In a time where travel is often characterized by speed and efficiency, there remains a coveted niche with more travelers seeking out hotels and experiences that hark back to a bygone era of glamor and leisure. Hotels and experiences that echo old-world charm offer more than just luxury. They embody a timeless elegance and storied past, often with a rich historical significance. From grand hotels that have welcomed royalty to regal train journeys that evoke the golden age, here are our top hotels and experiences for old-world glamor.
1. Hôtel du Louvre, Paris, France
If you want to experience the old-world glamor of the roaring 20s, you’ve got to go to Paris. It’s the epicenter of The Lost Generation, a legendary group of artists, writers and creators who flocked to the French capital after WWI. The likes of Hemingway, Stein, Picasso, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound and Eliot would spend their time swapping ideas and creating art, poems and novels and socializing in bohemian cafés and jazz bars.
To get a taste of this history, stay at the Hôtel du Louvre, a Parisian icon since the 19th century. Facing the magnificent Louvre Museum, the hotel’s Haussmannian façade and stunning views have inspired countless artists who’ve stayed here including opera singer Enrico Caruso and writer Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s the perfect place to start tracing the steps of Lost Generation, with sumptuous suites, sweeping marble staircases, and traditional French cuisine served at the hotel’s brasserie.
You might like to begin your exploration of Parisian institutions at Harry’s New York Bar. Founded in 1911, it was a beloved watering hole of the likes of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Porter. The bar continues to exude the glitz of the early 19th century, serving classic cocktails and smooth jazz.
Stay at the Hôtel du Louvre on: Ultimate Southern France With Paris Extension
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2. Esplanade Zagreb Hotel, Zagreb, Croatia
Set in the heart of Croatia’s vibrant capital, the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel offers a dazzling taste of the roaring 20s. With a legacy dating back to 1925, the hotel was originally built to provide luxurious accommodations for passengers of the famed Orient Express. As you enter the grand lobby, you’re immediately enveloped in an atmosphere of timeless sophistication, with its Art Deco details echoing the golden age of travel.
Each room and suite is decked out in rich fabrics, elegant decor, and modern amenities, while the hotel’s signature restaurant, Zinfandel’s, dishes up an artful menu of traditional Croatian cuisine. You can also enjoy Parisian-inspired ambiance and classic Croatian dishes at Le Bistro, or enjoy afternoon tea or cocktail at the Oleander Terrace overlooking the city.
Having hosted an array of stars, dignitaries and cultural icons over the years, including Queen Elizabeth II, Josephine Baker, and Charles Lindbergh, the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel is a true cultural landmark.
Stay at the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel on: Croatia & The Dalmatian Coast
Read more about the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel: A Taste of the Roaring Twenties: Inside Zagreb’s Stunning Hotel Esplanade
3. Hotel Metropole, Venice, Italy
Set on the edge of the lagoon, a stone’s throw away from St. Mark’s Square, the Hotel Metropole in Venice has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. Once an orphanage and church, where Antonio Vivaldi taught music to orphans in the 1700s, the hotel now features a Michelin-starred restaurant, MET, and an acclaimed art collection.
You’ll be swept away in time, with elaborate tapestries, frescoes, and Murano glass chandeliers. Music is still at the heart of the Hotel Metropole, with icons like Lou Reed, Patty Smith, Lenny Kravitz, and Grace Jones all staying here over the years. There’s also a luxurious spa and a private water taxi service to explore the canals of Venice.
If you want to continue your immersion into old-world glamor, visit “the other” legendary Harry’s Bar. Founded in 1931, it’s the birthplace of the Bellini and was once a favored watering hole of Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, Truman Capote, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Orson Welle. Today, Harry’s Bar remains a symbol of 20th-century literature, art and Venetian culinary traditions.
Stay at the Hotel Metropole on: Ultimate Italy
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4. The Ritz Carlton, New Orleans, United States
Follow the rhythms of jazz to The Ritz Carlton in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Housed in the historic 1908 Beaux Arts Maison Blanche building on Canal Street, this hotel blends the old-world glamor of New Orleans with the impeccable service of the Ritz.
The hotel’s ornate architecture, grand lobby, and stylish suites transport you to an era of opulence, but the Ritz Carlton New Orleans is much more than a place to stay; it’s a celebration of the Big Easy’s unique charm and southern hospitality. Guests can indulge in the rich culinary traditions of New Orleans at the M Bistro and enjoy live jazz music while sipping on cocktails at the Davenport Lounge. There’s also a rejuvenating spa with treatments that blend local ingredients and healing practice, or you can get out and explore the French Quarter’s famed music venues, galleries and restaurants.
