From Neoclassical gems to iconic Hollywood institutes, these hotels with history promise an intriguing stay. Here are the ones to look out for…
Our pick of hotels with history
The Original Cambodian Getaway for the Elite
Knai Bang Chatt, Kepp
Knai Bang Chatt is a chic boutique hotel in Kep and was once the original Cambodian getaway for the elite. It’s a gateway to Kep Sur Mer – a relatively undiscovered beach destination on Cambodia’s South Coast. The ‘50s were a ‘Golden Age’ for Cambodia and Kep Sur Mer attracted glamorous holiday-makers including many of the French elite. Three of the villas that stand today were designed as summer homes by students of Vann Molyvann, a protegee of Le Corbusier architect often known as the father of New Khmer Architecture. The villas were abandoned and stripped bare in the ‘70s, during the tragic fighting between the Khmer Rouge and armed forces. Five decades later, Jef Moons has refurbished these villas to their former glory and opened Knai Bang Chatt in 2006, offering 18 rooms and suites.
Rates at Knai Bang Chatt start from $188 (currently approx. £145) per night. knaibangchatt.com
LONDON’S FINEST PRIVATE RESIDENCE
The opening of The Lanesborough on New Year’s Eve 1991 signified the rebirth of a treasured London landmark and the start of a new era for the old St George’s Hospital building, formerly known as Lanesborough House. Originally a three-storey brick mansion, which served as an elegant country house, it was situated at Hyde Park Corner, facing the park on the south side of the road now known as Knightsbridge. The Lanesborough is today one of the masterpiece properties of the Oetker Collection at one of London’s most enviable addresses. Still overlooking Hyde Park Corner, it is one of the city’s most iconic hotels and comprises 93 rooms and suites including the Royal Suite – the largest suite in London – with seven bedrooms and bathrooms, two living rooms and a dining room. All room categories of the hotel come complete with their own private butler, with a fleet catering to guests every need.
Rates at The Lanesborough start from £590 per night for a Deluxe Queen on a room only basis. oetkercollection.com
A CENTURY-OLD WINTER PALACE
SUVRETTA HOUSE, ST. MORITZ
Suvretta House, one of Switzerland’s most iconic heritage hotels, opened its doors over 100 years ago and remains today one of Europe’s finest winter retreats. Surrounded by the vast and beautiful Engadin Valley, Suvretta House (translated directly as ‘house above the woods’) is a much-loved hotel steeped in history. Built over 100 years ago by Swiss hotelier Anton Bon, it was originally designed to provide a tranquil and exclusive retreat away from the nearby buzz of St. Moritz, which as the birthplace of winter tourism in the mid 19th century, attracted all manner of the rich and famous. With the likes of Evita Peron, King Farouk of Egypt and the Shah of Persia visiting for the winter months, the destination soon became a jet-set hub of cosmopolitan glamour, and to this day remains one of the most decadent mountain resorts in Europe. Still owned by the fourth generation of founder Anton Bon’s family, his great grandson Martin Candrian, and run by husband and wife team Peter and Esther Egli, the 181-room hotel has its own private ski lift providing exceptionally easy access to the Engadine Valley’s 217 miles of piste, 136 miles of cross-country ski trails and 93 miles of winter walking paths.
Winter rates at Suvretta House start from CHF 540 (approx. £428) per night in a Mountain Double Room on a half-board basis (breakfast and dinner). The 2018/19 winter season at Suvretta House will run from mid-December 2018 to early April 2019. suvrettahouse.ch
AN ICON OF WEST HOLLYWOOD
SUNSET TOWER HOTEL
Designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant, Sunset Tower was a trailblazer from the moment it opened and welcomed the likes of Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. John Wayne kept his pet cow on the balcony so that guests could have fresh milk with their coffee. Howard Hughes kept several apartments at Sunset Tower for his various mistresses – some at the same time – while Frank Sinatra, who owned a bachelor pad at the hotel, would often propose to Ava Gardner from the edge of his terrace. Iggy Pop would dive from his balcony into the pool and Diana Ross couldn’t work the lift as her nails were too long so made actor Tim Curry play elevator operator. The stories are endless. Following a multi-million-dollar transformation, the hotel has reopened its doors to reveal elegant, stylish new interiors, a beautifully designed Terrace Bar, a fresh outdoor terrace and swimming pool plus fitness area and spa. The chicest and most welcoming room in town – The Tower Bar and Restaurant – will remain untouched.
Rates at Sunset Tower start from $395 (currently aroud £303). sunsettowerhotel.com
A CONVERTED 17TH CENTURY MONASTERY ON THE AMALFI COAST
MONASTERO SANTA ROSA HOTEL & SPA
Situated between Amalfi and Positano, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa is a spectacular former 17th-century monastery, which has been lovingly restored into just twenty beautiful sea-view guest rooms and suites. The family-run hotel is nestled into the side of a cliff, and the vaulted ceilings and arched windows of the nun’s rooms and refectory have been carefully preserved and are cleverly linked together to create light and airy spaces. Each room is decorated with historical photographs of the area and the monastery itself, adding to the sense of history.
