Location, location, location. This real estate mantra is something to live by when seeking out the perfect hotel. In fact, if you're after historical sites on your next holiday, the setting of your hotel could be key.
Location, location, location. This real estate mantra is something to live by when seeking out the perfect hotel. For history buffs, a hotel setting can be key to a stay.
From balcony panoramas of World Heritage sites to hidden ancient baths in the basement, some hotels have that little something extra to really immerse their guests in history. So, where can one find these perfect places from which to enjoy the sites of cultures past?
We asked our friends at historical travel website Historvius.com to put together a selection of just some of the very best hotels for history lovers.
Text and photos courtesy of Historvius.
15 Great Hotels For History Lovers
15 Great Hotels For History Lovers (PHOTOS)
Almost an icon in its own right, the Palmyra Hotel in Lebanon stands opposite the ruins of Baalbek –one of the most important ancient cities of the Mediterranean, which boasted the largest temple in the Roman Empire. Options are limited for those who want to stay within easy reach of the ancient site, but the Palmyra is certainly an excellent option geographically. A five star establishment in its 1930s heyday, visiting the Palmyra is like stepping back in time. The walls of this hotel are even lined with photos of the great guests that once graced its rooms with their presence. While it may lack some creature comforts, this hotel is truly unique, both for its own intriguing history, and for that which sits on its doorstep.
Burg Rheinfels in the German town of St. Goar is a vast fortress which stood guard over a vital Rhine crossing for hundreds of years. With its medieval fortifications and warren of underground tunnels, this defensive ruin still dominates the landscape. However, within an annex of the castle resides the small Hotel Schloss Rheinfels, which provides the ideal location to explore the site and take in the stunning views.
Visiting the underground cities of Cappadocia is a wonder in its own right – but how about sleeping in them? The Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel offers just that option. With rooms dating back to the 5th century AD, visitors will be hard pressed to find any other hotel room in the world with such an extensive history. Tastefully renovated to include all the modern amenities one would expect, this hotel is well situated for exploring the many underground cities in the area, as well as the stunning landscape of Cappadocia.
Chichen Itza is one of the most impressive and picturesque archaeological sites in the world. With its prominent pyramids and famous observatory, it has come to be seen as the most iconic Mayan city. Situated within walking distance of the park itself, The Hacienda Chichen is an excellent option for exploring the ruins. Early risers should take advantage of this proximity and have the site virtually to themselves before the crowds arrive. With comfortable amenities, including a restaurant and pool, this hotel is a good choice for those wishing to take their time over exploration, rather than rushing on a tour.
Not only does the Porto Marina on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast contain a golf course, water park, three swimming pools and eight restaurants, it’s also just a camel’s spit from a World War Two battlefield and an ancient Greco-Roman city. Of crucial importance during the Second World War, El Alamein was the site of two vital battles. The El Alamein War Museum is a good place to begin exploring the history before discovering the cemeteries and memorials of the El Alamein battlefield itself. Of just as much interest to those seeking the past is Leukaspis - a once-thriving ancient city, wiped out by a Tsunami in the fourth century AD - which is located alongside the Porto Marina complex.
Let’s face it, when it comes to historical sites it doesn’t get much bigger than the Pyramids of Giza. So where better to stay in Cairo than just across the street from these world wonders? The Mena House Oberoi is one of the closest hotels to these ancient Egyptian icons and allows visitors to gaze up at the pyramids from the swimming pool, the restaurant or even hotel rooms. One of the more luxurious hotels in the city, the Mena House Oberoi includes all the creature comforts one would expect from a top-end establishment with a location and view that are hard to beat.
Fancy doing time in a Turkish prison? No? This Four Seasons Hotel may change your mind. Originally an early 20th century prison until being closed and later neglected, it was transformed into a hotel in the 1990s. Today, its neo-classical architecture and ideal location make it ideal for people wishing to explore the sites of Istanbul. Enclosed on one side by the Hagia Sophia and on the other by the Blue Mosque, some of the higher-priced duplexes offer views of both. Not visible from the room, but tantalizingly close, is the amazing Basilica Cistern – the subterranean Byzantine water system that fed the heart of the city. Also within walking distance is the UNESCO listed Topkapi Palace.
