The world's most historic hotels



Slide 1 of 41: If the walls of these historic hotels could talk, they would whisper of royal guests, political deals, wild parties and, in the case of The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, some very famous ducks. There are the world’s oldest hotels which have witnessed more than a millennium of check-ins and check-outs, and those which have packed luggage-loads of history into a few centuries or decades. Here are some of the most historic hotels around the world.
Slide 2 of 41: The DeSoto is as steeped in history as the city it lives in – and a rather seedy, boozy history at that. The hotel, which dates back to 1890, was the residence of choice for notorious gangster Al Capone whenever he rolled into town. During the Prohibition era, Capone often checked into The DeSoto while local mechanic Sherman Helmey fixed his motors.
Slide 3 of 41: The hotel remains a landmark in Savannah’s oak-dotted Historic District, though it’s undergone several significant upgrades through the decades. Its interior has a distinctly modern sheen, from the art-filled lobby and sleek pool deck to a craft cocktail bar that serves libations a far cry from Capone’s illicit moonshine. Period details like original crystal chandeliers and tiles pay homage to the past.
Slide 4 of 41: London has more than its fair share of historic buildings and iconic hotels, though it’s hard to beat the timeless elegance of this landmark Mayfair hotel. It was originally Mivart’s Hotel, founded in 1812, until it was bought by the Claridge family in 1854 – opening under that household name two years later. It quickly attracted moneyed guests with its focus on discreet luxury, and became the accommodation of choice for Hollywood stars, dignitaries and royalty from around the globe.

Slide 5 of 41: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Audrey Hepburn, Mick Jagger, Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt are among the eclectic roster of stellar guests. Crown Prince Alexander II was even born in suite 212, which had been declared Yugoslavian territory for the purpose, while Winston Churchill sought solace with a stay at the hotel following his 1945 election defeat. A little more recently, Kate Moss celebrated her 30th birthday here with a starry guest list.
Slide 6 of 41: Its reputation as a haven of hedonistic luxury and glamor was cemented in the 1920s, when Claridge’s became the party destination of choice for flappers and jazz cats, who danced the Charleston and sipped cocktails to Gershwin in the hotel’s ballroom. The hotel was remodeled in the Art Deco style of the period in 1929 and has remained rooted in that most gilded of decades ever since. A restoration in the 1990s was based on archive photographs and restored the opulent glamor of the era.
Slide 7 of 41: Its age alone marks Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan out as one of the world’s most historic hotels. According to Guinness World Records, this hot spring resort is the world’s oldest hotel, dating back to AD 705. It’s also the world’s oldest continuously-operating business. So, as one might imagine, its bamboo screens, rice-paper walls and pools fed by thermal springs have witnessed a fair amount of history.
Slide 8 of 41: The riverfront ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), at the foot of the Japanese Alps and in the same region as Mount Fuji, has been owned by more than 50 generations of the same family. Samurais often came to soak in the restorative waters, which feed several pools including private outdoor baths found in the poshest suites. The many notable guests over the centuries include Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate, in the early 17th century.
Slide 9 of 41: Some hotels are famous for hosting kings, queens, emperors and founding fathers. Much of Chateau Marmont’s history derives from its enduring appeal for celebrities and luminaries looking for a place to relax and, often, party away from prying eyes. The hotel has also starred as a backdrop in photoshoots of celebrities from Debbie Harry to Led Zeppelin (pictured). This classic Gothic hotel, perched on the edge of Hollywood, was built in 1929 and is as famous as any star that’s ever walked through its doors.

