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Sunday September 23rd 2018

Pretty Woman | 1990

Pretty Woman location: Las Palmas Hotel, 1738 Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Pretty Woman location: Julia Roberts' scuzzy hotel: Las Palmas Hotel, 1738 Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles

Where else but Hollywood could be the location for this fairy tale romance for the 80s? Designer labels are to die for as a poverty-row hooker – who looks like a movie star – crosses the path of a millionaire – who also looks like a movie star. Only true love can possibly follow.

As all the guide books point out, the intimidatingly luxurious hotel where Vivian (Julia Roberts) gets her first taste of the high-life is the 1928 Beaux Arts-style Regent Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Boulevard at the foot of Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills. So handy for the shops.

It's become a mecca for – presumably well-heeled – romantics who want to spend a Pretty Woman weekend, but sadly no amount of money will buy you a night in the suite used by Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) and Vivian. Although the exterior and the lobby are the real Beverly Wilshire, the rooms were a set built at the Disney Studio in Burbank, and they bear little resemblance to the real thing.

Pretty Woman location: Regent Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
Pretty Woman location: Julia Roberts gets a taste of the high-life: Regent Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

The scene in which the kindly Hotel Manager (Hector Elizondo) teaches Vivian about place settings was filmed in the ballroom of the since-demolished Ambassador Hotel, which stood empty at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, midtown Los Angeles.

Down to earth, Viv starts out plying her trade alongside the tacky souvenir shops of Hollywood Boulevard. But she has the good fortune to get picked up by rich businessman Edward.

Pretty Woman location: Boulmiche Boutique, 9501 Santa Monica Boulevard. Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
Pretty Woman location: “big mistake... huge”: Julia Roberts is snubbed by the boutique staff: 9501 Santa Monica Boulevard. Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

The Rodeo Drive boutique where she's snubbed by the staff, but gets her revenge bigtime – “Big mistake... huge” – and which goes to great pains to hide its name (come on, we know it's only a movie) was Boulmiche Boutique, which is actually at 9501 Santa Monica Boulevard, though on the corner of Rodeo Drive. Nothing stays the same for long on the Drive, and the premises is now fashion store Badgley Mischka.

Pretty Woman location: Cicada, 617 South Olive Street, downtown Los Angeles
Pretty Woman location: “Slippery little suckers...”: Julia Roberts struggles with snails at Cicada, 617 South Olive Street, downtown Los Angeles

Adjusting to her temporarily upscale lifestyle, Vivian has trouble with snails (“Slippery little suckers...”) was the Rex II Ristorante, now Cicada, in the Oviatt Building, 617 South Olive Street , downtown Los Angeles (its classy deco interior is also seen in Indecent Proposal, while Richard Gere returned to Cicada in Final Analysis). You might recognise it as the restaurant in which Tony Bennett serenades Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston in Bruce Almighty. More recently, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had a bit of a confrontation here in Doug Liman’s Mr and Mrs Smith and it's the site of Viola Davis' briefing at the opening of Suicide Squad.

Pretty Woman location: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Exposition Park, Los Angeles
Pretty Woman location: the ‘San Francisco’ opera house: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Exposition Park, Los Angeles | Photograph: wikipedia / David Leigh Ellis

Don’t be fooled by the (bought-in) aerial shot of ‘San Francisco’. The exterior of the opera house, where Vivian and Edward watch La Traviata, is the grand old eastern entrance to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park, south of downtown Los Angeles, and the interior a studio set. The same entrance was used as a hospital in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor.

But real romantics, of course, would much rather check out the fire escape Edward climbs to the strains of Traviata than the luxury of the Beverly Wilshire. It’s attached to the Las Palmas Hotel, 1738 Las Palmas Avenue, just off Hollywood Boulevard. Be aware, though, this is by no means the most glamorous stretch of Hollywood.