Sometimes, the journey is about the destination. Because the destination is so special, your whole travel experience is wrapped up inside it. We’ve traveled the world and have been to some pretty special spots. From a western dude ranch to a Florentine palazzo to an African canoe excursion, these 11 trips offer a far richer experience than your typical overnight stay.
This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel.
Staying in a hotel is exciting in and of itself; there’s something deliciously indulgent about staying in a room that’s totally different from your one at home… and it doesn’t hurt that it gets cleaned for you. But while the sole purpose of many hotels is nonetheless the crash pad amid sight-seeing and exploring new destinations, others are destinations unto themselves — that deserve some time on your sight-seeing agenda. From our many travels around the globe, we’ve picked out a dozen of the most beautiful hotels ever — all of which are housed in stunning historic castles or palaces. The following twelve spots are, quite literally, fit for a king.
The 126-room Hotel Alhambra Palace merits the adjective “grand” — the impressive building is more than a century old and, originally commissioned by King Alfonso XIII, once housed a hospital during the Spanish Civil War. A hotel since 1942, this property is a short quarter-mile away from the Alhambra (the palace and fortress complex dating back to the 11th century) up a steep hill. The lobby has keyhole archways and geometric textiles based on Moorish patterns, and the hotel exudes historic charm throughout.
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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).
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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Okay, as hotel experts we love traveling; we really, really love it. But even for us, saying goodbye to our side of the bed, our cups in the kitchen, our own personal brand of snack food stashed in the fridge, and all those other things that make our abode “homey” can be bittersweet. Thankfully, many hotels are stepping up their game when it comes to providing guests with their creature comforts of choice. From in-room kitchens to roaring fireplaces, these hotels come equipped with tons of great amenities to make you feel like you never walked out your front door — and with these amenities come all the fun perks inherent of a vacation. So fear not the unknown, these homey hotels are awaiting your stay with open arms and familiar treats.
The six-room Villa D’ Citta is a cozy, romantic bed-and-breakfast located in the residential neighborhood of Lincoln Park. Its homey features are all charming: an outdoor whirlpool and sun deck, a brick courtyard with a barbecue, and a large communal kitchen. The bright, luxurious rooms have big flat-screen TVs and hardwood floors, and some come complete with fireplaces.
Homiest Feature: The communal kitchen comes fully stocked with all of the snacks you can imagine, and the outdoor patio features a barbecue grill perfect for warm summer nights. 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 »
The Inn on the Blue Horizon is one of our favorite B&Bs in the Caribbean.
We love the quaint, homey vibe that comes with bed-and-breakfasts. And when they’re located beachside, where mega-resorts are more often the norm, they feel even more like hidden gems. Plan your next getaway — or just dream about it — by clicking through our slideshow of the best B&Bs on the beach. Many dot New England’s coast, but some, like this first one, are further flung — and just as fabulous.
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.
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 »
Some hotel weddings are gorgeous, some not so much, but they often all kind of feel the same. That’s where we come in — we’ve discovered some of the most beautiful and unique wedding venues in hotels around the world. Whether you want to say “I do” on safari, in a cloud forest, or at a Gatsby-esque mansion, these hotels deliver on the romance. Check them out here, and get inspired for your own big day (or vow renewal)!
Chapel in the middle of a rainforest? Check that off your list.
For outdoorsy couples looking for an authentic eco-lodge experience on their wedding day, Selva Negra is the real deal. This family-run organic farm and coffee estate in Nicaragua has accommodations ranging from hostel rooms to private bungalows, as well as a lush, cool mountain setting that’s rich with wildlife (expect howler monkeys, lizards, agoutis, and all types of birds). Couples can get married at the on-site chapel — which the owners built for their own daughter’s wedding — beneath Selva Negra’s cloud forest. Read More »
It may not be the Caribbean, but with this view, who on the San Juan Islands could complain about it?
An “island getaway” doesn’t necessarily translate into washing up on the shores of the Caribbean. Plenty of other islands in the U.S. boast the same laid-back, secluded feel that you can find in Barbados or Jamaica, but often come at a fraction of those sky-high all-inclusive rates; you’ll at least save some cash on airfare! For perhaps unconventional, but nonetheless awesome, island stays, check out our top picks for value, sun, and fun!