As we get ready for the future, let’s take one more look back at the past. These hotels were new to our selection in 2023, but make their home in old buildings that have been lovingly updated.
Renovated. Restored. Reclaimed. Repurposed. Rejuvenated. However it was done by these hotels, it was done well. These are some of our favorite hotels added to Tablet in the last year that have made amazing use of an aging structure. Some are in buildings that had been hotels for decades — updated and ready again for another century in the hospitality spotlight. Others have laid down their roots in places no one ever could’ve imagined becoming a hotel. Until now.
Read all of our 2023 year-end retrospectives:
San Francisco, CA, USA
The hotel formerly known as the Sir Francis Drake is back in business after a very thorough renovation; Beacon Grand is a welcome re-addition to a city that just doesn’t feel complete without a proper grand hotel presiding over the corner of Powell and Sutter. And while the updates are significant, they haven’t papered over the details that connect this hotel with San Francisco’s history.
Ex Libris is the name of the building — this was once the home of the Diário Ilustrado newspaper, and even now its ground floor contains a bookstore called Livraria Camões. Upstairs, in the residential portion of the building, is Almaria Ex Libris Apartments, whose units are every bit as stylish as any boutique hotel rooms in town, but which are unmistakably full-featured apartments.
A beautiful neo-Baroque building on the Marktplatz square in the center of the old town, along with the adjoining 1920s commercial building, forms the setting for the Hotel Märthof, a boutique hotel that is at once a celebration of a hundred-plus years of local history and an introduction to a youthful and energetic side of Basel.
Hotel Indigo Bath is a fine demonstration of how the IHG-owned Hotel Indigo brand does it best: take a type of building that’s characteristic of its setting, in this case a row of honey-colored Georgian townhouses dating to 1740, and transform it into something that’s roughly one part modern luxury-hotel sheen and one part authentic local color.
A relatively remote corner of Crete is where you’ll find White River Cottages, a collection of stone houses in a valley called Aspros Potamos, whose direct translation gives the hotel its name. It’s a refreshingly tranquil and pastoral experience, with an atmosphere that’s a fine mix of rough-edged rustic charm and contemporary boutique-hotel polish.
The clapboard house containing De Durgerdam was, from the 17th century on, a fisherman’s inn — now, with some help from a modern addition, it’s a 14-room luxury boutique hotel with personality and atmosphere to spare. Inside you’ll find a hotel that’s a tribute to the house’s maritime history, but not a reproduction — the style is eclectic, with plenty of modern influence alongside its historical details.
Not far from the Emerald Coast of northeastern Sardinia is a classic farmhouse complex that’s been transformed into a luxe and glamorous modern boutique hotel. Cascioni Eco Retreat is, as its name suggests, not just about luxury; its mission is to be a good steward of the land that it occupies, and to immerse its guests in the island’s considerable natural splendor.
This Palladian manor dates back to 1728, and became a hotel in 1959; it was a bona fide celebrity haunt during its days of glamour in the late 20th century. Today, after a thorough renovation by a new set of owners, it’s an aesthetic triumph: a historical hotel that does justice to its heritage, while also presenting a fresh look and a modern sensibility.
This neo-Baroque telegraph office was built back in 1910, in an era when even utilitarian industrial structures were expected to serve a partly ornamental purpose. And today this landmark has been put to a use that brings it into more direct contact, inside and out, with the public. Hotel Telegraphenamt is perfectly emblematic of the historic patchwork that is present-day Berlin.
The village of Puligny-Montrachet is most famous for its association with the Montrachet vineyard, one of Burgundy’s most prestigious Grand Crus. COMO Le Montrachet occupies four stately 19th-century buildings at the heart of the village, enough space for 30 rooms and suites. Inside, designer Paola Navone’s work is true to the historic setting, but is less a faithful reconstruction and more a stylized tribute.
Mérida is relatively under-traveled compared to the Yucatán’s famous coastal destinations, but well worth a visit — especially with hotels like the stunning Decu Downtown. The location is central, though the inside-out compound-like construction of the old house means the experience is a remarkably tranquil one. Visually it’s an inspired blend of classic colonial-era architecture and modern design.
Set within the stone walls of a 16th-century manor house, this 16-room luxury boutique hotel makes a compelling case for the Rioja lifestyle: rich history, modern design, artfully prepared local cuisine, and some extraordinary wine. The rooms are full of rich color and natural textures, and can be opened to the sunlight and to views of the river, the vineyards, or the village.