If the walls of historic hotels could talk, they would tell you about the battles that have happened within earshot, the slew of legendary people who have spent the night, and the businesses of yesteryear that once operated within. When you travel, you might seek out a significant place to spend the night, and fortunately you can revel in the charm of bygone eras without missing out on modern comforts. Stay at any of the historic hotels on our Fodor's 100 list for a vacation you won't need a time machine to experience.
By Megan Suckut
With a history of almost a thousand years, Hartwell House and its property have hosted the likes of John Earl of Mortaigne, who succeeded Richard the Lion Heart as King of England in 1199, and Louis XVIII, the exiled King of France, not to mention a slew of knights, nobility, and government officials.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's The Thames Valley Travel Guide
Since its opening in 1845, Hotel d'Inghilterra has boasted one of the most prestigious and historically compelling properties in all of Rome. The 16th century building was once a guesthouse for a nearby palace, and when it became a hotel, it saw such famous faces as John Keats, Ernest Hemingway, and Mark Twain.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Rome Travel Guide
Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco and Spa
This iconic French-inspired building, originally a Jazz Age waterfront escape for the Uruguayan elite, got completely renovated and revived to become the Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa. The elegance from yesteryear permeates each of the hotel's lavish-yet-fresh guest rooms.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Montevideo Travel Guide
Suits of armor, tapestries, and abundant wood paneling lend to the Edwardian charm of Cliveden House, which dates back to the mid-19th century. The estate has hosted virtually every British monarch since George I, and The Beatles even filmed part of Help here in 1965.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's The Thames Valley Travel Guide
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
For more than 135 years, travelers have dropped their bags at the legendary and timeless Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this hotel is the place to be if you're a president, monarch, or celebrity—or if you want to experience the best service in all of Thailand.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Bangkok Travel Guide
The stately lobby and glamorous guest rooms at The Savoy remain much the same as they looked when Elizabeth Taylor stayed here on her first honeymoon. Throughout the 125 years the hotel has been open, it only ever closed once—for a three-year £220 million restoration project.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's London Travel Guide
Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate
Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate has structures dating back to the 11th century, when it was a stronghold of the O'Briens, the descendants of a High King of Ireland. In the years since, the legendary estate has seen countless historical events and escaped demolition through several wars.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's County Clare Travel Guide
The Merchant Hotel
Formerly the headquarters of the Ulster Bank, The Merchant Hotel is notable for its Italianate architecture and ornate details, making it one of the best-loved buildings in Belfast, both in its bank days and as a luxury hotel. The surrounding neighborhood, Cathedral Quarter, has as much historical allure as the hotel.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Northern Ireland Travel Guide
Auberge du Vieux-Port
Back when the St. Lawrence River was the main artery of Montreal, the buildings that were to become the Auberge du Vieux-Port were warehouses; now they constitute a luxury 45-room hotel with brick walls, exposed beams, and views of the port and nearby cobblestone streets.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Montreal Travel Guide
Bathed in Edwardian splendor, the historic Balmoral Hotel has long been recognized as one of Britain's great railway hotels. A slew of famous guests like Paul McCartney and Elizabeth Taylor have stayed here, and the Queen Mother used to enjoy lunches of roast lamb at the restaurant.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Edinburgh Travel Guide
The Philippines Tobacco Company once operated from the mansion that houses the present-day H1898 (Hotel 1898). Named for the final year of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines, this former palace reflects the bygone grandeur of Spain's centuries as an imperial power.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Barcelona Travel Guide
Fairmont Banff Springs
Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888, the world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs is designed to resemble a Scottish baronial castle. Upon opening, the hotel pioneered tourism to the mountains and forests of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Banff National Park Travel Guide
Nine refurbished medieval townhouses in the heart of Zurich's historic quarter form Widder, a unique hotel combining the best of old and new. The property fuses historical architecture and modern design, with every individually styled guest room featuring notable furniture, art, and décor.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Zurich Travel Guide
The Breakers Palm Beach
Standard Oil Company magnate Henry Flagler not only built railroads along Florida's then-isolated east coast, but he also built elegant hotels like The Breakers Palm Beach, where the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Astors have stayed. Modeled after the Villa Medici in Rome, the building dates back to 1926.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Palm Beach Travel Guide
WHERE: Rio de Janeiro
The first luxury hotel in South America, the Copacabana Palace was built in 1923 for the visiting king of Belgium. Having hosted the likes of Robert DeNiro, Princess Diana, and Marlene Dietrich, the landmark property continues to attract the rich and the famous to this day.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide
WHERE: New Zealand
Located 90 minutes from Wellington City, Wharekauhau promises guests a getaway filled with immaculate farmland and ample outdoor activities amid a historic working sheep station. Traditional New Zealand charm mingles with Edwardian grandeur at this gracious rural estate.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Wellington and the Wairarapa Travel Guide
Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa
For over 140 years, Brenner's Park Hotel & Spa has been hosting Europe's leaders and royalty in the spa town of Baden-Baden. Epitomizing the notion of the “grand hotel,” this Black Forest retreat is one of the most celebrated and storied in all of Germany.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's The Black Forest Travel Guide
Churchill and Eisenhower once held a secret wartime meeting at the private villa that went on to become Punta Tragara, one of the most breathtaking hotels in Capri. The circa-1920s villa on the property was converted into a luxury hotel by Count Manfredi in 1968.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's The Amalfi Coast Travel Guide
Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Located in the heart of Vietnam's capital, Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi was designated the government's first official hotel for visiting leaders and diplomats, so the guest list is long and impressive. History buffs can view artifacts of Vietnam's storied past on display in the lobby and tour its wartime bomb shelter.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Vietnam Travel Guide
The Singular Patagonia
Originally the Bories Cold-Storage Plant, The Singular Patagonia was built to restore the structure, a Chilean national historical monument, to its former glory by transforming it into a luxury hotel. Curious guests can still visit the site's Victorian engine room, tannery, and blacksmith shop.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Southern Chilean Patagonia Travel Guide