Hotels fit for a king—and queen.
As a monarch, you just can’t vacation anywhere. You have important considerations to make when choosing a getaway: a certain level of comfort, flawless service, exquisite surroundings, and, most importantly, the promise of discretion. The last thing you need is a bunch of paparazzi ruining your holiday. Here are some of the world’s finest royal hideaways that have lived up to these most stringent requirements. Go ahead and be a king or queen for a day.
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Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort
WHERE: Nieuwpoort, Curaçao
When the Dutch royals visit the under-the-radar Caribbean isle of Curaçao, a constituent country within their kingdom, they unpack their Louis Vuitton bags at this hacienda-style golf and beach resort. More specifically, at the 1,400-square-foot Royal Suite, complete with a two-story great room, a dining room for eight, dedicated butler service, and multiple furnished balconies overlooking glistening turquoise waters. In their free time, they can be like everyone else and play 18 holes on the Pete-Dye-designed golf course; snorkel in some of the Caribbean’s clearest waters; and stroll the colorful streets of historic Willemstad, filled with Dutch Colonial architecture. Then again, they’re not like everyone else.
INSIDER TIPThe resort’s Royal Retreat package includes private round-trip airfare transfers in Curaçao, a private, six-course, in-suite dinner with a customized menu, a 90-minute couples massage in a private spa suite, plus welcome champagne. All for the princely price of $5,300 per night.
British Colonial Hilton Nassau
WHERE: Nassau, Bahamas
Built in 1921 by hospitality pioneer and Standard Oil co-founder Henry Flagler, this spectacular landmark British Colonial hotel—downtown Nassau’s only beachfront hotel—gleams with marble floors, arched ceilings, and lush tropical gardens. The center of Nassau’s social life, it has long drawn socialites, industrialists, and royals—including disgraced royal, the Duke of Windsor, who hosted several soirées here with his wife, divorcée Wallis Simpson. More recently, Prince Harry of Wales stayed in 2012 in the 580-square-foot Prime Minister Suite, with its fabulous harbor views, during the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
INSIDER TIPThe hotel‘s “Royal Honeymoon” package features a three-night stay in the Governor General Suite, an on-site couples portrait, a couple’s shark-diving adventure, and a sunset dinner on the beach. Prices start at $379 per night.
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
Princess Diana stayed in this venerable Chicago landmark for three nights in 1996, and the Presidential Suite (renamed the Princess Diana Suite) remains untouched. Not only do the elegant furnishings and décor look exactly the same—a romantic dream of velvet upholstery and rich drapery—but the suite contains the Lifecycle exercise she used, as well as a refrigerator stocked with mineral water that she liked to use to cool down. No doubt she enjoyed the panoramic views over Lake Michigan as well.
INSIDER TIPThe Drake is offering a whole slate of special events throughout May in honor of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, including a “Film and Fondue” series on Monday nights with royal-inspired films.
WHERE: Klosters, Switzerland
In the sleepy Swiss ski village of Klosters, where horse-drawn sleighs sashay down mountain-shaded streets, this low-key, floral-bedecked Alpine chalet has long been a British royal retreat. Prince Charles has made an annual ski pilgrimage here since the 1970s (though rumors indicate Camilla isn’t so fond of the place, explaining his more recent absences), and the world first learned about “Will and Kate” during a 2004 stay. Other British royals have stayed here too, including Prince Andrew, the Duchess of York, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry.
WHERE: Victoria, British Columbia
Rising above Victoria Harbour in regal splendor, this chateau has been serving royals, dignitaries, and celebrities since its grand opening in 1908. Named for Queen Victoria, Empress of India, it’s no wonder it’s a Queen Elizabeth II go-to; she’s even served on her own private set of royal bone-white china with 24-karat trim reserved solely for her visits. A long line of royals, however, have retreated here, including Edward, Prince of Wales (who waltzed until dawn in the Crystal Ballroom) and Prince Charles and Camilla. Be sure to take afternoon tea in the lobby lounge, where Princess Diana’s favorite rose tea is among the menu options, and sip a cocktail in the Q Bar (Q for “queen,” of course), adorned with floor-to-ceiling portraits of Queen Victoria.
