Top 10

Hotels with Cultural Significance

Discover ten Leading Hotels of the World that are intricately linked to their historic and cultural settings.


STAY at this 19th-century former palace overlooking the Tagus River - just six miles but a world away-from downtown Lisbon.
ADMIRE the rolling Tuscan hills of the Chianti region, framed on the leafy terraces and historic balconies of this converted 12th-century castle - now a revered spa destination.
SENSE the history at this Saint-Tropez château, gifted to Henry Brisson de la Messardière in the 19th century and later famous for its parties during the roaring 1920s.
EXPERIENCE little-explored Bratislava with a stay at this beautiful five-star city escape housed in a building that dates back to the 13th century in the heart of the Old Town.
GET TO KNOW Donetsk at this historic city center hotel (frequently voted the best in the Ukraine) close to the famed Opera House and vibrant shopping area.
BE TRANSPORTED back to Georgian London at this city classic dating to 1837, beloved by Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling - who wrote The Jungle Book while staying here.
DISCOVER Jerusalem's legendary sights with a stay at this former Pasha's palace, known for its crucial role in World War I.
EXPLORE the buzzing waterfront district of Buenos Aires from this high-design hotel, housed in a former granary.

Cultural Capitals

Round Up: Urban Festivals Around the World

Each year, urban centers across the globe swell with visitors as they host celebrations of local culture. Experience one of these renowned festivals with a stay at one of these Leading Hotels.


Il Palio di Siena, Italy
In July and August, Siena's historic Piazza del Campo hosts the Palio di Siena, a horse race that lasts less than two minutes but draws tens of thousands of visitors for days of celebrations.
Stay: Housed in a 17th-century palace, the beautiful Grand Hotel Continental is walking distance to the Piazza del Campo and all of Siena's famous sights.


Diwali, India
Known in the west as the "Festival of Light", this five-day celebration - which starts on October 26 this year - sees all of India (particularly the cities in the north) lit up in brilliant displays of candles, diyas and fireworks shows.
Stay: The centuries-old Rambagh Palace in Jaipur offers the opulence of a former royal home plus every modern amenity and a pampering spa.


Oktoberfest, Germany
Kicking off in mid-September, Germany's largest festival is held in Munich every autumn as a celebration of all-things Bavarian, attracting more than five million people each year.
Stay: Blending the old with new, the Bayerischer Hof is a 165-year-old hotel in the heart of Munich's Old City.


La Tomatina, Spain
On the last Wednesday in August, residents and visitors stage the world's largest tomato fight-known as La Tomatina-in the inland city of Buñol. This unique, somewhat messy, tradition began in the mid- 1940s, but the question of why is open to debate.
Stay: A 40-minute drive from Buñol, Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort in Valencia is a perfect beachfront base for experiencing this unique festival.

Bayerischer Hof
Originally conceived by King Ludwig I, the Bayerischer Hof is one of Munich's most legendary hotels. History and contemporary flair mingle with easy elegance. Its iconic Blue Spa, offering barbecues in summer and an unique ice bar in winter with views of Munich, and was created by Andrée Putman. The newest restaurants, Atelier and Garden, are by interior designer Axel Vervoordt, who also devised the Cinema Lounge; complete with its own Night Club with live Jazz, five restaurants, six bars and the theatre, it is a self-contained haven that draws celebrities and heads-of-state. Guest rooms are in a variety of styles, designed by famous architects. Top-floor suites have breathtaking views, private spa access, terraces or open fireplaces. Voted in numerous rankings as one of the best grand hotels in Europe.
Grand Hotel Continental
This hotel earned the appellation grand in 1904, when the queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoia, chose it as her residence in Siena. Today the 17th-century palazzo continues to attract elite visitors with its Renaissance architecture adorned with original frescoes and priceless antiques. Located in Siena’s center, the fifty one-room Grand Hotel is an ideal base from which to explore the pedestrian-only city’s cultural and culinary delights, including the hotel’s 3,000-bottle wine cellar, discovered in the base of a medieval tower during a renovation. The guest rooms have Carrara-marble bathrooms and Chinese porcelain lamps, while the interior courtyard and bar area are covered with glass dome that lets in natural light.
Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort
Las Arenas Balneario Resort was built on the site of a traditional 19th-century balneario and was the first grand hotel in the Valencia region. The hotel's privileged beachfront location offers impeccable ocean views and is near the vibrant city of Valencia. Guest accommodations have a private balcony or terrace with spectacular garden and sea views. Sorolla Restaurant serves modern Valencian cuisine. Las Arenas Spa for personalized treatments and chromo-therapy in a stainless steel exercise and entertainment themed pool. Las Arenas Convention Center, located within two colonnades, offers space for up to 2,000 people and an auditorium for 500 guests.
Rambagh Palace
Set in forty-seven acres of landscaped gardens in the center of the Rajasthan capital, the so-called "Jewel of Jaipur" is one of the world's most famous palace hotels. Built in 1835, it began as a modest garden house, and for nearly a century, it served as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, before being transformed into the mythical palace for the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1925. Today, guests of the hotel still sense a strong connection to the regal history, as seen in such lavish details as marbled corridors, carved pillars, and soaring domes. More recent-day additions are equally sumptuous: the Jiva Grande Spa is housed in tasseled tents that are embellished with wooden floors and sparkling chandeliers, touches the maharaja would surely have applauded.

