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Step into the Song: Booking.com Shares the Destinations Behind Some of the World’s Most Iconic Music Videos

Music videos have long accompanied the latest song releases, offering a glimpse into another world the artist has created. September 13th will see the celebration of the best music videos of the past year at a popular award ceremony honoring excellence in the music industry and dishing out iconic silver astronaut trophies in a fan-filled spectacle. Every song takes us on a journey, and a music video is to a song what a plot is to a movie. With a third (33%)* of global travelers wanting to experience culture seen in a show or movie while on vacation, there are no doubt those looking to their favorite music videos for travel inspiration, too. Ahead of this year’s prestigious awards, Booking.com shares a list of destinations behind some of the most iconic past winners so travelers can step into the backdrop of these musical masterpieces.

Fontainebleau, France

Situated south of Paris and accessible by train or just over an hour’s drive is the impressive Château de Fontainebleau. This sprawling forest and castle was once home to King Louis XIII, but more recently was the backdrop for pop royalty Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die music video. The 12th-century palace’s grand chapel, gallery and grounds all feature in the romantic but haunting short film which accompanies the album’s title track. Visitors to the quaint town of Fontainebleau can themselves walk the halls of this UNESCO World Heritage site which is now a museum with a Palace of Fontainebleau Private Tour and gain insights into the lives of French rulers and see notable art masterpieces ideal for history and art enthusiasts. Travelers can explore the beautiful forests that envelop the castle by bike or on foot, and those with an adventurous side can climb the forest’s rock formations world-famous for bouldering. The classy town itself is filled with boutiques, bars and restaurants from Michelin-starred to street food and holds an excellent market at the weekend. Don’t miss the traditional French dessert, Fontainebleau, of whipped cream and a curd-like soft cheese served with berries.

Where to stay: For a touch of palatial luxury, La Demeure Du Parc is a boutique hotel just a short stroll from Château de Fontainebleau situated at the edge of the castle’s gardens. This mansion previously served as an annex for Louis XIV’s guests, and today offers super comfy beds in stylish rooms around a cobbled courtyard. Don’t miss the refined dishes at Gina restaurant which serves produce from the local market. Better yet, this hotel is making a concerted effort to reduce food waste with a certified Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge.

Seoul, South Korea

Those wanting to put on pastel pink suits and recreate dance routines from the fastest-viewed video record holder and best K-pop category winner in 2019 should head to Seoul. South Korean boy band BTS and American singer Halsey took to the streets of South Korea’s capital to film the video of their hit Boy With Luv before it went viral. An eclectic combination of modern skyscrapers, high-tech subways and pop culture colliding with Buddhist temples, palaces and street markets, Seoul has plenty to offer travelers. For those looking to experience more of this music genre, a K-Pop Dance Lesson allows visitors to brush up on their moves, or record music at a studio and create a 30-second music video with a Becoming a K-pop Singer Experience. This summer, Booking.com is even offering a once-in-a-lifetime stay fit for the biggest K-pop fans – featuring M COUNTDOWN tickets, an idol makeover and exclusive K-pop dance lessons. After a taste of the city’s music scene, travelers can head to Gwangjang Market to sample delicious street food, a great stop to try bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) or mayak gimbap (seaweed rolls). Fans of BTS can also visit band member Jin’s restaurant Otsu Seiromushi which serves up Japanese cuisine near to the pretty Seokchon Lake.

Where to stay: The H HOSTEL Itaewon offers clean, crisp private rooms or male and female-only dorms. Located an easy bus journey away from the K-pop dance and music video experiences, and close to the Leeum Museum of Art, this hostel is a great base for those looking to explore the city’s culture. What’s more, it earns bonus points as a Travel Sustainable stay for its considerable efforts towards sustainability including its ban on single-use plastic and rooftop terrace garden with sweeping views of Seoul’s bustling cityscape.

Budapest, Hungary

Winner of the prestigious music video of the year category at the awards in 2011, Katy Perry’s Firework song was shot against the skyline of Budapest at night. The video showcases tales of young people who have felt isolated or outcast and are now empowered with confidence – the stars of which were cast with an open call that attracted over 30,000 applicants. Featuring Buda Castle and the Astoria Hotel as the backdrop, aerial shots of the city also feature the glistening Széchenyi Chain Bridge. For those looking to recreate the night time setting, set sail on a Danube River Sightseeing Evening Cruise and view illuminated landmarks including Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Gellért Hill. The video ends with the kids converging in the courtyard of Buda Castle and lighting up the night with fireworks. Those looking to learn more about the castle’s history can explore on a Buda Castle Guided Tour led by a local historian and dive deep into the historical heart of Buda. Elsewhere in this capital city, made up of Buda to the west and Pest to the east of the River Danube, travelers can enjoy dramatic architecture, bathhouses with mineral-rich hot springs and a bounty of quirky ruin bars and restaurants.

