Get Your Royal On
Jaw-Dropping Palace Hotels
Travel like royalty at these historic palaces that have opened their refurbished doors to overnight guests — noble lineage not required. With wing after wing of unrestrained interiors, Doric pillars and frilly columns, glittering chandeliers and marble staircases, palace hotels give new meaning to over-the-top opulence with service fit for a king — and queen.
While visiting Lisbon’s Palacio Belmonte, don’t miss the swoon-inducing palaces of nearby Sintra.
Yes, Quinta da Regaleira beckons with ornate embellishments and spires, but it’s the extensive gardens with labyrinthine paths and connected underground tunnels that really get us gawking. Hello, inverted tower dedicated to tarot mysticism.
Gothic and all-white, The National Palace, with its centuries-long list of visiting kings and queens, is a present-day house museum. The room full of 18th-century azulejos tiles in the Sala dos Brasoes is worth the trip alone.
One of the grandest examples of Romantic architecture in the world, the opulent, architecturally indulgent Pena Palace was built in the 19th century by Ferdinand II. Consider it a visual feast of vivid color and beyond-ornate design tucked into forested parklands.
In a busy tangle of Alfama’s ancient cobblestone streets along the walls of the Castelo de Sao Jorge, Palacio Belmonte is a sumptuous reminder of Lisbon’s regal past. Dating back to 1449 (and surviving the earthquake of 1755), it’s one of the oldest buildings in the city. Renovated to be more like an intimate home, the shared spaces and 10 spacious suites read like a luxe residence, one with centuries-old blue-and-white Portuguese tiles, plush yet lived-in furniture, ancient tapestries and contemporary art. Owners Frederic and Maria Coustols, who have palace-sized personalities themselves, infuse the space, as well as your stay, with history, literature, music and art. “We live in permanent movement,” says Maria. “We love art, and the walls keep changing after new exhibitions.” The latest: a beautiful light installation by Polish artist Joachim Slugocki in the lobby.
Located in twin Parisian palaces commissioned by King Louis XV, Hôtel de Crillon is home to some of history’s most famous — and infamous — moments. Benjamin Franklin signed a treaty to recognize the Declaration of Independence there, while Marie-Antoinette was guillotined at its nearby square. Today, the hotel gives guests the chance to interact with a different kind of royalty: fashion. Karl Lagerfeld recently designed its Grands Appartements, a pair of interconnecting suites with no shortage of opulence: Baccarat chandeliers, hand-finished wood panels, sweeping Place de la Concorde views and even some of the designer’s favorite books.
"With wing after wing of unrestrained interiors, Doric pillars and frilly columns, glittering chandeliers and marble staircases, palace hotels give new meaning to over-the-top opulence with service fit for a king — and queen."
Palace Stays Around the World
One of the oldest palaces in Jaipur, Sujan Rajmahal Palace is tucked into lush gardens and decorated in an elaborate riot of patterned wallpaper and endless charm, worthy of its gilded history. The hotel is widely — and justly — considered the gold standard of Indian luxury.
Formerly a home to Ottoman sultans, Istanbul’s waterfront Ciragan baroque palace-turned-Kempinkski hotel sits directly on the Bosphorus, with gardens stretching nearly a mile along the waterfront.
Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea (and just 25 miles from Rome), La Posta Vecchia oozes glamorous Italian splendor with jaw-dropping interiors, rarefied collections, frescoes and pinch-me panoramic views.