Like the rest of the world, our office is abuzz with talk of Wes Anderson’s newest flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel. And sure, it may be mostly water cooler chatter, but we consider it research too — after all, it is about a grand hotel… one that may have seen some grander times. But even in its heyday, the Grand Budapest Hotel just can’t stack up to some of the gorgeous historic hotels that we’ve stayed in — from Irish castles to stately Southern mansions. Check out a dozen stunning stays that are far grander than the Grand Budapest Hotel (with the requisite storied history, to boot).
Originally built in the 15th century by the Morosini family, this beautiful palazzo — right on the Grand Canal — was purchased by the Sagredos (a family of noble blood) in the 1700s, which is how the hotel got its name. Besides luxurious rooms and a lovely terrace, the Ca’Sagredo Hotel features original frescoes and sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries.
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We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve parred it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it!
We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.
Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park
As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service, and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.
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Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location — which can be a tricky feat. So we’ve come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we’ll tell you the best European destination for each month — starting right now with February!
February in Venice
Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.
Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole
This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.
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This year, thanks to an aptly-timed Presidents’ Day, Valentine lovers get a long weekend to celebrate romance — and the two holidays aren’t as unrelated as one might expect. Some of our fearless leaders have been decidedly romantic, and quite often their romantic rendezvous have taken place at some of the country’s most romantic hotels. Whether they are treating the First Lady (or their other lady loves) to a relaxing vacation, or pining for their loved one from a hotel suite for one, these presidents sure know a thing or two about l’amour. This Valentine’s weekend, you might consider booking a hotel with the presidential seal of approval.
The Presidential Couple: John and Jackie Kennedy
Back in 1953, the former president and his new bride paid just $27 to spend a night at this luxurious resort as they traveled from Acapulco up the Californian coast. Nowadays, that same suite — renamed the Kennedy Cottage after the couple — goes for thousands of dollars per night. Read More »
The Red Inn in Cape Cod may not be where the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, but the Mayflower’s first landfall was at the beach directly in front of the hotel. Today, the luxurious inn, built in 1805, is a local hot spot, thanks to its extremely popular restaurant. The Thanksgiving meal it is serving is probably quite a bit more decadent than what the Pilgrims enjoyed; the menu features items such as lobster corn chowder, savory vegetable bread pudding, and braised pork shank. If we could pick a hotel to stay at this Thanksgiving, this would be at the top of our list. Read More »
Forget the haunted house. Those looking for a ghostly encounter this Halloween can get up close and personal with departed spirits in the luxury of a hotel room. Because who says you shouldn’t have room service while you’re feeling spooked? These hotels across the country allegedly have some very active poltergeist activity – so prepare for some chills and thrills on your next overnight stay.
Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami
Originally opened as a playground for the rich in 1926, the Biltmore Coral Gables is not only luxurious and elegant, but is also believed to be quite haunted. The (unlucky) 13th floor served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, when the hotel saw its first premature death: Gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot and killed at a crowded party. Years later, the U.S. government bought the hotel and converted it into a hospital for World War II soldiers, where it saw countless more untimely passings. After being abandoned for several decades, the Biltmore re-opened in the 1980′s as a hotel, and ever since then guests have experienced unexplained noises and visions. The most chilling reports, however, come from those who get dropped off by the elevator on the 13th floor, even when that button is never pushed. Read More »
The Alma is one of Tel Aviv’s best and most intimate boutique hotels, with just 15 rooms housed in a former apartment building dating to the 1920s. The style throughout is bohemian-chic, featuring rich hues and bold patterns, and the aging historic core of the building — essentially a once-elegant apartment vestibule with original tiling and wrought iron stair railings — has been deliberately preserved. Every room has a different name and style inspired by the building’s past. Rooms come with an abundance of thoughtful extras, including welcome treats, espresso machines, and loaner iPads (upon request). Impressive bathrooms have jetted showers or soaking tubs and high-end Bulgari toiletries. The hotel is a local dining and drinking hot spot, but there are few other features aside from the on-site lounge.
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Alma Lounge at the Hotel & Lounge, Tel Aviv
Those looking to plan a memorable corporate gathering or decadent wedding need look no further than these seven hotels across the country. They’re among the most prestigious options in the U.S. for an event, and each has an elegant ballroom for your elegant occasion.
The Pierre - A Taj Hotel, New York City
An elegant, historic hotel across the street from Central Park, the Pierre offers a taste of grand old New York. And its aptly named Grand Ballroom is most certainly one of the grandest venues in the city for an event. Read More »
Ever dreamed of being king or queen of a castle? Lord or lady of the manor? Well, you’re not the only one — and plenty of hotels around the world can make that dream come true. We scouted out nine luxury hotels that were formerly the elaborate private homes of blue bloods, aristocrats, and royals, from an Irish castle to a Gatsby-era Gold Coast mansion. Feelin’ fancy? Then check these out.
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland
This charming stone manor house dates to the 18th century and the 450-acre country estate embodies the sort of wild country beauty that Connemara is famous for. Past owners of the lands have included the O’Flaherty clan (the 16th century “Pirate Queen,” Grace O’Malley, married into the clan and was one of its more noteworthy members); Richard Martin (a member of Parliament nicknamed Humanity Dick for founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals); and the Indian Maharaja, Ranji, who bought the estate in 1922. Read More »
Some hotels are more than just hotels — they are former castles, royal residences, or Gatsby-esque mansions. Or they opened their doors many years ago to offer accommodations of unsurpassed luxury, attracting royalty and famous names. These grand dames around the world have drawn on their rich pasts in order to offer present-day magnificence.
Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence
Housed in the former residences of the Bertolini princes, the Grand Hotel Baglioni lives up to the grand image painted by Florence’s past. The hotel is filled with heavy-handed regal touches and ornate decor from top to bottom. The 193 rooms are very spacious (not often the case in a historic building), and feel luxurious, decked out with classic Italian furnishings, large leaded windows, gorgeous dark wood (the ceilings, floors, and furniture), and equally spacious dazzling white bathrooms. Both the rooftop garden and Terrazza Brunelleschi restaurant offer stunning views of Florence. Read More »