5 Historic Hotels With Interesting Pasts

From the erstwhile home of drug lord Pablo Escobar to shelters for WWI refugees, here's a selection of hotels across the world with an interesting past
The historic Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland                        Deman / Shutterstock
The historic Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland Deman / Shutterstock

Some hotels are located in structures that stand out for the events that previously took place there. We found some which have exquisite vintage interiors and spaces, and the most interesting historical references and stories.

A Haven For War Refugees Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland
The historic five-star luxury hotel, Beau-Rivage Palace, sits on Lake L&eacuteman in Ouchy, France. The story of the Beau Rivage Palace began in 1957 when a local group repurchased substantial parcels of land from the Allott family. The Beau-Rivage Hotel was built after A. Harpe, and J. Baptiste Bartholent won an architectural competition, but it didn&rsquot open until March 24, 1861. Expensive balls and galas were held in the magnificent salons decorated with frescoes from the 18th century. This magnificent era of extravagance experienced a brief decline due to the First World War. At the time, the hotel turned into a safe haven for refugees. It has also served as the location for several significant international gatherings, such as the truce signing that ended the war between Italy and Turkey in 1912 and the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
More info here
Pablo Escobar's Home Casa Malca, Tulum, Mexico
This opulent hotel on Mexico's Caribbean coast was formerly Colombian drug lord and narco-terrorist Pablo Escobar's residence. After his passing in 1993, the place was abandoned until 2012, when renowned New York art collector and gallery owner Lio Malca acquired it. Malca rebuilt the structure and established a brand-new boutique hotel, furnishing it with priceless works from his private fine art collections. It now boasts a total of 42 suites after going through many renovations. The rooms include balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the beach and the garden behind them.
More info here
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Home For War Troops And Kings The Royal Hawaiian, Honolulu, United States
A new era of sumptuous resort travel to Hawaii began on February 1, 1927, with the launch of The Royal Hawaiian. The six-storey, 400-room pink-hued building was designed in the era&rsquos fashionable Spanish-Moorish style, inspired by actor Rudolph Valentino. The place has been a favoured residential and leisure destination for Hawaiian monarchs and chiefs long before it became a tourist destination. The Royal Hawaiian stands where King Kamehameha I once lived and Queen Kaahumanu&rsquos Summer Palace was once situated. Its development saw a rapid discourse during World War 1. The US Navy later leased the hotel amidst World War II as a place for troops operating in the Pacific.
More info here
A Witness To The Battle of Surabaya Hotel Majapahit, Surabaya, Indonesia
Lucas Martin Sarkies founded the hotel in 1910 and opened it in 1911 under Hotel Oranje in the presence of Crown Prince Leopold III of Belgium, Princess Astrid of Sweden, and Charlie Chaplin. The hotel was renamed Hotel Yamato during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II and served as the forces&rsquo command center in East Java. It came to be known as the Hotel Yamamoto Incident when the Dutch flag flown above the hotel was replaced by the Indonesian flag in the run-up to the Battle of Surabaya on September 19, 1945. The hotel was renamed the Hotel Merdeka after this occurrence, and again retitled Lucas Martin Sarkies Hotel in 1946. Mantrust Holdings Co. acquired the hotel in 1969 and officially changed its name to Hotel Majapahit in honour of the former kingdom of Majapahit.
More info here
Mark Twain Stayed Here Great Eastern, Kolkata, India
David Wilson built the Great Eastern Hotel in 1840 in Brit-era Kolkata. He originally called it the Auckland Hotel after George Eden, the first Earl of Auckland, and Governor General of India at the time. Wilson operated a bakery there before building the hotel. When it first opened, the hotel had 100 rooms, and the bottom floor included a department shop. In 1859, it was among the first corporations to have an Indian on its board of directors. In 1915, it was referred to as the Great Eastern Hotel. Its facilities were electrified in 1883, making it likely the first hotel in India to use electric lighting. Renowned personalities like Nikita Khrushchev, Nikolai Bulganin, Elizabeth II, Mark Twain, Dave Brubeck, and Ho Chi Minh have stayed here. The hotel was Asia&rsquos longest-running hotel until it was shut down in 2006 for renovations.
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