Pulse: Design Focus - Northern Europe

When Tallinn was crowned the Capital of Culture 2011, the world's attention turned to the established but little-explored design capitals of northern Europe. Here is what is happening in some of these trailblazing cities, where you can find stylish members of The Leading Hotels of the World.


In Stockholm, the Form Design Center, Svenskt Tenn store and Kulturhest are long-standing testaments of this capital's high-design aesthetic, but walks along its waterfronts and trips to its shopping districts also add to the hip vibe. Stay at: Grand Hôtel Stockholm.


Seen as a city on the brink of a design boom, Oslo has a rich music scene (there are as many live music shows per capita as in New York City), and its investment in the architecture and design industries are garnering international recognition and a new wave of young visitors. Stay at: Hotel Continental.


Already home to 70 percent of Latvia's cultural industries, Riga will be utterly transformed by 2014 when it takes on the role of Europe's Capital of Culture. Keep this place on your radar. Stay at: Grand Palace Hotel.


Although Tallinn is known for its historic Old Town and quaint cobbled-stone streets, the Estonian capital is leading the way with arts and culture programs, and over two million tourists will visit the forward-thinking city this year. Stay at: Schlössle Hotel.

Grand Hôtel Stockholm
Rich in history and tradition, the more than 130 year old Grand Hôtel Stockholm occupies prime position on the city's waterfront, a timeless classic that has played a pivotal role in shaping Stockholm as the cosmopolitan city that it is today. One of Scandinavia's leading luxury hotels, Grand Hôtel Stockholm has borne witness to some of the world's greatest achievements, and to this day, continues to makes its presence felt far beyond its shores. Since 1901, the Nobel Prize laureates and their families have all been guests of the Grand Hôtel Stockholm and the list of royalty, heads of state and artists who have stayed is impressive. In the words of a famous past guest, "The Grand is where it happens".

Grand Hôtel offers impressive rooms and suites. The Princess Lilian Suite, with its 330 sqm and a panoramic view over Stockholm, is the most spectacular of them all. The Flag Suite and the Nobel Suite too are renowned, both with an astounding view from the 7th floor. All individually designed, each room has its own distinctive character and colorful history.
Grand Palace Hotel
Riga has always acted as a meeting point between East and West. Riga’s 15th-century Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; its architectural treasures include medieval churches and the Riga Opera House.Amidst its cobblestone streets is the Grand Palace Hotel, which occupies a mansion that was built in the manner of a Russian czar’s court. Its massive front doors lead to a lobby illuminated by crystal chandeliers. Subtle grandeur continues in the guest rooms, which feature a refined palette of pale blues and golds.
Hotel Continental
Hotel Continental has been a beacon of luxury since its opening in 1900. Ideally located for business travelers, the property is just 25 minutes from the international airport, and has nine meeting rooms on two floors for conferences and events. Each bedroom is individually designed in a classic or contemporary style, and guests can choose from a tranquil courtyard view, or rooms looking out to the Oslo fjord. The legendary Vienna-style restaurant, Theatercaféen, is on the New York Times list of ten most famous cafés, and features portraits by Henrik Lund and Pedro and Ulf Aas. The hotel is closely connected to the art world and the largest privately owned collection of Edvard Munch paintings hang in the lobby bar, Dagligstuen.
Schlössle Hotel
Located near the medieval town hall square, the Schlössle occupies a carefully preserved 13th-century mansion. This jewel of a boutique property enchants with its massive stone walls, wooden-beamed ceilings, tapestries and thoughtfully chosen antiques. The inviting guestrooms have white-washed walls, heavy silk curtains, linens with floral crewelwork, and bathrooms with heated floors and Molton Brown products. The first five-star hotel in Estonia, the Schlössle has welcomed such high-profile guests as Prince Charles and Sting. The candlelit Restaurant Stenhus, with its giant roaring fireplace and vaulted wine cellar, has won the Silverspoon award for best Estonian gourmet restaurant three years running. There is also dining in the courtyard garden in warm weather and a cigar lounge.
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