In the aftermath of the death of his wife Martha (Jackie Sandler) at the hands of an angry human mob, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) commissions and builds a massive five-star, monsters-only hotel in Transylvania in which he raises his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and to serve as a safe-place getaway for the world’s monsters from fear of human persecution.
Famous monsters such as Frank (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher), Wayne and Wanda Werewolf (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon) and their massive immediate family, Griffin The Invisible Man (David Spade), and Murray the Mummy (CeeLo Green) often come to stay at the hotel which is completely human-free and safe for monsters.
On Mavis’s 118th birthday, Dracula allows his daughter to leave the castle in order to explore the human world, but he sets up an elaborate plan using his zombie bellhops disguised as humans to make them seem intimidating, but without her being in any danger, and frighten her home. The plan works, but the zombies inadvertently lead a 21-year-old human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) back to the hotel. Dracula frantically disguises him as a Frankensteinesque Monster and passes him off as “Johnnystein”, ‘a distant cousin of Frank’s right arm’. Jonathan soon encounters Mavis and the two “Zing” (a form of romantic attraction). Unable to get Johnny out of the hotel without notice, Drac quickly improvises that Jonathan is a party planner, brought in to bring a fresher approach to his own traditional and boring parties. Jonathan quickly becomes a hit to the other monsters, especially Mavis, but this disgusts and worries Dracula greatly. Drac orders Johnny to leave, but Johnny is brought back by Mavis. After being shown the beauty of a sunrise by Johnny, Mavis is inspired to give humans another chance. Meanwhile, the hotel chef Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz) with the help of his pet rat Esmeralda learns that Johnny is a human and kidnaps him in order to cook him. Dracula intervenes and magically freezes Quasimodo to keep him from telling anyone that Jonathan is human. Dracula leads Jonathan to his quarters and shows him a painting of his wife. Much to Dracula’s surprise, Jonathan knows the woman in the painting from a legend he has recently heard and relates a story about how she fell perfectly in love with a count, but died in a mysterious fire. Dracula reveals the full painting with himself in it and confirms the truth of the tale, and proceeds to tell the full version, thus explaining why Dracula built the hotel and the origin of his overprotective behaviour with Mavis. Jonathan is understanding and Dracula develops respect for his knowledge, and the two bond, recognising that Jonathan is a good person. Jonathan then tries to leave for good, but Dracula convinces him to stay for the time-being to avoid ruining Mavis’s birthday.