Travel topics > Sleep > Grand old hotels

Some hotels have a heritage from the golden age of steam railways and ocean liners; before the Second World War, in the 19th or early 20th centuries. These hotels were where the rich and the famous of the day would stay, and often had fine dining and nightlife. While they are usually privately owned, they sometimes accommodate visiting heads of state and other dignitaries.


Even today such places generally offer fine accommodation and are usually not cheap, though more modern high-end places may be even more luxurious and are often more expensive. The grand old hotels, though, have an appeal all their own; part of it is that often they are often in superb locations, either smack in the middle of cities (very often being next to a major railway station, as they were often constructed to house railway travelers) or close to major outdoor attractions. The old fashioned fittings, the lack of the latest amenities, and a certain graceful agedness are also part of their character.

You need not stay in such hotels to enjoy some of their services. A visitor to Singapore, for example, might go to Raffles just for a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar where it was invented, and where Rudyard Kipling and Noel Coward once drank, and check out the Billiard Room where Singapore's last tiger was shot.

A traveller with piles of money might consider a round the world flight, broken up with stays in many of these hotels. Travelling around the world overland, on routes such as the one taken in Around the World in Eighty Days, would give a more authentic experience of pre-flight travel.


Democratic Republic of CongoEdit


Winter Palace, seen from the Nile




South AfricaEdit


East AsiaEdit

The Grand Hotel, Taipei

Middle EastEdit

South AsiaEdit



Sri LankaEdit

Southeast AsiaEdit

Raffles, Singapore

Many of Southeast Asia's grand old hotels can be credited to a single family, the remarkable Sarkies brothers from Armenia, who founded all of the following icons:

Of course, there are some other very classy options as well:


Northern EuropeEdit

Western EuropeEdit

Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam
Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh

Central EuropeEdit

During the century and a half of its existence, leaders have died and Czechoslovakia was "born" at Beau-Rivage in Geneva

Southern EuropeEdit

Hotel de Paris, Monaco

Eastern EuropeEdit

North AmericaEdit

United StatesEdit

There is a program called Historic Hotels of America with 200-odd hotels involved.

The Cincinnatian Hotel.


Le Château Frontenac, Quebec City

The grand old hotels in Canada, also referred to as railway hotels, have a unique place in Canadian history. Most of them were built during the first quarter of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway or Grand Trunk Railway to provide elegant accommodation while viewing the natural beauty along the rail line. Canadian Pacific, which purchased the former Grand Trunk (Canadian National) hotels in 1988, spun off all non-rail subsidiaries (including Fairmont, its hotel group) in 2001.

These hotels are popular with tourists and locals alike and though overnight stays are expensive; they represent a fine piece of Canadiana worth visiting even if you only have time for a walk through the lobby. Two - Banff and Lake Louise - are major tourist resorts in their own right, located amid stunning Rocky Mountain scenery.

Of course, there are some other very classy options as well:


Costa RicaEdit

The Gran Hotel Costa Rica


South AmericaEdit







New ZealandEdit

See alsoEdit

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