Slide 10 of 41: The hotel hit headlines for all the wrong reasons in 1982, when Blues Brothers actor John Belushi died from an overdose while staying in one of the bungalows. But it hasn’t taken away the property’s shine. Stars are attracted by the hotel’s impeccable service and discretion – and the gloriously elegant suites, most of which are more like luxury apartments. The landscaped pool area is a much-Instagrammed dream too.
Slide 11 of 41: Australia’s oldest hotel is an elegant, Renaissance Revival–style masterpiece, located opposite Melbourne’s Parliament House. Its pristine, impeccably decorated walls and plush burgundy carpets have witnessed all kinds of events, from the drafting of the country’s constitution in 1898 to the excitement of VIP guests including Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier. The hotel opened in 1883 and was originally called The Grand.
Slide 12 of 41: In 1923, the hotel, which had just been refurbished, hosted a luncheon attended by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) – and was renamed in his honor. The English cricket team has also stayed here, with nearby factory workers apparently loudly knocking over milk urns in an attempt to disturb their sleep (and hinder their performance against the Aussies). Today, period furnishings – from the antiques-stuffed lobby to the opulent, gilded ballroom with stained-glass windows – maintain a sense of history.
Slide 13 of 41: Afternoon tea has been served in the lounge since the hotel opened and that sense of tradition extends to the rooms too. They’ve been given plenty of fresh licks of paint over the decades but the wood furniture, velvet drapes and plush carpets help keep a delightful balance between vintage and modern. The hotel has been closed due to COVID-19 but plans to reopen in early November – check the website for updates. Now take a look at the world's most beautiful hotel lobbies.
Slide 14 of 41: The Auberge Saint-Antoine is a historical gem within a historical gem – it's located in the Old Port of UNESCO Heritage Site, Québec City. It occupies a 17th-century wharf and cannon battery alongside three 18th and 19th-century warehouses in Îlot Hunt, where British merchants once traded when it was one of the continent’s busiest ports. The Relais & Châteaux hotel opened in 1992 and has preserved the buildings’ history beautifully.

