Historic Luxury Hotels Tips

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What is a great historic luxury hotel in Madrid?

Madrid Historic Hotel

The Hotel Ritz in Madrid shares with the Ritz hotels in Paris and London a reputation as one of the original grand luxury hotels in Europe. It was inspired by King Alfonso XIII's desire to build a luxury hotel to rival the Ritz in Paris. It opened its doors in 1910 in the presence of King Alfonso XIII. The facade has been designated a historic monument.

It is situated between the Retiro Park, the Teatro de la Zarzuela and Madrid's most important museums: the Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Centro de Arte Moderno Reina Sofia. The hotel made the Condé Nast Gold List 2007. Rooms have Real Fábrica de Tapices carpets in gold, mauve, or cream and 19th century clocks.

The Goya Restaurant is highly esteemed for its Sunday Brunch, with a special buffet just for kids. The dinner menu offers a wide selection of Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine.

No exclusive spa here, but there is a Wellness Center equipped with treadmills, step machines, rowing machines, static bicycles, free weights, weight training equipment, satellite television, radio and daily newspapers, plus a sauna. Massages, sunbed and facials can also be booked.

Deluxe Touch
Just walking in the door is transporting. The gorgeous Belle Époque style throughout, with antiques everywhere and soaring ceilings, exudes luxury.

Plaza de la Lealtad 5
28014 Madrid, Spain
Tel: +34 91 701 67 67

What is a great historic luxury hotel in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam Historic Hotel

When you arrive at the Hotel de l'Europe, look for original paintings of Dutch masters in the lobby. The 111-year old hotel is one of the Leading Hotels of the World. It investe d in several original 19th century paintings that decorate the walls, and in one of the banqueting rooms, the Amstel I, the ceiling was painted in 19th century baroque style.

In 1996 the hotel celebrated its centenary anniversary. In 2006, the hotel made the Travel + Leisure 500 Best Hotels in the World list.


Restaurant Excelsior has fabulous views of the Amstel river and the Munt Tower and has won many accolades for its food. If you go for lunch at Restaurant Excelsior, don't look for a menu. The chef creates a three-course meal just for you, based on the daily fresh ingredients.


A fitness center features a swimming pool, fitness equipment, Finnish sauna and solarium. Services such as massage, manicure, pedicure and facial treatments can be booked on request.

Deluxe Touch

Have your aperitif served in the tasting room of the wine cellar. Sommelier Dannis Apeldoorn provides you with information on the wines to be served and tells you about his extensive assortment of thousands of special bottles of wine.


Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2-8
1012 CP Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31-20 -5311 777

What is a great historic luxury hotel in Hamburg, Germany?

Hamburg, Germany Historic Hotel

The Hotel Atlantic Kempinski has been linked to the city of Hamburg's history and social life ever since it first opened in 1909 as a Grand Hotel for passengers booked on luxury ocean liners. The snow-white façade is a local landmark. You know you'll get great service – the hotel has 167 rooms and more than 250 employees. Ask for the BMW suite or the James Bond Suite for some surprises.

The “Atlantic-Restaurant" offers fine dining and a magnificent view of the Alster Lake. Chef Sven Büttner is well known in German top gastronomy circles and is one of 13 members of the hip association of chefs “Die jungen Wilden” (The Young Furiosos), whose motto is “Different. Younger. More furioso.”

The hotel's spa is an "Energy Clinic" and one of only a few of its kind in the world. There are saunas, a pool and an extensive range of treatments. They promise you'll leave refreshed, rejuvenated and energized.

Deluxe Touch
The hotel's "PrivateMax" is the first private cinema in a German hotel. Book it for a private screening!

An der Alster 72-79
20099 Hamburg
Tel.: 040 2888 0

What is a great historic luxury hotel in Russia?

St. Petersburg, Russia Historic Hotel

Another Rocco Forte Hotel, the Hotel Astoria St. Petersburg, captures the essence of Russia with interiors scrupulously designed to recreate the grandeur synonymous with the historic city. Located in St Isaac's Square at the hub of St Petersburg's city center, the St Isaac's Cathedral is just opposite the hotel. The Hermitage Museum is only blocks away. The 213 rooms and suites at Hotel Astoria were carefully furnished with comfort and tranquility in mind. Contemporary facilities are mixed with elegant decor, luxurious marble bathrooms and, in many rooms, breathtaking views over St Isaac's Square. The historic luxury hotel is a gem.

