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From castles and palaces to monasteries and rail stations, old world charm is getting a new lease of life at these hotels in historic landmarks
Penang, MalaysiaSituated within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown, the Eastern & Oriental – known fondly as the E&O – is an all-suite affair, with rooms named after famous writers who have stayed there, such as Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward.
Know this: The E&O was the architectural blueprint that its creators, the Sarkies brothers, used to build Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel.
Prague, Czech Republic
Formerly a monastery dating back to the fourteenth century, this Baroque and Renaissance building now houses a modern Mandarin Oriental hotel. It’s conveniently located in Prague’s historic Mala Strana district, close to Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge.
Know this: Visit the hotel’s Gothic spa: its glass floors reveal the ruins of a chapel below.
Built in 1888 and modelled on a Scottish castle, this grand hotel is credited with kick-starting modern tourism to the Canadian Rockies. It’s also where Marilyn Monroe recuperated after injuring her ankle filming River of No Return in the area in 1953.
Know this: Don’t miss the Heritage Tour at 3pm (Tuesday-Saturday), conducted by the hotel’s longest-standing employee, Dave Moberg.
Perched on the Santa Catalina hilltop near Andalucia, this restored 13th-century fortress is a favourite getaway for the King of Spain – and it’s easy to see why: the castle overlooks olive groves leading up to the Sierra Morena hills, while inside, antique tapestries and four-poster beds pump up the grandeur factor.
Know this: Book one of the four superior rooms, all with private balconies.
Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Victorian Gothic London landmark lay idle for years after closing in 1935 – until it reopened in 2011 as the St. Pancras Renaissance, with lavish rooms, an ornate bar and a restaurant by Marcus Wareing.
Know this: Several of the 38 Grade I-listed Chambers suites overlook the Eurostar concourse.
Originally a 1930s tobacco factory, this Shangri-La property lays claim to the largest guestrooms in Istanbul – many overlooking the Bosphorus Strait.
Know this: The hotel has more than 1,000 pieces of European and Asian art throughout its public areas and rooms.
With vintage car rides and butlers, it’s hard not to feel like royalty at Taj Lake Palace. The 250-year-old marble structure is famous for appearing to ‘float’ on Lake Pichola – and for being the location of the 1983 Bond flick Octopussy.
Know this: For the lake views, request a palace room. Or if you want to stay in the Queen’s former boudoir, book suite 117.
The redbrick Tokyo Station Hotel – which sits within Tokyo’s primary train-and-subway building dating back to 1914 – is back to its former glory after a multi-million dollar facelift. Seek out star bartender Hisashi Sugimoto to mix you a signature Tokyo Station cocktail.
Know this: Although nearly 3,000 trains pass through the station, it’s surprisingly serene inside the hotel, thanks to double-paned windows and steel-framed concrete walls.