How would Paris be without the Ritz or Vienna without the Sacher? Sill wonderful, obviously, and yet deprived of the iconic structures that have become a fundamental part of the urban fabric and of the city cultural heritage. It may sound like a banality, but the same question must have also been asked by the various managers and owners of hotels and hotel chains who have been in charge of renovating those architectural pearls throughout the world that have acted as witness and scenography for the landmark events in the history of art, luxury and mankind
Raffles Europejski: a return on the Royal Route in Warsaw
A jewel set in the Krakowskie Przedmiéscie, one of the oldest and most suggestive streets in the city, just a few steps away from the Presidential Palace, the Hotel Europejski has been the subject, since 2013, of renovation works under the management of the French AccorHotels, and in particular of its division Raffles Hotels & Resorts.
After five years of work, May 2018 finally saw the reopening of this prestigious structure, reborn as Raffles Europejski. A new signboard but with the same splendour of the first opening in 1857, when this area of the Polish capital was part of the Romanov Empire of Russia; even back then, it didn’t take long before the palace was recognized as one of the most luxurious in the Tsar’s lands.
The heritage left to posterity by the Italian-Polish architect Enrico Marconi, father of the original neo-Renaissance style project, has been preserved by the team of WWAA Architecture, a local company that counts among its designers the figure of Boris Kudlicka, already known for the project of the Polish pavilion at Shanghai Expo, and in this case particularly active in the care of the interiors of the hotel’s 106 rooms.
Among works of art and gourmet journeys
Kudlicka’s intervention was perfectly combined with the work of art experts Anda Rottenberg and Barbara Piwowarska, who enriched the structure with numerous artworks, meeting the sensitivity of patron Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, the main shareholder of HESA, the group to which the hotel belongs since 2005.
It is clear that history and art are two cornerstones of the Europejski, as well as the well-being of its guests, pampered by the comfort of the rooms and the Spa. And without forgetting the attention paid to gourmand travellers, who may try the renowned pastry shop Lourse, where they can delight their palates with chocolates and local sweets, or the restaurant with a terrace that combines Polish flavours with the tastes of international cuisine.
It’s precisely at the Europejski Grill, immersed in the atmosphere created by the design of Lazaro Rosa Violan, that you’ll have the opportunity to taste the dishes of the expert Spanish chef Beñat Alonso, influenced by both his Basque origins and the experience gained in UK and Australia.
Few places can claim an excellent mix of culture and comfort, and, without a doubt, Raffles Europejski deserves to be included among these.
Raffles Europejski Hotel
Krakowskie Przedmieście 13, 00-071 Warszawa, Poland
+48 22 255 95 00
Marriott Mena House Hotel: the charm in the shade of the pyramids
When it was built in 1869 as a hunting lodge for Khedive Isma’il Pasha, no one could have imagined that, after a century and a half, the Mena House – originally nicknamed “Mud Hut”, – would have reopened as one of the most luxurious fairy tale resorts in the world.
From the first use as a hotel in 1886, there have been several changes of ownership and restructuring; including the last in 2015, the year in which the management became the prerogative of the famous Marriott International group, which was followed by adoption of the current name of Marriott Mena House Hotel, coinciding with the reopening on February 2018.
The interventions made in the last three years to the structure owned by the Egyptian General Company for Tourism & Hotels (EGOTH), were aimed, as well as to the conservation of the building complex according to its original style typical of the North-Saharan architecture of the second half of the nineteenth century, to the enhancement of the hotel’s services.
In this way, the guests of the 331 rooms are able not only able to appreciate the view of the Pyramids, given the location on Pyramids Road, but also to enjoy the walks in the gardens, the Spa, the fitness centre or even the pool, which can brag about being the first opened in Egypt in 1890.
A stay for History’s giants
If the external environment is able to transport in the magic of the Egyptian desert with a glance, not far behind are the interiors, carefully furnished according to an oriental taste that fully respects the context of the resort.
Therefore, with a structure of such prestige, the attention paid to the admirers of good food it’s not surprising. Guests can be easily satisfied by the 139 Restaurant, with the specialties that originate from the Middle Eastern cuisine, or by Alfredo and its typical Italian dishes, or even by the Sultan Bar.
It won’t be long before those history’s giants who have written their names on the guestbook of the Mena House Hotel – such as Agatha Christie, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill – will be joined of other great names of our time.
Marriott Mena House Hotel
6 Pyramids Road Kafr Nassar, Cairo Giza Governorate 12556, Egypt
+20 2 33773222
Grand Hôtel Martinez: the stars on the Croisette shine again
Côte d’Azur, among which stands out without ifs and buts the town of Cannes, is certainly recognized as one of the favourite destinations of lovers of good living, while the historical film festival punctually enriches the city with actors and directors.
