I did a bit of research into Anderson's influences for the story and design of this film and I read this book The Society of the Crossed Keys. It is about the life and writing of Austrian Zweig who grew up in Vienna at the turn of the century and lived to see both world wars.
In the book, Anderson's discusses with academic George Prochnik, some of the ideas and images that resonated with him:
"There are many, many of these spots where you can see a little terrace that's been created, just because people would walk to this place and look out. It's wonderful and really it really influenced our movie... The thing we learned when we visited all sorts of places that we found on this collection of pictures was that none of them were enough like what they once were to work for us. But the photochrom images seemed to tap into a truth about Zweig's vision of the world that I was able to draw on in developing a visual aura for the film." - Wes Anderson p 25
"It's interesting - when you described going around looking for a place in the real world to film, and not finding one, I thought also of the sentiment expressed near the end of your film, when the possibility is raised that the world M. Gustave (the main character) inhabits may really have ceased to exist even before he entered it. There is the suggestion that the whole thing was a feat of the imagination... It... moves... towards the idea that [Zweig] just had a huge desire to live in the imagination so fully that it would diminish the impact of the real" - George Prochnik p26
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