Though few may argue that traveling is more about experiencing a city than it is about enjoying the hotel, some would beg to differ. After all, a hotel—whether it’s a boutiquey architectural relic with no more than 20 guest rooms or a sprawling space boasting more than one resident restaurant—has much more to offer than simply a place to spend the night. And, as much as jet-setters and locals alike appreciate a sleek, new build with all of the luxuries of an ultracontemporary resort, there’s something refreshing—even grounding—about living within walls that have been standing for centuries. Luckily, there’s no shortage of historic hotels across the world.
From a 35-room former mansion in Kennebunkport, Maine, to the iconic 19th-century Ritz Paris, the storied lodgings on offer are palpable, to say the least. Whether you’re staying local or heading overseas, there’s hardly a greater escape than spending a few days in some of the world’s longest-established hotels.
This posh hotel in Mayfair claims to be London’s first. It opened in 1837, the same year Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, and hosted visiting royalty, politicians, and other luminaries, including Alexander Graham Bell, who made the first telephone call in London from the hotel. It was purchased by Rocco Forte Hotels in 2003 and underwent a complete refurbishment spearheaded by the group’s design director Olga Polizzi. As you might expect, Brown’s does a fantastic afternoon tea in the elegant drawing room, where Queen Victoria herself liked to take her tea.