What once was old is new again for these historic properties, refurbished into high-style hotels.
Park Hyatt (Zanzibar)
The Park Hyatt not only boasts oceanfront views, but it’s also the only one of these properties that can claim UNESCO heritage status. Located in Stone Town (designated for the organization’s protection since 2000), the hotel is composed of two buildings: A traditional 1800s Zanzibari mansion known as Mambo Msiige (“do not imitate”), as well as the new, similarly red-roofed “Zamani residence” — blending the historic with the contemporary, all while embracing Swahili culture and a blend of Arab, Persian, Indian, and European influences.
Ashford Castle (Ireland)
After closing for its most recent stages of refurbishment (totaling nearly US$50 million), Ireland’s Ashford Castle reopened to guests in late March. Set amid 350 acres on the shores of Lough Corrib, the five-star, 82-room hotel — dating to 1228 — visibly reflects its history: Once a medieval Norman castle, the structure has since added on an English fortress, a French chateau and several pieces of Neo-Gothic architecture, creating an elegant amalgam of styles that all engender an atmosphere of luxury. Add in grounds for such fine country sports as horseback riding, fishing, golfing — even falconry — and it’s easy to see why this hotel consistently ranks among Europe’s top resorts.
The Merrion (Dublin)
Consisting of four beautifully restored Georgian townhouses, The Merrion ticks all the boxes: a museum-worthy art collection, two Michelin-star restaurants, a huge spa with a swimming pool and an excellent location — only steps away from the National Gallery and Natural History Museum. The 123 rooms are old-fashioned elegance meets contemporary with marble bathrooms, Italian linens and cutting-edge technology. There’s a stunning garden to boot, built by famed Irish landscape artist Jim Reynolds.
The Capella welcomes guests inside two historic bungalows called Tanah Merah (“red earth” in Malay), setting a leisurely pace for their stays amid the lush, tropical grounds. Curved, contemporary architecture now joins the colonial buildings, which once served as housing for British Royal Artillery officers based on Singapore’s Sentosa Island during World War II. Legend claims that the regimental silver they buried before surrendering to the Japanese may still remain underfoot, adding yet another layer of intrigue to this alluring hotel.