Asia’s finest heritage hotels – Part 2
FORMER Maharajah Palaces, the abode of war correspondents and rooms that have attracted the rich and famous from around the world feature in this second part of Asia’s best heritage hotels. Featuring locations from India, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam all of these hotels are renowned not only for their historical value but their architectural style, elegance, charm and, above all, their hospitality. If you’ve just joined us, click here for Part 1 of this story.
The Laxmi Niwas Palace Hotel, Bikaner, India
This magnificent luxury heritage hotel was first built in 1902 as a home for the royal family of Bikaner and their guests. The Maharaja of Bikaner was renowned for his hospitality and at different times hosted many heads of state including King George V and Queen Mary when they were the Prince and Princess of Wales.
The palace became a hotel at the turn of the 21st Century and today its marble courtyards, colonnaded corridors, canopied balconies, lattice work in stone and wood, frescoes and mural paintings can be enjoyed by everyone. There are 42 palatial rooms, each with modern amenities and the palace lies amidst beautiful landscaped gardens.
Dr. Karni Singhji Road, Bikaner, 334001,
Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Second only in importance to Le Royal in Phnom Penh, The Grand has long been a bastion of old-world Cambodian grandeur. Since opening in the early 1930s it has been welcoming guests to Siem Reap and giving them a wonderful location from which to explore the temples of Angkor.
Today this luxury is by no means dimmed with various dining choices, including the chance to dine at one of the temples of Angkor, wonderful landscaped French gardens, modern amenities and even the original cage elevator.
1 Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Khum Svay Dang Kum, Siem Reap,
The Continental Hotel, dating to 1880, was built in the same era as many of the city’s other landmarks: the elegant Notre Dame Cathedral, the impressive Post Office and the enormous Hotel de Ville (now the People’s Community Office). And indeed history has always played a key role in the Continental. Located on Dong Khoi Street, the area has always been central to life in Saigon. In the French colonial era it was known as Catinat Street and a bustling and crowded place where the first factories were built and the first drugstore opened.
In the early days of WWII it hosted the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, award-winning writer Andre Malraux, and then British writer Graham Greene who penned “The Quiet American” while staying there as a long term guest. During WWII it was a rendezvous point for correspondents and similarly later during the American period when it was known as Tu Do street.
Today Dong Khoi Street is still a big part of life in Ho Chi Minh City with the Opera House, boutique shops and important government buildings nearby. Somehow the hotel manages to hang on to all the allure of its unique past while boasting 80 spacious and modern rooms, banquet and conference rooms and a series of restaurants and bars.
132 – 134 Dong Khoi St., Dist 1, Ho Chi Minh City,
Many of the grand old hotels in Asia can be credited to the Sarkies brothers from Armenia (including The Raffles in Singapore and the Strand Hotel in Burma from this list), but none embodies their touch more than the E&O simply because it was their first one. In 1885 they created the E&O and pronounced it “The Premier Hotel East of Suez”. It had 100 rooms with hot and cold water, telephones and was even decried as the longest hotel in the world.
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Since the days of the Sarkies the E&O has gone through two World Wars and witnessed the end of the British Empire and the birth of Malaysia. Amongst its guests it has hosted Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Herman Hesse. Through all that it has retained its charm, luxury and elegance, while adding modern comforts such as wifi connections, a spa, gym and business facilities. In 2012 the Victory Annexe was opened that features 139 sea-view suites with their own balconies.
10 Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Georgetown,
For more than 80 years Le Royal has been the epitomie of Cambodian sophistication boasting all the elegance of French colonial design and modern comforts. Since it opened in 1929 it has attracted an array of dignified guests such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Charlie Chaplin.
(ALSO ON TWA: Destination: Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
During WWII it was closed to host Japanese soldiers and in the days before the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge it was the home of journalists and war correspondents. Since those days it has undergone a health renovation and today it continues to charm visitors with a superb location in central Phnom Penh from which to visit the main sights. It also continues to win a swathe of prestigious awards from organisations such as Conde Nast Traveler and Travel+Leisure.
92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh
Click here for Part 1 of this story.