Where to stay: Superfans can reenact scenes during a stay at the Danubius Hotel Astoria City Center, taking to one of the hotel’s impressive balconies that feature in the music video. For those after a home-away-from-home feel, the N36- Boutique Apartments, Best Location, By BQA are a quiet oasis in the heart of the action. With sleek interiors, each apartment is well equipped with a kitchen and just a short stroll from the Blaha Lujza Square where visitors can soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a morning coffee or evening tipple

Bedford, New York

Taylor Swift’s music has rocked the world due to her heartfelt lyrics and melodies. The recent All Too Well music video is a cinematic short film that took the internet by storm and won last year’s coveted video of the year award. Swift’s directorial debut, it stars two actors depicting a turbulent and emotional relationship all played out to the backdrop of an upstate escape, with outdoor scenes shot in the scenic Bedford area of New York. Located in Westchester County, the town of Bedford boasts pillows of rolling green hills and pretty houses that make it a great escape for those seeking romance and to recharge. A short drive away is Pound Ridge, home to the scenic Cross River Reservoir and Westchester Wilderness Walk. While many New Yorkers visit Bedford to escape the hustle and bustle, visitors looking to get the best of both worlds on their next trip will be pleased to know the city is just over an hour’s drive away. There, movie fans can immerse themselves in a Private NYC TV & Movie Tour to visit some of the most iconic filming location sites around the city.

Where to stay: While fans of this music video won’t be able to step into the home, they will be able to walk in the film’s footsteps with a stay at the romantic and intimate Bedford Post Inn. Owned by an A-list celebrity actor, this eight-room luxury hotel hosts restorative yoga classes and sound baths in a spacious loft area. With its chic accommodation and lush green surroundings, it’s perfect for those wanting to recreate scenes and ticks all the boxes for the 32%* of travelers looking for a stay that’s instagrammable. Guests will love The Barn, one of its onsite restaurants, set in a charming wood-beamed room with a pretty porch for eating al fresco.

Port Kembla, Australia

Back in 1988, Australian rock band INXS took the awards by storm, coming away with five trophies including the viewer’s choice accolade for the video of their hit Need you tonight/Mediate. The Mediate portion was particularly unique, seeing the band head to a blast furnace in Port Kembla to film them flashing cue cards of the song’s rhyming lyrics. Port Kembla is a suburb of the coastal city of Wollongong, and while the blast furnace at the steelworks still stands today it’s a working site so travelers can instead explore the surrounding industrial area and the stretches of golden sand that unfurl north towards Sydney. A surfing paradise without the pretense, the city is home to beaches with coves, cliffs and bays along with rainforest trails that lead to breathtaking lookouts. Visitors can explore The Gong’s secrets for themselves on a Wollongong Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt Tour which will take them around must-see sights including the Wollongong Head Lighthouse. Or travelers can rent a car to explore the iconic Grand Pacific Drive, one of Australia’s most famous touring routes, that connects this city to Sydney with spectacular seaside vistas to discover around every turn.

Where to stay: The Coniston Hotel Wollongong offers four-star accommodation a short drive to Port Kembla, its beaches and the now famous INXS steelworks. Conveniently located across the road from Coniston Train Station and with onsite parking, it’s easy for guests to experience all this region has to offer. With an onsite bistro cooking up hearty and affordable Australian tucker and fresh seafood, a sports bar to catch the latest game and a bottle shop, this stay is well-equipped for those looking for a base to explore the south coast.

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*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 42,513 respondents across 33 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,008 from Canada, 2,000 from Mexico, 1,000 from Colombia, 2,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 2,000 from Australia, 1,000 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Spain, 2,000 from Italy, 2,000 from France, 2,000 from UK, 2,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Netherlands, 1,000 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 1,000 from Croatia, 1,000 from Switzerland, 1,000 from Belgium, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,000 from Portugal, 1,000 from Israel, 2,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,000 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 500 from UAE). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2023 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January and February 2023.