The word iconic is used a lot in travel. Often quite loosely. But it’s more specific definition is ‘highly original or unique’ and so an iconic hotel means to me a hotel which is entirely reflective of the culture of its location and one that provides an experience you simply cannot find anywhere else in the world.
There are many hotels in the world which fit this description; the Peninsula Bangkok, the Ritz in London and Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City come to mind. Often they are decades, occasionally centuries, old. I have many listed on my personal bucket list. But here is a very short list of three which I have visited in the past few years.
Three incredibly special hotels where I wanted to cry when I had to leave, preferring instead to lock the door and stay for a month! They are not necessarily the most expensive in their locale, but they all offer a totally unique local experience with service by the bucket load.
So here they are – if you get the chance to visit, even for a drink or afternoon tea, they are worth every penny.
Legado Mitico Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina
An extraordinary clubby boutique hotel in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires. Rooms in the Legado Mitico are very generous in size and each one pays homage to a famous Argentinian. We stayed in the Evita room – La Primera Dama – of course. The décor is classic with a twist, lots of dark timber, leather chairs and sofas, and bright pops of colour in the cushions and lampshades.
The themed rooms include a wealth of memorabilia on your rooms hero or heroine. The hotel lobby is discreet, stylish, and a virtual library of local history and traditions. The breakfast buffet is generous and eclectic. And the staff simply can’t do enough to ensure your BA visit is super memorable. The Palermo district is central and home to many buzzy cafes, bars, restaurants and amazing architecture.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Machu Picchu, Peru
There’s getting away from it all, then there is really getting away from it all. And while the Inkaterra, Machu Picchu may be classified as luxury, the most overwhelming experience is that of being at one in the Peruvian environment. This is because this hotel has no imposing structures, instead, it is an Andean village with stone pathways connecting the 83 whitewashed adobe casitas, with the restaurant, spas and waterfalls.
There are evening jungle walks and the chance to experience bird calls from more than 214 bird species, or to view a wide variety of local orchids. Breakfast and dinner may be enjoyed overlooking the Vilcanota River. The individual casitas (lodges) and beautiful, yet simply decorated and all product is based on local botanical species. The Inkaterra offers the ultimate ecological escape.
And last, but never least, the legendary Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong
Images from www.mandarinoriental.com – the majority of photographs displayed on the website are from Melbourne-based photographer George Apostolidis
What a divine experience awaits you if you are lucky to stay at this historic hotel. Originally located on the waterfront of Hong Kong harbor, reclamation now means it is a street or two back from the water’s edge in Connaught Street. You arrive by train from the airport, then cab, and as you are greeted at reception you are taken immediately to your room for check in, accompanied by a fine China tea and biscuit or, depending upon your preference, perhaps a glass of Champagne.
Images from www.mandarinoriental.com – the majority of photographs displayed on the website are from Melbourne-based photographer George Apostolidis.
This hotel knows exactly what it does best. It offers exemplary old-school service, where nothing is too much trouble to keep the guest happy. My favourite part of the hotel is the Clipper Lounge where breakfast is served – a wonderful East meets West buffet spread with endless dim sum options. The Captain’s Bar is a quirky retreat and for those with a sweet tooth, the Mandarin Cake Shop, under the watchful eye of the Pastry Chef of the Year, Yves Matthey, serves the most decadent treats in town. And when you are replete, just head to your room, pull back the curtains and enjoy the view of the world’s most interesting harbor.
What about you? Have you stayed at a truly iconic international hotel? Where was it and what made it great?