Saturday, 16 August 2008

Hotels of the World

It's never been so easy to travel, for which many of us are grateful. But I can't help feeling that a certain elegance and excitement that attended travel in the past has been lost. Wouldn't you have liked to do the 'Grand Tour', learning about the past glories of Europe? Or, more recently, travelled on the great liners, staying in a succession of classic hotels? Perhaps I'm just a romantic. Certainly, these pleasures were restricted to a much smaller group of people than today.

When I'm on one of my jaunts, I try to seek out Hotels with a bit of history so as to learn a little about what travel once represented, before all remnants of the past are eliminated in the uniformity of modernity. My collection of photographs is fairly undiscriminating, and I've included a number of unremittingly modern hotels, but my preference is always for somewhere with a little history attached.

Bristol Hotel, Panama City, Panama: This is a modern hotel with fairly classic styling situated in the hotel district of downtown Panama City. The staff are friendly and helpful. Pictures

Santa Isabel Hotel, Havana, Cuba: The Santa Isabel is a long-established hotel in a Spanish-style building, overlooking the Plaza des Armas and a few minutes from Havana Bay. Many of the original fittings have been retained, giving a genteel charm which, combined with the friendly service, gave me an enjoyable (if brief) stay. Pictures

Iberostar Grand Hotel, Trinidad, Cuba: The building, in Spanish Colonial style, has been thoroughly modernised and is an excellent base for exploring Trinidad and the surrounding area. Pictures

Saratoga Hotel, Havana, Cuba: The Saratoga Hotel is a 'classic' hotel with a city centre location adjacent to the Capitol and Parque Central. It has been extensively modernised and has a rooftop open-air swimming pool and cafe commanding stunning views of the city. Pictures

Mayaland, Chichen Itsa, Yukatan, Mexico: The Hacienda which included the Chichen Itza site has been developed into three resort hotels. 'Mayaland' adjoins the World Heritage Site and has a private entrance to the site. Pictures

The Wynn, Las Vegas: A large Casino with Golf Course, Theatres, Restaurants and accommodation attached. Pictures

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand: I spent one night at the Shangri-La in March 2008, en route from Yangon (Myanmar) to Las Vegas. I'd stayed there once before (Round The World One, I think). Pictures

Trader's Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar: Trader's Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar is housed in one of the relatively few high rise buildings in the city. Pictures

Strand Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar: The Strand is the famous hotel established by two Armenian brothers, the Sarkies, in what was then known as Rangoon. Pictures

Park Hyatt, Tokyo: The Park Hyatt is a modern hotel in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. Pictures

Iwaso Ryokan, Miyajima, Japan: The Iwaso is a Japanese-style hotel ('ryokan') with a long history. I was able to stay in one of the 'cottages' adjacent to the main buildings. Pictures

The Brighton Hotel, Kyoto, Japan: A modern hotel in a quiet part of Kyoto, near the Palace. Pictures

Marriott Hotel, Nagoya, Japan: A modern, well-appointed hotel in a tower block above Nagoya railway station offering excellent service. Pictures

Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan: This is the second building occupied by this classic hotel, preserving its reputation for excellent service. The Reception of the original building is preserved at Meiji Mura building museum! Pictures

Duxton Hotel, Perth, Western Australia: Modern but friendly, like much of the city it serves. Pictures

Heritage Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand: The former Farmer's Department Store has been fairly sensitively converted into a comfortable and friendly hotel near the centre of the city. Pictures

Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York: A classic hotel now in its second building. Pictures

Imperial Hotel, New Delhi: Nowhere is more evocative of the British Rule in India than this elegant 1920s hotel. Pictures

Cecil Hotel, Shimla, India: Another 'classic' hotel, originally favoured by the British in India, recently refurbished by the present owners, the Oberoi Group. Pictures

Heritage Hotel, Christchurch, New Zealand: Most of the accommodation is in the well-appointed but characterless new building. However, the hotel incorporates the Old Courthouse building, somewhat better. Pictures

Glenfern Villas, Franz Josef, New Zealand: The long-distance bus from Greymouth will deliver you to these well-appointed self-catering villas, a couple of miles North of Franz Josef itself. Pictures

Mena House, Giza, Egypt: Who could resist a hotel room with a view of the Pyramids at Giza? The old part of the hotel is a former palace with an impressive list of past guests. The modern enlargement of the hotel is less satisfactory. Pictures

Raffles Hotel, Singapore: Traditional hospitality, Singapore Slings, Afternoon Tiffin and "I'll see you again" played at 8.00pm. A treasure, indeed. Pictures

Windsor Hotel, Melbourne, Australia: Facilities excellent, helpful staff, and a bit of history - my kind of hotel. Pictures

Radisson Hotel, Tahiti: The facilities were good but I'm afraid I didn't feel as welcome here as some places. Could it be the French management? Pictures

Hotel San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador: A fairly sensitive conversion and extension, preserving the facade and many Spanish Colonial features. Pictures

Hotel Casa Vieja, Mexico City: A boutique hotel which really seemed like home-from-home. Pictures

Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur, India: This gets my award for the Most Romantic Hotel in the World. Excellent accommodation, friendly staff. The marble-clad hotel, originally built as a summer palace, occupies a small island on an artificial lake, appearing to float on the water. Outstanding. You may remember it from the James Bond film 'Octopussy', with Roger Moore. Pictures

Oriental, Bangkok: A classic hotel with a distinguished history. Pictures

Copacobana Palace, Rio de Janeiro: One of the world's classic hotels and the first hotel to be built on Rio's Copacabana Beach. Pictures

Anantara Resort, Golden Triangle, Thailand: The one where I did my Mahout elephant course. Pictures

Luangsay Lodge, Pakbeng, Laos: An overnight stay on my cruise down the Mekong in Laos. Pictures

La Residence, Louang Prabang, Laos: An Orient Express hotel set on a hillside a few minutes drive from downtown Luang Prabang. Pictures

Settha Palace Hotel, Vientiane, Laos: A pleasant two-storey hotel right in the city. Pictures

I haven't included links to the individual hotel websites, but you should be able to find them easily. Many sites include fairly eleborate photographs or virtual tours. My list of hotels will be expanded as I deal with the backlog of photographs and also, hopefully, as I continue to travel!

You can browse all my hotel pictures by going to the Hotels of the World Collection Page.