On March 1, 2017, the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York is set to close for a much-needed two-year overhaul. But jet-setters needn’t worry. As when one historic luxury hotel closes for renovation, another reopens.
Hotel de Crillon, Paris
The famed Hôtel de Crillon in Paris closed in 2013 and is finally re-opening this summer under the guidance of Rosewood Hotels. The perfectly-proportioned Neoclassical building, overlooking the Place de la Concorde, dates back to 1758. At first it was a government building. In fact, the French-American Treaty of 1778, recognizing the revolutionary Declaration of Independence, was signed here by Benjamin Franklin and Co. Some years after King Louis XVI lost his head during the French Revolution, the Counts of Crillon called the place home. But then, in 1909, the stately manse became a luxury hotel. For the past hundred-plus years, countless numbers of chi-chi celebs had spent the night, until the 2013 shut-down.
Hotel Ritz, Madrid
The Hotel Ritz, Madrid was opened by a king in 1910 and has held court among the world’s finest hotels ever since. The architect of the Ritz in Paris created the plans for the Belle Epoque building. During the Spanish Civil War, the hotel became a military hospital. After that war, the homes of many of Spain’s aristocrats were damaged. Instead of going crackers, they moved to the Ritz. Francisco Franco hung out here during his day, as well, as did Salvador Dali. When Prince Juan Carlos was proclaimed King in 1975, the first celebration lunch was served by Hotel Ritz. And when his son Felipe (now King) got married, many of the wedding guests stayed in rooms filled with precious antiques, delicate brass ornaments, sparkling crystal chandeliers and valuable paintings. Ritzy, indeed.
Speaking of royalty…. Well, there’s Claridge’s. Six years after the hotel opened in 1854, Queen Victoria took her carriages to Claridge’s and the tradition of royal popovers was born. Of course, the Mayfair hotel that Old Vic visited is no longer—the “new” Claridge’s opened its doors on the same site in 1898. During World War II, Claridge’s became a haven for exiled royalty. In 1945, Winston Churchill even declared Suite 212 Yugoslavian territory so that Crown Prince Alexander II could be born “in his own country.” Now, that’s room service.
King David, Jerusalem
Jerusalem’s King David is the most iconic hotel in what is arguably the most historic city in the world. The temple of hospitality sits at the nexus of New Jerusalem and the historic Old City. Dating from 1931, the landmark hotel is steeped in history. Events that occurred here during the 1940s played a significant role in Israel’s move toward independence. It’s a biblically-long story—we’ll yadda, yadda, yadda over it for now. The King David has hosted hundreds of Jewish stars and non-Jewish celebrities, including Madonna, Richard Gere and Bill Clinton. As befits a hotel named for King David, royals also like it for its luxury and tranquility.
La Mamounia, Marrakesh
Marrakesh screams exoticism and mystery, and no property is more in sync with that mood than La Mamounia. Since it opened in the 1920s, the undisputed grande dame of Morocco has hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and the ladies of Sex and the City. Alfred Hitchcock used the hotel as a backdrop for The Man Who Knew Too Much. Apart from its celebrity roster, La Mamounia is noted for its opulent architecture and lush landscaping—an oasis of calm in a hectic metropolis.
Everyone has heard of the Singapore Sling, but only the privileged have sipped the fruity concoction in the place where it was created–that would be Raffles Singapore. Built in 1887, the luxury colonial-style hotel epitomizes the intoxicating romance of the Far East. That’s why so many writers, like Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, stayed here to soak in inspiration. More recent notable guests include Kate and William of the Windsor clan. Anyone can enjoy the royal treatment (for a price), thanks to the legendary Raffles butlers, who are ready to fulfill requests any time of day or night.
Peninsula Hong Kong
From the second it opened in 1928, the Peninsula Hong Kong transformed Kowloon into the fanciest place around. Although the oldest hotel in Hong Kong, recent renovations make it a hotel fit for the 21st century. Aside from the chic decor and the multiple high-tech touches, there’s a helipad for high-flying guests on the go. For those who are more grounded, the hotel’s fleet of green Rolls-Royces are available to shuttle guests around town.
The Plaza, New York
Finally, if you are looking for a place to stay in New York City in lieu of the Waldorf, try The Plaza. Royals, presidents and stars of stage and screen have all stayed here. And many a classic film (North by Northwest, The Way We Were) have used The Plaza as a backdrop. Another work of fiction, Eloise, was also set here. Although the book was written in 1955, they do go on and on about Eloise here. Apparently, she’s a precocious child who settles into the ritzy surroundings and causes chaos. There’s a very pink Eloise suite for fans. Non-fans can make due in sumptuous rooms complete with sitting areas and over-sized bathrooms highlighted with 24-carat gold plated fixtures.
Tagged: New York