Nothing can compare to grand dames of the hotel world that have set global standards for luxury and hospitality. The century-old properties, spotlighted in countless films and literature, weren’t just a part of history; they helped to shape the history with a mix of their architecture, services, and famous guests.
Raffles Singapore, Singapore
Opened in 1887, Raffles Singapore is one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world. No visit to Singapore is complete without a stay at Raffles Singapore. This colonial-style hotel that was declared a national monument is writing a new chapter after an extension restoration during 2015 – 2018.
Raffles Singapore hosted enough events to become the stuff of legend. The Singapore Sling, widely regarded as the national drink of the country, was first created at Raffles Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. The last tiger to be killed in Singapore was shot underneath the Bar & Billiard Room in 1902. When Japanese soldiers entered Singapore in 1942, they found guests in the ballroom having one last waltz and hotel staff burying silver underneath the building.
The hotel also welcomed many famous writers (including Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham) who are immortalized in the hotel’s Writers Bar.
Ritz Paris, France
The Ritz Paris possesses an indescribable charm and history that make it one of the most legendary hotels in the City of Light. It has set the standard for luxury hotels since its 1898 opening.
Located by the Tuileries gardens and overlooking Place Vendome, it was declared “the most romantic hotel in the world” by the famous Italian actress Sophia Loren.
Its exquisitely appointed rooms and suites bear the names of Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Marcel Proust, among other luminaries – all of whom considered the Ritz “like a second home.”
Besides its A-list clientele and silver screen cameos – it’s starred in classics like “Funny Face,” “Love in the Afternoon” and “How to Steal a Million” – the hotel is renowned for its lavish belle epoque decor, crystal chandeliers and impeccable white-glove service.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, Vietnam
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has told the story of a preserved heritage in the heart of Hanoi since 1901. Located near Hoan Kiem Lake and the magnificent Opera House, this legendary property is considered as a peaceful refuge in the loud city, featuring 364 rooms and suites in a friendly, trendy and refined setting. French colonial style presents in every corner, from a classical white façade, green shutters, original wrought iron detail to wood panelling and a lush courtyard lawn.
Over a century, the Southeast Asian Grand Dame has welcomed playwrights, ambassadors and heads of state to experience its colonial grandeur and timeless elegance with the opulence of another era in many prestigious events and popular rendezvous. The award-winning hotel also offers various choices of bars and dining venues with distinct décor and ambience for a different and exotic experience, including excellent French cuisine at Le Beaulieu, Hanoi specialities at Spices Garden, and Italian flavours at Angelina.
Situated at the crossroads where Hanoi’s past and present meet, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi abounds with a wealth of history as well as fascinating tales from its transformative years. Therefore, besides hotel rich traditions, it is easy for hotel guests to immerse in stereotypical moments and discover the splendour of Hanoi through a journey to revisit the historical and cultural landmarks dotting and surrounding the city.
The Plaza Hotel, New York, the USA
Since its debut in 1907, The Plaza has remained a New York’s icon hosting world leaders, dignitaries, captains of industry, Broadway legends, and Hollywood royalty. It is an established staple for lavish society affairs and blockbuster films like The Great Gatsby and Home Alone 2.
The Plaza is one of few hotels in the world that’s known equally for its fictional and real guests. It is the imaginary home of Eloise from the children’s book series, but it has long attracted the power elite and Hollywood celebrities. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald famously jumped in its fountain, and the writer Truman Capote hosted his legendary masquerade Black and White Ball here.
Offering 282 distinctive guestrooms including 102 luxurious suites, The Plaza continues to strike the balance between its storied past and limitless future. Unrivalled luxury and comfort are complemented by attentive and discreet services throughout all areas of the hotel.
Peninsula Hong Kong, China
Known as the “Grand Dame of the East,” the Peninsula Hong Kong is the flagship property of Peninsula Hotels and the oldest hotel of the city. In fact, the hotel’s name was inspired by its location at the Southern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula.
Since its opening in 1928, the Peninsula has set standards for luxury in Hong Kong, from its vaulted ceilings and ornate cornicing, the glossy fleet of green Rolls Royce Phantoms, to the private jet available for guest use. This hotel offers a blend of the best Eastern and Western hospitality in an atmosphere of unmatched classical grandeur and timeless elegance.
A few years ago, the Gettys Group renovated the property, modernizing while ensuring it remained classy, with design reminiscent of yachts, motorcars, and private jets. Now silk, gold leaf, and copper mesh with cream upholstery, leather-finished wardrobes, and drawer handles that channel vintage luggage.
Waldorf Astoria New York, the USA
First opening in 1931, the Waldorf Astoria became the tallest and largest luxury hotel in the world during an inauspicious time, as the Great Depression cast its long shadow.
The hotel’s famed Art Deco interiors have been the backdrop of countless galas and benefits for the upper crust, as well as the site of history-making conferences for international politicians. Celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra have called it home, while every US President from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama has laid their head to rest in the presidential suite.
The iconic hotel is undergoing the biggest makeover since its opening which is worth US $1 billion after being purchased from US $1.95 billion in 2014 by China’s Anbang Insurance Group (now Dajia Insurance Group). Some rendering photos of the hotel can be seen in this article.
When it reopens in 2023, it will have 375 hotel rooms, down from 1,400, and 375 condominium units. The for-sale apartments will range from studios starting at US $1.8 million to four-bedrooms starting at US $18.5 million (plus two penthouses, prices undisclosed). The amenities accessible only to residents will include the skylit 82-foot-long Starlight Pool – formerly the Starlight Roof where Ella Fitzgerald regularly performed – as well as the verdant Winter Garden, a bar and lounge turned into a green oasis.