Five hotels with iconic history

16 Mar 2011

A hotel with the greatest facilities and technological offerings will be incomplete without a strategic location. This will always be the property’s greatest selling point. Below are five hotels in iconic spots that not only have historical significance but also are landmarks in convenient locations for the discerning business traveller:



The 112-room Doubletree by Hilton set up shop in the former Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court. It was a historic court whose halls witnessed high-profile hearings, such as Oscar Wilde’s libel case against the Marquess of Queensbury for calling him a “sodomite” in 1895 to Mick Jagger’s trial for possession of marijuana in 1969. The court was transformed into a hotel after the last case was heard in 1981. Besides its historic pedigree, the hotel’s location in SoHo, just a short walk away from Selfridges and Piccadilly Circus, makes it at the centre of London’s entertainment and shopping district.

The edge:  The Bar, the hotel’s lobby lounge, features the original prison cell blocks as VIP sections. Similarly, the restaurant Silk features the original judge’s bench, dock and witness stands.

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The name of the hotel conjures up images of old Shanghai before and after the 1949 revolution during the Communist take over. Before the revolution, the North Building was known as the Sassoon House with the Cathay Hotel on the fifth to seventh floors named after the successful entrepreneur, Sir Victor Sassoon. The rest of the building housed a shopping arcade and offices. The South Building, built in 1908, was once the Palace Hotel. At the time, it was not only the tallest building on Nanjing Road, but also the only one to have two elevators.

In 1952, the Municipal Government took over both buildings and renamed it the “Peace Hotel”. Now, the property is the most recognisable landmark on The Bund, symbolising China’s evolution into the second largest economy in the world. 

The edge: The Nine Nations Suites, first envisioned by Sir Victor Sassoon, reflect the cultures of nine different countries. The original Chinese, Indian, English and American suites have been preserved from Sassoon’s time, while new additions include the French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and German suites.

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During the British era, Jamshedji Tata – a noted Indian entrepreneur who founded the Tata Group – decided to build a luxurious hotel in Mumbai to compete with the “whites only” Watson’s Hotel, which was prominent at the time.

With the building of the hotel, Tata introduced for the first time in India modern conveniences such as German elevators. The much-anticipated hotel in the heart of Mumbai’s main cultural and commercial hub opened in 1903. Two decades later, the Gateway of India was built directly opposite the hotel to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai (they never showed up). Since then, the hotel with its distinguished dome alongside the Gateway has played an important role in Mumbai’s history and development, accommodating famous names including the Prince of Wales, The Beatles and most recently President Barack Obama.

The edge: The hotel provides guests with the Taj Luxury Yacht cruises that take guests from the Gateway of India out to the Elephanta Caves.

For more information, click here.



The building of the hotel itself was done during the Colonial Era and was once the General Post Office, all of which is reflected in the architecture of the structure. It wasn’t until after Singapore gained independence in 1963 that the property was transformed to serve as a hotel while preserving the architectural details to maintain an old age charm. Furthermore, the property itself is across the road from Clifford Pier – also a historical landmark built in 1933 as a landing point for immigrants – and therefore within Singapore’s CBD.

The edge: The hotel boasts the Fullerton Heritage Gallery showcasing the history of the hotel and its surroundings.

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The Galleria, a domed street connecting the Duomo and Teatro alla Scala, was first visualised by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni. Since its inception in 1865, King Vittorio Emanuele II wanted the space to be used for prestigious meetings and balls thus the spot earned the title “Salotto di Milano” – Milano’s Drawing Room. Now, the Galleria is Milan’s shopping, dining and entertainment centre. The all-suites Town House Galleria Hotel lies within the four storeys of this landmark making it one of the most luxurious hotels in Milan.

What more could a guest in Milan ask for than the entire Galleria at their doorstep?

The edge: All suites are equipped with laptop computers attached to a colour printer and fax machine.

For more information, visit

Alisha Haridasani

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