Historic Hotels

Easter is fast-approaching, and leading up to the springtime holiday is Holy Week, which, in Roman Catholic tradition, is the last week of Lent, taking place right before Easter (which falls on Sunday, April 20th this year). Parades, processions, traditional celebrations, lively festivities, marching bands, festive foods: These are the sights, sounds, and flavors of Holy Week around the globe, and for travelers who sample a country’s culture as much as its fine cuisine and beautiful scenery, visiting a celebratory country during Holy Week is the holy grail — no pun intended — of cultural travel. Here are our six top picks for the most festive spots in the world to visit during Holy Week.

Guatemala

La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

Guatemala is one of the world’s most renowned destinations for celebrating Holy Week, thanks to the nation’s vibrant and ornate religious festivities. To kick off the week, Guatemalans decorate their streets and homes with palm fronds on Palm Sunday, and the celebration continues through Good Friday. In Antigua, residents scatter the country’s famed alfombras – dyed sand and sawdust, with pine needles, flowers and plants — on the cobblestone streets to create spectacularly colored “carpets” that lead the way for religious processions.

Where to Stay: Just 30 minutes from colonial Antigua, La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences gets you close to the Holy Week action but not too close: visit during the day and escape at night to avoid the pulsating — and often overwhelming — crowds.

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Generally our thoughts are consumed by the mantra “location, location, location” when we’re booking a hotel. After all — especially when traveling abroad — it makes sense that visitors would want to capitalize on their time by staying in a centrally-located hotel, within easy reach of the destination’s many sights, shops, and restaurants. But there’s also something to be said for finding a quaint, cozy stay… The only problem? Often these two elements do not coexist. Well, they do in Venice. On our recent trip over to the “City of Bridges,” during which we visited tens of gorgeous hotels, we found numerous charming Venetian boutiques — right on the Grand Canal. Feast your eyes upon our five favorite finds!

1. Al Ponte Antico Hotel

al ponte-002

This family-managed property takes the term “boutique” very seriously, offering just seven rooms and plenty of personal service and homey touches, such as a free breakfast that includes homemade pastries, crepes, eggs, fruit, and cold cuts. Located on a quiet street in the heart of Venice, it sits on the Grand Canal and boasts views of the Rialto Bridge from its lovely shaded terrace. Huge rooms with flat-screen TVs, gilded-edge headboards, and traditional decor, and a private jetty for water taxi arrival are added perks.

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One of the richest cities in the world (as far as history goes), Venice is home to hundreds of beautiful historic palazzos — and luckily for visitors, not only have the majority of them been lovingly — and painstakingly — restored, but many have been converted into gorgeous luxury hotels. Here are a handful of our favorites, brimming with antiques, history (storied pasts included), and vintage touches.

Aqua Palace Hotel

aqua palace

A 24-room restored palazzo in the heart of Venice, Aqua Palace Hotel dates back to the 1500s when one of Venice’s wealthiest families called the canal-side mansion home. It is conveniently located halfway between the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square, and soft lighting, elegant chandeliers, and classic Venetian architecture give this boutique a peaceful, romantic atmosphere. Many original elements — such as wooden furniture and the balconies with sweeping views — remain.

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We just got back from an amazinggg trip to Venice. Of course we had been before, but this time felt particularly special as we ambled along the canals and stepped into the little shops and markets we love. And another thing that set this trip apart from all others is that we visited tons of hotels that we had never been to before! From massive historic palazzos to charming Venetian boutiques, we visited a total of 21 hot hotels — quadrupling our Venice coverage — that you can now explore on the site! These new spots should be more than enough to satiate your Venice-loving palate, but don’t fret if you’re still salivating… We have plans to head back to Venice soon to bring you even more expert photographs and reviews of the city’s many hotels.

Boscolo Venezia, Autograph Collection

Boscolo

A luxurious, 72-room converted palazzo in the northern edge of Venice, Boscolo Venezia Autograph Collection is a quiet retreat from the chaotic heart of the city. The rare, private garden and spa with hot tub, sauna, and steam room are highlights. Rooms have classic decor and Venetian portraits, but upgrading to a Junior Suite gets guests more space and style — these rooms have high ceilings and intricate crown molding. The hotel’s location is far from Venice’s main attractions, but it does offer free water taxi service to St. Mark’s Square and Murano.

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Calling all adrenaline junkies! Our hearts are in the bottoms of our stomaches just thinking about bungee jumping, but we know some of you seek out breathtaking, heart-stopping, pulse-quickening adventures on the reg. Well, if that’s what you crave, bungee jumping is just the ticket! And if you’re already game to try something terrifying, you might as well conquer the most terrifying, right?! Here are the world’s five most terrifying bungee jumps (plus, five beautiful hotels for celebrating — or sleeping — post-feat).

