Forget Disney World: some of the world’s most stunning and authentic hotels to rest, unwind and imagine you are the star of your very own fantasy, romantic comedy, Hollywood romance or fairy tale are the real-life locations where royalty, world leaders and the Hollywood elite are actually known to have stayed.
If you are going for a fantasy vacation, what could be more fairy-tale-like than spending your holiday in a hotel where a Russian princess once lived? Or, how about vacationing in the real-life locations that were the inspirations behind movies like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and imagining you are a part of the fantasy of these movies?
The following are real-life places that are favored by royals and celebrities and where anyone (with deep enough pockets) can pass their own vacation. It won’t be hard to imagine you are starring in your very own fantasy, fairy tale, romantic comedy or drama when resting your head in these beautiful hotels.
12 Palais Coburg - Vienna, Austria
The stunning, neoclassical Palais Coburg was built in the 19th century and its last private owner was Princess Aurelia of Saxe-Coburg. Today, guests can spend their vacation in this luxury hotel that still looks like a palace fit for royalty. Its impressive architecture and beautiful décor are worthy of a movie set. The stunning Palais Coburg has not only been the seat of royalty, but has also hosted modern world powers: political talks between six world powers and Iran were held here in 2014. (source)
11 The Plaza - New York, NY
The iconic Midtown Manhattan hotel and condo building features elite restaurants and halls and terraces that cater to high end events. The hotel has hosted “modern royalty” in the form of everyone from the Beatles, who played there during their first visit to the U.S. in 1964, as well as politicians, celebrities, and even royalty throughout the years. It won’t be hard to imagine yourself as a part of a movie when spending time in The Plaza because the hotel has featured in endless Hollywood films, including the 2013 movie, The Great Gatsby (the novel also had a few scenes that took place at the Plaza Hotel). Other iconic films that have featured The Plaza include “The Way We Were,” “Almost Famous,” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”
10 Château Monfort - Milan, Italy
The Château Monfort not only looks like a palace fit for royalty, but it actually takes its inspiration from fairy tale and romantic stories. If guests want to be immersed in a fairy tale, it won’t be hard if they are staying here: located in central Milan, the Chateau Monfort is a boutique luxury hotel and each of its uniquely-designed rooms were inspired by different fairy tales and nursery rhymes (source).
9 Grandhotel Pupp - Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
This stunning and imposing hotel located in the Czech Republic has been featured in several Hollywood films. In fact, it is rumored that the exterior was one of the inspirations for Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. The hotel has also been featured in the James Bond movies: in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig filmed scenes for the movie inside this hotel. The hotel dates back to 1701, when it was built by the mayor of the city. It was rebuilt in an elegant neo-Baroque style, which gives it its current beautiful, fantasy-like quality.
8 Ravla Khempur - Rajasthan, India
In the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” the film’s characters find a new lease on life and discover many special things about a new way of life in charming rural India. The hotel featured in the movie was inspired by the real-life Ravla Khempur hotel in Rajasthan, India. This picturesque and traditional hotel dates back to the early 17th century and was once known for its famous performing dancing stallions.
7 Four Seasons Hotel – Lion Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
This stunning neoclassical palace is certainly fit for royalty: its architecture and art is breathtaking, including its sculptures on granite pedestals that were made by a famous sculptor. In the 1800s, Princess Cleopatra Lobanova-Rostovskaya lived in the magnificent building. In the 19th century, the Ministry of War of the Russian Empire rented part of the building. The building had been home to other government offices until the late 2000s when it was purchased and became a hotel. The Lion Palace still maintains a palatial feel and it’s not hard to imagine yourself in a sweeping Russian romance in this location.
6 Bellagio Hotel - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas might spend a lot more time imitating royalty and creating an illusion of a fairy tale than actually being anything very authentic, but the Bellagio Hotel is one exception to this general rule of thumb. This truly swanky hotel is also one of Las Vegas’ most recognizable locations, as it has been featured in many films, including Oceans Eleven. It has famous fountains outside and the hotel consistently caters to the rich and famous who chose to stay there when they are in Vegas.
5 Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, The French Riviera
Originally, King Leopold II of Belgium purchased the land where this hotel was built. The King began construction on the property that would become the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, and in the decades since, this hotel has become one of the most luxurious hotels on the French Riviera. Throughout the 20th century, it hosted some of the world’s most elite figures, from royalty to politicians to movie stars. The likes of Queen Victoria and the Duchess of Argyll, the daughter of Queen Victoria of England, have stayed here. The hotel looks like a palace and has views that are worthy of royalty. It is also hard to get a room, as it is only open in the summer months.
4 Gritti Palace - San Marco, Venice
In Renaissance times, the Doge was the highest political ruler in the city of Venice. The Gritti Palace was built for the Doge of Venice’s family in the 16th century. Its namesake, the Gritti family, lived there for many years. In the 19th century, the Gritti Palace was repurposed into a hotel. Visitors can still stay at this powerful location that was once home to the most important man in Venice.
3 Pestana Palace – Lisbon, Portugal
This 19th century palace happens to be both a National Monument and a luxury hotel.
It was constructed by the Marquis de Valle Flôr. Today, it is surrounded by tropical gardens with paths and a lake. The Marquis also had a palace in Paris and was inspired by his residence in France when constructing this place. Frescoes, hand-painted tiles, marble and vintage design details evoke another time and allow visitors to be transported to another era.
2 Ice Palace Hotels - Norway
Following the success of Frozen, who doesn’t want to stay in an Ice Palace reminiscent of the one Queen Elsa created in the movie? Visitors can pretend to be living in an ice palace like Elsa when spending a few nights in an Ice Palace Hotel. Although most frigid countries offer the opportunity to stay in an ice hotel in winter, since Frozen was based loosely on some real-life locations in Norway, the most authentic experience would be at a Norwegian Ice Palace Hotel. Kirkenes Snow Hotel, Ice Lodge, Alta Igloo Hotel are all ice hotels located in the country of Norway that are open to visitors in winter months.
1 Le Bristol Hotel - Paris, France
Nothing evokes romantic stories quite like the city of Paris. For decades, celebrities and royalty have flocked to Paris to escape it all and live in their own fantasy. Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Charlie Chaplin and Josephine Baker all stayed at Le Bristol Hotel in Paris, one of the most exclusive hotels in the city. Film fans will also recognize that Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” was filmed in this hotel.