Travel Edit

HOTELS THAT TELL THE STORY

Hotel Café Royal, LondonHotel Café Royal, London

Imagine walking the same hallways where history was made, sleeping under the same roofs that sheltered kings, and dining in rooms that have echoed with the whispers of the past. Luxury hotels around the world offer more than just opulent amenities, impeccable service, and prime locations; they are custodians of stories that have shaped our world. From suites turned into sovereign territories for a day to secret war bunkers beneath grand ballrooms, these historic hotels are silent witnesses to the unfolding of human history.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Opened: 1901

Architectural Style: French colonial with a neoclassical facade

Heritage Stories: In 1899, French entrepreneur Gustave-Émile Dumoutier sought permission from Hanoi’s local government to build a magnificent hotel on the corner of Henri-Rivière boulevard. Opening its doors in 1901, the hotel quickly became the most spectacular in all of Hanoi. It was the first venue in the city to screen movies and famously hosted Charlie Chaplin on his honeymoon. After Vietnamese independence in the 1950s, the Metropole was renamed the Thong Nhat Hotel (Reunification Hotel) by the Communist government in 1954. It served as the official government guest house and played a pivotal role during significant historical events, including covert meetings in the Vietnam War and the First Indochina War. The hotel housed wartime bunkers for the North Vietnamese government, which were used as bomb shelters to protect guests, including legendary songstress Joan Baez, who composed her song “Where Are You Now, My Son?” during an air raid in 1972.

Modern Amenities: The hotel features a luxurious spa, multiple dining options, and a historical tour of its war-era bunkers. Elegant rooms and suites offer modern technology, lavish bathrooms, and blissful Sofitel MyBeds. The colonial Metropole Wing is adorned with twirling fans and IndoChinese décor, while the Opera Wing offers neoclassical opulence. The Metropole Club Lounge in the Opera Wing provides a discreet atmosphere akin to an exclusive Parisian club, offering private meeting spaces, butler service, and refreshments by day, along with cocktails and piano music at night.

Hotel Café Royal, London

Established: 1865

Architectural Style: Louis XVI style with modern interiors

Heritage Stories: Founded by French wine merchant Daniel Nicholas Thévenon, who reportedly arrived in London with just five pounds, Café Royal began as a Parisian-style brasserie. By the 1890s, it had evolved into a hotspot for London’s intellectual and artistic elite, attracting patrons such as Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence. A notable event occurred in 1895 when Frank Harris advised Oscar Wilde to abandon his criminal libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry, a decision leading to Wilde’s trial and imprisonment. Renowned for its opulent décor, Café Royal was once famed for having the world’s greatest wine cellar. In 2008, new owners undertook a meticulous restoration, preserving the historic façades while updating the interiors to blend old-world charm with contemporary elegance.

Modern Amenities: Today, Hotel Café Royal offers 159 rooms, including historic suites, a spa, and a selection of restaurants and bars. Each room features modern entertainment systems, media hubs, and luxury bathroom amenities. Some suites offer a complimentary minibar with snacks and soft drinks. Guests can relax in the Akasha, which features a gym, a lap pool, a sauna, a Jacuzzi, a Hammam/steam room, and spa treatments.

Jumeirah Al Qasr, Dubai

Opened: 2004

Architectural Style: Modern luxury inspired by traditional Arabian palaces

Heritage Stories: While Jumeirah Al Qasr is not a heritage hotel from the distant past, it offers a unique opportunity to experience the cultural heritage of the region. The hotel’s design draws inspiration from traditional Arabian palaces, featuring majestic archways, intricate mosaics, and ornamental gardens that echo the opulence of a bygone era. Guests can navigate the resort’s waterways using traditional wooden abra boats, reminiscent of Dubai’s maritime heritage. The rooms and suites are adorned with rich fabrics and intricate patterns, offering panoramic vistas of the Arabian Gulf and the iconic Burj Al Arab, blending Arabian luxury with contemporary comforts. The hotel introduces guests to local cuisine through an immersive brunch experience with live music, resident DJs, and captivating performers.

