Top Secret Travel - Full-Time Travel

Top Secret Travel

Top Secret Travel

Behind the Bookcases at These 7 Elegant Stays

The old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” rings true for these impressive hotels as well. Behind their opulent design and luxurious amenities, there is rich history, hidden speakeasies and secret rooms to be discovered. Read on to uncover the surprising corners and shocking pasts of these seven hotels around the globe.

@Montage Beverly Hills

£10 at Montage Beverly Hills

Located within the famed 90210 zip code, the Montage Beverly Hills is an unmissable Los Angeles retreat just steps from the lavish shops and eateries of Rodeo Drive. So what’s so secret about this SoCal icon? Tucked away on the second floor is the secluded lounge £10, specializing in a single malt whisky Montage deems the “world’s most precious.” Sipping the spirit out of Lalique glasses while surrounded by decadent mahogany walls, marble accents and dim lighting, you’ll feel pretty special, too. 


The Drake, Chicago

Since 1920, The Drake hotel has hosted personalities as grand as its decor: Walt Disney, Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana and more. But leading up to a visit from President Barack Obama, the Secret Service found more than crystal-beaded chandeliers and plush, jewel-toned furnishings: A hidden door disguised as a bookshelf was unearthed inside the hotel manager’s office. The doorway leads out to a private outdoor balcony, rumored to have once been used by Al Capone and his friends.

@Stephen F. Austin, photo by Kristen Kaiser

The Whisper Room at the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin

Austin’s InterContinental hotel is no stranger to the excitement of the Roaring Twenties — this historic property opened its doors in 1924, and has been a destination for high society ever since. Inspired by the Prohibition Era of its early days is The Whisper Room, a speakeasy where classic cocktails are given a modern twist thanks to local mixologist Justin Elliott. Each drink is prepared tableside on a 1930s Aldo Tura bar cart, and a full cigar menu is also available on their private patio. Just note that reservations are required for this transportive hideaway.

@St. Ermin's Hotel

St. Ermin's Hotel, London

A tree-lined courtyard feeds into the expansive, white columned lobby at St. Ermin’s Hotelin Westminster. While a picturesque neighborhood for visitors, its location also made the hotel a strategic spy base for the British Secret Intelligence Service during World War II. Demolition agents would dine alongside guests in the hotel bar, then retire to the top two floors — also home to a hoard of explosives — to plot against Germany. Today, guests can explore the history for themselves, with a number of artifacts on display from the espionage years; and a special spy packet ready for kids at check in.

@Biltmore Hotel

The Biltmore, Miami - Coral Gables

While The Biltmore now treats guests in need of R&R, it once served much more dire ailments. In 1946, 20 years after the hotel’s debut, it was converted into the Army Air Forces Regional Hospital. Linoleum masked the beautiful travertine floors, and concrete shuttered many of the hotel’s windows. Remaining as a Veteran’s Administration hospital until 1968, it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve 1987 that The Biltmore would reopen as a four-star hotel and resort. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark with 273 stunning rooms, a Donald Ross golf course and one of the largest hotel swimming pools in the continental U.S.


Retreat at the Blue Lagoon

Privacy abounds for guests of this Iceland retreat. Situated on the edge of the Instagram-famous geothermal pool, the Retreat at the Blue Lagoon offers visitors expansive landscape views, in-lagoon massages and after-hours, crowd-free access to the turquoise waters. But there’s one draw they don’t reveal on their website (or anywhere else): the Blue Lagoon Suite, a two-level, $10,500 per night accommodation equipped with its very own private spa and bathing area within the lagoon. Meant to be the ultimate hideaway, the suite features a private entrance and nearby helipad for inconspicuous coming and going.

@Hotel Not Hotel, photo by Kirsten Van Santen

Hotel Not Hotel, Amsterdam

Sleeping quarters here can be disguised as everything from a replica Amsterdam tram cart to a perched crow’s nest, or hidden behind the book stacks on the second floor reading room. Talk about a new level of privacy.

"This sculpture is called "Transmission" by artist Daniel Popper. Its a reminder that we are all rooted in love, unity and the divine. She stands a towering 28 feet tall and is located on Mojave Moon Ranch in Joshua Tree. The land is private property, so you can see it from the viewing platform off of Sunfair Road. And take it from me, it's best viewed at sunset."

