The ‘Thronies’ Pilgrimage: Hit HBO Show Sparks Worldwide Wanderlust
New global data from Hotels.com® shows hit series is causing surge in travel to filming locations,
The world eagerly anticipated the premiere of Game of Thrones season 7 this week, but fans aren’t waiting for winter to come to enjoy Seven Kingdoms-inspired vacations, as Hotels.com® reports a dramatic hike in searches to the stunning destinations featured in the series.
Among the world’s most popular shows**, it has inspired the imaginations of millions of ‘Thronies’ across the globe since it first aired in 2011. Last season, over 23 million viewers*** worldwide tuned in to each episode. Places that may not have ever been found or visited are now being sought out by thousands. Searches for Iceland, Beyond the Wall, are up over 285% since season 4!
Some additional fun facts about travel searches and reservations over the past year…
– Nearly 120% more searches to Split, Croatia, which plays host to the former slave city of Meereen
– Wealthy and powerful city of Braavos, filmed in Sibenik on the Croatian coast, has seen a 60% uplift
– Seville in Spain, the substitute for the fictional Dorne, saw an 85% hike in searches after its first appearance in season 5. Now, searches to the destination are up 145%
– Searches to much rumoured location for season 7 and home to a raft of the show’s footage, Belfast, up nearly 120%
The destinations that feature most heavily throughout the seasons, and those anticipated to appear in season 7, are becoming must-visit hotspots. Travel expert Hotels.com reports huge increases in searches to destinations in Iceland, Spain, Croatia and Northern Ireland.
Going Beyond the Wall
Iceland, which plays host to arguably the series’ most iconic landscape, Beyond the Wall, has enjoyed the most dramatic surge in searches. The scenic destination is up over 285% since 2014, when the show mania truly began to take the world by storm.
The upward trend continues for the destination as year-on-year (2017 vs 2016) data shows a 30% surge for those eager to walk in the frosty footsteps of heartthrob Jon Snow, where he famously battles Wildlings and White Walkers.
Landing in Croatia
A number of destinations in Croatia, another key filming location, have also enjoyed a tourism boom. The ancient city of Split on the Dalmatian coast has seen an uplift of nearly 120% in searches. Fans of Daenerys Targaryen enjoy touring the city’s walled Diocletian’s Palace, the site of the Mother of Dragons’ throne room.
The less well-known Croatian city of Sibenik, the site for the famous city of Braavos, has enjoyed a similar lift with hotel searches up 60%.
The Dorne of Seville
Fans are also looking to the warm climes and epicurean lifestyle of Seville in Spain, with searches to the destination up 145%. Seville was used for scenes set in Dorne, the most exotic of the Seven Kingdoms, where the ornate private estate of the House Martell stands.
In the lead up to the much-anticipated season 7 premiere, Belfast has been on top of fans’ wish lists. Having featured in almost all seasons, the wild and ragged northern end of the Emerald Isle is rumored to become the jewel in the latest season’s crown. With searches for Belfast hotels up nearly 120% ahead of the season premiere, the destination is set to welcome thousands of fans in 2017.
“The fantasy drama Game of Thrones has sparked the imagination of countless fans across the globe with huge increases in searches to the show’s striking filming locations,” said Josh Belkin, Vice President and GM North America for the Hotels.com brand. “We’re thrilled to offer a wide range of places to stay in exotic locales from the show. We, like so many fans, are eager to see the stunning locations featured in season 7.”
To help you experience the filming locations, for a limited-time Hotels.com is offering free passports+ with qualifying international accommodation bookings.
From great houses to great hotels: Top hotels to stay when visiting filming locations
Myvatn, Iceland – Beyond the Wall
For the adventurous at heart, a stay at the trendy 3 star Fosshotel Myvatn is a must. A half hour’s walk from Lake Myvatn, the location used for filming Beyond the Wall. Also nearby are Myvatn Nature Baths and the dramatic Hverfjall Crater – perfect for an immersion into the wilderness that the Wildlings and White Walkers roam.
The Fosshotel Myvatn is available from $252 per room per night¥.
Seville, Spain – Water Gardens of Dorne
The 3.5 star Hotel Boutique Elvira Plaza is a step into the lavish world of Dorne, the southernmost part of Westeros. This light, bright, beautiful hotel is just a stone’s throw from Seville’s majestic Alcazar, also known as the private palace residence of the House Martell.
The Hotel Boutique Elvira Plaza is available $91 per room per night¥.
Split, Croatia – Meereen
Want to stay like royalty? The 4 star Bella Notte Di Spalato is just the place. Situated next to the city’s ancient Diocletian’s Palace, this beautiful hotel is heavily influenced by its surrounding old-world architecture. Guests will enjoy wandering the narrow stone streets and exploring the hidden alcoves.
The Bella Notte De Spalato is available from $191 per room per night¥.
Sibenik, Croatia – Braavos
Situated just outside the center of Sibenik the 4 star Heritage Hotel Life Palace offers old world charm with all the decadent trimmings. Only a two-minute walk from the famous Saint James Cathedral – guests will stay right in the heart of this iconic city.
The Heritage Hotel Life Palace is available from $165 per room per night¥.
Belfast, Northern Ireland – The Iron Islands
With its sumptuous, yet contemporary style, the beautiful 4 star Malmaison Belfast is the perfect contrast to the rugged landscapes found in this region. Northern Ireland plays host to a huge amount of filming – but much of the action takes place at the Titanic Studios in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. True fans can enjoy a studio tour and spot the stars on set.
Malmaison Belfast is available from $113 per room per night¥.
Essaouira, Morocco – Astapor
The ancient city of Essaouira is the filming site for Astapor, the home of the Unsullied Army. Stay in the 5 star Dar L’Oussia, located along the old Portuguese fortification by the sea, where most of the filming of Astapor took place. This unique property features beautiful traditional Moroccan design with a modern stylish flare and is located only minutes from the beach.
The Dar L ‘Oussia is available from $74 per room per night¥.
Ait Benhaddou, Morocco – Yunkai the Yellow City
Located between Marrakech and the Sahara and made entirely of clay, Ait Benhaddou was chosen as the filming location for the slave trading city of Yunkai. Staying at the Dar El Haja guests couldn’t get closer to the action. Visitors will feel like true desert wanderers as they roam the ancient streets of this Moroccan UNESCO World Heritage Site treasure.
The Dar El Haja is available from $51 per room per night¥.
Editor Notes –
¥Prices quoted include taxes and fees and are subject to availability at the time of booking.
* Data taken from Hotels.com search data from 2014 – 2017. All data uplifts are taken from 2014 (April – June) compared to the same period in 2017, unless otherwise stated.
**According to a 2016 global study by Parrot Analytics
***According to 2016 HBO data