Embassies to Castles: 14 Hotels That Were Once the Residences of Royalty

Embassies to Castles: 14 Hotels That Were Once the Residences of Royalty

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Many a hotel will claim that it treats guests like royalty -- but some (at least their edifices) have more proof than others to back that up.

14 Places
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    The Victoria Xiengthong Palace is a boutique heritage hotel set in the old town of Luang Prabang. The resort is small, with only 26 rooms located by the Mekong River and Wat Xiengthong temple, and is the former residence of the Lao royal family; in fact, it used to be the Royal Palace, and has lovely teak floored rooms in traditional buildings. 
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    Wrought iron gates, potted plants, and a lion’s head fountain adorn the entrance to this hotel. This former United States Embassy building, built in the early 20th century, holds a small, welcoming lobby filled with marble floors, Murano glass lamps, classic art, and antique furniture. The three-pearl Hotel Villa Pinciana is located in Rome's Ludovisi neighborhood near Via Veneto and the Spanish Steps.
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    Housed in the former residences of the Bertolini princes, the Grand Hotel Baglioni lives up to the grand image painted by Florence's past. The hotel is filled with heavy-handed regal touches and ornate decor from top to bottom. 
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    Once the home of the king of Naples, the Palazzo Caracciolo now houses an upscale boutique that is part of the MGallery Collection of Accor Hotels. The stylish, contemporary interiors are a striking counterpoint to the historic architecture.  The lovely cloister is a favorite among guests for a quiet drink at night, and the Mediterranean restaurant is a solid pick for those who wish to sample regional cuisine. 
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    The 31-room Satri House is an upscale boutique heritage hotel that was the former residence of Prince Souphanouvong and has been restored and extended into one of the most charming properties in Luang Prabang, about a 10-minutes walk to the night market and start of the historic district.The entire hotel is furnished with fine crafted wood furniture, art pieces, and turn of the century antiques, and the Colonial buildings are surrounded by gardens and swimming pools. . 
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    Built in the early 18th century for the noble Villapanes family in the traditional Sevilian baroque style, this gorgeous palace now houses a luxury boutique. Its 50 rooms are all elegant and stylish, with a few original architectural details -- including wall moldings and, in some, intricate coffered ceilings -- and high-end amenities, such as flat-screen TVs, free minibar items, and free Wi-Fi. 
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    The four-pearl White Mansion Boutique Hotel is one of Phnom Penh's nicest upscale options. Housed in the former U.S. Embassy, the hotel's interiors are stately and stylish. Teak staircases lead to 30 large and airy rooms that employ a contemporary Khmer minimalism, with granite floors, carved wooden panels, and flat-screen TVs. Some Deluxe Rooms have terraces with city views. There's a narrow outdoor pool and the hotel also has a small spa. 
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    Ashford Castle embodies the fantasy of the Irish castle hotel, featuring a massive historic stone facade, complete with towers and turrets; gorgeous, manicured grounds; a stunning setting on a huge lake; and common spaces that are truly grand, with rich wood paneling, chandeliers, and antique furniture. 
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    The Fresco is a collection of restored mansions that served as opulent residences during the Ottoman period; the first mayor of Urgup built the first mansion here at the end of the 18th century and it's been added to by successive owners.Some rooms are traditional and brightly decorated with original frescoes, but with three stories and no elevator, some travelers may find that it’s a hassle to reach a few of them. 
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    Hotel Dukes' Palace is one of the top luxury hotels in Bruges, and offers a luxurious experience throughout, from the doormen service to the tasty breakfast buffet (which is a highlight). Using "palace" in the name is not hyperbole; the hotel is housed in a former residence of the Burgundian aristocracy, dating to the 15th century.The 110 rooms are classic in style with features such as beautiful paintings, dramatic curtains, and chandeliers.
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    The 24-room Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel is a small luxury property that used to be the residence of Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma, and now is one of Luang Prabang's premier hotels, close to restaurants and shops. Rooms are spacious, bright, and furnished with modern amenities including flat-screen TVs. Several have large clawfoot tubs, and there are terraces looking out at the lovely garden. 
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    Unlike most hotels in the cliffside town of Positano that require a steep walk to reach the beach and town center, the Palazzo Murat is located smack in the town center’s pedestrian zone. It dates back to the 17th century, and for a while it was the extravagant summer home of Napoleon’s brother-in-law and King of Naples, Gioacchino Murat.
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