We all know how much the Romans loved their baths and, in the Hotel Balneario de Lugo, visitors can get a real taste of this ancient pastime. A modern spa hotel in the northwest Spanish city of Lugo, Hotel Balneario not only has a range of sumptuous spa treatments on offer, but also contains the fascinating Lugo Roman Baths complex, which can still be viewed by guests and visitors alike. For those who manage to leave the comfort of the hotel, there’s plenty to see including the city’s Roman walls, possibly the best example of Roman defensive works anywhere in the world.
For those who wake up to something special in the morning then the view from the Residence Le Cheval Blanc will do the trick. Just the shortest hop from the hotel stands Nimes Arena, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. This reasonably priced boutique hotel provides with comfortable accommodation and a location that’s picture perfect. Visitors can view and explore Nimes Arena and also walk to the nearby Maison Carrée, an original Roman temple, still in incredibly good condition today. The hotel's central Nimes location provides a good base from which to discover the other well known sites of the region, either by train, car or organized tour. Highlights not to miss include Pont du Gard, Palais de Papes and the historic cities of Arles and Orange.
While Rome is full of breathtaking historic sites, it is also brimming with amazing hotels. With an almost endless list of potential establishments to choose from, the Exedra Hotel is particularly interesting as it contains the actual remains of the Baths of Diocletian in the basement, which can be viewed through a reinforced glass floor. Less scintillating maybe, but just as important, is the fact it has a metro stop on its doorstep, meaning it’s simple and easy to see all the best sites in the city – from the Roman Forum and Colosseum to St Peter’s Basilica and the The Ara Pacis Museum. All from the comfort of modern five star luxury, very handy.
If the challenge for the architects was to build a hotel worthy of the Taj Mahal then the Oberoi Amarvilas is a laudable attempt. A luxury hotel made up of terraced lawns, indulgent fountains and majestic archways, the Oberoi Amarvilas is perfectly positioned for this iconic Mughal site. Lying just half a mile from the Taj Mahal and also within easy range of the equally impressive Agra Fort, the Oberoi takes deluxe sightseeing to a whole new level.
Flanked by the Temple of Olympian Zeus and just a few hundred meters from the base of The Acropolis, the Athens Gate hotel boasts an incredible array of celebrated historic sites right on its doorstep. Renovated in 2007, the views of The Parthenon from its rooftop garden bar are among the best in the city. Even closer to the hotel is the brand new Acropolis Museum, a stunning new center displaying some of the best finds from the ancient metropolis. And while all the principle sites of the city are within walking distance of the hotel, the Akropoli Metro station is also close by.
Ever fancied following in the footsteps of King Henry VIII? Well, if six wives seem a step too far then a visit to Thornbury Castle will at least allow visitors to sleep in the same room as the famous English monarch. The only Tudor castle in England to now operate as a hotel, Thornbury Castle played host to the highest strata of Tudor English society. Nearby historical sites include Goodrich Castle, Raglan Castle, the famous Roman Baths of Bath and Caerleon Roman Fortress.
Itself inspired by Byzantine, Greek and Roman influences, this modern, luxury five star hotel sits literally footsteps away from the Tombs of the Kings, one of the most remarkable sites in Cyprus. A Hellenistic necropolis, it was the resting place for the ancient elite of the region for hundreds of years. However, that’s not all. Just over a half mile from the Elysium’s front door lie the ruins of Nea Pafos, the ancient capital of the island. Containing the remains of a classical theater, Roman villas and even a Byzantine basilica, Nea Pafos hosts a wealth of treasures to explore. Also in the locality is the medieval fortress of Paphos Castle and - admittedly slightly further afield - the impressive Roman remains at Kourion and Amathus.
Set within the Uxmal archaeological park, the Hotel Hacienda Uxmal is just a stone’s throw from these enthralling Maya ruins. Although the area is believed to have been inhabited since 800BC, it was from around 700-1200AD that the Uxmal we know today was constructed and occupied. The site contains an array of impressive ruins including the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, several temples and the ornately decorated Governor’s Palace. Providing an unparalleled location from which to explore, Hotel Hacienda Uxmal boasts rustic modern amenities and offers one of the more comfortable options available for enjoying the archaeological park.