The Check In: Hotels with a History

These remarkable makeovers are bringing the past to life again.

The Check In: Hotels with a History

Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey

Photo courtesy of Congress Hall

We love the new and renovated properties across the globe that are playing up their rich history, from the tiny Asian island nation of Sri Lanka to the southern tip of New Jersey. Read on for the five new stays that history buffs will love.

The Watergate Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Reopening in early May after a multi-million dollar renovation, the Watergate Hotel is embracing its historic role in the Nixon scandal and preserving the 336-room hotel’s original mid-century look. Guests can try French-American cuisine at the Kingbird and sip on top-notch whiskey at The Next Whisky Bar. Don’t miss the new rooftop space, which offers 360-degree views of the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Potomac River

Congress Hall, Cape May, New Jersey

America’s oldest seaside resort is finishing guest room renovations just in time to celebrate its 200th anniversary. Located right on the water in Cape May, New Jersey, the historic Congress Hall will have three major celebratory events for its bicentennial year, starting with Memorial Day Weekend’s Honoring the Past—a picnic on the Grand Lawn with live music from the Bay Atlantic Symphony. During July and August, Civil War era-inspired dinners will take place inside the ballroom.

Ritz Paris

Following an extensive renovation that took more than three years, the iconic 1898 Ritz Paris is slated to reopen in the beginning of June (rescheduled after a two-month delay caused by a fire). Since closing its doors in 2012, architect Thierry W. Despont has elegantly updated the interiors, with 21st-century touches such as retractable roofs and heated floors, while preserving the original Empire style and fine wood paneling. Longtime guests will feel at home in the original L’Espadon restaurant and Bar Hemingway, while seeing new faces, such as chef Nicolas Sale, who received four Michelin stars for his restaurants in Courchevel, France.

Galle Face Hotel, Sri Lanka

This 152-year-old retreat, located on the island’s west coast, underwent a complete restoration of its North Wing last year, which included 72 rooms and suites and prominent public spaces such as the Sea Spray restaurant. There’s also a new L’Occitane spa opening in June. Learn more about the property’s history with new Heritage Tours, which take guests on a guided stroll through the hotel’s onsite museum—from Prince Philip’s first personal car to a cannonball that hit the hotel in 1845. The tour also includes behind-the-scene looks at spaces unavailable to the public—such as the office space where Arthur C. Clarke finished 3001: The Final Odyssey.

Ritz-Carlton, Budapest

The luxury hotel group just debuted in a historic 1914 building in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. The facade reflects old-world architecture with its original art nouveau details, while the interiors are thoroughly modern, with contemporary art on the walls and sleek contemporary furnishings. An added bonus: some of the city’s most notable historic sites, such as St. Stephen’s Basilica and the River Danube, are within walking distance of the hotel.

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