Modern Amenities: Jumeirah Al Qasr offers a range of world-class facilities, including Michelin-starred restaurants, an award-winning spa, private beach access, and a helipad. Suites are equipped with 24-carat gold-gilded interiors and a 17-option pillow menu, ensuring a stay of unparalleled luxury.

Chateau Marmont, USA

Chateau Marmont Usa
Chateau Marmont, USA

Opened: 1929

Architectural Style: Modern luxury inspired by traditional French châteaux

Heritage Stories: Since its opening, Chateau Marmont has been Hollywood’s secret retreat. Modeled after a French chateau, it offered privacy to stars and was known for its discretion. It is synonymous with the glamour and intrigue of the entertainment industry. It has been the backdrop for countless clandestine affairs, legendary parties, and has even witnessed the highs and lows of celebrity life, including the tragic overdose of John Belushi and wild antics of Led Zeppelin. Eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes took up residence in one of Chateau Marmont’s bungalows for several years. His reclusive lifestyle and mysterious comings and goings added to the hotel’s allure. In the 1990s, Chateau Marmont underwent a renaissance, attracting a new generation of A-listers like Johnny Depp, Lindsay Lohan, and Scarlett Johansson. Chateau Marmont’s enduring appeal lies in its unchanging devotion to preserving old-world glamour and discretion.

Modern Amenities: Today, the hotel offers guests a taste of Hollywood’s golden era with modern luxuries, including a heated outdoor pool, an on-site gourmet restaurant & bar, and an exclusive terrace with views of the surrounding gardens.

Claridge's Hotel, London

Opened: 1812

Architectural Style: Art Deco

Heritage Stories: Claridge’s began its life as a single house before being transformed into an Art Deco masterpiece, attracting royalty and distinguished figures throughout its history. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were among its early patrons, solidifying its status as a favourite among European royalty.

Following World War I, Claridge’s became the epicentre for London’s bright young things, with its ballroom resonating with the melodies of Gershwin, jazz, and the lively Charleston. During World War II, the hotel’s reputation as a sanctuary for dignitaries grew. Exiled monarchs, including the Kings of Greece, Norway, and Yugoslavia, found refuge here. Notably, Suite 212 was temporarily declared Yugoslavian territory at Winston Churchill’s request, allowing Crown Prince Alexander II to be born on his native soil.

Modern Amenities: The hotel offers luxurious rooms with marble bathrooms, a contemporary menu in the Reading Room, unique spirits in the 1930s-themed Fumoir, and a modern gym and spa.

The Savoy, London

Opened: 1889

Architectural Style: Edwardian on the riverfront side, Art Deco on the Strand side

Heritage Stories: The Savoy has been a witness to the history of London for nearly 135 years. It was at this iconic hotel that impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte pioneered luxury amenities previously unseen, including electric lighting and en-suite bathrooms. The Savoy’s American Bar gained fame as the birthplace of classic cocktails, while its kitchens, led by chef Auguste Escoffier, gave the world culinary delights such as Peach Melba. The hotel also served as a sanctuary for artists, including Claude Monet, who painted his renowned Thames series from his room. During World War II, The Savoy was equipped with a bomb-proof shelter, providing refuge to notable figures such as Winston Churchill.

Modern Amenities: Features an indoor pool, a renowned bar, and a riverside restaurant.

Ritz Paris

Architectural Style: Classic French elegance

Heritage Stories: Opened by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, the Ritz Paris swiftly became synonymous with luxury. It was the first hotel to feature a bathroom in every room and introduced the king-size bed. The Ritz has witnessed its fair share of drama, including the notorious incident where the Duke of Windsor found himself stuck in a bathtub. The hotel became a haven for icons such as Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. During World War II, the Luftwaffe occupied the hotel, with Hermann Göring residing in the Imperial Suite.

Modern Amenities: Houses Michelin-starred restaurants and the Ritz Club.