Lavish castles aren’t only for royals like Prince William and Kate Middleton any more. As most monarchial families have done away with the gaudy estates to reside in more modern housing, many luxe quarters have transformed into extraordinary hotels. Our editors found five palace hotels that will make you feel like a master of the high court.
Hotel Imperial, Vienna
Prince Philip of Württemberg called Hotel Imperial on Ring Boulevard in Vienna his home from 1863 to 1865. However, things turned sour when the city built a street between the palace and a nearby park without running the plans by the prince, so he moved out. A wealthy investor purchased the home and transformed it into a hotel just in time for the Vienna Universal Exposition of 1873. The guest rooms are truly representative of the 19th century, with heavy drapery, high ceilings, sparkling chandeliers and historical artifacts. Adding to the royal treatment is the personal butler service that comes standard with every suite.
Hôtel de Crillon, Paris
In 1758, King Louis XV enlisted the help of prominent architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel to construct what is now Hôtel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde, located at the base of Paris’ Champs-Elyseés. The Parisian landmark hosted a few marquee historic moments—including the signing of the Franco-American Treaty—before it was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1909. Today, the ornate Belle Époque hotel welcomes celebrities, royalty and ambassadors (it’s next door to the American Embassy) with its charming interior courtyard, marble-clad hallways and 24-hour concierge. While the palatial hotel was set to close its doors for two years at the beginning of November, the extensive (which includes the addition of a new spa) has been postponed until spring 2013—a cue to book a room before it’s set to reopen in 2015.
La Posta Vecchia, Ladispoli, Italy
Head 40 minutes outside of Rome and stay at this 19-room hotel for a step back in time. The La Posta Vecchia villa dates back to the Renaissance Period and was built in 1640 by Italian Prince Orsini atop the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Alsium. In 1960, industrialist and avid art collector J. Paul Getty purchased the villa and completely restored it, filling it with furnishings and art from royal palaces across the globe. He also salvaged many of the ancient artifacts from the original site and today those are on display in the hotel’s museum. Rooms and suites are appointed with museum-quality art and antiques, and modern-day amenities include a spacious indoor heated swimming pool; a spa with treatments such as rose water facials and olive oil massages; and a helipad for those arriving by air.
Çirağan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul
Set on the shores of the Bosphorus, the 19th-century Çirağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is located in an area that has been witness to centuries of change. The original palace constructed by Sultan Mahmut II was destroyed and later rebuilt in 1857 by Sultan Abdülmecid’s brother. Various other Ottoman sultans resided in the palace, which eventually became a hotel in 1990. The luxury suites in the historic palace (a new, modern hotel building sits next door) have high ceilings, ornate architectural features and large picture windows. Guests can revel in the royal treatment here, taking a dip in the waterfront heated infinity pool, relaxing with an outdoor massage or dining on the terrace overlooking the Bosphorus.
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India
Legend says this Indian palace was originally built so Prince Maharana Jagat Singh II could have his own private space to entertain his female companions. The construction of Jag Niwas (as the palace became known) on Lake Pichola began in 1743. It may have been turned into a commercial hotel in 1963, but Taj Lake Palace remains an utterly romantic place (it even made a big screen cameo in the classic James Bond flick, Octopussy). The colorful opulence of the palace’s royal days is still prevalent throughout the space—from the frescoes and the carved furniture to the unforgettable views of the water outside. To get a real taste of royalty, board a ceremonial imperial barge and dine by candlelight on Lake Pichola, or book a pampering treatment on the Royal Jiva Spa Boat complete, with an outdoor deck and soak pool.
Photos Courtesy of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, La Posta Vecchia and The Indian Hotels Company Limited