Have you ever been on a tour of an old castle, fort, or bank vault and wondered what it would’ve been like to live there back in the day? A child-like imagination takes over our adult curiosity when we discover the history of a place.

Whether you’re picturing yourself living in a place of that scale in days of yore or mentally rearranging furniture and light fixtures in an opulent grand hall, historical buildings connect us to the past. Thanks to the rise of tourism, many old monuments and buildings have been given a second chance at life, and here are a few you can book for your next holiday!

Monastero Santa Rosa
Salerno, Italy

Now operating as a luxurious adult-only hotel, Monastero Santa Rosa was a Dominican monastery or convent built in the late 17th century. The former convent lies dramatically perched along the cliff edge of the Amalfi Coast in Conca dei Marini, a fishing village above the blue Bay of Salerno.

This old building’s transformation made way for what we now know as one of Italy’s most stunning boutique hotels. Rich in history, adorned with exquisite furnishings, and set in wonderful tiered gardens, the 20 ocean-facing rooms of the hotel, formerly the nun’s quarters, are remarkably fairy-tale-like and undoubtedly romantic. It’s an idyllic spot for couples or anyone looking for a more private and secluded getaway.

Address: Via Roma, 2, 84010 Conca dei Marini SA, Italy
Contact: +39 089 832 1199

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Ashford Castle
Mayo, Ireland

Did you know that there are castles for sale all over the world? Now, buying and maintaining a castle is no easy feat, which is why when this castle was acquired by Noel Huggard in 1939, he established it as a first-class hotel, preserving the gothic grandeur of the 13th-century castle.

This 350-acre estate, 83-bedroom, and 5-star luxury establishment is an experience unlike any other. Tireless work and extensive funds have gone into reimagining the opulence of this mediaeval property, and it is reflected in every part of the castle. Every room, curtain, wallpaper, artwork, and carpet is curated to perfection, providing guests with a taste of Ireland’s history that is truly authentic.

Address: Ashford Castle Dr, Ashford Or Cappacorcoge, Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Contact: +353 94 954 6003

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Alila Fort Bishangarh
Rajasthan, India

Sat on the granite hilltop on the outskirts of Jaipur was once an 18th-century fort known as Fort Bishangarh. Built on a land once ruled by kings and clans, the 230-year-old fort underwent almost 10 years of reconstruction before being reintroduced to the public as a luxury resort.

This hilltop resort looks majestic and offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the Rajasthani landscape. The fort’s rugged exterior is complemented by refined interiors of suites, terraces, a poolside restaurant, and elegant bars to give guests a lavish experience.

Address: Off Nh-8 At Manoharpur Bishangarh Village, Jaipur Bishangarh, Manoharpur, Rajasthan 303104, India
Contact: +91 1422 276 500

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Four Seasons Sultanahmet
Istanbul, Turkey

If there are two words that simply do not go together, they are ‘luxury’ and ‘prison’. Yet, that is precisely what the Four Seasons in Istanbul formerly was. This unique establishment, built by the Ottomans in 1918, has housed many dissident writers and poets over the years.

It’s hard to notice the rich history of this place and the significant subjects who resided in it while it operated as a detention centre with a single glance. During its renovation, the 100-year-old building’s original marble and stones were preserved in some areas of the property. Neoclassicism richly influenced the interiors and decor of the now luxury hotel.

Address: Sultanahmet, Tevkifhane Sk. No:1, 34122, Türkiye
Contact: +90 212 402 30 00

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Villa Mabrouka
Tangier, Morocco

Not all history dates back centuries; Villa Mabrouka, also known as ‘The House Of Luck’, perfectly exemplifies that. Fashion and design lovers might be especially intrigued by this property, which was the former home of French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent in 1997.

No expense is spared in the now 12-suite villa set in a 1940s modernist house in Tangier’s enchanting gardens. It’s beautiful at every angle, surrounded by lush greens, clear blue skies, and the glistening sea.

The former master bedroom is doused in hints of sage green, Tuscan yellow, and cornflower blue as an ode to Laurent’s favourite colours, which is also reflected through the room’s paintwork and tiles. Apart from being truly one of the most stunning rentals in the world, it is also incredibly calm and tranquil, adding to the allure of this historic beauty.

Address: Villa Mabrouka, 1 Sidi Bouknadel, Tangier 90000, Morocco
Contact: +212 (0) 808 52 6436

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The Ned
London, United Kingdom

Designed by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924, the former Midland Bank Headquarters now runs as a sophisticated hotel and member’s club, drawing A-listers, royals, and socialites to its doors. If that doesn’t sound like it has the markings of the next Ocean’s film series, we don’t know what does.

Elegant and classical decor sweeps through the hotel’s 1920s Edwardian interiors. Nine restaurants, cafes and bars occupy the old bank hall with booth seatings in a classic wood-panelled bank teller cabin. Accommodating an elite guest list requires the utmost when it comes to service.

You’ll find a barbershop, makeup parlour and nail bar, boxing ring, as well as an underground spa tucked away in the old bank vault that looks like it came out of an old James Bond movie. The rooftop pool and bar in the safety deposit room are reserved for club ‘Members & Guests Only’, which again, could very well come right out of a movie.

Address: 27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ, United Kingdom
Contact: +44 20 3828 2000

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Mystery Hotel
Budapest, Hungary

Myths, secrets, and stories untold surround the Mystery Hotel in Budapest. Its history dates back to 1886 when two Freemasonry groups, Blue Lodge and Scottish Ritual Grand Orients, came together to create the first headquarters of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary. This establishment has lived several lives, being used as a military hospital during World War I, and when the Masonic activity was banned in Hungary in 1029, it was occupied by the government until the end of World War II.

If these walls could talk, who knows the stories they’d tell? The palace was used in many ways over the years until 2019, when it was launched as a 5-star luxury hotel. The eclectic-themed hotel’s refurbishment was greatly inspired by its old tales and lore from books and movies, making it one of the more unique stays in the region.

Address: Budapest, Podmaniczky u. 45, 1064 Hungary
Contact: +36 1 616 6000

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