If you’re tired of lazy beach summer holidays and winter ski trips, then I suggest you to set off on a new type of journey and discover the history buff and culture freak inside you. When you go on a historic trip, you might as well book yourself into an iconic hotel with a provocative past to spend the night. In my following top 10 selection of hotels, you can revel in the charming ambience of bygone eras without missing out on ultraluxe comforts. Famed for their stunning architecture, historical location or colorful past, all of these hotels have their own extraordinary stories to tell, about ferocious wars that have happened, royals and presidents who have spent the night, and events that changes the world as we know it today.
10. MONASTERO SANTA ROSA HOTEL & SPA, AMALFI COAST, ITALY
Striking the perfect balance of seclusion without solitude, Monastero Santa Rosa allows guests to determine the tone of their stay, whether they’re looking to disappear for an intimate getaway or gather with the group and make new acquaintances. Perched on the cliff’s edge, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa stands alone in majestic solitude, its rock base evoking the robe of a king. Originally a 17th-century monastery, Monastero Santa Rosa has been affectionately and respectfully restored into an exclusive boutique hotel and extraordinary luxury spa honoring its historic heritage. Ideally located between Positano and Amalfi, part of a coastline already boasting some of the most beautiful vistas in the world, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa sets a new standard for breathtaking panoramas seducing patrons with its heavenly allure for generations to come.
Hotel website: Monastero Santa Rosa
Travel tip: enjoy complimentary VIP benefits when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, welcome cocktail, and $100 USD food & beverage credit.
9. SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI, VIETNAM
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is a popular rendez-vous spot for both business and leisure travelers. The hotel offers 364 rooms and suites, spread over two wings: the original grandeur is preserved in the historical Metropole Wing, whereas the Opera Wing offers a neo-classic elegance. The hotel, which opened in 1902, was the first venue in Indo-China to show motion pictures. Following a period of independence in Vietnam during the 1950s, the property was later handed over to the Vietnamese government and used as the government’s official guest house. During the Vietnam war, an expansive bomb shelter was built to protect guests in a safe space during air strikes. It was during this period that the famous folk singer Joan Baez composed her song ‘Where Are You Now, My Son?’ within her hotel room, with the sounds of an air raid audible in the recording’s backdrop.
Hotel website: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Other accolades: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi also features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Vietnam.
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, $75 USD food & beverage credit, and afternoon tea with chocolate buffet or a glass of champagne in Bamboo bar or Le Club bar per person for maximum of 2 people).
8. HOTEL ALFONSO XIII, SEVILLE, SPAIN
In the city of Carmen and Velazquez, between the magic of the Royal Alcazar Palace and a 15th century Gothic cathedral, there’s a palace that since 1928 has been an integral part of Seville’s charm. It is the Hotel Alfonso XIII, built and inaugurated by the king whose name it bears to host royal families and illustrious guests in a sumptuous setting for their visits to the Great Exhibition. Those times are long gone, but the same hospitality lives on, and its splendor embodies the tradition, hospitality, aesthetic genius, and harmony of life that characterizes Seville. Unveil new experiences in an Andalusian palace with square towers, mudejar-style windows and ceramics from Triana surrounded by a Sevillian fantasy of mysterious gardens, fountains and palm trees. From the lobby, to the inner-courtyard, to the outdoor swimming pool and along the marble of the patio, you’ll walk in the footsteps of kings. The 147 rooms are decorated in Castillian, Moorish and Isabelline baroque style, with upholstered walls, crystal chandeliers and all the modern amenities that guests deserve.
Hotel website: Hotel Alfonso XIII
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and a complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people per room once during stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities ).
HOTEL ALFONSO XIII, SEVILLE, SPAIN
7. BELMOND COPACABANA PALACE, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
The history of the most luxurious hotel of Rio began when President Epitácio Pessoa asked the hotelier Otavio Guinle to construct the palace to host a visit of the king of Belgium. The French architect Joseph Gire modeled the hotel on the Mediterranean style of the Hotels Negresco in Nice and the Carlton in Cannes. Since its Art Deco doors swung open in 1923, Belmond Copacabana Palace has been welcoming the rich and famous. One cannot miss this hotel, as it is the only one with a grand, carved white-marble facade, making it the matriarch of Copacabana. Its conscientious renovations continue their slow but steady pace. The hotel guests can sunbathe, swim and socialize in one of Rio’s largest and most attractive swimming pools. The hotel also features some top restaurants, such as the highly acclaimed Cipriani Restaurant, which offers Italian fine dining.
Hotel website: Belmond Copacabana Palace
Other accolades: Belmond Copacabana Palace also features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Rio De Janeiro.
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check in, late check out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD spa credit).
BELMOND COPACABANA PALACE, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
6. ASHFORD CASTLE, IRELAND
Unrivaled service and five-star luxury await at the magnificent Ashford Castle. Situated in a spectacular 350 acre estate on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib, the castle dates back to 1228 when it was founded by the de Burgo family, who were defeated in a battle in 1589 and subsequently lost their home to Lord Ingham governor of Connaught. It was transformed in 1715 by the Oranmore and Browne family with the addition of a French style chateau, before becoming a hotel at a later stage. The castle features splendid interiors brimming with antique furniture, fine fabrics and unique features at every turn. With 82 spectacular rooms, suites and the Hideaway Cottage, a wealth of activities and plenty of thoughtful touches, guests will enjoy acclaimed Irish hospitality on a grand scale. From fine dining to a wealth of activities on the doorstep, a stay at Ashford Castle is perfect for romantic breaks, family escapes and elegant private events.
