Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London exterior at sunset

Five hotels steeped in history

Few things are more spine-tingling than waking up in a hotel – or a city – where history has been made. Whether frequented by a slew of world-renowned authors or within touching distance of time-worn landmarks, these five captivating hotels offer up epic tomes of history in locations that will inspire awe and admiration

Banquet tables in the Ballroom at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Set on the fringes of London’s best-loved park, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London opened its doors in 1902, and has buckets of polished, old-world charm and tradition to show for it. Following the hotel’s most extensive renovation ever completed in 2018, suites have been reimagined by superstar designer Joyce Wang who, inspired by the golden age of 20th-century travel, has introduced flamboyant Art Deco accents and a selection of artwork designed to recreate the style and splendour of the time. The hotel’s ballroom is a wonderful space for grand events – it hosted the Queen and Princess Margaret during their childhood dance lessons – while the ‘royal entrance’, originally reserved for Queen Victoria and used by the royal family during events such as the coronation of George VI in 1937, can be used for special occasions. A decadent afternoon tea menu is on offer at The Rosebery, formerly known as the Bennet Tearoom when it was frequented by prestigious politicians around the turn of the 20th century.

Visitors drink tea in the Authors Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

One of the remaining vestiges of 19th-century Bangkok, this ravishing hotel has seduced guests for several centuries with its regal interiors – its doors opened in 1876 as Thailand’s first luxury hotel. In 1891, the incumbent King of Siam was so impressed with the hotel’s lodgings that he chose to host the soon-to-become Tsar Nicholas of Russia there. Inside, the original 19th-century Authors’ Lounge is a dazzling setting for tea, having retained colonial features such as the rattan fans and French windows that former hotel residents Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad would have also enjoyed. Housed in a century-old restored teak house, dip into The Oriental Spa for a detoxifying Muay Thai-inspired massage or a hydrating facial that will leave you feeling revitalised for the day ahead.

View of the Eiffel Tower from the bathroom at Mandarin Oriental Paris

Mandarin Oriental, Paris

This spectacular property has been awarded ‘Palace’ status, making it one of the French capital’s 12 most exclusive hotels, and is found on the iconic Rue Saint Honoré just moments from the Louvre, Place de la Concorde and Place Vendôme. Alongside its 1930s Art Deco facade, the hotel’s suites and penthouses are steeped in the city’s quasi-mythical history and offer both sumptuous design plus the arresting views of Paris’ time-worn mansard roofs, punctuated by church spires and the magnificent Eiffel Tower.

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

Overlooking Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbour, Mandarin Oriental’s flagship property is still one of this Asian hub’s most illustrious addresses. When it opened in 1963, the hotel was Hong Kong’s tallest building, built on the harbour’s edge on the site of the old colonial Queen’s Building – though much of the surrounding land has since been reclaimed to accommodate the city’s exponential growth. It was also the first hotel in the city to install direct-dial phones, and the first in Asia to put a bath in every room. Inside lie a bevy of incredible dining institutions including the Clipper Lounge, known by locals as ‘Hong Kong’s sitting room’ and a firm favourite among the suited and booted, while Captains Bar remains a stalwart among the same clientele for afterwork celebrations and deal-making drinks.

A woman rides a bike along the river across from Mandarin Oriental, Geneva

Mandarin Oriental, Geneva

Opened in 1950, Mandarin Oriental, Geneva was the first hotel to be built in Europe after WWII, and, launched in the same year as the European HQ for the UN. It has maintained a reputation for superlative hospitality ever since. Rare at the time, the hotel featured en-suite bathrooms in every room and has hosted a spread of distinguished guests ranging from rock stars to royalty, with suites offering 360° views, decked out in Art Deco finery in a nod to the glamour of the hotel’s heyday. Just a hop and a skip from the hotel is the Saint Pierre Cathedral, which is built on the site of a Roman table that dates back to the 4th century and was the symbolic home of the Protestant Reformation, while the 2,000-year old streets of the Old Town are filled with charming art galleries such as La Galerie Insolite and architecture such as Maison Tavel, Geneva’s oldest private residence.

A large dining table at Lord Jim's backdropped by Bangkok's Chao Phraya River

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