4 Fabulously Refurbished Hotels
May 6, 2014
Ever dreamed of hitting the sack under the roof of a world leader? David Ngo checks in with a few hotels that were once home to some of the most powerful families in history.
Published on May 6, 2014
Most hotels come online as fully fledged hotels. Their restaurants are purposebuilt and gleaming with stainless steel from the get-go. Their pools are spacious enough to accommodate groups of guests. And the fitness centers, well, they're marvels of technology, whirring with spinning wheels, and decorated with television screens angled for optimum viewing.
Then there are the hotels that started off as homes first—resorts that were built as lavish dwellings for kings, bishops, famous architects and royal families many years ago. Now travelers can get a taste of the intimate luxury enjoyed by the reigning class in days gone by, if only for a night or two.
1. Villa Maly
The Villa Maly in Luang Prabang was home to the grandson of Laotian King Kham Souk Zakarine and a nephew to King Sisavong. Built in 1938 in an enclave populated by Lao's well-todo, the house remained in the family until 1994. In 2001, the property was transformed into a small hotel, but it wasn't until 2007 that it became the 33-room Villa Maly, a boutique resort made up of five colonial-style buildings, with the majestic royal family residence sitting at its heart. BP 78, Luang Prabang, Laos; villa-maly.com.
2. The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah
In the early 1980's Hendra Hadiprana, one of Indonesia's foremost architects, built a private retreat on the outskirts of Ubud. After more than 20 years as a holiday home, it was converted into a 20-villa resort by GHM. The personal retreat vibe remains, as does Hadiprana's influence. More than 100 paintings and sculptures from his private collection can be found throughout the sprawling grounds. Jln. Goa Gajah, Tengkulak Kaja Ubud, Bali; ghmhotels.com.
3. Praya Palazzo
The former home of one of King Rama V's closest business associates lives on as the Praya Palazzo, a 17-room retreat that was restored to its Siam-era glory in 2009 by a local architect who could no longer bear to watch the mansion crumble along the banks of Bangkok's Chao Phraya River. The building's Palladio look stems from the original resident's preference for Italian art and design. 757/1 Somdej Prakinklao Soi 2, Bangyeekhan, Bangkok; prayapalazzo.com.
4. The Bishop's Suites
This 8-hectare estate with five expansive suites was once home to the first Bishop of Nelson, the town where it's located. At the core of the property is a Victorian style homestead, built in 1925 and restored by the owners two years ago. Guests join together each night for a decadent five-course meal. Bishopdale Estate, 221-223 Waimea Rd., Nelson, New Zealand; bishopssuites.co.nz.