- Celebrities, world leaders, and other dignitaries have stayed at luxurious hotels around the world on their travels.
- Some famous hotels have kept their original decor, while others have completely remodeled.
- Some iconic hotels are currently closed for renovations or restoration efforts.
Some hotels are known for their opulence. Some are renown for their high-profile clientele. Others are notorious for scandals that have occurred there.
It’s possible to visit the sites of old Hollywood glamour or stay in the same imperial suites that royals once occupied at famous hotels around the world.
Here’s what 15 iconic hotels looked like then and now.
Claridge’s began as a single house run by William and Marianne Claridge.
They bought five adjoining buildings and opened the expanded hotel in 1856. It was then bought by Richard D’Oyly Carte, remodeled, and reopened in 1898. More rooms and a ballroom were added in 1929.
The exiled kings of Greece, Norway, and Yugoslavia stayed there during World War II.
The hotel was restored in 1996 and became a popular spot for models, designers, musicians, and artists.
Kate Moss celebrated her 30th birthday at the hotel, and Diane von Furstenberg designed four of its suites.
The Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, Russia, opened in 1875.
Famous guests included Igor Stravinsky, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and members of the Romanov Dynasty.
Parts of the 1995 James Bond movie “GoldenEye” were filmed there, and it remains a regular spot for Russia’s elite.
It features 266 rooms and suites and five restaurants and bars.
Newspapers reportedly called The Plaza Hotel “the greatest hotel in the world” when it opened in New York City in 1907.
The building has been a New York City landmark since 1969 and a National Historic Landmark since 1986.
It’s still every bit as swanky.
Rooms can cost up to $US50,000 per night.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac opened in 1893 in the hopes of attracting wealthy tourists along the railways in Quebec.
The hotel is named for French governor Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, who served from 1672 to 1698.
The Canadian Encyclopedia calls it “the world’s most photographed hotel.”
Guests have included King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Princess Grace of Monaco, Chiang-Kai-Shek, Ronald Reagan, Prince Andrew, Lady Sarah Ferguson, and Alfred Hitchcock.
Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park was built from 1903 to 1904 and is considered the largest log structure in the world.
It contains 327 rooms and features a restaurant, lounge, snack bar, and gift shop.
It remains the most popular lodging facility in the park.
The Inn is open from early May until mid October.
Villa d’Este was built in 1568 and turned into a luxury hotel in 1873.
It was originally built by Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, who served under Pope Gregory XIII, as his summer home.
Each of its 152 rooms is furnished with Renaissance-style furniture, and the surrounding lake and gardens make for a scenic stay.
The property has won numerous travel awards over the years.
The King David Hotel in Jerusalem opened in 1931.
The hotel was the headquarters of the British Mandate of Palestine. It was bombed by the Zionist military group Irgun in 1946 after British troops invaded the Jewish Agency.
The hotel’s original art deco designs are still preserved.
La Mamounia in Marrakech dates back to the 12th century, and it has operated as a hotel since 1923.
The hotel’s gardens were a wedding gift for Prince Al Mamoun in the 18th century. Winston Churchill called it “one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
The hotel reopened in 2009 after a three-year renovation by French interior designer Jacques Garcia.
It maintains its Arabic Andalusian style of decor and intricate tile designs.
The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, is blocks from the White House and has been frequented by US presidents and other dignitaries.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote his famous line, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” in room 776 in 1933. The king of Morocco hosted a dinner for President and Mrs. Eisenhower there in 1957.
The Mayflower is on the National Register of Historic Places and the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America.
It has also played a part in political sex scandals over the years.
Caesars Palace opened in 1966 and was the first themed hotel on the Las Vegas strip.
Tony Bennett, Jerry Lewis, Liberace, and Diana Ross performed at Caesars Palace in its early days, the Los Angeles Times reports. Daredevil Evel Knievel also jumped over its fountains on his motorcycle in 1967, crash-landing on the concrete.
Caesars Palace has since added five more towers, a racetrack, and the Colosseum performance space.
The Colosseum was built for singer Celine Dion and continues to host other artist residencies for Rod Stewart and Reba, Brooks & Dunn.
The Beverly Hills Hotel was built in 1912 by Margaret Anderson, former manager of the Hollywood Hotel.
It’s famous for its celebrity clientele including Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Faye Dunaway.
It was painted pink and nicknamed “The Pink Palace” in 1948 and still hosts Hollywood’s elite.
Each of its 21 bungalows also has storied histories of celebrity occupancies. It’s also hosted the Golden Globe Awards every year since
The Waldorf Astoria in New York City was originally two separate hotels due to a feud between cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV.
The two hotels were next door to each other on Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street and eventually merged. They were then demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building. Lucius Boomer bought the Waldorf Astoria name for $US1 million and built the hotel at its current location on Park Avenue.
The hotel is currently closed for renovations.
Swiss businessman César Ritz opened the Ritz Paris hotel in 1898.
Designer Coco Chanel lived – and died – at the Ritz, according to Forbes. The hotel was also used as a Nazi headquarters when Germany occupied Paris. Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway “liberated” the bar as Germans were retreating in 1944 and ordered champagne for everyone, resulting in the bar’s name, Bar Hemingway.
The Ritz Paris reopened in 2016 after a four-year renovation.
The Imperial Suite, where Princess Diana had her last meal before tragically dying in a car crash, costs $US30,000 per night, according to Forbes.
The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel in Hanoi was founded by Andre Ducamp and Gustave-Emile Dumoutie in 1901.
The hotel’s bomb shelter was used by celebrities such as Joan Baez and Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War. Tours of the shelter are now offered daily.
The Imperial suite costs $US3,000 per night and comes with a spa room, library, and lounge.
Its colonial-style architecture and luxurious accommodations have attracted the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin, and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, according to Culture Trip.
Raffles Hotel Singapore was opened by the Sarkies brothers from Armenia in 1887.
It was originally a bungalow with 10 rooms and kept expanding as demand grew. A bartender at the hotel’s Long Bar invented the Singapore Sling cocktail in 1915.
It is currently closed for renovations.
It’s slated to reopen in mid-2019.
- Read more:
- THEN AND NOW: Vintage pictures of Disney and what it looks like today
- THEN AND NOW: Photos that show how glamorous cruise ships used to be
- 7 iconic buildings across the US that no longer exist – and what’s in their place today
- THEN AND NOW: What 10 newspapers looked like when they were first published
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