The accidental tourism of Wes Anderson

A picture book originating from an Instagram community inspired by the films of auteur Wes Anderson is this young year’s must-have travel guide.

Willy Koval is the name of the man who in 2017 founded @AccidentallyWesAnderson, an Instagram community of “adventurers” (as Koval calls them,) now numbering more than one million, inspired by American film director Wes Anderson’s distinctively loopy, psychologically acute style. 

Anderson himself has an endless fascination with hotels and travel, from stylized romance in his 2007 short, “Hotel Chevalier” (starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman,) set in Paris, to bonding with the local Italians in “Castello Cavalcanti” (Schwartzman again,) to the quirky travels of three brothers (Schwartzman once again, with Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody) through India in “The Darjeeling Limited.”

In “The Grand Budapest Hotel” — a Russian nesting doll of narratives that’s proved to be Anderson’s highest grossing film to date — an author interviews a wealthy hotel owner about his humble beginnings as a lobby boy who learned what it really means to live life with style from an oily but ultimately honorable concierge (played by Ralph Fiennes). Typically shooting with wide-angle, anamorphic lenses — which can alter and heighten perspective, serving to unnerve and reassure the audience simultaneously — and favoring symmetrical lines, pastel colors and precise composition, Anderson makes eccentric films unlike any others. Says Koval:  “You know what a Wes Anderson shot looks like it when you see it.” 

Indeed you do. Now Koval and his wife, Amanda, who runs the Instagram site with him from their Brooklyn base, have collected the most striking of these Insta images, reflecting the film director’s original style, in “Accidentally Wes Anderson” (Voracious/Little, Brown and Co., $35, 354 pages). It’s a tome to covet, as readable and practical as it is “coffee-table.” It is also endorsed by Anderson and with a foreword by him, even though by the director’s own admission the photographs have been taken by people he has never met and show places and things he has almost never seen. In the introduction, Koval writes, “We encourage you to use this collection to find your next adventure and guide your travels.” 

What the Kovals have done in fact is to produce a primer, a vade mecum if you will, one that effortlessly sells itself. Dripping with more than 200 delicious images, it has no end of places to motivate, inspire and amuse, as we sit at home, armchair travelers still, eagerly awaiting the Covid vaccine and counting the days until all travel restrictions are lifted.

Here are six of my favorites:

Vizhinjam Old Portuguese Church, Kerala, India

Churches don’t come much prettier — or more symmetrical — than this 19th century one, built by the Portuguese who ruled this part of India for more than 450 years. My first visit to India, over 25 years ago now, was to Kerala, but I missed seeing this beauty. Guess I’ll just have to go back.

Yazd Science Museum, Yazd, Iran 

Vaccine or no vaccine, and even with the most “glass half-full” outlook, I don’t imagine heading to Iran any time soon, which is a pity, since it’s a magnificent country, full of awe-inspiring architecture and antiquities, Majestic mountain ranges, vast lakes and empty deserts. When I do eventually return, you can be sure that Yazd and its Science Museum will be one of my first stops.

Kayak on Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, South Island, New Zealand

Have you been to Mackenzie Country, on the South Island of New Zealand, recently? Me neither. In fact, I have never been to New Zealand. But after seeing this fabulous photo, New Zealand and Tekapo are going straight on to my bucket lake, er, list. 

Marshall Street Baths, London, England

These glorious baths, opened in 1850, a stone’s throw from Carnaby Street in the center of London, may just be the capital’s best-kept secret. I only discovered them myself a couple of years ago, alerted by a Canadian friend, an ex-swimming champion. Owned by the local council, a membership here will cost you a mere $30 a month (waived for the first year) — but only if you live locally.

Roberts Cottage, Oceanside,

On the one hand, the California palms, the salmon-pink pastel cottages and the gorgeous eau-de-nil camper van make me want to pack a bag and go west right now. On the other hand, there is something faintly unsettling about the banality of these picture-perfect cottages in Oceanside, just north of San Diego — something I can’t quite put my finger on. 

Claromecó Lighthouse, Buenos Aires, Argentina

If Coco Chanel or André Courrèges had designed lighthouses, you might well think one of them had designed this stunner, which reaches 177 feet into the Argentinian sky — the second tallest in South America. Chic is not a word you’d generally ascribe to a lighthouse but this one undoubtedly possesses “chic” in abundance..

For more, visit and @AccidentallyWesAnderson on Instagram.

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