Ever since Week-End at the Waldorf, a remake of 1932’s Grand Hotel that danced across theater screens in 1945, New York City hotels have played silent but memorable supporting roles in dozens of movies. Some, like Godfather III (filmed at the Waldorf Astoria), Scent of a Woman (filmed at the Waldorf and the Plaza) and Quiz Show (filmed at The Roosevelt), have scooped up Academy Awards or nominations.
This year, one New York City hotel got an Oscar nod, sort of. Though Tár didn’t take home any of the six awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress, it did offer hotel buffs a glimpse of what appears to be Carlyle Hotel.
The Carlyle is, of course, an obvious hotel choice for Lydia Tár, the film’s charismatic, A-list music conductor portrayed by Cate Blanchett, when she breezes into town to be interviewed by The New Yorker, teach a Master Class at Julliard or publicize her new autobiography.
For decades, the stylish Upper East Side tower has thrived as a silky-stylish haven favored by celebrities (Sofia Coppola, George Clooney, Roger Federer), presidents (JFK kept a suite) and royalty (Will and Kate, Princess Diana). Tár fits right in, at least at the start of the movie. “We specifically used The Carlyle as a reference,” Tár production designer Marco Bittner Rosser said in an interview with Conde Nast Traveler.
But as sharp-eyed viewers familiar with the the Carlyle no doubt noticed, Tár’s luxurious suite doesn’t look quite right, despite the grand piano in the corner, an amenity in several Carlyle suites. An upstairs hallway, visible during a pivotal scene, seems a bit off, as well, more Carlyle-ish than unadulterated Carlyle.
It seems the scenes at The Carlyle weren’t actually filmed at The Carlyle, hence Rosser’s description of the hotel as a “reference.” Unable to shoot at the hotel, Tár’s production team recreated the Carlyle in Berlin at the Savoy Berlin, a storied, historic hotel that closed for renovations since 2021.
In many ways, the Savoy is an ideal stand-in for the Carlyle. Opened in 1929, one year before the towering Carlyle, the Savoy quickly became popular with a stylish crowd, attracting artists, performers and celebrities, among them Thomas Mann and Greta Garbo. Though it lost some of its luster over the years (some rooms lacked air conditioning when it closed for renovations), the hotel retained a following, fueled by its agreeable location, magnificent bones and star-kissed history.
No reason was given for why Tár’s relevant scenes weren’t shot at The Carlyle. The hotel certainly isn’t camera shy, having served as a 21st-century backdrop for the first Sex and the City movie (2008), A Rainy Day in New York (2019) and Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks (2020) as well as Always at the Carlyle, the hagiographic biopic about the hotel from 2018.
But given Tár’s horror-movie undertones, the gray walls and muted lighting of the Carlyle’s Berlin doppelgänger seem more in sync with the script than the actual Carlyle. With guest rooms freshly renovated by Alexandra Champalimaud and the wittily dressed Dowling’s at the Carlyle, the hotel’s new(ish) restaurant, gothic isn’t part of the Carlyle rep.