Stay at The Ritz Carlton New Orleans on: Southern Grace
Read more about The Ritz Carlton New Orleans: Why New Orleans’ Ritz Carlton Hotel is a cut above the rest
5. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Quebec, Canada
Perched atop Cape Diamond overlooking the majestic St. Lawrence River, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is an icon of Quebec City. With châteauesque architecture, opulent ballrooms and a storied past dating back to the late 19th century, this hotel drips in the grandeur of a bygone era.
The rooms and suites are a blend of old-world glamor and modern elegance, with stunning views of the old city or flowing river below. The hotel’s award-winning restaurant features exquisite dishes crafted with local ingredients. The 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar offers a cozy ambiance for guests to sample the finest Quebecois cheeses paired with world-class wines.
The Château Frontenac has also played host to world leaders, royalty and celebrities, and its halls echo with the whispers of historical events that shaped the world. Queen Elizabeth II, Charles de Gaulle, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, and Celine Dion have all stayed here, while Alfred Hitchcock chose the Château Frontenac as a location for his 1953 film “I Confess”. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King also famously met at this hotel during WWII to discuss strategies.
Stay at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac on: Indulgence in Eastern Canada
Read more about Château Frontenac: The revered Quebec City hotel with an iconic movie star reputation
6. Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, Iguazu Falls, Brazil
Overlooking the grand Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina, the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas is a spectacular stay. The hotel offers unparalleled views of the world’s largest waterfall system, but it also exudes an air of old-world glamor. The regal suites are filled with plush furnishing, artisanal fabrics, locally-commissioned artworks, and Portuguese-colonial architecture.
Surrounded by the sounds of the lush jungle, the pastel-pink retreat has welcomed a host of luminaries, including Princess Diana, Prince Albert of Monaco, David Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Anthony Hopkins, Jackie Chan, and Paul Simon. You’ll walk in their footsteps as you wander through the orchid gardens, sip caipirinhas by the tranquil pool, and enjoy spa treatments with local, responsibly harvested ingredients.
Stay at the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas: Classic South America
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7. Grand Hotel Quisisana, Isle of Capri, Italy
The Isle of Capri is synonymous with glitz and luxury, and the Grand Hotel Quisisana lives up to this reputation. Nestled in the heart of Capri, the hotel has been a hub of elegance and exclusivity since its inception in 1845. Originally conceived as a sanatorium (Quisisana means ‘here one heals’) by a doctor, the hotel transformed into a luxurious cultural and social hub. It still hosts glamorous events like fashion shows and art exhibitions today.
The Quisisana’s guest list reads like a who’s who of the 20th and 21st centuries. Artists, writers, stars, and dignitaries all found solace and inspiration within its walls, including Ernest Hemingway, Jean Cocteau, Audrey Hepburn, and Jean Paul Sartre.
You’ll find your own slice of restoration here, with the hotel’s soothing QuisiBeauty spa and gorgeous pool. There’s also several impressive restaurants overlooking the glittering Gulf of Naples, with views of the Faraglioni rocks. It’s all backed by marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and curated art collections. There’s even a Liberty-style theatre designed by the famous architect Giò Ponti in 1929.
Stay at the Grand Hotel Quisisana on: Ultimate Italy
Read more about Capri: The Isle of Dreams: How to Spend the Perfect Day in Capri
8. Rovos Rail, South Africa
Rovos Rail is a journey into the heart of South Africa, wrapped in the luxury and nostalgia of the golden age of travel. Step aboard the Rovos Rail and settle into Edwardian elegance, with remarkably plush interiors. The regal wood paneling and thick carpeting give way to modern amenities including air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. As you marvel at the passing landscapes from the lush Cape Winelands to the dramatic Great Karoo and the vast African bushveld, you’ll appreciate the art of slow rail travel.
Dining is also a highlight, with gourmet meals prepared by chefs using local ingredients, served in the sophisticated dining cars. Whether you sip cocktails in the moody bars or relax in the observation car, Rovos Rail is true old-world glamor.
Experience the Rovos Rail journey on: Spectacular South Africa with Rovos Rail
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9. Nile River cruise, Egypt
Embark on a timeless journey along the world’s longest river onboard an exclusive, five-star cruise. As you glide along the Nile, you’ll come face-to-face with ancient temples, tombs and treasures that have stood for millennia. Sail from Luxor to Aswan to discover the Valley of the Kings. Explore Karnak Temple and Kom Obo accompanied by an expert Egyptologist. Back on board the ship, enjoy the sun deck, pool and gourmet dining showcasing the best of Egyptian cuisine. You’ll retreat to stylish suites with stunning river views, providing a truly intimate exploration of the Nile’s grandeur.
Embark on a Nile River cruise on: Elegance of the Nile
Read more about the Nile: Riches of the Nile: Why Egypt’s icon is the grandest river in the world
Banner photo credit: @esplanadezagreb on Instagram