Why settle for a cottage when you could have a castle? We're aiming for the (architectural) stars: history-rich palazzos and filthy-rich mansions beckon -- the more historic, the more dramatic, the more all-out opulent the better. Luckily, the Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotel collection has more than its fair share of princely piles, no matter what your style.
Check out their top palatial picks.
Imagine growing up in a palace. Thai Prince Souphanouvong knows how it feels -- daffodil-yellow Satri House in Lao was his childhood home. These days, you can feel princely, too, thanks to the spectacular high-ceilinged spa and fragrant restaurant, where guests can sample a symphony of Lao and Thai spices.
Room to book: Feeling flush? Secluded Satri House Suite 422 has a lounge bedecked with antiquities. Every room boasts four-poster beds, retro phones and wooden furnishings from an era when quality meant more than quantity.
This vaulted palace perched on a Tuscan hilltop once housed a naughty cardinal and his female 'friends'. And you can't blame the guy for enjoying himself -- the 15th-century building boasts mind-bogglingly beautiful frescoes, domed ceilings and terraces overlooking the bucolic landscapes. It's even more sinful these days, thanks to the gilded restaurant, and the subterranean spa, which has a Turkish bath, saltwater pool and treatments.
Room to book: Fresco fans should request Room 1, Cardinal Bontadosi's original study, which has frescoes covering every rafter, including the walls and domed ceiling.
It's not difficult to make a dramatic entrance here: the hotel's huge, wrought-iron gates and towering marble columns do the hard work for you. Hailing from the 18th-century, this particular palace is a masterful renovation brought up to date: sleek modern fittings in rooms, and a bright-white restaurant in the basement.
Room to book: It's all about the Suites: majestic, elegant, grand, you name it. They have towering ceilings and windows, original architectural details (carved doors, hand-painted panels) and subtly thrown-in modern luxuries (Macs and flatscreens).
Domed, turreted, and as golden as the sand it sits on, Mihir Gahr looks like the aftermath of a playful Titan's day at the desert: a sandcastle on the grandest scale. A fleet of Marwari stallions add to the living-an-Indian-fairytale feel, as do the camels, deer and prancing gazelles that call this patch of Jodhpur home.
Room to book: The nine luxe suites feature jewel-bright fabrics, striking fireplaces and curvaceous stone bath tubs. In summer, the standout is the Alishan Suite, complete with private plunge pool and deck.
First up, this is a bona fide castle -- stays don't get statelier. When you want to live life like the landed British gentry: tennis whites crisply ironed, pearls gleaming, G&Ts in hand, hounds yapping away in the background. In such moods, Amberley Castle calls. Wannabe aristocrats should take to the 18-hole putting course, tennis courts or croquet lawn.
Room to book: Try to stay in the main body of the castle. Amberley has a sumptuous bed, his 'n' hers bathrooms and a window-seat looking over the courtyard.
Want to combine mediaeval charm with Michelin-starred cuisine and top-notch wine? Let us introduce Chateau de Bagnols, a Lyonnaise lair with a moat, drawbridge and towers of honey-coloured stone. Its restaurant, La Salle des Gardes, serves modern French fare, as well as traditional dishes and spit-roasted meats and game.
Room to book: We love the arched ceiling, 17th-century frescoes and gilded four-poster in junior suite Gaspard Dugue (Room 8). The room was once part of the chapel where its namesake wed in 1609.
Like all palaces, Schlosshotel had dramatic beginnings: built by the Kaiser as a gift for his lawyer (or perhaps said lawyer's very delightful wife). The hotel is something of a trendsetter, having been styled by the shades-toting, stern-faced, white-haired fashion legend that is Lagerfeld.
Room to book: We love Monrepose Suite, which has an elegant dove-grey and charcoal palette, with antique cabinets, sofas in rich berry shades, iron casts and regal-looking portraits.
Yes, the setting is Massachusetts through and through -- the beautiful Berkshire Hills – but shut your mind to this fact and soak up the mood: mediaeval Florentine grandeur. Even a Medici would be impressed by what's on offer: fine French dining, lush landscaped grounds, antique furnishings and a gallery-load of contemporary art.
Room to book: The Aviary's the grandest pad, with two floors joined by a circular staircase encased in glass and a private terrace. At the other end of the scale, the adorably chic Small Room, (voted one of the world's most luxurious) has an air of a ship's cabin about it.
This palatial hotel is as high-impact as a Brazilian supermodel in a banana-yellow Versace bikini. Which is no coincidence: the villa used to be the designer's Miami home. All the prints are present -- leopard, zebra, floral, graphic, mock-Renaissance, mock-Italian --alongside frescoes, trompe l'oeil, baroque flounces, velvet, tassels, leather, curlicues and drapes.
Room to book: We love the Venus Suite for pure romance. Closer to an apartment, Donatella's former boudoir even has two balconies: one overlooking Ocean Drive, the other the mansion's Thousand Mosaic Pool.
If playboys could pray, they'd ask for heaven to look like Cuixmala. The Moorish playground was once home to British billionaire James Goldsmith, who hosted visiting VIPs, including Kissinger, Reagan and Nixon. As you'd expect, there's plenty to keep you from boredom: 25,000-acre grounds, tennis court, clubhouse, massages and beauty treatments.
Room to book: The enormous La Loma was Sir Jimmy's private house, so naturally it's the most opulent: four bedrooms, an outdoor Jacuzzi, a mini cinema, lounges and dining rooms galore, and more than a passing resemblance to Florence's Duomo.
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