Slide 15 of 41: A thorough archeological dig was carried out prior to construction, unearthing artifacts dating back to the 17th century. These preserved items, from keys and crockery to a cannon, are now dotted around the hotel’s common areas, rooms and suites, where exposed stone walls and chic period furnishings add to the historical charm.
Slide 16 of 41: Zum Roten Bären is Europe’s oldest hotel, with its name first appearing in documents in 1387. It’s so old, in fact, that its foundations predate the town they’re located in. These walls were erected before any other structure in Freiburg, founded in 1120 in southwest Germany’s Black Forest. Unsurprisingly, the medieval building has seen a lot of significant events, surviving the Black Death of the 14th century, several revolutions and revolts, and both World Wars.
Slide 17 of 41: Its exterior has changed a little through the centuries, largely due to necessity. Freiburg was briefly under French occupation and, on withdrawing in 1744, troops created an explosion which severely damaged the Romanesque-Gothic building. It was rebuilt in its current Baroque style, while old maps, documents and photos inside speak to its storied past, as does the original basement. The rooms are decidedly retro, decorated in a style that’s more 1950s than 1120s.
Slide 18 of 41: More than 20 US presidents have been guests of Omni Homestead, which describes itself as “America’s first resort”. President Thomas Jefferson, for example, stayed here in 1818, soaking in the natural hot springs that feed the spa and bathing pools. George Bush Sr teed off at the Old Course, one of the resort’s two championship golf courses and boasting the oldest tee in continuous use in the US. Members of the Rockefeller family have also hit the greens, which have incredible views of the Allegheny Mountains.
Slide 19 of 41: But the hotel’s beginnings were rather more humble. The original building, completed in 1766, was a wooden structure opened by Captain Thomas Bullitt, who had been granted the 300 acres of land (encompassing seven mineral springs) by Colonel George Washington. He named the resort in honor of the Homesteaders who built it. Bullitt later died in action during the American Revolutionary War.
Slide 20 of 41: His family continued to run the hotel until it was bought by prominent physician Dr. Thomas Goode in 1832. Over decades of renovations and rebuilding – including a 1901 fire that destroyed most of the structure – it’s grown significantly in size and splendor, becoming an imposing, elegant Colonial Revival-style structure surrounded by more than 2,300 acres of manicured grounds. Discover more of America's most historic hotels.
Slide 21 of 41: The Astir resort was created in the 1950s as part of the Greek government’s post-war drive to draw tourists to the Athens coast – and the project proved so popular that the area was dubbed ‘the Athenian Riviera’. So many stars and members of the Athenian elite flocked here that it did indeed rival the Côte d’Azur. Tony Curtis, Jane Fonda, Joan Collins, and Aristotle and Jackie Onassis were among the glamorous guests drawn to the pine-clad peninsula, which is edged by soft golden sand.
Slide 22 of 41: It was the place to see and be seen – or not seen, as in the case of Frank Sinatra, who apparently hid in the hotel kitchens to escape adoring fans. Beachside bungalows were followed by two buildings with luxury rooms, suites, restaurants and cocktail bars. Illustrious guests to stay in the Presidential Suite include actual presidents Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela. The hotel lost its sheen in later years until the Four Seasons group opened its debut Greek property here in summer 2019. Check out these vintage photos of Hollywood stars on vacation.
Slide 23 of 41: The bungalows at this revived Astir Palace remain in their original shells with plush new interiors and, in some cases, terraces with private pools. While there’s a distinct modern sheen, the resort is dotted with nods to its golden age past: Aristotle’s Cigar Bar pays homage to Onassis and guests can still eat classic Greek dishes at waterside Taverna 37, rooted in its original spot (the restaurant is temporarily closed – check the website for updates).
Slide 24 of 41: Q Station is one of Sydney’s most charming resorts, perched above its very own sandy cove on the edge of Sydney Harbour in beachside suburb Manly. But its sunny disposition – and 4-star status – belies a dark past. The ‘Q’ stands for ‘quarantine’. From 1828 until 1984, the grounds of this old station were used to hold people suspected of carrying contagious diseases upon entering into Australia. Their experiences are literally etched into the location, with engravings in sandstone showing the diverse cultural and social backgrounds of those quarantined here.
Slide 25 of 41: It was the longest continuously-operating quarantine station in Australia and the luxury resort is now considered among the country’s most haunted sites. Guests can usually join ghost tours taking in the old hospital and gravedigger’s cottage. It also holds an important place in Aboriginal history, as the location of some of the earliest contact between indigenous people and British colonists. An exhibition in the on-site visitor center gives an overview of the hotel’s fascinating past. These are the world's most haunted hotels.
Slide 26 of 41: The entire city of Venice is like a living museum, from its labyrinthine streets and canals to its looping bridges and timelessly elegant squares. And The Gritti Palace has a rich and illustrious history even by these storied standards. The palazzo was commissioned in 1475 by Andrea Gritti, the doge (elected lord) of Venice, as his official family residence, and it’s hard to argue with his choice of location.
Slide 27 of 41: The palace stands on the edge of the Grand Canal with views across to the Santa Maria della Salute church. It was converted into a hotel in 1895 and has continued to attract royalty, albeit mostly of the Hollywood kind. Stellar guests to have checked-in to the pinky-peach palace include Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and British author Somerset Maugham. Peggy Guggenheim, whose collection of art is among the city’s most important museums, celebrated her 80th birthday here.
