Heritage hotels not only provide a regal place to rest your head, but many also have fascinating backstories. Take Amanyangyun, a stunning new property just outside of Shanghai that’s home to thousands of relocated endangered trees and dozens of ancient homes that were under the threat of being destroyed in Fuzhou.
But across Asia, there are dozens of hotels with stories to tell. Some do it with rare plants while others amaze with antique furniture, sky-high colonnades and priceless art. We’ve traced the footsteps of royals and aristocrats so you, too, can enjoy the same sumptuous stays, with just a few upgrades.
A landmark preservation project that took 15 years to complete, Aman Resorts relocated a threatened camphor tree forest and Ming- and Qing-dynasty-era village houses from southeastern China to a remote location near Shanghai.
The result is Amanyangyun, a spectacular 24-acre sanctuary that opened in January 2018. In this relaxing setting, the historic houses have been remodeled into 37 contemporary rooms and villas. The design combines local inspiration with a chic minimalist aesthetic for a tranquil, old-meets-new vibe.
The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel
Already home to several colonial-era hotels — including Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Peninsula Hong Kong — Hong Kong welcomed a fresh face this spring. Following an extensive renovation, a government office building was been transformed into a luxurious city-center retreat.
Originally envisioned by architect Ron Phillips in the 1960s, 336-room The Murray retains many of its design characteristics, including 36-foot-tall archways and eco-friendly angled windows that frame views of Hong Kong Park.
Rooms are sleek and sophisticated, complete with deep soaking tubs, marble bathrooms and herringbone wood floors.
The Murray also offers several gastronomic destinations, including Murray Lane bar, sleek and modern venue The Tai Pan, Cantonese restaurant Guo Fu Lou, Garden Lounge for afternoon tea and the elegant Popinjays on the rooftop (slated to open this summer).
As you pull into the lobby courtyard, take time to admire the hotel’s own registered “Old and Valuable Tree,” a cassia javanica, which is estimated to be at least 100 years old.
It’s impossible to miss the grand white façade of this Four-Star colonial-style hotel. Opened in 1887 and set to emerge from a major restoration in the second half of 2018, Singapore’s grand dame has seen it all.
This is where visiting diplomats and colonial overlords would meet for afternoon tea. It’s also the birthplace of the eponymous Singapore Sling, the hotel’s now-famous gin-based pineapple cocktail. The manicured courtyard gardens, open-air corridors and teak wood floors ooze Old World glamour as well.
When complete, the restoration — led by celebrated New York-based designer Alexandra Champalimaud — promises to retain the heritage charm of the property by accentuating its beautiful old bones while also providing more efficient technology, refreshing the dining experiences and adding necessary touches, such as soundproofing the bedroom windows.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel
A vision of Parisian splendor, this historic Hanoi hotel dates back to 1901, when Vietnam was still a French colony. A beautiful example of neo-classical architecture, the 364-room address features a white façade and wrought-iron details. In its heyday, the hotel was the hub for visiting dignitaries and VIPs, with a guest list that included Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda and author Graham Greene.
After the Vietnam War (known as the American War in Vietnam), the property renamed itself Thong Nhat Hotel and eventually fell into a state of disrepair.
Now managed by AccorHotels, it is beloved for its opulent guest rooms; courtyard garden; brasserie-style French restaurant, Le Beaulieu; and open-air Bamboo Bar.
As you approach the palatial yellow-and-red property in the heart of Jaipur, it feels as if you’ve arrived at the doorstep of Indian royalty — and, in some ways, you have. The hotel was originally built in 1835 for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. But in the early 1900s, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II refurbished and expanded the mansion to be used as his own permanent residence.
Over the years that followed, the esteemed family hosted many a grand wedding and gala, and A-listers like Prince Charles and Jacqueline Kennedy were often in attendance. In 1957, the royals converted the palace into a hotel.
This modern Taj property boasts 33 grand suites and 45 rooms — each lavishly furnished with silk drapes and lush carpets, enormous bathtubs and antique wooden furniture. We recommend a stay in a Historical Suite, which promises an enormous, silk-clad four-poster bed and views of the gardens from a pretty seating nook.
While you’re here, feast like the Maharajas at fine-dining Indian restaurant Suvarna Mahal or at the casual Verandah Café, overlooking the front lawn.