Revenge of the Sith. Each room boasts a balcony with spectacular views of the mountain range, as well as offering free Wi-Fi, coffee and tea-making facilities and a pillow menu (ideal for Jedis seeking some downtime from The Force).
The hotel’s spa and wellness centre features whirlpools, a swimming pool, a Finnish sauna and glacier steam bath and an outdoor salt water Jacuzzi. A range of dining options are on offer, with Restaurant Français’ extensive breakfast buffet a great way to start the day, and classic Swiss cheese-inspired offerings at Spucher Fondue, including home-made cheese fondue and raclette.
Instead of returning to Tunisia for the final film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, the filmmakers decided to stay closer to home and filmed scenes by the sand dunes around Yuma in Arizona. Radisson Yuma is located minutes away from Yuma International Airport, and houses 154 air-conditioned rooms, each featuring refrigerators and flat-screen televisions.
Guests can enjoy a range of recreational amenities, including outdoor and indoor swimming pools, as well as a spa tub and a fitness centre. Meanwhile, for those who enjoy wielding long batons (though sadly not of the lightsaber variety), the impressive Desert Hills Golf Course is nearby.
The Hardangerjøkulen glacier near the village of Finse served as the filming location for ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, with scenes filmed in subzero temperatures. Hardanger Hotel is situated in nearby Odda and overlooks the beautiful Sørfjord. Dating back to the 1880s, the hotel offers 51 comfortable rooms with all the usual modern perks, including an en suite, free Wi-Fi and a television in each room.
Guests can kick-start their day with a Norwegian breakfast buffet before heading out to hike up Trolltunga, one of the most spectacular scenic cliffs in Norway. The hike usually runs from mid-June until mid-September and takes 10-12 hours in total – and thankfully there are no wampas en route…
Grand Vanvitelli oozes grandeur and sophistication, and is strategically located near the Royal Palace of Caserta, which was designed by Luigi Vanvitelli himself. The baroque interiors of the Palace were used as the setting for Queen Amidala’s royal palace on Naboo in The Phantom Menace. The hotel’s luxurious interiors are an homage to this style, with richly patterned fabrics and marble floors featuring prominently throughout.
Each of the 250 rooms are fully air-conditioned and has a balcony or terrace, while guests also have access to their own refrigerator and safe. The impressive outdoor pool is surrounded by charming gardens, complete with fountains, and there are five restaurants serving a range of haute cuisine.
The Speech House
The knotty pathways, mossy rocks and ancient trees of Gloucestershire’s idyllic Forest of Dean will feature in The Force Awakens, potentially as the forested moon of Endor, home to the Ewoks. Sitting opposite the forest is The Speech House, a former 17th century hunting lodge. These days The Speech House is run as a hotel with 37 bedrooms and a selection of room types, ranging from large executive four-posters to family rooms and smaller cottage rooms.
Each room offers modern facilities, including Wi-Fi and a television, while respecting the building’s heritage and original charm. Guests have a choice of dining options, from traditional pub food served in the Orangery and bar to the formal surroundings of the beamed Verderer’s Court and the intimate Carolean restaurant.
What’s your favourite Star Wars destination? Let us know in the comments below!
And of course, may the Force be with you…