Peter McDermott (Rod Taylor) is general manager of the posh St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans, a hotel that's showing its age. His boss, owner Warren Trent (Melvyn Douglas), has also seen better days and needs an infusion of cash to keep the hotel going.
McDermott has to deal with a number of issues, and a number of situations that arise.
A sophisticated thief, Keycase Milne (Karl Malden), is casing out the hotel, taking particular notice of the Duke of Lanbourne (Michael Rennie) and his wife, Duchess Caroline (Merle Oberon). The duke and duchess have been involved in a hit-and-run, and are trying to remain unobtrusive and calm.
Hotel chain owner and potential buyer Curtis O’Keefe (Kevin McCarthy) and his beautiful companion, Jeanne Rochefort (Catherine Spaak), check in to poke around before making a purchase proposal . Jeanne is bored, and catches McDermott's eye. She sets out to seduce him; McDermott succumbs to her advances.
Hotel detective Dupere (Richard Conte) is onto the Lanbournes and tries to blackmail them. He wants $10,000 to keep his mouth shut. But, to his surprise, the duchess hires him to drive the accident car to Washington, D.C., for $25,000. Unfortunately, he gets stopped by the police, complicating the situation.
O'Keefe offers McDermott a bribe of $20,000 and $700 a week to stay on as manager after he buys the hotel. McDermott, however, courts investor Joe Laswell (Ken Lynch), telling him if he doesn't buy the hotel for $2 million, O'Keefe is waiting in the wings. Laswell is interested.
A black doctor, Dr. Elmo Adams (Davis Roberts), and his wife, Mary (Annazette Chase, uncredited) arrive and try to check into the hotel. Trent's policy is not to accommodate blacks (remember, this is the ‘60s), and the Adamses are politely turned away. It turns out that Adams works for O'Keefe. That kills the Laswell deal.
Meanwhile, Keycase hits it big. But ... the ending has a pretty high pucker factor.
Only two scenes were actually shot in New Orleans – the main terminal of New Orleans International Airport, and a shot of Peter McDermott and Jeanne Rochefort at Pat O’Brien’s restaurant in the French Quarter.
Also considered for the role of Jeanne Rochefort were Brigitte Bardot and Ursula Andress.
One very bright spot in the film is getting to hear lounge singer Christine (Carmen McRae) play the piano and croon a few tunes. Miss McRae is a great singer.
Hotel is based on Arthur Hailey’s 1965 novel of the same name, the fourth of eight Hailey novels, each set in a particular industry. His works include a number of other books that were adapted for movies and/or television– The Moneychangers, Airport, Wheels, The Final Diagnosis, Runway Zero-Eight.
Filmed on a $3,651,000 million budget, Hotel had box office revenues of only $3 million.