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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Hotels That Were Homes

Ten cozy accommodations with rich residential histories.

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If there is a single aim common to hoteliers, it is the desire to make guests feel at home. While purpose-built hotels can offer comfortable uniformity, there is a subtle but unmistakable aura that is exclusive to a building that has been lived in and loved—whose occupants called it home. Some of the world’s most unique hotels, while renovated and updated sometimes beyond recognition, have retained this homey legacy, exhibiting atmospheres that are imbued with a sense of welcome.

Many of these hotels offer features that their original occupants most likely never imagined. Palacio Nazarenas, in Cuzco, Peru, is a boutique hotel that served as a convent during the 1700s and now infuses its air with oxygen to counteract the city’s 11,000-foot elevation. The hotel’s in-house spa features ritual flower baths, and while the treatments may have been inspired by Incan ceremonies, the hot tub is a modern-day addition.

On the other side of the world, Asian hotels showcase their histories to great effect. In the beautifully preserved city of Luang Prabang, Laos, a royal residence is now open to guests at Villa Maly, an elegant Asian-fusion boutique hotel. In Sri Lanka, a 17th-century relic once occupied by a Dutch gem merchant now hosts travelers seeking colonial aesthetics coupled with contemporary amenities. And in Istanbul, a private cinema and personal trainers reside in an 18th-century pasha’s mansion.

Our list of ten properties proves that when it comes to leisure travel, there is truly no place like home.

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