If you are planning to work in hospitality, knowing English is essential.
You might already know that you need plenty of specific vocabulary and phrases for hotel work.
Now it is time to see all of that language in action!
Maybe you want to hear native English speakers using their language, but you there are no native English speakers around. Oh no!
Actually, that is okay. When you cannot be near actual native English speakers who are using their language, something else you can do is watch movies.
Did you think movies are just for fun? Nope—movies are a great learning tool!
This is especially true if you are studying English so you can work in the tourism or hospitality industry. The hospitality industry is any job in a hotel or other tourism spots. That means you can practice all you want, but to actually see the language being used you will need to either get a job at a hotel or visit a hotel.
If you can get experience in a hotel, that’s great! Watching movies will be an extra resource for you to keep studying.
If you cannot get that experience, movies are a great replacement. There are many movies and TV shows about hotels or set inside a hotel, making them perfect for hearing hospitality English being used.
Hospitality English or Regular English?
Knowing the basics of the English language will help you in the future, but it is also important to think about your goals.
Your goal is the result you want to get from learning English. Your goal might be to work in an English-speaking country, or to teach others how to speak English.
Or your goal might be to work in the hospitality industry—that includes work in hotels, tourism and anything else that involves dealing with people visiting from other places in the world.
To work in the hospitality industry, you need to know hospitality English. This is the kind of English you would use for helping someone who is a visitor, or who might not know your language (or even very good English).
Hospitality English has a lot of specific vocabulary and phrases, and can be quite repetitive. It is simple, clear, professional, and formal. At the same time it is also polite, friendly and welcoming.
Before you start learning specific hospitality English, you can get acquainted with polite, formal English by practicing with FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU will get you ready to start you hospitality adventure. Give it a free try and see for yourself!
How to Learn Hospitality English from Movies
Speaking in a way that is formal but also friendly can be difficult.
That is why there are many courses online and offline that specifically teach this kind of English. Many hotels and other tourism spots actually have their own programs for teaching employees how to speak hospitality English.
Of course, all that doesn’t mean you can’t do some studying on your own!
There are a number of great English movies and TV shows where some or most of the action happens in a hotel. Movies like this are an excellent way to learn hospitality English because they let you see right into the hotel.
Keep these tips in mind when you are watching if you want to get some valuable lessons about how to speak English in hotels:
- Pay attention to the way the hotel staff speak. People who work in hotels use hospitality English. Listen to the way the staff speak, and compare it to the way visitors speak. You can really hear the difference in these movies!
- Listen to how the staff speak in different situations. Hotel staff speak differently to visitors and guests than they do to each other. This is another way to hear how different hospitality English is from regular English.
- Listen for repeated phrases and words. Hearing vocabulary words being used is a good way to learn them better. Listen to the staff’s words and see if you can pick out hospitality vocabulary and phrases. Here is your chance to see them in action!
- Some movies show you what not to do. Not all hotel employees in movies do their jobs well. Whenever someone speaks casual English, or does not do their job right, pay attention to the way people react to them. It is a good chance to see how important it is to speak correctly—the way people treat you changes based on how you speak.
Now you are ready to visit a hotel—in a movie!
10 Hotel Movies for Learning Hospitality English
1. “Hotel” (1967)
Summary: The St. Gregory hotel in New Orleans is struggling to stay open, while a thief has been stealing guest items and the guests have their own dramas to deal with. It is up to the manager to pull the hotel back together or the doors will close for good.
What you can learn: Back when this old movie was made, hospitality meant even more than it does today. If you want to see what real hospitality can look like, this movie is perfect. It is also an interesting look into how a hotel works, and the people and effort that it takes to keep everything running smoothly.
Watch it on: Amazon DVD
2. “Four Rooms” (1995)
Summary: A new bellhop (hotel employee who helps people with their luggage and other requests) is left alone in a hotel on New Year’s Eve. It should be just a normal night, but the poor bellhop ends up having to deal with witches, terrible children and a guy who wants him to do something absolutely ridiculous. Yep, it is just a regular night at the hotel!
What you can learn: Watch Tim Roth’s character deal with crazy situations and still somehow keep calm. Listen to how his language changes from the beginning of the night to the end, as well as how he speaks to the different guests as their requests get sillier and sillier.
