From a lobby soundtrack custom-mixed by a local DJ to a hotel that has hosted more big names than the Fillmore, these hotels have struck a chord with music lovers by setting the perfect soundtrack for noteworthy vacations.—Kristy Alpert
WHERE: Berlin, Germany
When this hotel opened in 2010 it was considered Europe’s first music hotel, and even today, the NHow Berlin continues to rock the hotel scene with its unique amenities. Not only does the Nhow list guitars and keyboards on the room service menu, but it also features two full-service recording studios with professional equipment. Nearby MTV, Universal Music Group, and other small recording label offices and studios help stock the hotel’s monthly open mic night with some big names and local talent.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Berlin Guide
WHERE: Sydney, Australia
From the moment guests arrive at the QT Sydney, they’re transported “down the rabbit hole” by staff outfitted in costume designer Janet Hine’s original designs. The QT is housed in the old State Theatre building, once the preferred performance hall for Sydney’s top musical acts, and the hotel recently announced a partnership with the Sydney Opera House where guests can get pre-sale tickets and exclusive experiences. Despite those red carpet treatments, the experience most guests remember from the QT is their time spent in the elevator. Each elevator in the hotel is equipped with software that senses the mood and number of passengers, and selects songs from one of five playlists accordingly. Solo riders will likely hear Eric Carmen’s “All by Myself,” but if a second passenger gets in the soundtrack may switch to James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” Groups of four or more trigger “party mode,” making for a fun ride to the top.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Sydney Guide
Hotel Saint Cecelia
WHERE: Austin, Texas
It only makes sense to have a music hotel in the city known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Not only was the Hotel Saint Cecilia named after the patron saint of music and poetry, but each room comes outfitted with a Rega turntable, Geneva sound system, and a massive lending library of vintage LPs and rock biographies. On request, the hotel’s concierge will arrange guitar loans and private vintage vinyl LP shopping at Gibson Guitars and Austin’s all-vinyl record store Breakaway Records.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Austin Guide
WHERE: Gstaad, Switzerland
The list of musicians that have either stayed or played at the Gstaad Palace is enough to warrant its own song book. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald have played for guests in the lounge, Liza Minnelli has exercised on the patio, and only a few years ago Madonna was spotted celebrating New Year’s Eve with her daughter at the hotel’s nightclub GreenGo. Legend has it that Michael Jackson was taken by the hotel’s musical charm, and even asked to purchase the entire property simply because he “liked it.”
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Gstaad Guide
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
Guests don’t have to walk the few steps to the House of Blues, The Comedy Store, the Viper Room, or the Whisky a Go-Go to see some of the biggest names in Rock-N-Roll; they simply need to walk the halls at the Sunset Marquis and gaze at the autographed photos from previous hotel guests. The hotel is also home to one of the best recording studios in the area, NightBird, where Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Slash, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, and Jeff Beck have all spent time recording.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Los Angeles Guide
Metropole Monte Carlo
WHERE: Monte-Carlo, Monaco
The Metropole Monte-Carlo has hosted musicians ranging from Justin Bieber and Rihanna to Robbie Williams and Seal, but the main musical celebrity at this grand hotel is the property’s own sound designer, Béatrice Ardisson. Ardisson is one of the world’s best-known mixed composers, and was brought in to enhance the musical ambiance around the hotel, creating a new mix of music for the hotel every few months. Her mixes are tailored to each space around the site, from the “airy and zen” mix in Yoshi restaurant to the dreamlike sequence that serenades Odyssey restaurant during the day.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Monaco Guide
WHERE: Marrakesh, Morocco
Once the home of legendary performer Josephine Baker, the Riad Star is a boutique riad hotel in the heart of Marrakesh’s walled old town. This petite hotel offers seven themed rooms decorated with memorabilia and artifacts from Baker’s time in Morocco, like her purple saxophone that hangs from the wall in the hallway and her wardrobe of original costumes. But this hotel is no stale shrine to the star; guests are invited to play the saxophone and clarinet displayed in the Jazz room, and are even encouraged to try on her costumes during their stay.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Marrakesh Guide
Grand Hotel Mackinac
WHERE: Mackinac Island, Michigan
The Grand Hotel’s musical history dates back to its opening in the late 1800s, when its grand front porch became the stage for the first public demonstration of Thomas Edison’s recently invented phonograph. Since then, this National Historic Landmark has added on a full-time staff of musicians, including a jazz quartet and an entire orchestra that plays for guests each night in the Terrace Room. Musicians from all genres have been drawn to this iconic place for decades to hear the talent resonating from its halls, including Madonna, Lou Rawls, Pat Boone, and Rosemary Clooney.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Michigan Guide
WHERE: San Francisco, California
This motor lodge is one of the few San Francisco spots that can compete with the musical lineup at the Fillmore. The Phoenix Hotel’s guest book of musicians includes David Bowie, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Psychedelic Furs, Norah Jones, Maxïmo Park, the Killers, and the Shins. Each of the 44 rooms is decorated with quirky furnishings and artifacts left behind by former guests (i.e., bamboo xylophones and discarded fan art). And for rock ‘n’ roll amenities? The check-in desk offers complimentary tattoos for guests who know to ask.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s San Francisco Guide
WHERE: Budapest, Hungary
The rooms at the Aria Budapest may be soundproof, but the rest of the hotel resonates with preludes and etudes that serenade visitors from the hotel’s Boganyi Piano to the four musical themed wings (Classical, Opera, Jazz, and Contemporary). Each room features an en-suite iPad loaded with a massive digital music library curated by the hotel’s full-time musical director. But the hotel offers more than jamming playlists; each night the hotel’s Music Garden courtyard becomes the stage for live entertainment during the complimentary wine and cheese reception.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Budapest Guide
Andaz West Hollywood
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
There was once a time when hotel trashing was the most rock ‘n’ roll act of rebellion in the music industry, and no other hotel got hit harder during those days than the Andaz West Hollywood on the sunset strip. For years the hotel was dubbed the “Riot House” after the Rolling Stones tossed a TV from their 10th-floor balcony in 1972. The TVs are now bolted down in room 1015, but bands like The Doors, The Who, and Led Zeppelin have since tried to outdo the TV toss by starting fires and wrecking rooms, with one alleged incident where John Bonham rode his motorcycle through the halls.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s West Hollywood Guide
WHERE: Hanoi, Vietnam
The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is indeed a legend, having survived over a century of war and flooding relatively unscathed. The guest list is a who’s who of foreign diplomacy, but it’s also attracted the likes of Mick Jagger, John Denver, and Joan Baez, who recorded her powerful song “Where are you now, my son?” in her hotel room during the Christmas bombings in 1972. Guests can visit the bomb shelter Baez retreated to during the bombings to hear the original version of the song playing in the damp bunker beneath the hotel.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s Hanoi Guide
WHERE: South Woodchester, United Kingdom
Despite the stained-glass windows and numerous shrines that line the corridors of this 18th-century hotel, the tunes coming from The Convent Hotel is not chamber music or harmonic hymns. This unapologetically irreverent boutique hotel was once a former convent, but now features a hip music venue and recording studio. Guests of the hotel are welcomed by twelve artfully arranged upright pianos adorning the front lawn, and are given free access to any concerts or gigs held in the Chapel. The shows in the chapel are broadcast online, but the only viewers able to enjoy the private gigs held inside the walls of the hotel’s exclusive bar, The Dirty Habit, are members.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: Fodor’s England Guide