Within this idyllic starry view on the Mediterranean blue, there is the Hôtel Martinez, a structure located right on the famous Croisette. Built in 1929 in Art Deco style by architects Palmero and Veunevot,it was commissioned by Sicilian Baron Giovanni Martinez.
Since its opening, the Martinez has become an authentic temple of luxury, becoming part of the Hyatt “family” in 2013. In October 2017, the property, Constellation Hotels Holding, in agreement with the management, closed the structure to renovate the interiors, also Art Deco, entrusting the assignment to the renowned designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, already known for his works for the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills and for the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris.
The works were quick enough to allow a partial reopening already in March 2018, under the name of Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez, followed in May, in conjunction with the Film Festival, by the remaining rooms, for a total of 508 rooms reopened.
Luxury, saltiness and starred restaurants
While at this hotel, you can breathe luxury in every corner, mixed with the smell of saltiness that comes directly from the private beach, which is added to all the other services, such as the garden and the wellness centre.
Since France is the home of the most various gourmandises, restaurants could not be lacking. First of all, La Palme d’Or, which vaunts two Michelin stars and it’s led by chef Christian Sinicropi, thanks to whom it’s possible to taste the perfume of the sea; not least are also the Original Version and its Mediterranean flavours, or the Zplage, a beachside restaurant. But if the hunger was just a simple desire to whet the appetite, here is the Martinez Bar, full of cocktails and tapas.
What can we say more? The blazon is already a warranty of glitz but walking through the reception, the corridors and the garden, you’ll convince yourself of how the luxurious atmosphere is pleasantly real.
Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez
73 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes, France
+33 4 93 90 12 34
Bairro Alto Hotel: a reopening accompanied by the Fado notes
The centre of one of the greatest empires in history, Lisbon is still the beating heart of Portugal’s cultural life. Sumptuous neighbourhoods testify the noble heritage of this city, and among these, the Bairro Alto stands out; in fact, despite the terrible earthquake of 1755, it still splendidly preserves its original structure.
The Bairro Alto Hotel of the Leading Hotel of the World, a masterpiece of Pombaline architecture, stands here, between the streets where Pessoa walked and where the melodies of the Fado resonate. Reconstruction works, which began in 2016, sped up at the end of 2017, causing the closure of the hotel, whose re-opening is scheduled for September 2018.
The aim of the holders, who have entrusted the direction of the renovation work to architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize and designer of the Accademia Bridge in Venice, consists on the conservation of the building but, above all, on the increase in the number of the rooms, with an addition of 33 units, which will permit to reach the total number of 87; this increase will be possible through the expansion into a neighbouring eighteenth-century building.
A panorama worth tasting
Such a luxurious and of great historical value structure will be logically furnished with a classic style; and yet, this historicity should not be misleading, since the ancient will live happily with the modern through various technological equipment.
It goes without saying that even the rest of the building will feature the typical comforts of high level hotels. Guests will, therefore, be completely free to use the gym and the wellness centre, or to reach the panoramic terrace, which certainly deserves an honourable mention due to the splendid view it offers over the Tagus estuary, on the hills of Lisbon or, more simply, on the route of the famous tram 28.
However, a great hotel could not be such without a good restaurant among its pertinences; it’s in this context that the Terrace Bar emerges, offering a European cuisine with local influences, and also serving as a bar where to enjoy a cocktail in complete tranquillity. Besides, the bar-restaurant, as we can deduce from the name, is adjacent to the terrace, and even the meals are accompanied by a notable glimpse of the Portuguese capital.
In September, therefore, it will not only reopen a boutique hotel, but also a splendid monument to the luxury and the golden age of a country that, with its peaceful atmosphere, would enchant even the most demanding travellers.
Bairro Alto Hotel
Praça Luís de Camões 2, 1200-243 Lisboa, Portugal
+351 21 340 8288
Raffles Hotel Singapore: a pearl in a city that looks upwards
From an island of fishermen, Singapore has evolved over the years with a frightening speed, so much to earn the title of Asian tiger. Brick after brick, pillar after pillar, it has been transformed into a modern metropolis, in the shade of skyscrapers that rise higher and higher in the sky. In this urban context stands the Raffles Singapore Hotel, which could be defined as a rarity, a gift from the past of this pulsing city.
In a sea of iron and glass stands out the white silhouette of this hotel opened in 1887, which sports the very important name of the city founder, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, becoming the flagship of the chain that manages it, the Raffles Hotels & Resorts.
The building, expanded over the years and a survival of the Japanese occupation during World War Two, still features the original colonial structure with neo-Renaissance influences designed by architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell.
Currently, the resort is still closed for renovation work; however, the reopening is planned for the second half of 2018. The historic colonial plant will be maintained, and the infrastructure will be upgraded, while the interior will be curated by designer Alexandra Champalimaud, style guru and former curator of the London Dorchester and the Four Seasons of Jakarta.