Slide 28 of 41: Ernest Hemingway made this his home in the late 1940s and early 1950s, writing two novels here and once staging a midnight baseball game in the lobby. The author is one of several past guests to now have suites named in their honor. All the rooms are imbued with glamor, though, with dressing tables adorned with original mirrors, 18th-century wall lamps, and rich textures and colors throughout. Take a look at these stunning palaces you can stay in.
Slide 29 of 41: The extra ‘e’ in the name of The Olde Bell gives a hint at its long history. It opened as Ye Olde Bell in 1135, operating as a guest and carriage house for pilgrims traveling to nearby Benedictine Priory. Its bell, which still hangs over the door, was tolled to signal the imminent arrival of an important guest to the monks. It’s seen plenty of other history – and hosted eminent guests – since.
Slide 30 of 41: A secret passage scurries from the inn’s cellar to the priory and was apparently used by Lord Lovelace, a plotter of the 1688 Glorious Revolution that drove the Catholic James II into exile. Centuries later, Boris Karloff stayed at the inn while filming Juggernaut and The Man Who Changed His Mind. Winston Churchill met with Dwight D. Eisenhower here to discuss strategy during the Second World War, while two barns attached to the inn were converted into an arms factory. The hotel is currently closed for refurbishment, planning to reopen in early 2021 – check the website for updates.
Slide 31 of 41: Appearing to float in Lake Pichola like a palatial cruise ship, this hotel was originally constructed as something of a den of hedonism for a young prince. The white marble structure was built in 18th century for Maharana Jagat Singh II after his father, Maharana Sangram Singh II, allegedly told him that if he wanted to stay in a pleasure palace he’d have to build it himself.
Slide 32 of 41: And he did – or, at least, he had it built, topping the lake island with intricately carved arches and minarets. Now a luxury resort, it has unsurprisingly attracted attention with its gleaming beauty and equally gorgeous surroundings, with views of the lake, mountains and even other palaces from the hotel’s restaurants, pretty pool area and luxurious rooms. It even featured as Octopussy’s lair in the 1983 Bond film, and martinis now feature heavily on the cocktail menu.
Slide 33 of 41: It’s still a favorite among luminaries, from Hollywood royalty like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to actual royalty including Queen Elizabeth II. Suites have luxe touches like Indian silk and teak furniture, intricate lattice work and niches, while every detail around the floating palace hotel is imbued with grandeur – from the gilded decor to the spa boat, where treatments are inspired by ancient wellness traditions and rituals favored by Indian royalty.
Slide 34 of 41: The butter-yellow Lobanov-Rostovsky Palace was built in the early 19th century for Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky, personal assistant to Tsar Alexander I, and his wife Princess Cleopatra Lobanova-Rostovskaya. But its original, opulent sheen lost much of its luster when its use switched to housing the Ministry of War and later a hostel, school and state-owned architectural bureau during the Soviet era. It was restored to its former glory when the Four Seasons took over.
Slide 35 of 41: The group reopened the building in 2013 as Lion Palace, after the marble creatures that guard the imposing entrance. It’s now considered the most illustrious place to stay in St Petersburg, gleaming with grandeur from its marble columns to its golden domes. The opulence sweeps through the dramatic, vaulted-ceilinged lobby, up the granite double staircase and into the rooms, with marble bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling drapes and terraces that frame guests within the palace’s glorious façade.
Slide 36 of 41: This Coral Gables hotel has seen enough history for a whole city, or perhaps even an entire state – and its past goes beyond its role as luxury accommodation for the fabulous and fabulously wealthy. It opened in 1926 as the Miami Biltmore Country Club and was quickly a byword for Jazz Age glamor, with Ginger Rogers, Bing Cosby and Al Capone among guests. It survived the Great Depression to become a Second World War hero, transforming into a hospital with concrete and lino replacing tile and velvet.
Slide 37 of 41: The hotel continued to care for veterans as part of an army project to rebuild the body and minds of war casualties until 1968. Former soldiers were given space to recuperate in the lavish surroundings, including playing a few rounds on the 18-hole golf course. It was a far cry from its days and nights entertaining Hollywood and actual royalty with fashion shows, golf tournaments and gala balls.
Slide 38 of 41: The city of Coral Gables was granted ownership of the former hotel in 1973 but it remained empty for a decade before renovations began to return its sheen and splendor. Four years and $55 million later, the Mediterranean Revival hotel reopened with much fanfare. Despite a brief closure during the 1990s recession, today the National Historic Landmark is as lavish and luxurious as when it originally opened. Discover more of America's incredible National Historic Landmarks.
Slide 39 of 41: The sheer size and grandeur of this Memphis hotel, which is just around the corner from the home of blues, Beale Street, has a long and often quirky history. The Peabody was originally opened in 1869 by Colonel Robert Campbell, who named it for his late friend, philanthropist George Peabody. Also known as the "South's Grand Hotel", it moved to its current Downtown home in 1925. In 1933, a flock of ducks waddled through the lobby – and a legend was born.
Slide 40 of 41: The hotel’s general manager, Frank Schutt, returned from a hunting trip, bringing some of the live duck decoys with him and placed them in the lobby fountain as a joke. A crowd quickly gathered and the preening, strutting ducks proved so popular that the twice-daily ‘March of the Peabody Ducks’ became a beloved tradition. There’s even a dedicated Duckmaster who looks after the feathered celebrities and leads them along the special red carpet.
Slide 41 of 41: Human celebrities to have graced the hotel include Elvis Presley, who attended his senior prom in the ballroom in 1953. His daughter Lisa Marie was among a starry audience watching the Peabody Ducks in 2000, attending with then-partner Nicolas Cage, former president Jimmy Carter and basketball star Michael Jordan. Now take a look at the world's most remote hotels

