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Travel Through Time

Perfect Stays
Helena Hon

Get transported into another zone with these beautiful buildings that have been taken out of history and returned as hotels in the present time.

Once upon a time, these places were prisons, bullfighting rings, granaries, fortresses, theatres and even English manors. These days, after given a makeover while preserving as much heritage as possible, these refurbished structures offer travellers a unique and immersive blast-from-the-past experience as nightly accommodations. Travel through the passage of time and see some of the world’s most historic buildings that have been transformed into hotels.

Macalister Mansion, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia


Macalister Mansion, located on 228, Macalister Road, Georgetown, Penang, was once the home of Penang's British Governor, Colonel Norman Macalister who served on the island from 1808 to 1810. He was lost at sea in 1810 while travelling back to his native Scotland during the time when Penang was still known as "Prince of Wales Isle".

The English manor he lived in has since been conserved and converted into a sophisticated boutique hotel. Offering only eight rooms, each room is individually designed and features stylish, modern decor combined with 19 th century elements, luxurious bathroom fixtures, and specially commissioned art pieces on the walls. An outdoor pool and a lovely garden is just outside for rest and relaxation, while for food and drinks, there are four restaurants and bars within the premises, each with its own distinct personality.

Alila Fort Bishangarh, Jaipur, India


As the name suggests ─ this was once a fort, a palace stronghold complete with gun turrets back in the 18 th century. Renovations and restorations of 10 years reinstated Jaipur Gharana to its former glory, right down to its wavy hallway arches and intricately-carved ornamental windows.

Within the 59 tastefully appointed luxury suites (complete with Wi-Fi access and flat screen TVs) in 22 intricate layouts, get a feel of what Indian royalty of days of old - or even modern ones - must have felt, living in such plush quarters with opulent furnishings, both modern and antique. Add to experience with fine dining in what was once the royal quarters, enjoy a cigar and drinks in the towering turrets, and get a relaxing massage at the spa in the dungeones! Outside, you get 360 degree views of the majestic Aravalli Mountain Range.

The Granary La Suite Hotel, Wroclaw, Poland


If the red bricks and barrel-arched ceilings don’t give the game away, its name will. The Granary La Suite Hotel was once… yes, you guessed it ─ a granary, a storage facility for grain harvests. Back in the 16 th century, this was the Herren-Malzchoff granary built to hold chaffed wheat in Count Rozdrażewski's estate. In 1765, it became a part of the Slodownicza Street Brewery until 1904 when malt production was suspended. Left neglected, decay set in followed by a war and a fire. Today, it is a five-star luxury boutique hotel located within 8 minutes from Wroclaw’s Old Town Market Square.

The Granary La Suite offers 46 exclusive suites and apartments featuring parts of the original granary fused with contemporary décor. Garden-level rooms have patios and original vaulted brick ceilings as well as hand-crafted furniture, while upper floors feature contemporary designs with glass ceilings.

The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Oh irony of ironies, they chose to call it Liberty Hotel. Why? Because it was once a prison!


Back in 1851, it was known as the Charles Street Jail, a 222-granite celled penitentiary that held inmates as famous as Malcom X, among others. Over time, it got overcrowded and the jail closed down. It re-emerged again in 2007 as a stunning 16-floor, 288-room and 10-suite luxury hotel. Think of the set for any prison movie, but done up in modern, updated art- deco style with black iron chandeliers and balustrades. The in-room decor are just as stately, with leather, iron and dark wood furniture amid brightly-lit spaces with large floor-to-ceiling windows.

As a testament to its dedication to preserving the spirit of the building, Liberty Hotel has won a string of awards for heritage preservation including the “Preservation Achievement Award for Significant Renovation and Restoration” from the Boston Preservation Alliance, an “Award of Excellence” granted by the Urban Land Institute, Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List” and Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston.”

Hotel Quinta Real, Zacatecas, Mexico


You might be tempted to shout out loud, “Ole, Toro!” when you step into Quinta Real in Zacatecas, Mexico because this hotel was a bullfighting ring!

Built around the actual circular bullring that was the former 19 th century San Pedro bullfighting arena, this 49-room hotel emanates enchantment, adventure and el fervour from every corner of its ancient stone walls. Room decor is classic and luxurious, while you get to appreciate the hotel’s past at La Plaza Restaurant, at the edge of the hotel’s ring, or at Botarel Bar, set within the arched tunnels of the former bullpens.

Ace Hotel, Los Angeles, California

Would you like to stay in the theatre Charlie Chaplin founded? That would be at the United Artists Building and Theatre that opened in 1927, which housed the United Artists Studio that Chaplin founded along with other artists from that era.


Eighty seven years later, the landmark building became a 182-room boutique establishment called the Ace Hotel. Featuring industrial chic with retro elements, there are portions of the building’s original parts in the rooms updated with modern in-room facilities. Some rooms even include an acoustic guitar just in case you want to strum some chords while staying in Los Angeles’ creativity centre. Meanwhile, at the centre of the hotel’s gravity is the 1,600- seat, three-storey theatre featuring a Spanish gothic interior with vaulted ceilings, gothic chandeliers and stone spires and movie star murals, where movie screenings, live performances and events are still held.

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