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Some hotels have a heritage from the golden age of steam railways and ocean liners; before the Second World War, in the 19th or early 20th centuries. These hotels were where the rich and the famous of the day would stay. They have an appeal all their own: old fashioned fittings, the lack of the latest amenities, and a certain graceful agedness. They are often in superb locations, either smack in the middle of cities – very often being next to a major railway station, as they were often constructed to house railway travelers – or close to major outdoor attractions. For this article, we also include numerous mid-20th century hotels that are iconic and historically significant.


Map of Grand old hotels

Even today such places generally offer fine accommodation and are usually not cheap, though more modern high-end places may be even more luxurious and are often more expensive.

  • The Leading Hotels of the World. This is an association, primarily for marketing, with over 400 member hotels in many countries. It includes many of the grand old hotels, but also many newer luxury hotels. The Leading Hotels of the World on Wikipedia

A traveller with piles of money might consider a round the world flight, broken up with stays in many of these hotels. Travelling around the world overland, on routes such as the one taken in Around the World in Eighty Days, would give a more authentic experience of pre-flight travel.

While the grand old hotels are usually privately owned, they sometimes accommodate visiting heads of state and other dignitaries.


You need not stay in such hotels to enjoy some of their services. Many have fine dining and nightlife, as they had in the days of yore, and gambling if local law allows. A visitor to Singapore, for example, might go to Raffles just for a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar where it was invented, and where Rudyard Kipling and Noel Coward once drank, and check out the Billiard Room where Singapore's last tiger was shot.

As the buildings are old, they might be less accessible for travellers with disabilities. In most cases, the staff will be helpful for guests who need assistance.


Grand old hotels tend to have a 4- or 5-star rating. Due to their legacy, they can cost more than similiarly-rated hotels.


Democratic Republic of Congo[edit]


Winter Palace, seen from the Nile






  • 13 Hotel de La Poste (Saint-Louis). Made famous as a stopover for pilots from Aéropostale, France's colonial airmail company. French aviator Jean Mermoz spent his last night here before disappearing in the Atlantic on December 7, 1936. Hotel de La Poste (Q116206465) on Wikidata

South Africa[edit]





East Asia[edit]

The Peninsula, Hong Kong.
The Grand Hotel, Taipei

Middle East[edit]

South Asia[edit]


Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai


  • 26 Faletti's Hotel (Lahore, Punjab). built in late 18th century by an Italian, and now renovated. Faletti's Hotel, Lahore (Q5431864) on Wikidata Faletti's Hotel on Wikipedia

Sri Lanka[edit]

Southeast Asia[edit]

Raffles, Singapore

Several of Southeast Asia's grand old hotels can be credited to a single family, the remarkable Sarkies brothers from Armenia, who founded all of the following icons:

Of course, there are some other very classy options as well:

Savoy Homann, Bandung


Northern Europe[edit]

  • 19 Hotel D'Angleterre (Copenhagen, Denmark). Hotel D'Angleterre (Q3121408) on Wikidata Hotel d'Angleterre on Wikipedia
  • 20 Rannahotell Pärnu (Pärnu, Estonia). Resort hotel built in 1937. Rannahotell Pärnu (Q21601742) on Wikidata Rannahotell Pärnu on Wikipedia
  • 21 Hotel Kämp (Helsinki, Finland). Hotel Kämp (Q1127749) on Wikidata Hotel Kämp on Wikipedia
  • 22 Kviknes Hotel (Balestrand, Norway). Kviknes Hotel (Q15056709) on Wikidata Kviknes Hotel on Wikipedia
  • 23 Dalen Hotel (Dalen, Norway). Once a popular locale for European royalty, this is one of the largest wooden buildings in Norway and one of the best preserved hotels from the 1800s. Dalen Hotel (Q1769724) on Wikidata Dalen Hotel on Wikipedia
  • 24 Grand Hotel (Oslo, Norway). Grand Hotel (Q1542588) on Wikidata Grand Hotel (Oslo) on Wikipedia
  • 25 Hôtel Eggers (Gothenburg, Sweden). This location at the central station has hosted a hotel since 1861, and has had its current name and appearance since 1894. Hotel Eggers (Q10526552) on Wikidata
  • 26 Hotel Saltsjöbaden (Saltsjöbaden, Sweden). Famous for the 1938 "Saltsjöbaden agreement" (Saltsjöbadsavtalet) which has been the framework for the Swedish labour market for generations to come. Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden (Q10508025) on Wikidata Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden on Wikipedia
  • 27 Grand Hôtel (Stockholm, Sweden). The preferred accommodation for state visits and Nobel laureates. Grand Hôtel (Q1221513) on Wikidata Grand Hôtel (Stockholm) on Wikipedia
  • 28 Hotel Knaust (Sundsvall, Sweden). Opened in 1891 following the 1888 fire that destroyed most of the city. Famous for its fan-shaped marble staircase. Hotel Knaust (Q10526554) on Wikidata
  • 29 Haparanda Stadshotell (Haparanda, Sweden). A hotspot during World War I, right at the northernmost border between the Russian Empire and Sweden. Spies, war profiteers and even Lenin himself stayed here. Haparanda Stadshotell (Q111875504) on Wikidata

Western Europe[edit]

Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam
Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Central Europe[edit]

During the century and a half of its existence, leaders have died and Czechoslovakia was "born" at Beau-Rivage in Geneva

Southern Europe[edit]

Hotel de Paris, Monaco

Eastern Europe[edit]

Hotel Ukraina

North America[edit]


The grand old hotels in Canada, also referred to as railway hotels, have a unique place in Canadian history. Most of them were built during the first quarter of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway or Grand Trunk Railway to provide elegant accommodation while viewing the natural beauty along the rail line. Canadian Pacific, which purchased the former Grand Trunk (Canadian National) hotels in 1988, spun off all non-rail subsidiaries (including Fairmont, its hotel group) in 2001.

These hotels are popular with tourists and locals alike and though overnight stays are expensive; they represent a fine piece of Canadiana worth visiting even if you only have time for a walk through the lobby. Three - Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper- are major tourist resorts in their own right, located amid stunning Rocky Mountain scenery.

Le Château Frontenac, Quebec City

Listed approximately east-to-west, they are:

Of course, there are some other very classy options as well:

Costa Rica[edit]

The Gran Hotel Costa Rica




United States[edit]

There is a program called Historic Hotels of America with 200-odd hotels involved.

The Cincinnatian Hotel.

South America[edit]




  • 33 Gran Hotel Bolívar (Lima). Gran Hotel Bolivar Lima (Q20995355) on Wikidata Gran Hotel Bolívar on Wikipedia - The cocktail Pisco Saur was invented here. Royalty stayed here, and the Rolling Stones had to leave for bad behavior.


Hotel Windsor, Melbourne



New Zealand[edit]

See also[edit]

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