Shopping and culture meet inside a National Monument
Concerning the services available at the hotel, already of a very high level, they will include, in addition to the classic wellness centres, swimming pool, gardens and gym, a shopping arcade consisting of 40 luxury shops where guests can satisfy all their desires.
However, shopaholics won’t be the only ones to enjoy the benefits of staying at Raffles. In fact, 8 restaurants will meet the tastes of anyone, ranging from international cuisine to French, Italian, Chinese and Japanese menus. Do not forget that the very famous Singapore Sling cocktal was born in the]is very hotel bar, and it’s currently available in a pop-up bar, prepared according to the original recipe.
To complete the framework of the hotel infrastructure, there will also be a theatre and a museum, so as not to disappoint the customers who, in addition to luxury, also seek culture.
Moreover, it wasn’t by chance that the Raffles was included among the national monuments by the Singapore government as early as 1987. A foresight that seems destined to be perpetrated.
Raffles Hotel Singapore
1 Beach Rd, Singapore 189673
+65 6337 1886
Hôtel Lutetia: awaiting renovation on the Rive Gauche
For centuries, it has been established that Paris is among the cities that mostly dictate the rules in terms of fashion, luxury and style; this is demonstrated by the palaces, by the restaurants and the boulevards, studded with boutiques whose griffes are now historical and recognizable by almost anyone.
In the country of chic and charmant, could a hotel like Lutetia be missing from the scene? Of course not! In the wake of the reopening, in 2017, of another luxury temple, the Hôtel de Crillon, this artwork is also preparing for a new debut in June 2018, after four years of restructuring work.
The famous architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who is also the father of the renovation project of London’s King’s College, will return to the scene of one of the most beautiful structures in the sixth arrondissement on the Rive Gauche, following the commission of the Alrov Group; therefore, his task will be to bring back to the splendour of 1910 the Art Nouveau structure with its Art Deco furniture.
Among starred delicacies and spiritual wellness centres
Soon it will be possible again for the new Picassos and Charles de Gaulles to reside in one of the 184 rooms, which are the brainchild of early 20th-century architects Louis-Charles Boileau and Henri Tauzin; while the rest of the guests can also take advantage of the countless services made available by the hotel.
First of all, the Spa, characterized by the integration of a normal one with the Akasha philosophy, which, in recent years, has achieved increasing popularity; obviously, a well-equipped fitness centre will not miss the call.
In one of haute cuisine’s kingdoms, as you may define France, another thing that certainly won’t be missing is the restaurant choice, here represented by the Lutetia Brasserie, reign of the award-winning chef from Marseilles Gérald Passedat and his international cuisine, and by the Salon Saint Germain. Even the bars will have their spaces, giving customers the opportunity to choose between the Josephine and the Aristide.
Therefore, little time remains for this area of Saint Germain to return to see the shining light of one of the stars of the Ville Lumière.
45 Boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, France
+33 1 49 54 46 00
Cadillac Hotel: a myth re-emerges from the beaches of Miami
Very often the concept of “historical” turns out to be a little too connected to a time factor; but this construct is not always necessarily true. Even relatively recent news can become part of history and, in the same way, iconic but more recent structures can be defined as historical. This is the case of the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club in Miami.
The hotel is a linear building with references to the art deco, designed by architect France Roy, particularly active in the area of the so-called city of vice, having built in the 40s a dozen hotels, including the one taken in exam, which joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
The date scheduled for the reopening falls in June 2018, so that you can already book one of the renovated 357 rooms, many of which have an ocean view.
However, the renovation works were not limited to the rooms only, since they added two new restaurants, one of which is ready to serve pizza.
In addition to the palm grove and the private beach, there will also be a laundry service, a fitness centre with swimming pools, and a library, which will also be available for private events if required.
The value of the Cadillac Hotel, apart from a few years less, has absolutely nothing to envy to its older “colleagues” who disseminate the New and the Old World.
Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club
3925 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140, USA
Gran Hotel Inglés: Spanish gold glazed in the centre of Madrid
At the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, Madrid, as in the days of the empire on which the sun never sets, is the hub of Spanish economy and culture, as evidenced by the vestiges of a greatness impossible to forget. Despite colonies and viceroyalties being now only a memory, the city has continued to grow and adorn itself with beautiful architectures, including that of the Gran Hotel Inglés.
Inaugurated in 1886 under commission of Agustín Ibarra, this little gem is located in the Barrio de Las Letras, the literary district, an area that owes its name to the high density of writers and poets who, like Cervantes, settled here starting from the famous siglo de oro, the golden age, characterized by the intense artistic and cultural blooming of Spain.
