As with many of Wes Anderson’s films, The Grand Budapest Hotel is meticulously and densely designed, particualrly the hotel itself. For wide shots of the hotel, the production design team created a handmade, nine foot tall miniature model, similar to what was done in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and especially the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox. CG was more or less ruled out in this case, as well as the others, because Anderson didn’t want the artificiality associated with the current prevailing approach to visual effects: “The particular brand of artificiality that I like to use is an old-fashioned one.”
With the backgrounds for the film, Anderson also depended less on real photographic elements and leaned heavily on the type of landscape paintings associated with 19th century artist Caspar David Friedrich. Artist Michael Lenz was originally given the task of recreating Friedrich’s style in a painting hung on the wall in the hotel’s dining room, and the look of that painting made its way into the background. This visual idea was incorporated into the film by filming the miniature model of the hotel in front of a green screen and keying in the background painting.