Around the World in 80 Hotels (6)
In 30 years the author of these lines has researched the history of about 500 of The Most Famous Hotels in the World, and has written over 50 history books about them.
A journey around the world took Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's novel 80 days, but it can also take you to 80 different hotels. Speed is only a virtue if you are racing. Many believe that your far-travelled Louis Vuitton luggage set or your Palladium and Centurion Cards are the standard-bearers, but trust me: time is the true sign of wealth.
PART 6: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — CANADA — BAHAMAS — CUBA — BRAZIL — ARGENTINA — CHILE — JAMAICA — IRELAND
When we board a steamer to the United States, the next stop is Hawaii with its Halekulani and Moana. Later we arrive in San Francisco, where another earthquake made The Fairmont on San Francisco's Nob Hill an institution. The setting for the TV series Hotel, based on Arthur Hailey's bestseller is a symbol of San Francisco. The hotel dates back to 1906, when the Great Fire following an earthquake, destroyed most of the city. The Fairmont stood – Parthenon-like – at the top of the hill, whilst all around there was devastation and rubble. We spent only one week at the hotel, not enough to research its history.
The map of America reveals a stunning density of grand historic hotels.
Crossing the US from West to East you have an armada of legendary hotels. Let me drop some names: Beverly Hills, various Plazas, Breakers, Biltmore, Don Cesar, St Regis, Mayfair, Brown Palace, Jefferson, Pfister, Lenox, Poca Raton. We spent interesting days at Washington’s Hay Adams and researched at the Library of Congress.
Grand Hotel Macinack
The Waldorf-Astoria in its new location.
Built in less than two years.
New York hosts the legendary Waldorf-Astoria (opened in 1931 with 1,410 rooms it is the largest hotel in the world), where gatherings of celebrities are on the daily schedule. Conrad Hilton acquired it after dreaming of it as the 'greatest of them all'. We stayed at the Waldorf Towers in a gigantic president’s suite. Many years later our research team produced a you-tube-hit about building the hotel in less than two years.
Canada offers a unique series of wonderful hotels, notably a collection of fairy tale castles, such as the railway hotels Chateaux Frontenac, Lake Louise and Laurier.
Down south, the Bahamas and the Caribbean have their splendid spots. In Cuba a handful of famous hotels doze in the streets of Havana, among them the Ambos Mundos, cultivating faded memories of past grandeur.
In Brazil we swing to Samba at the 1923 Copacabana Palace while Argentina welcomes us at the Alvear Palace (1932) and The Plaza (1909). In Santiago de Chile we visit the Hotel Carrera and the classic ski resort of Portillo nearby.
On our way back to Europe we stop at Jamaica's legendary Half Moon resort. It offers 3 kilometres of undisturbed private coast, with beaches, horse riding, dolphin watching and, that luxury called, tranquillity. We explore the island, once the first of all discovered by Christopher Columbus. On Jamaica Ian Fleming had written each of his James Bond novels, English artist Noel Coward had his villa there. It seems to be a good place for writers.
The style of room service reflects the style of a hotel. The Half Moon Hotel on Jamaica — we dare to say — is certainly unique.
Returning to Europe, we moor at Ireland's west coast to enjoy the hospitality of the romantically situated Ashford Castel, which became a hotel in 1939. The Shelbourne in Dublin, the capital of the green island, dating back to 1824, was home to John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, in 1958.
We cross the sea to England and here we are, back to the start of our trip. I must confess that there were now more than 80 hotels in this story. Sorry, I got carried away.
The complete list of The Most Famous Hotels in the World can be found under HOTELS. Should you fancy a new round trip around the globe, I can only recommend our complete list of hotels, or the timeline of their openings. Both provide you with your very personal trip down memory lane. Have a great journey, and let me know, when you have arrived at one of our famous hotels.
* Andreas Augustin is a writer and traveler. With The Most Famous Hotels in the World he has founded an organisation to safeguard the history and cultural heritage of all legendary hotels around the world.
Hotels are listed independently, following the strict regulations of The Most Famous Hotels in the World. They were chosen by the honorable jury, regardless of their geographical location, their political environment and their commercial success.