After joining the management of the Leading Hotel of the World and under the tutelage of the Hidden Away Hotels, the structure reopened its doors in March 2018, after the necessary maintenance and renovation works, followed closely by the Rockwell Group, a prestigious studio of architects specialized in design.
The Art Deco marks of the 48 rooms in the building have been maintained, with bronze and glass works, to which armchairs designed for the occasion by David Rockwell have been added.
Small dimensions, great expectations
The small size of the Gran Hotel Inglés should not be misleading, as it remains limited only to collocate it into the category of the boutique hotels but without undermining the undisputed excellence and luxury.
As in the case of much more impressive hotels, there is certainly no lack of wellness centres, with a Spa and a gym where yoga, Pilates and private training sessions are held. In addition, mens sana stays in corpore sano, since among the other services there is also a library where guests can easily dedicate themselves to reading in front of the fireplace.
If all this is not yet enough, gourmands can also entertain themselves at LobByto, the lounge bar, or at Lobo 8, a restaurant characterized by a modern approach to the traditional cuisine of its expert chef Willy Moya, born in Madrid and already decorated with the prestigious diploma of pastry and haute cuisine of the Cordon Bleu.
From what we deduce, in short, the Gran Hotel Inglés is characterized by a very strong personality, which is first able to seduce and then cuddle the travellers who decide to stay in a particularly luxurious dimension.
Gran Hotel Inglés
Calle Echegaray, 8, 28014 Madrid, Spain
+34 913 60 00 01
The Principal London: the rebirth of the Victorian era
A centrepiece of the British Commonwealth, London still holds the title of a cosmopolitan city, a melting pot of different people that enrich its cultural background. This important role, a symbol and propeller of the British lifestyle, however, was not born within a night; it’s rather the result of the initiatives already characterizing the Elizabethan era but, above all, a few centuries later, the Victorian age.
Market of the World, London in those years was the birthplace of one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, the Russell, currently known as The Principal London, as managed by the British Principal Hotel Company.
The original project, drawn up by architect Charles Fitzroy Doll, also author of the Titanic dining room’s design, has provided a clearly Victorian structure, although influenced, in the terracotta façade, by typically neo-Renaissance features.
Closed for renovation a short time ago, the Principal reopened its 334 rooms in Bloomsbury in April 2018, at a stone throw from another important institution: the British Museum. The recovery intervention that has given new life to the interiors of this luxury Mecca has involved designers of the Made in England firm Tara Bernerd & Partners, already hired over and over again by the executives of the Four Seasons group and Starwood Capital for their hotels.
The Reign’s signature never grows old
Sober and elegant luxury in the rooms is then combined with the unmissable services of a hotel worthy of this name: conference rooms, a gym equipped with the best machinery and an area for yoga, to which is added a receiving room perfect to be the frame of a fairy tale wedding.
At this point, it becomes necessary to dispel the false myth that English cuisine is bad; the opposite is true, and the Australian chef Brett Redman, who heads the Neptune, a restaurant specialized in British cuisine based on seafood, and the sommelier Isabelle Legeron, or the Fitz’s Bar, The Palm Court tea room or the Burr & Co. Coffee can prove it.
Everything in this hotel makes it possible to voyage with your mind and your spirit to the splendour of Queen Victoria’s times, yet still maintaining the high standards of quality required by modern travellers.
The Principal London
8 Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 5BE, UK
+44 20 7123 5000
Wains Hotel: luxury Down Under
Dunedin is a typically Scottish name, not to say directly Gaelic, and yet, geographically speaking, it could not be further from the British Isles, being in fact the second largest city of the South Island of the New Zealand archipelago.
In this charming town, founded by Europeans attracted by the gold rush just in 1848, stands one of the oldest hotels in New Zealand, inaugurated just over a decade after the first urban settlement: the Wains Hotel.
However, it was only in 1878 that the Wains was rebuilt in the style that it nowadays preserves, namely an Italianate neoclassic, consisting of basalt columns and limestone capitals, as desired by architects Mason, Wales and Stevenson, authors of several other architectural works in Dunedin.
The structure, which has earned a place in the register of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, is currently closed for renovation works, requested by the managers of the local chain CPG Hotels; however, it’s expected to reopen by the end of 2018, which will be the witness of the resurgence of a particularly renowned luxury centre.
The 48 rooms, soberly decorated with a style appropriate to the architecture, are almost ready to receive new guests, who will also have amenities like a sports centre and jogging paths that reach the spectacular landscape of the Otago Region. Finally, the structure could not be completed without a restoration choice, which in this case is provided by the Relish Bar & Restaurant, available for guests since breakfast time.
The attention to detail, the love for luxury and the proximity to the pristine landscape of New Zealand, make the Wains Hotel a precious jewel that can’t be missed by the most sophisticated travel lovers.
310 Princes St, Dunedin, 9016, Nuova Zelanda
+64 3-477 1145