Storied stays

If the walls of these historic hotels could talk, they would whisper of royal guests, political deals, wild parties and, in the case of The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, some very famous ducks. There are the world’s oldest hotels which have witnessed more than a millennium of check-ins and check-outs, and those which have packed luggage-loads of history into a few centuries or decades. Here are some of the most historic hotels around the world.

The DeSoto, Savannah, Georgia, USA

The DeSoto is as steeped in history as the city it lives in – and a rather seedy, boozy history at that. The hotel, which dates back to 1890, was the residence of choice for notorious gangster Al Capone whenever he rolled into town. During the Prohibition era, Capone often checked into The DeSoto while local mechanic Sherman Helmey fixed his motors.

The DeSoto, Savannah, Georgia, USA

The hotel remains a landmark in Savannah’s oak-dotted Historic District, though it’s undergone several significant upgrades through the decades. Its interior has a distinctly modern sheen, from the art-filled lobby and sleek pool deck to a craft cocktail bar that serves libations a far cry from Capone’s illicit moonshine. Period details like original crystal chandeliers and tiles pay homage to the past.

Claridge’s, London, England

London has more than its fair share of historic buildings and iconic hotels, though it’s hard to beat the timeless elegance of this landmark Mayfair hotel. It was originally Mivart’s Hotel, founded in 1812, until it was bought by the Claridge family in 1854 – opening under that household name two years later. It quickly attracted moneyed guests with its focus on discreet luxury, and became the accommodation of choice for Hollywood stars, dignitaries and royalty from around the globe.

Claridge’s, London, England

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Audrey Hepburn, Mick Jagger, Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt are among the eclectic roster of stellar guests. Crown Prince Alexander II was even born in suite 212, which had been declared Yugoslavian territory for the purpose, while Winston Churchill sought solace with a stay at the hotel following his 1945 election defeat. A little more recently, Kate Moss celebrated her 30th birthday here with a starry guest list.

Claridge’s, London, England

Its reputation as a haven of hedonistic luxury and glamor was cemented in the 1920s, when Claridge’s became the party destination of choice for flappers and jazz cats, who danced the Charleston and sipped cocktails to Gershwin in the hotel’s ballroom. The hotel was remodeled in the Art Deco style of the period in 1929 and has remained rooted in that most gilded of decades ever since. A restoration in the 1990s was based on archive photographs and restored the opulent glamor of the era.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Yamanashi, Japan

Its age alone marks Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan out as one of the world’s most historic hotels. According to Guinness World Records, this hot spring resort is the world’s oldest hotel, dating back to AD 705. It’s also the world’s oldest continuously-operating business. So, as one might imagine, its bamboo screens, rice-paper walls and pools fed by thermal springs have witnessed a fair amount of history.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Yamanashi, Japan

The riverfront ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), at the foot of the Japanese Alps and in the same region as Mount Fuji, has been owned by more than 50 generations of the same family. Samurais often came to soak in the restorative waters, which feed several pools including private outdoor baths found in the poshest suites. The many notable guests over the centuries include Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate, in the early 17th century.

Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles, California, USA

Some hotels are famous for hosting kings, queens, emperors and founding fathers. Much of Chateau Marmont’s history derives from its enduring appeal for celebrities and luminaries looking for a place to relax and, often, party away from prying eyes. The hotel has also starred as a backdrop in photoshoots of celebrities from Debbie Harry to Led Zeppelin (pictured). This classic Gothic hotel, perched on the edge of Hollywood, was built in 1929 and is as famous as any star that’s ever walked through its doors.

Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles, California, USA

The hotel hit headlines for all the wrong reasons in 1982, when Blues Brothers actor John Belushi died from an overdose while staying in one of the bungalows. But it hasn’t taken away the property’s shine. Stars are attracted by the hotel’s impeccable service and discretion – and the gloriously elegant suites, most of which are more like luxury apartments. The landscaped pool area is a much-Instagrammed dream too.

The Windsor, Melbourne, Australia

Australia’s oldest hotel is an elegant, Renaissance Revival–style masterpiece, located opposite Melbourne’s Parliament House. Its pristine, impeccably decorated walls and plush burgundy carpets have witnessed all kinds of events, from the drafting of the country’s constitution in 1898 to the excitement of VIP guests including Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier. The hotel opened in 1883 and was originally called The Grand.

