Show Us Those Wondrous Hotels

For most travelers, hotels are merely a respite from the destination. A place to unwind and relax while the real adventures exist outside the hotel walls. However, across the globe, there are a few hotels that exist as marvelous examples of unique architecture and destinations unto themselves.

Take for instance Alberta’s Banff Springs Hotel, an opulent, gothic structure located in the middle of the Canadian woods. Nestled away amongst the mountains of Banff National Park, it offers spectacular views of the surrounding greenery, looking like it was magically transported from some far off urban landscape. Or there’s Memphis, Tennessee’s Peabody Hotel, where you can see a regular procession of ducks parade down a red carpet into the lobby fountain. These are just a few examples of the world’s unforgettable hotels, but now we want to hear about some of the most curious and memorable hotels you’ve ever encountered.


(Image: Artur Lysyuk/Public Domain)

In the thread below, tell us about the most incredible hotel you’ve ever seen or stayed in. Where was it located, and what was it called? What made it so amazing and an indelible memory? Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well. Your response may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura!

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The original (before the fire) Trappe Family Lodge in Stowe, VT. Not only was the hotel designed and decorated as if it were lifted out of the Austrian mountains, the food at the time was wonderful, the hills around it were glorious and there was some really fine cross country skiing too. The one and only time I stayed there was while Maria Von Trappe was still alive (she was kind of old and cranky though, as I recall). It was rebuilt after the fire and I have visited but not stayed at the re-build.

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Intercontinental Danang what other hotel has floors “numbered” Heaven Sky Earth and Ocean. A funicular runs between the floors. Beautiful views, amazing food services and spa.

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There is nothing in the world quite like the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California, with every room decorated in a different theme. It has a fun bar, a beautiful restaurant with a dance floor, a delicious coffee and candy shop, a wine shop, and a men’s urinal that is a waterfall. Truly one of the quirkiest and coolest hotels on the planet.

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Ducks, schmucks!
I once attended a conference at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA. Their claim to fame was that they had alligators swimming in the hotel lobby fountain. Although the alligators died out sometime in the late 1940s, they still use them as the decorating theme and logo for the hotel.

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In Carinthia (Austrian lake district) there is a every-day procession of swans to the kitchen of the hotel “Seewirt” (on the shore of the Ossiacher See) for a little gingerbread “Jause”!

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My mother and sister stayed with the Von Trapps many years ago when Maria was still alive. They loved their stay there!

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Definitely, the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec (or is it Montreal?) was the most luxurious hotel in which I’ve ever stayed. It was between Christmas and New Year’s Day and, when outside, I experienced the worst cold ever! They had a skating rink outside and the weather was absolutely bitter cold, too cold to really get much enjoyment. My favorite part was going to lovely old restaurants near the hotel and experiencing fabulous meals. The Frontenac is a large old hotel and it was a delightful stay.

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Maybe 20 years ago, my husband and I stayed at the old Anderson House Bed and Breakfast in Wabasha, MN. Five cats lived at the bed and breakfast, and guests could request that one spend a night in their room to serve as “bed warmers.” The cats stay in their special cat room until “ordered,” at which time staff delivers the feline - along with its litterbox, food, water and toys. We spent the night with “Bambi”, a friendly, white, fluffy feline.
Unfortunately the new owners no longer allow pets anywhere on the premises.

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The Leela Palace in Delhi, India. Just a magical experience. And the staff was delightful! The day we left the manager sent sweets and Champaign to our room. 5 Star Hotel New Delhi - Business Hotel Near Delhi Airport - The Leela Palace New Delhi

What a shame! I love feline bedwarmers. Such an original idea.

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As far as I can tell, the Hotel Gran Santiago Plaza Confort in Santiago Tuxtla, Mexico, is pretty average as a hotel. Quite peculiar as a building, though, specially for the rather sleepy little colonial town it sits on. I can usually tell when I find something tacky and when I don’t, but this cylindrical tower just baffles my sense of taste. Its architecture definitely shows its age, but I think that makes it equally charming and kitschy.
Hotel by David Cabrera, en Flickr

Cilindro by David Cabrera, en Flickr

The Tapatía school of architecture is mentioned in a couple AO articles, and I think one of its most peculiar examples is the Camino Real Polanco hotel, opened in 1968 in Mexico City. Geometric shapes, bright colors, open spaces, the architecture here has lots of echoes of the work of Luis Barragán, but it’s actually by who I consider to be his successor: Ricardo Legorreta. Legorreta + Legorreta, the firm he started, is one of the representatives of the updates the Tapatía school has had into the late 20th and early 21st century.
Lobby: Camino Real Polanco by Aubrey Pullman, en Flickr

Legorreta by Lorena C M, en Flickr

My single favorite feature in the hotel is the whirlpool fountain. No video I’ve found yet makes it justice, but this one’s at least quite explanatory.

Finally, when I was in Shanghai recently, I was struck by seeing the Royal Garden Hotel from an elevated road on the way from Pudong airport. Coming from a country where haciendas are commonly turned into hotels, and now living where hotel-fied castles are a dime a dozen, I still couldn’t believe that a temple or palace like this would’ve been turned into a hotel.

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What a great place to know about, thank you!

The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado. Built in 1892, it is on the National Register of Historic Places. While the terrazzo flooring you see in the photos is most certainly from at least the 1930’s, we do not know if the terrazzo is original to the building.

According to Wikipedia, past guests include the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown (she stayed at the hotel only a week after the Titanic disaster), and The Beatles.

Please share any information you may have about the terrazzo floors at the Brown Palace in the comments!

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