INSIDER TIPWatch the royal wedding live in the Tea Lobby, Empress Room, and Bengal Lounge. A full English breakfast buffet, served between 3 am and 11 am, includes eggs cooked to order, kippers, baked beans, fried bread, and pastries.
Kumarakom Lake Resort
WHERE: Kerala, India
If you’re a prince turning 65, why not celebrate at one of the world’s most luxurious resorts, in the magical realm of Kerala? That’s what Prince Charles did back in 2013, at this 25-acre, lakefront property outfitted in heritage-rich splendor. He reserved 30 cottages for his staff, while he and Camilla stayed in the Presidential Suite, a regal retreat complete with traditional woodwork, mythological murals, exquisite antiques, and a private pool. It’s said the prince most admired the open-air bathroom.
North Island Seychelles
WHERE: North Island, The Seychelles
If you want to experience the essence of a royal honeymoon, follow Will and Kate’s lead at this ultra-luxurious property on its own private island. The royal couple spent ten blissful days in Villa 11 here back in 2010. Hidden away at the end of a long sugar-sand beach, a mere 11 villas bask in the ultimate luxury and exclusivity. Each one is enormous, with colonial-chic décor, multi-tiered levels, private plunge pool, private butler, private study and library that can be converted into a cinema, and Instagram views from every corner. Trails wander off to two palm-fringed beaches, granite hills, and palm forests sprinkled with giant tortoises. You can snorkel, scuba, fish, and kayak to your heart’s content. Be forewarned: You’ll need a queen’s ransom to afford the price tag.
WHERE: Memphis, Tennessee
It’s not necessarily on the most well-trodden royal route, but William, Harry, Beatrice, and Eugenie did stay in this “great lady” back in 2014, to celebrate the wedding of their best mate Guy Pelly. And while it hasn’t been officially noted, some spotted them watching the famed Peabody Duck March, partying on Beale Street, and dining at Rendezvous BBQ next door. Queen Noor of Jordan has stayed here as well. Again, secrecy forbids anyone from revealing which room the royals slept in, but it’s said the top-floor Presidential Suite would be the perfect choice, with its views overlooking the Mississippi River; one night goes for $3,000.
WHERE: Rome, Italy
Sitting at the top of the Spanish Steps in one of the most romantic settings in Italy, this historic hotel has been welcoming dignitaries and celebrities since the late 1800s. Given its devotion to exclusivity, a long line of royals has checked in as well, including Charles and Diana, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, Prince Felix de Luxembourg, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and Prince Rainer of Monaco during his honeymoon with Grace Kelly. Old World elegance is the name of the game here, with a floor-to-ceiling marble lobby, art and antiques throughout, and magical views overlooking the Eternal City. Hassler Penthouse, featuring two master bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and private elevator, is no doubt the royal accommodation of choice.
Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa
WHERE: Conca dei Marini, Italy
Prince Albert II of Monaco was the hotel’s very first guest when this extravagant boutique hotel opened back in 2012. He stayed in the most luxurious (and expensive—3,500 euros) suite, of course, the Citrus Suite, with its own 527-square-foot private terrace overlooking the Amalfi’s seductive coastline. The hotel occupies a 17th-century monastery, featuring a world-class restaurant, primo spa, breathtaking infinity pool, and award-winning service. The best news? With only 20 rooms perched on the dramatic cliffs overlooking the Amalfi Coast, all guests are guaranteed regal treatment.
Beverly Hills Hotel
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
Private “home-away-from-home” bungalows sprinkle the 12 exclusive acres of the venerable “Pink Palace” in the heart of Beverly Hills, where celebrities of every stripe have checked in for a super discrete stay. Among the royals: Princess Margaret, Lord Snowden, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and William and Kate during their first royal tour of the USA in 2011. Perhaps they sampled the famous McCarthy Steak or Steak Tartare in the privacy of a tucked-away corner booth at the Polo Lounge, or enjoyed a massage at the luxe Beverly Hills Hotel Spa. No one’s saying.