The Windsor, Melbourne, Australia

In 1923, the hotel, which had just been refurbished, hosted a luncheon attended by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) – and was renamed in his honor. The English cricket team has also stayed here, with nearby factory workers apparently loudly knocking over milk urns in an attempt to disturb their sleep (and hinder their performance against the Aussies). Today, period furnishings – from the antiques-stuffed lobby to the opulent, gilded ballroom with stained-glass windows – maintain a sense of history.

The Windsor, Melbourne, Australia

Afternoon tea has been served in the lounge since the hotel opened and that sense of tradition extends to the rooms too. They’ve been given plenty of fresh licks of paint over the decades but the wood furniture, velvet drapes and plush carpets help keep a delightful balance between vintage and modern. The hotel has been closed due to COVID-19 but plans to reopen in early November – check the website for updates. Now take a look at the world’s most beautiful hotel lobbies.

Auberge Saint-Antoine, Québec City, Canada

The Auberge Saint-Antoine is a historical gem within a historical gem – it’s located in the Old Port of UNESCO Heritage Site, Québec City. It occupies a 17th-century wharf and cannon battery alongside three 18th and 19th-century warehouses in Îlot Hunt, where British merchants once traded when it was one of the continent’s busiest ports. The Relais & Châteaux hotel opened in 1992 and has preserved the buildings’ history beautifully.

Auberge Saint-Antoine, Québec City, Canada

A thorough archeological dig was carried out prior to construction, unearthing artifacts dating back to the 17th century. These preserved items, from keys and crockery to a cannon, are now dotted around the hotel’s common areas, rooms and suites, where exposed stone walls and chic period furnishings add to the historical charm.

Zum Roten Bären, Freiburg, Germany

Zum Roten Bären is Europe’s oldest hotel, with its name first appearing in documents in 1387. It’s so old, in fact, that its foundations predate the town they’re located in. These walls were erected before any other structure in Freiburg, founded in 1120 in southwest Germany’s Black Forest. Unsurprisingly, the medieval building has seen a lot of significant events, surviving the Black Death of the 14th century, several revolutions and revolts, and both World Wars.

Zum Roten Bären, Freiburg, Germany

Its exterior has changed a little through the centuries, largely due to necessity. Freiburg was briefly under French occupation and, on withdrawing in 1744, troops created an explosion which severely damaged the Romanesque-Gothic building. It was rebuilt in its current Baroque style, while old maps, documents and photos inside speak to its storied past, as does the original basement. The rooms are decidedly retro, decorated in a style that’s more 1950s than 1120s.

Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, Virginia, USA

More than 20 US presidents have been guests of Omni Homestead, which describes itself as “America’s first resort”. President Thomas Jefferson, for example, stayed here in 1818, soaking in the natural hot springs that feed the spa and bathing pools. George Bush Sr teed off at the Old Course, one of the resort’s two championship golf courses and boasting the oldest tee in continuous use in the US. Members of the Rockefeller family have also hit the greens, which have incredible views of the Allegheny Mountains.

Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, Virginia, USA

But the hotel’s beginnings were rather more humble. The original building, completed in 1766, was a wooden structure opened by Captain Thomas Bullitt, who had been granted the 300 acres of land (encompassing seven mineral springs) by Colonel George Washington. He named the resort in honor of the Homesteaders who built it. Bullitt later died in action during the American Revolutionary War.

Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, Virginia, USA

His family continued to run the hotel until it was bought by prominent physician Dr. Thomas Goode in 1832. Over decades of renovations and rebuilding – including a 1901 fire that destroyed most of the structure – it’s grown significantly in size and splendor, becoming an imposing, elegant Colonial Revival-style structure surrounded by more than 2,300 acres of manicured grounds. Discover more of America’s most historic hotels.

Four Seasons Astir Palace, Athens, Greece

The Astir resort was created in the 1950s as part of the Greek government’s post-war drive to draw tourists to the Athens coast – and the project proved so popular that the area was dubbed ‘the Athenian Riviera’. So many stars and members of the Athenian elite flocked here that it did indeed rival the Côte d’Azur. Tony Curtis, Jane Fonda, Joan Collins, and Aristotle and Jackie Onassis were among the glamorous guests drawn to the pine-clad peninsula, which is edged by soft golden sand.

