Whether it’s a hundred-year-old luxury ski resort, a shared palace or a converted monastery, the origins of a hotel can add immeasurable magic to your experience as a guest. We’ve picked five beautifully restored properties with fascinating heritages for exploring and absorbing.
ROYAL SPLENDOUR AT THE LANESBOROUGH, LONDON
While The Lanesborough is arguably London’s grandest luxury hotel, it’s only served in this capacity for just a fraction of its illustrious three-century history – but thanks to its recent refurbishment, there’s no loss of its Regency heritage. Sitting just across from Buckingham Palace on Hyde Park Corner opposite the London home of the Dukes of Wellington, Lanesborough House was originally built in 1719 as a private residence by the second Viscount Lanesborough before conversion to a hospital soon after.
The Lanesborough opened in 1991, and in 2015 reopened after undergoing a major two-year renovation project by the late interior designer Alberto Pinto. His meticulous transformation restored the hotel to its Regency splendour – and the standards of hospitality were revamped to match. All room categories come with their own private butler, and the Michelin-starred restaurant Céleste, under the guidance of three-Michelin-starred Chef Patron Eric Frechon, is complemented by The Library Bar and the hotel’s elegant cigar lounge and Garden Room.
LUXURIOUS ISOLATION AT MONASTERO SANTA ROSA, AMALFI
Nestled into the side of a cliff set between Amalfi and Positano, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa is a spectacular former 17th-century monastery, lovingly restored into just 20 beautiful sea-view guest rooms and suites. The vaulted ceilings and arched windows of the nun’s rooms and refectory have been carefully preserved and are cleverly linked together to create light and airy spaces. Each room is decorated with historical photographs of the area and the monastery itself, adding to the overall sense of history.
A true refuge from city life, the hotel has a beautifully manicured, five-tiered Italian garden, spectacular heated infinity pool and award-winning spa. As Monastero Santa Rosa hovers between sea and sky, fittingly so too does Il Refottorio’s outdoor terrace where guests can enjoy al fresco dining with views over the gardens and out to sea. Monastero Santa Rosa is a 90-minute drive from Naples International Airport and 20 minutes from the Amalfi Port. Guests can even arrive by helicopter, which includes an airborne historical tour over Naples, Vesuvius, Capri, Ischia and the sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, on to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, landing just below the hotel.
NEO-CLASSICAL ELEGANCE AT SANT FRANCESC HOTEL SINGULAR, MALLORCA
Sant Francesc is the perfect base to discover the cobbled streets of Palma, steeped in culture and history, and explore nearby landmarks including the Cathedral, the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, ‘La Lonja’ or the Arab Baths. Situated in the heart of the historic centre of Palma, this five-star, boutique hotel is set in a former Mallorcan mansion, a neoclassical gem built in 1860 and restored in 2015. The painstaking renovation brought many of its traditional Mallorcan features – such as beams, stone floors, wooden coffered ceilings, frescoes and murals – to life; the property has retained its large entrance doors and arches, grand staircase, paved inner courtyard, well, stables and watchtower complete with dovecote.
Following the renovation work, the well was converted into a gym, the tower into a very special guest suite and the stables into the Quadrat Restaurant, and the original features complemented by classic modern furnishings by renowned names such as Antonio Citterio, Jaime Hayón, Phillippe Starck, Gordon Guillamier and Steven Burks. An exquisite collection of contemporary art and photographs adorn the walls and many of the works were specifically commissioned.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF TRANQUILITY AT SUVRETTA HOUSE, ST. MORITZ
Set in a pristine private estate, Suvretta House (translated directly as ‘house above the woods’) is a much-loved hotel steeped in history. Built over 100 years ago by Swiss hotelier Anton Bon, it was originally designed to provide a tranquil hideaway as an alternative to the nearby buzz of St. Moritz, which as the birthplace of winter tourism in the mid-19th century, attracted an influx of high society snow-seekers.
With the likes of Evita Peron, King Farouk of Egypt and the Shah of Persia visiting for the winter months, the destination soon became a jet-set hub of cosmopolitan glamour, and to this day remains one of the most decadent mountain resorts in Europe. Still owned by the fourth generation of founder Anton Bon’s family, the 181-room hotel has its own private ski lift, giving exceptionally easy access to the Engadine Valley’s 217 miles of piste, 136 miles of cross-country ski trails and 93 miles of winter walking paths.
THE HOME OF MAHARAJAS – UMAID BHAWAN PALACE, JODHPUR
Set in 26 acres, high above the desert capital of Jodhpur on the summit of Chittar Hill, this magnificent 347-room golden sandstone Art Deco palace opened its doors in 1942 as the sixth largest private residence in the world. To this day, it’s still home to the Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family, but now divided into the Maharaja’s private residence, a museum and a luxury hotel comprising 65 rooms and suites.
The hotel seeks to offer a truly regal experience. Upon arrival, guests are greeted in the traditional Rathore style under a tented canopy by the Royal Guards, amidst a shower of rose petals and the sound of beating drums. Art Deco-furnished rooms and suites with Makrana marble bathrooms boast views of the lavish gardens or regal courtyard beyond, and the Jiva Spa combines traditional ancient Indian healing with state of the art modern techniques.