If where you stay on your travels is important to you, getting the hotel right is a top priority. But in addition to the wi-fi access and spa facilities, there is a growing trend towards converted hotels: buildings that were once used as something completely different, now renovated and refurbished.
The trend has become popular for numerous reasons: it incorporates a sense of history and local culture into the hotel, the older buildings often have unique architectural aspects, and the structures are regularly found in up-and-coming warehouse districts or trendy neighbourhoods.
Here are five of the best converted hotels anywhere, compiled by the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com.
1. Mandarin Oriental, Prague – Prague, Czech Republic
Though many of the most famous sites in Prague are located in the Staré Mesto and Nové Město, the Prague Castle and much of the city’s most atmospheric walks are found on the other side of the River Vltava in the Malá Strana neighborhood.
One of these unique buildings is the Mandarin Oriental Prague, housed in a converted Dominican monastery from the 14th century. Even the hotel group’s signature holistic spa experience, with water-based facilities such as a vitality pool and two saunas, is set in an area of architectural heritage. The spa’s entry, a glass walkway, both displays and preserves the remnants of a Gothic church found during the hotel’s renovation.
A stroll around the Malá Strana will give guests ample opportunities to indulge in the city’s famous brews and hear some splendid classical tunes. (Photo credit: Niall Clutton courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Prague)
2. The Liberty Hotel – Boston, Massachusetts
A grey stone structure emerges at the Boston side of the Longfellow Bridge, taking you back to a time far before the Massachusetts General Hospital and Red Line MTA rail were the major players in this area.
The looming façade belongs to the Liberty Hotel, now a popular playground for adults, but the former home to the Charles Street Jail. The enormous atrium is beautifully preserved, the lighting fixtures providing a modern aesthetic with a historical slant. The architecture of the former jail has been brilliantly reconceived as an urban one-stop shop: the nightclub is in the former “drunk tank,” cocktail areas occupy the surviving catwalks, and two different eateries can be found in rooms with original jail cell details. (Photo Credit: Blake C Blanchard)
3. Hotel Hospes Palacio del Bailio – Cordoba, Spain
Visitors to the Andalusia area of southern Spain usually stay in Seville and make a quick trek to see the famous Mezquita in Cordoba, the former Mosque that was then converted into a Christian Cathedral in the center of Cordoba’s old town.
However, the Hospes Palacio del Bailio provides a truly unrivalled experience and definitely warrants an overnight stay. Housed in a 16th century palace, the hotel’s architecture provides an immersion into Moorish influence and architecture usually only afforded in Morocco. Beautifully decorated with modern fixtures and a soothing colour scheme of neutrals, the hotel embraces its architecture and history while providing guests with all of the modern amenities, like internet and Korres bath products, we’ve grown accustomed to in the 21st century.
4. Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet – Istanbul, Turkey
The ochre exterior is just the first of many signifiers that the Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet is a unique experience. The building, a former Turkish prison, is not only an astounding neoclassical structure, but it is also conveniently located between the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, two of Istanbul’s greatest treasures.
The hotel has elements that harken back to the 1918 structure, such as reused tiles from the building’s former incarnation, and the landscaped courtyard, which once served as the prison’s exercise yard. Another great benefit to this spot: guests are allowed to use all the amenities at the hotel’s sister property, the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus.
5. The Conservatorium Hotel – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The hotel has kept the historic façade of Amsterdam’s former music conservatory, but there is nothing ‘student budget’ about this five-star property. The building’s glass façade and construction instigated an urban regeneration of the Museumplein, the once dodgy area also known as the Museum Quarter.
The hotel is perfectly situated for a morning spent wandering the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, and an afternoon window shopping designer stores such as Filippa K, Iceberg, and G. Star on nearby P.C. Hooftstraat.
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