Four Seasons Astir Palace, Athens, Greece

It was the place to see and be seen – or not seen, as in the case of Frank Sinatra, who apparently hid in the hotel kitchens to escape adoring fans. Beachside bungalows were followed by two buildings with luxury rooms, suites, restaurants and cocktail bars. Illustrious guests to stay in the Presidential Suite include actual presidents Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela. The hotel lost its sheen in later years until the Four Seasons group opened its debut Greek property here in summer 2019. Check out these vintage photos of Hollywood stars on vacation.

Four Seasons Astir Palace, Athens, Greece

The bungalows at this revived Astir Palace remain in their original shells with plush new interiors and, in some cases, terraces with private pools. While there’s a distinct modern sheen, the resort is dotted with nods to its golden age past: Aristotle’s Cigar Bar pays homage to Onassis and guests can still eat classic Greek dishes at waterside Taverna 37, rooted in its original spot (the restaurant is temporarily closed – check the website for updates).

Q Station, Sydney, Australia

Q Station is one of Sydney’s most charming resorts, perched above its very own sandy cove on the edge of Sydney Harbour in beachside suburb Manly. But its sunny disposition – and 4-star status – belies a dark past. The ‘Q’ stands for ‘quarantine’. From 1828 until 1984, the grounds of this old station were used to hold people suspected of carrying contagious diseases upon entering into Australia. Their experiences are literally etched into the location, with engravings in sandstone showing the diverse cultural and social backgrounds of those quarantined here.

Q Station, Sydney, Australia

It was the longest continuously-operating quarantine station in Australia and the luxury resort is now considered among the country’s most haunted sites. Guests can usually join ghost tours taking in the old hospital and gravedigger’s cottage. It also holds an important place in Aboriginal history, as the location of some of the earliest contact between indigenous people and British colonists. An exhibition in the on-site visitor center gives an overview of the hotel’s fascinating past. These are the world’s most haunted hotels.

The Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy

The entire city of Venice is like a living museum, from its labyrinthine streets and canals to its looping bridges and timelessly elegant squares. And The Gritti Palace has a rich and illustrious history even by these storied standards. The palazzo was commissioned in 1475 by Andrea Gritti, the doge (elected lord) of Venice, as his official family residence, and it’s hard to argue with his choice of location.

The Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy

The palace stands on the edge of the Grand Canal with views across to the Santa Maria della Salute church. It was converted into a hotel in 1895 and has continued to attract royalty, albeit mostly of the Hollywood kind. Stellar guests to have checked-in to the pinky-peach palace include Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and British author Somerset Maugham. Peggy Guggenheim, whose collection of art is among the city’s most important museums, celebrated her 80th birthday here.

The Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy

Ernest Hemingway made this his home in the late 1940s and early 1950s, writing two novels here and once staging a midnight baseball game in the lobby. The author is one of several past guests to now have suites named in their honor. All the rooms are imbued with glamor, though, with dressing tables adorned with original mirrors, 18th-century wall lamps, and rich textures and colors throughout. Take a look at these stunning palaces you can stay in.

The Olde Bell, Hurley, England

The extra ‘e’ in the name of The Olde Bell gives a hint at its long history. It opened as Ye Olde Bell in 1135, operating as a guest and carriage house for pilgrims traveling to nearby Benedictine Priory. Its bell, which still hangs over the door, was tolled to signal the imminent arrival of an important guest to the monks. It’s seen plenty of other history – and hosted eminent guests – since.

The Olde Bell, Hurley, England

A secret passage scurries from the inn’s cellar to the priory and was apparently used by Lord Lovelace, a plotter of the 1688 Glorious Revolution that drove the Catholic James II into exile. Centuries later, Boris Karloff stayed at the inn while filming Juggernaut and The Man Who Changed His Mind. Winston Churchill met with Dwight D. Eisenhower here to discuss strategy during the Second World War, while two barns attached to the inn were converted into an arms factory. The hotel is currently closed for refurbishment, planning to reopen in early 2021 – check the website for updates.

Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

Appearing to float in Lake Pichola like a palatial cruise ship, this hotel was originally constructed as something of a den of hedonism for a young prince. The white marble structure was built in 18th century for Maharana Jagat Singh II after his father, Maharana Sangram Singh II, allegedly told him that if he wanted to stay in a pleasure palace he’d have to build it himself.

Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

And he did – or, at least, he had it built, topping the lake island with intricately carved arches and minarets. Now a luxury resort, it has unsurprisingly attracted attention with its gleaming beauty and equally gorgeous surroundings, with views of the lake, mountains and even other palaces from the hotel’s restaurants, pretty pool area and luxurious rooms. It even featured as Octopussy’s lair in the 1983 Bond film, and martinis now feature heavily on the cocktail menu.

Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

It’s still a favorite among luminaries, from Hollywood royalty like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to actual royalty including Queen Elizabeth II. Suites have luxe touches like Indian silk and teak furniture, intricate lattice work and niches, while every detail around the floating palace hotel is imbued with grandeur – from the gilded decor to the spa boat, where treatments are inspired by ancient wellness traditions and rituals favored by Indian royalty.

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The butter-yellow Lobanov-Rostovsky Palace was built in the early 19th century for Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky, personal assistant to Tsar Alexander I, and his wife Princess Cleopatra Lobanova-Rostovskaya. But its original, opulent sheen lost much of its luster when its use switched to housing the Ministry of War and later a hostel, school and state-owned architectural bureau during the Soviet era. It was restored to its former glory when the Four Seasons took over.

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The group reopened the building in 2013 as Lion Palace, after the marble creatures that guard the imposing entrance. It’s now considered the most illustrious place to stay in St Petersburg, gleaming with grandeur from its marble columns to its golden domes. The opulence sweeps through the dramatic, vaulted-ceilinged lobby, up the granite double staircase and into the rooms, with marble bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling drapes and terraces that frame guests within the palace’s glorious façade.

Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida, USA

This Coral Gables hotel has seen enough history for a whole city, or perhaps even an entire state – and its past goes beyond its role as luxury accommodation for the fabulous and fabulously wealthy. It opened in 1926 as the Miami Biltmore Country Club and was quickly a byword for Jazz Age glamor, with Ginger Rogers, Bing Cosby and Al Capone among guests. It survived the Great Depression to become a Second World War hero, transforming into a hospital with concrete and lino replacing tile and velvet.

Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida, USA

The hotel continued to care for veterans as part of an army project to rebuild the body and minds of war casualties until 1968. Former soldiers were given space to recuperate in the lavish surroundings, including playing a few rounds on the 18-hole golf course. It was a far cry from its days and nights entertaining Hollywood and actual royalty with fashion shows, golf tournaments and gala balls.

Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida, USA

The city of Coral Gables was granted ownership of the former hotel in 1973 but it remained empty for a decade before renovations began to return its sheen and splendor. Four years and $55 million later, the Mediterranean Revival hotel reopened with much fanfare. Despite a brief closure during the 1990s recession, today the National Historic Landmark is as lavish and luxurious as when it originally opened. Discover more of America’s incredible National Historic Landmarks.

The Peabody, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

The sheer size and grandeur of this Memphis hotel, which is just around the corner from the home of blues, Beale Street, has a long and often quirky history. The Peabody was originally opened in 1869 by Colonel Robert Campbell, who named it for his late friend, philanthropist George Peabody. Also known as the “South’s Grand Hotel”, it moved to its current Downtown home in 1925. In 1933, a flock of ducks waddled through the lobby – and a legend was born.

The Peabody, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

The hotel’s general manager, Frank Schutt, returned from a hunting trip, bringing some of the live duck decoys with him and placed them in the lobby fountain as a joke. A crowd quickly gathered and the preening, strutting ducks proved so popular that the twice-daily ‘March of the Peabody Ducks’ became a beloved tradition. There’s even a dedicated Duckmaster who looks after the feathered celebrities and leads them along the special red carpet.

The Peabody, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Human celebrities to have graced the hotel include Elvis Presley, who attended his senior prom in the ballroom in 1953. His daughter Lisa Marie was among a starry audience watching the Peabody Ducks in 2000, attending with then-partner Nicolas Cage, former president Jimmy Carter and basketball star Michael Jordan.

Now take a look at the world’s most remote hotels

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