You Can Stay at the Real ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ Where Judie Dench and the Cast Filmed

In 2011, John Madden collected an extremely talented group of actors that included Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, and Celia Imrie and embarked on a quest to adapt Deborah Moggach’s novel, These Foolish Things, into a movie. The final result was the film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

The movie follows a group of seniors from Britain who decided to move to India after they learn about a retirement home that they hope will provide them with a better existence than they face in Britain. When they finally arrive at their new home, they quickly discover that rather than the paradise they anticipated, it’s a dilapidated structure that’s run by a manager who has a lot of enthusiasm but very little management knowledge. The group band together to try and turn the hotel into a home.

Cast members of 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' smiling in front of a white background
(L to R) Diana Hardcastle, Tena Desae, Dame Judi Dench, and Penelope Wilton | Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

How successful was the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?

The combination of the charming storyline and all-star cast generated both commercial and critical success for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It won the AARP Best Actress (Judi Dench) category and the Women Film Critics Circle Awards for both Best Comedic Actress (Maggie Smith) and Women’s Work/Best Ensemble. IMDb also reports that it was nominated for many additional awards, including the BAFTA Awards Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film and the Golden Globes, USA in the Best Motion Picture, and the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical categories.

The movie, and its sequel, the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, generated $221 million. Despite the success of both movies, James Madden doesn’t intend to create a third installment. “I would douse any expectations of [a third film] right now,” James Mann stated in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that was republished by The Guardian. 

He explained that the age of his leading actors was one of the reasons he was reluctant to take on a third installment. “Both Judi [Dench] and Maggie [Smith] are aged over 80 now and many of the others are not that far behind and it is a tough place,” he said. “You’re dealing with tremendous heat, a lot of chaos and noise, and things that are difficult to control.”

“These are things we had to take seriously because there’s a fragility we didn’t take lightly and I heaved an enormous sigh of relief when we finished the second one that nobody had fallen ill or been injured.” While Madden may have dashed your hopes of a third Exotic Marigold Hotel movie, it’s possible for you to stay in the hotel where the cast filmed your favorite scenes.

The Real Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

While filming the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the cast and crew traveled to India. This gave the movie an authentic vibe that can’t be recreated in a studio. The hotel, which was as important to the movie as any of the human cast members, was an actual hotel that’s has a long and honored history. In real life, it’s called The Ravla Khempur. 

According to the hotel’s official website, the history of The Ravla Khempur dates back to 1628 AD. It was during that time that Khemraj Dadhivadia saved Prince Jagat Singh of Mewar’s life. Dadhivadia was given a village as a thank you gift. Dadhivadia named the village Khempur. 

The Ravla Khempur is managed by Nathan, who loves both the hotel and the village. When blogger Kim Monahan stayed at the hotel, Nathan was eager to take her and her friends around the village. During the tour, he taught them about the area’s history and also provided some insight into what went into filming the two movies.

Should you stay at The Ravla Khempur?

It isn’t often that you have the chance to stay at a hotel where an entire movie was filmed. More often than not, the hotel used in the film is nothing more than a set that can be dismantled once the filming wraps up. A perfect example of this is the Grand Budapest Hotel. According to Film and Furniture, the bulk of the hotel scenes were actually shot at Görlitzer Warenhaus which had been a department store that was located in Eastern Germany. 

Not only is the Ravla Khempure the real-life location of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but the cast members also stayed in the hotel while they were filming. Even better, it appears that the hotel is a truly wonderful vacation destination. Reviews on Trip Advisor suggest the hotel is a beautiful place to stay, very clean, with nice rooms and a relaxing environment. If you plan on traveling to India, it sounds like you should consider staying at The Ravla Khempure. 

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