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Looking for a unique stay that’s steeped in history? From a magnificent castle hotel in England to the legendary hotel in the Colorado Rocky Mountains that inspired Stephen King’s novel, The Shining, these options are worth planning your next trip around.
One of the most magnificent castles in the United Kingdom, Thornbury lies at the edge of the postcard-perfect Cotwolds region and was once owned by the famous Tudor dynasty that ruled Ireland, the UK and France from 1485 through 1603. It even played host to King Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn who spent 10 days here as part of their honeymoon tour during the summer of 1535. Before the current castle was built, William the Conqueror’s wife Matilda of Flanors had an 11th-century manor on this very site. Today, it’s the only Tudor castle open to the public as a hotel, allowing anyone to enjoy the splendor of its bed chambers with exposed stone walls, canopy beds and aged tapestries.
The Hotel Alhambra Palace dates back to 1910 as the oldest five-star hotel in Spain, built to to accommodate increasing tourism to the Alhambra complex. But the most historic era for the building was during the Spanish Civil War when it became an army hospital. Guests enjoy the charms of yesteryear along with gorgeous views of the city and the Alhambra, particularly from the popular rooftop bar. Rooms have comfortable beds and modern amenities like flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi.
In 1886, names like the Vanderbilts, Morgans and Rockefellers came together to create a private winter retreat. The result was the Jekyll Island Club Resort, “the most exclusive social club” in the country. During the Second World War, the government asked the members of the club to refrain from using it and they never returned. It became a public state park in 1947, and in 1986 it was converted into the hotel it is today, offering the chance to step into a bygone era while enjoying plenty of luxuries too.
The Stanley Hotel, located in the small mountain town of Estes Park adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, is a historic landmark and the very hotel that author Stephen King based his novel on, “The Shining.” Oscar Stanley, the inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobiles, opened its doors in 1909. Guests would pull up in their stylish Stanley-designed steam cars and enjoy rooms with telephones, electric lights and en-suite bathrooms – they even had a fleet of automobiles at their disposal. Today, it offers luxury and beautiful mountain views, while attracting the curiosities of those interested in the paranormal as Mr. Stanley and his wife are said to still linger.
The Beverly Hills Hotel opened in 1912 and soon welcomed silent movie stars like Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson. By the 1930s, it was a legend, with guests like Grace Kelly, Fred Astaire, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe walking through its doors. In 1940, it was Marlene Dietrich who changed its Polo Lounge policy by refusing to wear a skirt, mandatory for women to get in at the time. Today it’s the ideal spot to experience the Golden era of Hollywood, complete with a signature red carpet and grand lobby.
One of the most luxurious castle hotels in Europe, Ashford sits across a 350-acre estate along the banks of sparkling Lough Corrib. It dates back to 1228 when it was founded by the de Burgo family. In the early 18th-century the Oranmore and Browne family added a French-style chateau wing, and in 1939 the Guinness family sold it to the Irish government. It was doubled in size, becoming a renowned hotel notable for its upscale accommodation, fine dining and wide range of activities like horseback riding, golfing, lake cruising, fishing and archery.
Offering understated luxury, the Aman Sveti Stefan enjoys an enchanting coastal setting atop the tiny island of Sveti Stefan, a fortified island that dates back to the 15th-century when pirates ruled the region. The idyllic islet is linked to the mainland by a narrow isthmus and is now part of this fairytale resort made up of suites, cottages and villas. Guests enjoy pink sand beaches, the fragrance of ancient pine and olive trees, along with out-of-this-world views and a cliffside swimming pool.
One of the best family-friendly all-inclusive resorts in the U.S., the Grand Hotel opened in 1887 as a summer retreat with the world’s longest front porch. Back then, the rates were just $3 to $5 a night and when author Mark Twain lectured in its casino, tickets were only a dollar. Today, the iconic summer resort offers a taste of yesteryear along with a 220-foot-long pool and a wealth of activities from horseback riding to biking. Its porch still holds the record as the longest, although it was reconstructed in 2017, honoring its 130th birthday.
Nearly a century-old, the Esplanade opened in 1925 to provide a refuge for Orient Express passengers, providing elegance, sophistication and charm. Zagreb’s historic icon, it’s accommodated many A-list film stars, singers, artists and politicians, in addition to winning a long list of awards. Charles Lindbergh, the King of Egypt, Elizabeth Taylor and Ella Fitzgerald are just of few of the illustrious names from its past, and in more recent years, Orlando Bloom, U2, Sting, and the Prince Albert of Monaco have all stayed here.
Opened in 1864, the palatial Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo hosted plenty of international jetsetters before jets themselves were invented. Built to attract gamblers who came from across Europe to play in Monaco, it became a popular social hub that’s seen everyone from the Rockefellers and Frank Sinatra to Elton John. Its Princess Grace Suite pays homage to one of the most well-known characters in the country’s history, former actress and the principality’s princess, Grace Kelly. Today many stay to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix it as it boasts a prime position along the race track with suites serving as front-row seats to the show.
Set across from the Gold Rush-era Parliament House and 19th-century gardens in Melbourne, the Hotel Windsor sits within an 1883 building. The traditional hotel has retained many beautiful original features and boasts lots of period details, including a doorman and Victorian décor. It’s had a long list of distinguished guests over the decades too, including film legends like Katherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh who stayed in its crown jewel, the Royal Suite. The suite provides an ideal vantage point for viewing the Treasury Gardens below, along with rich antiques and marble fireplaces.
Located on the Miracle Mile, The Drake was built in 1920. A National Historic Landmark, throughout the roaring twenties it was the top spot for high-society, and in the ’30s, it drew the likes of everyone from Bing Crosby to Walt Disney who enjoyed cocktails in The Gold Coast Room. In 1996, its Presidential Suite hosted Princess Diana back in June 1996 who was in the city to visit Northwestern University. Today, guests enjoy the opulence of chandeliers and classic decor while upscale, modern amenities abound.
This iconic luxury hotel was built over 125 years ago by the general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway as a stopover for railroad passengers in the late-19th century. Today it offers the perfect stay to complement the European feel of Quebec City, complete with a magnificent blend of architectural styles from the Middle Ages and Renaissance eras, along with spectacular views. Guided tours are available for learning more about the history of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.
Set within a 15th-century palace in the heart of Florence, Hotel Bernini Palace has a prestigious history, playing a key role that transformed the city into the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. The era is now represented by the hotel’s round frescoes which adorn the Hall of Breakfast. Renowned for its impeccable service and location, it even has a museum focused on ancient Florence’s glorious past, along with fabulous suites that overlook Palazzo Vecchio and the Cathedral.
The Hotel Regina Louvre sits in an art nouveau hotel, firming anchored in the history of Paris while boasting breathtaking views of two iconic landmarks, Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. It opened for the World’s Fair in 1900, constructed on the historically significant site of the Louvre Palace royal stables and carousel. A grand Parisian treasure, it provides guests with the ultimate in decadence and French sophistication.
If you’re looking for an affordable slice of Wild West history, the Historic Bullock Hotel was owned and built by Deadwood’s first sheriff, Seth Bullock, a real-life character you might recall from the popular HBO series, “Deadwood.” Although he died over a century ago, it’s said that he still plays host at his beloved hotel. Guests can walk through the very same hallways and corridors that Bullock did, and perhaps even sleep in the same room where he stayed. He died here in room 201 on September 23, 1919.