Jet-setters in search of memorable accommodations are wise to seek out a lovingly restored heritage hotel that combines modern luxuries and fine service with a historic atmosphere. Some heritage hotels operate as independent properties, while others are backed by global hotel brands. Here’s a look at some of the most notable ones around.
In early 2019, the Cadogan Hotel—the former pied-à-terre of Oscar Wilde—reopened as the Belmond Cadogan after a four-year, US$48-million renovation. First opened in 1887, the hotel retains its original Queen Anne design (wood-paneled walls, stained-glass windows, mosaic floors), but has been updated with contemporary art and furniture.
Another high-profile newcomer to London’s hotel scene is The Dixon, Tower Bridge, Autograph Collection, which recently opened in the former home of the Tower Bridge Magistrate’s Court & Police Station. The property offers a stylish yet edgy take on its surroundings, as evidenced by the jail cells in the Provisioners restaurant and the Courtroom Bar’s judge’s bench and Edwardian oak paneling.
The Hotel Café Royal used to be a social club in the mid-19th century, a favorite for afternoon tea. After an extensive, multiyear restoration, the original Grade II-listed building—formerly a fire station on one side, a bank on the other—reopened in 2012 and is now one of London’s most in-demand hotels. Notable additions include Cakes & Bubbles, a dessert-only restaurant from Albert Adria, and Laurent at Café Royal, a fine-dining spot from Laurent Tourondel.
The only palatial hotel on the Left Bank of Paris, Hôtel Lutetia reopened in 2018 after a four-year, US$233 million refurbishment. The property, built in 1910 by the same family who opened Le Bon Marche department store, once hosted Picasso, Matisse, Charlie Chaplin, and James Joyce, who wrote part of Ulysses there.
The structure that houses Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, dates to 1758, when King Louis XV commissioned the greatest architect of the time, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, to create a grand structure on the Place de la Concorde. The opulent grounds, which reopened in 2017, include 40 different types of marble and a pool filled with some 17,600 gold accents.
United Arab Emirates
Al Bait Sharjah, which opened in December 2018, is a luxury hideaway in the heart of Sharjah, a major cultural-heritage hub a short drive from Dubai. The resort is the result of an ambitious preservation project in which a collection of historic manor houses were converted into top-tier accommodations packed with modern amenities.
Since 1872, the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz has been recognized as one of the most prominent spa destinations in the world. In 2019, the resort is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a US$45 million renovation to its flagship complex, the Grand Hotel Quellenhof. Guests enjoy modern spa suites, some of which contain a private whirlpool, sauna, and steam shower with a thermal spa water supply from the famous Tamina Gorge.
Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li, which opened in 2017, is an all-villa, all-suite sanctuary nestled in the Xuhui District’s last remaining cluster of traditional shikumen townhouses. The luxe property features stylish French and Chinese design elements that reflect the neighborhood’s golden era during the 1930s.
Set amid imposing karst mountains in Guangxi province, Alila Yangshuo’s 117 rooms are in a renovated 1960s sugar mill. The modern facilities, which opened in 2017, stand in contrast to surrounding green hills and winding rivers.