My question involves specific locations. How specific can I get without it becoming a problem? For example, what if instead of a murder in a “nice city hotel”, I set it in the Four Seasons Chicago, for example, is it legally alright for me to do that?
I’m sure the Four Seasons wouldn’t appreciate a memorable murder scene set in their hotel lobby, but what’s my other choice? Create a fictional prestigious hotel called the Five Seasons to give me total creative license?
Standard advice applies: do whatever works best, and don’t worry about it. Let the lawyers decide whether it will need to be changed before production.
If it’s crucial to the scene, just say The Four Seasons. If you simply need to indicate that it’s a luxury hotel, say luxury hotel. Either way, remember that the burden is still on you to give enough flavor in your description.
You’re better off coming up with your own name for the hotel if a lot of your story will take place there. This way, you’re not competing with the reader’s expectations, and have wider latitude in creating the logistics you need.