Hotel website: Ashford Castle
Other accolades: Ashord Castle also features in my top 10 list of the world’s most magnificent castle hotels.
Tip: get complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
ASHFORD CASTLE, IRELAND
5. TAJ LAKE PALACE, UDAIPUR, INDIA
The Taj Lake Palace is a marble fantasy that floats magically on the still blue waters of Lake Pichola. It was built in 1746 as the pleasure palace of Maharana Jagat Singh II. During the famous Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 several European families fled from Nimach and used the island as an asylum, offered to them by Maharana Swaroop Singh. To protect his guests, the Rana destroyed all the town’s boats so that the rebels could not reach the island. Restored to its pristine glory, this spectacular palace became world-renowned when the James Bond film ‘Octopussy’ was filmed here. This heritage hotel has 66 luxurious rooms and 17 grand suites. Its location on an island in the midst of a lake affords every room breathtaking views of the neighbouring City Palace, Aravalli Hills, Machla Magra Hills and Jag Mandir. Probably the most romantic hotel in the world, this 262-year old palace offers guests a unique blend of serenity and opulence.
Hotel website: Taj Lake Palace
Other accolades: Taj Lake Palace features in my top 10 lists of luxury hotels made famous by movies and the world’s most magnificent castle hotels.
Tip: get complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and one complimentary lunch or dinner ).
TAJ LAKE PALACE, UDAIPUR, INDIA
4. AMAN SVETI STEFAN, MONTENEGRO
Perhaps the most iconic image associated with Montenegro, the fortified island of Sveti Stefan dates back to the 15th century when Adriatic pirates held sway over this crystal-clear coastline. Attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, the restored village lies across the bay from Villa Miločer, a former royal retreat, and provides unparalleled access to the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with 80 acres of grounds, two kilometers (1,3 miles) of beaches and a standalone Aman Spa, these two historic sites comprise Aman Sveti Stefan. While the island’s historic exterior remains largely unchanged, the resort’s interiors have been restored and updated to meet contemporary expectations. Expect to find 58 unique luxury lodgings, all coming with gorgeous bathrooms and with a myriad of views ranging from sea and rooftops to quaint courtyards and piazzas.
Hotel website: Aman Sveti Stefan
Other accolades: Aman Sveti Stefan also features in my top 10 lists of the most spectacular hotel bathrooms, the best Aman resorts in the world, Europe’s most astonishing beach retreats.
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and one lunch for 2).
AMAN SVETI STEFAN, MONTENEGRO
3. MANDARIN ORIENTAL PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Built on the site of a former 14th century monastery, Mandarin Oriental Prague is both a five-star luxury hotel and a wonderfully preserved piece of history. In 1784, as part of the reforms instituted by the Emperor Josef II, the monastery was abolished and the church deconsecrated. After the end of World War II the monastery housed the Central State Archive and State Print Works, the latter not being abolished until 1993. Enjoying a peaceful location on a quiet cobbled street of picturesque Malá Strana on the left bank of the Vltava River, the hotel is a serene retreat infused with centuries of character and a style that blends contemporary design with period features. With 79 elegant rooms, 20 individually decorated suites, excellent dining and a luxurious spa (the only spa in the world located in a former Renaissance chapel!), the hotel offers a truly unique five-star experience in the heart of the Czech Republic’s prettiest city.
Hotel website: Mandarin Oriental Prague
Other accolades: Mandarin Oriental Prague also features in my top 10 lists of the most amazing city hotels in Europe.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
2. HÔTEL DE CRILON, A ROSEWOOD HOTEL, PARIS, FRANCE
This legendary palace offers a refined and illustrious history, encapsulating the very best France has to offer. In 1758, King Louis XV commissioned the greatest architect of his day, Jacques-Ange Gabriel, to build twin structures overlooking the Place de la Concorde. With its perfectly proportioned, Neoclassical façade and architecture, the hotel was designed to captivate. It has dazzled generations of visitors and played host to some of history’s greatest events. The building has stood through the reigns of two French kings, the French Revolution, the rise and fall of the Napoleonic Empire and the birth of the League of Nations. Long owned by the illustrious family of the Counts of Crillon, this private mansion was later transformed into a luxury palace hotel. Hôtel de Crillon’s 78 rooms, 36 suites and 10 signature suites embody an expressly Parisian residential style that is equally warm and refined.
Hotel website: Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
HÔTEL DE CRILON, A ROSEWOOD HOTEL, PARIS, FRANCE
1. AMAN AT SUMMER PALACE, CHINA
Just steps from the East Gate of the Summer Palace grounds lies Aman at Summer Palace – the ideal location from which to discover the Chinese capital, since the property provides easy access to such cultural landmarks as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the hutongs, as well as Beijing’s restaurants, art galleries and other contemporary delights. A serene retreat that embraces traditional Chinese architecture, the 51-suite resort is housed in a series of pavilions. Some of the original dwellings were used by guests of the Summer Palace awaiting an audience with the Empress Dowager Cixi at the turn of the twentieth century. All accommodations overlook internal courtyards that feature an intricate latticework of pathways, separating formal gardens and trees. The resort’s aesthetic references draw upon traditional materials and the architecture and design of the Qing and Ming Dynasties.
Hotel website: Aman at Summer Palace