Authentic Russian cuisine is found at the hotel's restaurant Davidov. Try the 'Russian Table' on the weekends. Plates of salads, pickles and treasures from the land and sea are available.

The spa offers a range of treatments including Swedish massage and individually tailored massages. There is a sauna and steam in the hotel gym, which is open 24 hours The spa made the Condé Nast Gold List 2007.

Deluxe Touch
Taste chilled vodkas and caviar at the restaurant's Caviar Bar. There are more than 80 assorted vodkas to try!

39 Bolshaya Morskaya
190000 St Petersburg, Russia
Tel: +7 812 494 5757

What is a great historic luxury hotel in Scotland?

Edinburgh, Scotland Historic Hotel

The Balmoral Hotel, a Rocco Forte Hotel (always synonymous with luxury), is a five-star property in the heart of Edinburgh. It has 188 opulent suites and stylish rooms with views of Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town or the hotel's internal courtyard. The hotel is located on Princes Street, in Edinburgh's main shopping area and next to Waverley Station. Service in every area is impeccable. It is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and made the Condé Nast Gold List 2007. Many Edinburgh hotels claim to have Edinburgh's landmarks on their doorstep, but the Balmoral is one of the few that can say their doorstep is a landmark.

The hotel's main restaurant, named simply, “number one,” has certainly lived up to its name. The Michelin-starred number one is recognized as one of Scotland's best restaurants, with Chef Jeff Bland providing outstanding cuisine. You can't go wrong with the chef's tasting menu.

The Balmoral Spa was voted 'Scotland's Top Urban Day Spa' in Condé Nast Traveler's 2007 Readers' Spa Awards. It offers five treatment rooms, a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, gymnasium and exercise studio.

Deluxe Touch
The unusual décor lets you know this isn't just any historic hotel. Bedrooms are designed with the earthy colors of the moors, mists and heathers that one associates with Scotland. Natural fabrics were used throughout: linens, silks, wools and leather. Artwork reflects Scottish themes and includes original works. Blankets, on the end of every bed, are exclusively designed for the hotel by Johnston's of Elgin.

1 Princes Street Edinburgh, Scotland
Tel: 44 131 556 2414

What is a great historic luxury hotel in Berlin?

Berlin, Germany Historic Hotel

The Adlon Hotel celebrated its centenary in 2007. In 1907, Lorenz Adlon, a wealthy restaurateur and wine merchant, built the Hotel Adlon at the Brandenburg Gate. His motto was “Welcome to the Adlon, a hotel that wants to be so much more to its guests, with its ambiance, its service and last but not least, its unique location.”

It served as the official hotel of the 1936 Olympics and has seen multitudes of luminaries stay there. Today, the hotel has certainly changed and grown, but luxury has always been a priority. It made the Cond é Nast Gold List 2007.

The gourmet restaurant Lorenz Adlon has a spectacular view of the Brandenburg Gate. The menu offers French cuisine in an elegant, exclusive atmosphere. Haute cuisine creations, fine wines and impeccable service unite to make a gastronomic heaven.

The Adlon Spa includes a pool, fitness, and wellness area accessible by a private elevator, enabling hotel guests to access the pool area wearing only a robe. There's a whirlpool, saunas and massage services.

Deluxe Touch
Take a tour in a BMW Z4 Coupé. The hotel is an exclusive partner of BMW. You can reserve with the concierge.

Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin
Unter den Linden 77
10117 Berlin, Germany

What makes a hotel a “historic hotel”?

Historic Luxury Hotels Defined

What makes a hotel a “historic hotel”? Well, like most things in the hotel world, this is up for interpretation. In the United States, an organization called the National Trust Historic Hotels of America (HHA) defines a historic hotel. The HHA is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has identified more than 200 quality historic hotels that have "faithfully maintained their historic architecture and ambiance." To be selected for this program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized locally as having historic significance. Keep in mind that a historic rating does not necessarily qualify the hotel for the “luxury” category, which I define as having exemplary service, fine dining and amenities not available elsewhere.

If you want both history and luxury, look for hotels that belong to organizations such as the Leading Hotels of the World; have won accolades from the media, such as Travel + Leisure; or have been written up in magazine such as the Robb Report. Historic hotels taken in hand by hospitality giants, such as the Ritz or Orient Express, are also a guarantee that you'll have both luxury and history the way you want. I've detailed just a few of the world's best historic hotels in this book.

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Guru Spotlight
Carma Spence-Pothitt