WHERE: Vienna, Austria
Everything about this Viennese fin-de-siècle hotel opposite the Viennese Opera is over-the-top, from the marble floors, brass balustrades, and art deco styling to the personalized service. Prince Edward III and, later, his American love, Wallis Simpson, often stayed at this palace (every morning the bellboy brought him a carnation for his buttonhole), and their suite has been renamed the Prince of Wales Suite. Legendary with its gleaming marble foyer (look for the gilded ostrich feathers from the prince’s emblem), library, and private fitness studio, it remains fit for a monarch.
WHERE: London, England
Claridge’s in the heart of Mayfield has been a favorite royal retreat since as far back as the 1860s, when Queen Victoria paid a visit to Empress Eugénie of France in residence. The kings of Yugoslavia, Greece, Holland, and Norway sought refuge here during World War II, while Suite 212 is said to have been ceded to Yugoslavia on July 17, 1945, for one day only, so the king’s son could be born on Yugoslav soil. More recently, royals have been on the guest lists of lavish parties, receptions, and dinners. And there’s a reason they keep coming: impeccable service, stately art deco décor, haute-cuisine restaurants and bars—all with an innate devotion to privacy.
Fairmont San Francisco
WHERE: San Francisco, California
This 592-room hilltop palace overlooking the City by the Bay has welcomed a long roster of royals through the ages, including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, King Hussein of Jordan, and Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Merit of Norway. The masses come to sip mai-tais at the funky, Polynesian-inspired Tonga Room and dine on award-winning California cuisine at Laurel Court, and the royals might too; though more likely they’re off enjoying the exclusivity of the 6,000-square-foot Penthouse Suite, occupying the entire eighth floor.
WHERE: Paris, France
A decadent palace lording over Paris’s Rue de Rivoli, the 19th-century Le Meurice is the next best thing to staying at Versailles. The Presidential suites can be linked together for a truly palatial suite, complete with high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and period antiques. No wonder an armyof royals not only have stayed here but temporarily called it home: King Paul and Queen Frederica of Greece, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, King Nikola I of Montenegro, the Shah of Iran, the Maharaja of Jaipur, and the King of Belgium among them.
Treetops Lodge Nyeri
WHERE: Aberdare National Park, Kenya
Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor arrived here a princess and left a queen. During her stay in 1952 at this stilted treehouse lodge in the heart of Aberdare National Park, her father King George VI died, passing to her the title Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The lodge since has been rebuilt and renovated, but it remains perched in front of the watering hole—drawing elephants, water buffalo, and more—that thrilled the princess-queen.
Taj Mahal Palace
WHERE: Mumbai, India
“The guest is God” is the motto of this lavish iconic hotel overlooking the Arabian Sea, and no request is too grand. Built in 1898–1902 in a glorious mix of Moorish, Oriental, and Florentine styles, it includes a personal butler for every guest among its perks. Among the royals who couldn’t resist: Will and Kate on their 2016 tour of India; Emperor George V and Queen Mary in 1909; Edward, the Prince of Wales, in 1921; and Princess Eugenie in 2008.
WHERE: Lech, Austria
In the crown jewel of royal wintry escapes at Lech am Arlberg , in the heart of the Austrian Alps, you’ll find this intimate boutique hotel with country-house charm, considered by many to be the best hotel in the entire Alps. So it comes as no surprise that royalty has found its way here. Royal regulars include Queen Beatrix and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands; and the late King Hussein of Jordan, who stayed in a guesthouse fitted with bulletproof glass. Princess Diana reportedly liked to dine here (she preferred staying at the slightly younger Hotel Arlberg).
Sujàn Rahmahal Palace
WHERE: Jaipur, India
Originally built for the wife of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1729, this regal palace has featured all the royal trimmings from the start. Simply sumptuous with its hand-fashioned wallpaper, marble staircases, tall bay windows, mirrored doors, and lofty ceilings, its regal guests have numbered Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and Princess Diana and Prince Charles. You have to think they enjoyed a rare moment of peace and quiet in the verdant gardens, filled with private nooks and crannies.