Rates start from €400 per room per night on a B&B basis. monasterosantarosa.com
DISCOVER THE DRAMATIC LIFE OF ‘MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS’
Gleneagles will be celebrating the UK launch of the highly-anticipated film ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan in January 2019, with an exclusive new experience for guests. Delve deep into the fascinating history behind the life of one of our most controversial Royals, as Gleneagles’ own in-house Blue Badge guide offers privately-guided tours of Linlithgow Palace, where Mary was born and Stirling Castle, where she was crowned Queen of Scotland in 1543. Gleneagles is within easy reach of some the country’s most historic destinations, making the hotel the perfect home base from which to explore Mary’s life and this defining chapter in Scottish history.
The ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ package at Gleneagles costs £2,850 based on two adults sharing an Estate Room for three nights. Rates include dinner one evening in The Birnam Brasserie, guided tours of Stirling Castle and Linlithgow Palace, a Mary Queen of Scots cocktail and a book on Mary Queen of Scots. A Rolls Royce transfer is available – price on request. The package is available for purchase by contacting Resort Sales on 0800 704 705 or at resort.sale[email protected]
CAMBRIDGE’S MOST ICONIC HOTEL
UNIVERSITY ARMS, CAMBRIDGE
First opened in 1834 as the city’s original hotel sitting on the iconic Parker’s Piece green, University Arms has played a vital role in the history of Cambridge. It was originally built as a coaching inn to provide a resting point for travellers before the development of railway network in Britain. A few years later in 1848, in the shadows of the hotel, the defining rules of football were invented by locals playing on Parker’s Piece. The hotel has always been innovative and ahead of its time, being the first hotel in the city to have electricity and lavatories on each floor. By 1904, with the increasing popularity of the motorcar, the owner at the time Marcus Bradford made the risky decision to convert the stable yard into a garage, which, today, is the new porte-cochere and entrance. Over the years, the hotel has changed hands various times, resulting in a diminished reputation and a tired product. That all changed as of 1st August when the hotel completed an £80 million, two-year renovation by design dream team – John Simpson, the UK’s pre-eminent classical architect, and Martin Brudnizki, one of the world’s most in-demand interior designer. It now comprises 192 beautiful and ‘playfully’ designed hotel rooms and suites, a new destination restaurant and bar, Parker’s Tavern, a library paying homage to Cambridge’s academic heritage, and an elegant ballroom.
Rates will start from £205 per room. universityarms.com
A NEOCLASSICAL GEM IN THE HEART OF PALMA DE MALLORCA
SANT FRANCESC HOTEL SINGULAR
Situated in the heart of the historic centre of Palma, Sant Francesc Hotel Singular offers the perfect base for an exceptional city-break, romantic weekend and practically year-round sunshine. The five-star, boutique hotel is set within a former Mallorcan mansion, built in 1860, which was lovingly restored in 2015 with meticulous attention to detail, respecting and exposing many of its original features, such as beams, stone floors, wooden coffered ceilings, frescoes and murals. The Neoclassical gem dates back to 1860 and boasts features characteristic of the magnificent mansions of Mallorca; large entrance doors, arches, a grand staircase, a paved inner courtyard, a well, stables and a watchtower with its dovecote. Following the renovation work, the well was converted into a gym, the tower into a very special guest suite and the stables into the Quadrat Restaurant.
Rates at Sant Francesc start from €285 per night. hotelsantfrancesc.com
MUMBAI’S FIRST HARBOUR LANDMARK
TAJ MAHAL PALACE
Established in 1903, The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai preceded the Gateway of India by 21 years as Mumbai’s first harbour landmark. Today the hotel is internationally renowned and is the residence of choice for visiting royalty, dignitaries and other famous personalities. It is also beloved of generations of Indians who regard this hotel as a symbol of the indomitable spirit of Mumbai and the subcontinent. The Taj Mahal Palace also recently became the only building in India to be trademarked for its elegant façade and Dome, joining an elite group of structures across the world including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Sydney Opera House.
Rates start at £235 per person per night. tajhotels.co.uk
A 270-YEAR-OLD FLOATING PALACE
TAJ LAKE PALACE, UDAIPUR
This 270-year-old white marble palace floats like a mirage in the middle of Lake Pichola and looks dazzling from the shore. Reached by a short boat ride, it was built as a summer retreat by Maharana Jagjit Singh who ruled Jaipur in the 17th century. It has undergone major refurbishment to restore its palatial feel with marble floors and rich furnishings. The hotel comprises 66 rooms and 17 suites as follows. It also has a fitness centre, Jiva spa with an exclusive spa boat experience unlike any other, and an outdoor swimming pool heated in winter.
Rates start from £541 per person per night. taj.tajhotels.com