1. Victoria Falls Bridge, Zimbabwe

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Connecting the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Victoria Falls Bridge crosses over the second gorge of its namesake — which, as the largest waterfall in the world, is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as well. Only the bold bungee jump from this bridge; after all, the jump plummets 364 feet over the Zambezi River, which in turn is filled with crocodiles — but the views are breathtaking…if you can keep your eyes open!

Where to Stay: Matetsi Water Lodge is located on a massive game reserve by the Zambezi River. The lodge’s 18 suites are intimate and surprisingly luxe — each suite has its own plunge pool, patio, large bathroom with separate shower and tub, and bedroom with river views.

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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).

1. Ca’Sagredo Hotel, Venice

Ca'Sagredo

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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The Jefferson in D.C. plays homage to its namesake throughout the hotel.

The Jefferson in D.C. plays homage to its namesake throughout the hotel.

It’s almost Independence Day! And what better way to celebrate our nation than brushing up on some fascinating presidential trivia? Given how much time presidents spend on the road, it’s no surprise how many noteworthy events — famous and infamous both — have taken place at hotels. We’ve come up with a list of hotels that not only come with the presidential seal of approval, but also are rich with presidential history — secret entrances, assassination attempts, and the occasional scandal. After all, you can never be sure what’s going on in the room next door…

Check out our list of presidential hotels and the events that went down in them here.

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We’ve given you the deets on where some of our favorite celebs have wed and where they’ve spent their honeymoons, as well — now it’s time for round two. Considering Hollywood couples’ infamous inability to stay hitched, they certainly go all out for their nuptials! From gorgeous castles to beachside resorts, we’re bringing you a photo gallery of the beautiful hotels where stars have said “I do.” And fortunately, everyone on our list is still married  – even if its only been a couple weeks of wedded bliss! Check out the five hotels we can now add to our list.

Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate; Long Island, NY

Many receptions take place in the hotel's ornate dining room.

Oheka Castle, built in the 1920s as the second largest private residence in the U.S., is a magnificent chateau-style property about an hour from New York City. Today, it’s the country’s top wedding venue, and remains one of the most striking properties on the East Coast. Kevin Jonas, of Jonas Brothers fame, wed Danielle Deleasa at the hotel in 2009, and Oheka Castle is no stranger to boy band weddings — N’Sync member Joey Fatone married Kelly Baldwin at the hotel five years earlier. Not surprisingly, weddings here aren’t cheap; the most expensive wedding held at Oheka Castle cost over three million dollars. Read More »

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Plenty of business people find themselves traveling to San Francisco for work. And while the city has plenty to offer all kinds of travelers, it can be tough for business travelers to find some time to enjoy the city’s many perks. Fortunately, we’ve gone through our database and have found the top business hotels that are perfect for mixing business and pleasure.

For the Food Fanatic: The St. Regis San Francisco

Ame serves delicious dishes with an Asian twist.

If you’re using the company card, you might as well eat well! And nothing impresses clients like a delicious meal. For food fanatics traveling on business, we recommend the luxurious St. Regis. With a prime location on the border of the Financial District, 15,000 square feet of meeting space, and rooms with daily newspaper delivery, large flat-screen TVs, and writing desks, its a great pick for business travelers. You can even stay up-to-date in the bathroom, where small flat-screen TVs are attached to the mirrors. And you can enjoy your downtime with some delicious grub; the hotel is home to Ame, a renowned restaurant from Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, that has been awarded Michelin stars the last five years. 24-hour room service is also available.

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Summertime is all about quick weekend getaways to enjoy some pampering in the sun. And what better way to relax and soak up the scene than heading to the Hamptons – home to luxe boutique properties, beautiful beaches, and a hip, see-and-be-seen crowd? We’ve visited numerous boutique hotels throughout this Long Island hot spot and have found the best of the best. After all, luxury and the Hamptons go hand in hand. So check out our list of the top five boutique hotels in the Hamptons.

East Hampton Art House Bed & Breakfast

East Hampton Art House Bed & Breakfast

This elegant B&B in East Hampton is exactly what its name suggests: a house full of art. It was designed and decorated by the owners, Michael and Rosalind, who combine mutual talents in art and hospitality. While there are only a few rooms for rent, the hotel has all the amenities of a larger property, including endless communal spaces, an outdoor pool, and fitness center. Although big in scope, the Art House retains all of the personalized charm of staying with friends, making it a distinctive option in the Hamptons.

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