Watch it on: Amazon, YouTube
3. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014)
Summary: This movie follows a Gustave H—a concierge—and Zero Moustafa—a bellboy—at the fictional Grand Budapest Hotel. Set between the first and second World Wars, watch as the hotel staff deal with the changing times, the theft of a famous painting and even murder.
What you can learn: Not all of the movie takes place in the hotel, but the parts that do show you how many different people make the hotel work well. Gustave is also an example of how not to behave as a concierge—he might be well loved and very good at his job, but it is probably not a good idea to spend the night with all your guests!
Watch it on: Amazon, YouTube, Miremax (with subscription)
4. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (2012)
Summary: A group of older British people who just retired decide to visit India and the amazing-sounding Marigold Hotel. When they get there, though, the hotel is not as amazing as it sounded, but the hotel and surroundings slowly help them learn to love their lives.
What you can learn: The staff at the Marigold Hotel is basically just a young man and his mother, but the man’s treatment of and language towards the guests is usually spot-on (exactly right).
Watch it on: Amazon, YouTube
5. “For Love or Money” (1993)
Summary: A young concierge at one of New York’s most luxurious hotels has to choose between his dream of opening a new hotel or being with the woman he is in love with.
What you can learn: Being a concierge means doing the requests of hotel guests. This movie shows some of these requests, and how it is the concierge’s job to get them done…no matter what!
Watch it on: Amazon DVD
6. “Hotel Babylon” (TV show, 2006 – 2009)
Summary: The staff of a five-star hotel in London’s Hotel Babylon all have their own goals, troubles and histories. The show takes you through their many adventures as they do everything they can for the guests, while dealing with their own lives.
What you can learn: This TV show has a little bit of everything. See how to be an excellent host, how staff talk to each other and the guests, and how to avoid breaking the rules (something that the staff here do not mind doing once in a while!).
Watch it on: Amazon Prime
7. “Fawlty Towers” (TV show, 1975 – 1979)
Summary: Hotel manager Basil Fawlty dislikes “that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels.” He is probably not the best person to run a hotel, then! Aided by his wife and Spanish waiter, Fawlty Towers remains a functioning hotel…somehow.
What you can learn: “Fawlty Towers” is like a “how-to” guides on how not to act as a hotel employee. John Cleese’s character is mean, grumpy and does not treat his guests well. For everything that you see here…do the opposite!
Watch it on: Amazon DVD, Netflix DVD (with subscription)
8. “Blame it on the Bellboy” (1992)
Summary: When three men named Lawton, Horton and Orton get their schedules mixed up by the bellboy, they end up in crazy situations they were not prepared for—like outrunning a mobster, selling a house, and dealing with a woman from a dating agency.
What you can learn: All the problems in this movie start with the bellboy getting some information wrong. The movie might not spend too much time in a hotel, but it is a great example of why communication skills are really important!
Watch it on: Amazon, YouTube
9. “Maid in Manhattan” (2002)
Summary: An important man meets the woman of his dreams in a hotel. What he does not know is that she is just a maid trying on a guest’s clothes. Is love more important than money?
What you can learn: There are many scenes in this movie where the hotel staff are talking and having fun together, but when they are with guests they change their language. The movie is also great for seeing what it is like to actually work in a hotel, not just what you see from the outside.
Watch it on: Amazon, YouTube
10. “Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel” (1987)
Summary: Miss Marple is a nosy but kind old lady who doesn’t seem special…except she is also amazing at solving crimes. In this movie, Miss Marple is staying in one of England’s most luxurious hotels. Everything looks perfect, but of course everyone has secrets, and when a disappearance, a number of robberies, and a murder occur, it’s up to Miss Marple to solve them before the murderer strikes again.
What you can learn: This is another older movie, this one set in a very expensive hotel in London. That makes it an excellent chance to see a different side of the hospitality industry. Here the staff behave almost like servants instead of employees. Of course, you shouldn’t act like a servant in today’s hotel jobs, but the professional language and behavior is still important to see.
Watch it on: Hulu (free with ads)
There is so much to learn from movies! Grab some popcorn and start up one of these hotel movies for learning that’s valuable—and fun.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.