Reel: @johnofah

There's more to Greece than the white and blue buildings and the surrounding Mediterranean Sea. If you're planning a visit, check out these places below!

📍Kokkinopilos. Preveza
📍Verliga Dragon lake, Thessaly
📍Ithaca island, lonian Sea
📍Aoos springs lake, Epirus
📍Lake Prespes, Macedonia
📍Balda di Stringa waterfalls, Epirus
📍Meteora, Thessaly
📍Pelion, Thessaly
📍Lake Zorika, Epirus
📍Mt Lakmos
📍Crete island, Aegean Sea
📍Gistova Dragon lake, Macedonia

Reel: @farawayfarers

Swim or kayak through the limestone cliffs of the Twin Lagoon, a must-visit destination for those traveling to Coron, Palawan, Philippines. It is called "twin" lagoon because it consists of two lagoons separated by a limestone cliff, with one lagoon on top of the other. The water in the inner lagoon is warm and clear, with a stunning turquoise color that makes it popular for swimming and snorkeling.

Reel: @travelifejournal

Take a dip in a series of seven saltwater lagoons located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The Lagoons of Baltinache are known for their beautiful turquoise waters and unique geological formations. The high concentration of minerals in the water gives it a unique buoyancy that makes swimming in the lagoons a unique experience.

Reel: @everchanginghorizon

Watching the sun rise above the clouds at Haleakalā National Park is one of the most memorable experiences you could have. Haleakalā is a Hawaiian name that means “House of the Sun” and is an awesome place to watch the clear night sky and stars fade away as the sun lights up the sky and the earth.

Reel: @girlchill_sunset

Just 1 hour from Shanghai by train, Cherry Blossom Valley is a popular tourist destination, particularly in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The valley is named after the thousands of cherry blossom trees that cover the area and create a stunning display of pink and white flowers. The trees were originally planted in the 1980s by a group of Japanese experts who were invited to China to help with reforestation efforts. The best time to visit is typically in late March or early April. Get there early to beat the crowds!

Reel: @cyncynti

New Zealand is unbelievable. See it for yourself:

1. Fiordland National Park
2. A classic backcountry hut trip
3. Blue Pools walk
4. Hooker Lake
5. Milford Sound
6. Lake Pukaki

Reel: @kylekotajarvi

Surrounded by lush greenery, towering karst mountains, and the river flowing through, the Detian Waterfall is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the close relationship between China and Vietnam. It is the largest waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest cross-border waterfall in the world.

Reel: @sophoebelous

Escape to a serene and peaceful oasis away from the bustling city of Marrakech at Le Jardin Secret—a beautiful and historic garden where visitors can escape the noise and chaos and enjoy the beauty of nature. The garden was originally built in the 16th century and is home to many different species of plants, including exotic flowers, citrus trees, and palm trees.

Reel: @hypermiggzz

For a magical moment and bucket list travel experience, visit the end point of the annual monarch butterfly migration. Starting in August, the monarchs travel 2,800 miles south from Canada, making a temporary home amid the towering trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where the two most popular sanctuaries to view them are el Rosario in the state of Michoacan and Piedra Herrada in Estado de México. Standing in silence while thousands of delicate wings beat in unison is something you'll never forget.

Reel: @juliiathompson

There's just something beautiful about snow covered landscapes like this popular attraction in southwestern Utah. Known for its unique geology, @brycecanyonnps_gov consists of a series of natural amphitheaters, called "hoodoos," formed by erosion of the rock layers.

Photo: @nathanleeallen

As we experience a couple more weeks of winter, we can't help but dream of tropical destinations like Hawaii. The warm water, sunny skies, and consistent waves make it an ideal destination for surfers. Hawaii has a vibrant surf culture and community and is also a beautiful place to explore outside of the water, with lush green mountains, stunning beaches, and unique cultural experiences.

Reel: @christopherballadarez

1. @sequoiakingsnps, California
2. @canyonlandsnps, Utah
3. @olympic_nps, Washington
4. @whitesandsnps, New Mexico
5. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona
6. Knik Glacier, Alaska

Reel: @nathanleeallen