These 6 Insight hotels have fascinating histories 

by | 4 Jul 2024

A hotel shouldn’t just be somewhere you rest your head for the night – a truly incredible hotel will enhance your whole travel experience, which is why with Insight Vacations you’ll only stay at 4- and 5-star hotels on every trip. Here are six Insight hotels you can stay at that have fascinating histories, from an actual castle to a colonial hacienda. 

Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness  

Sacred Valley, Peru 

outside aranawa sacred valley hotel peru

Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness, found in the town of Urubamba, Peru, was chosen at the second-best hotel in South American and the fourteenth in the world according to readers of Condé Nast Traveler. Built along the riverbank against a stunning backdrop of the Vilcanota mountain range, you’re not short of views here; all rooms offer views of the gardens, the inland lakes or the colonial mansion. The building sits on the lands of an elegantly restored old 17th-century colonial hacienda, though it manages to blend ancient Inca culture and colonial decor in style. Guests can take a tour of the museum to learn about the heritage of the estate, and visit that Chapel San Pedro y San Pablo on-site. The spacious, minimalist rooms are the perfect place to recharge before you explore Machu Picchu – as is the 25,000-square-foot spa. 

Stay here on: Peru with Machu Picchu and Peru with Machu Picchu and Nazca Lines Women Only 

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Hilton Molino Stucky 

Venice, Italy 

Hotel Molino Stucky from the canal Venice

Venice’s Hilton Molino Stucky started with humble beginnings as mill – not too humble, as it was in fact one of Europe’s largest flour mills in the 1890s, built by Swiss-Venetian businessman Giovanny Stucky. Constructed in Venice’s Giudecca Island neighborhood at the site of two former convents, the buildings were made in the style of Gothic Revival architecture. At its peak, the mill employed 1,500 people on a 24-hour work schedule, making Stucky one of the wealthiest people in Venice. All his success led to an unfortunate end however, as Stucky was assassinated by a disgruntled worker in 1910). The following years weren’t kind to the industry, and the mill closed its doors in 1955. A huge restoration project began many decades later in the late 1990s to transform the mill into a hotel, completed only in 2007 when it reopened under the Hilton family. Now, guests can enjoy unparalleled views of Venice from the highest rooftop bar in the city, complete with a rooftop pool too. 

 

M’Ar de Ar Aqueduto 

Lisbon, Portugal 

m'ar de ar aqueduto evora portugal terrace

Found in the town of Évora – just an hour outside of Lisbon – which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, M’Ar de Ar Aqueduto is a boutique five-star hotel. Incredible views of the town’s famous 16th century aqueduct inspired the name of the hotel, but the building itself is rich in history. Built in the old 16th century palace of the Sepulveda family, it’s been converted into a modern, airy space while keeping historical accents – most impressively, the original chapel has been preserved, vaulted ceilings and all. Enjoy views of the aqueduct from the poolside, taste a combination of Alentejo and Mediterranean cuisines under the brilliant Chef António Nobre. The hotel’s excellent location in the heart of Évora means you’re just moments away from exploring its historic streets and unique architecture. 

Stay here on: Country Roads of Portugal and Country Road of Portugal Women Only 

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Bovey Castle  

Devon, England 

Bovey Castle dining room, Devon, England 

Nestled in the rolling valleys of Dartmoor National Park among 275 acres of picturesque countryside you’ll find Bovey Castle – which isn’t technically a real castle, but a very grand manor house. It was built in 1907 as a rural retreat for the family of William Henry Smith, heir to the WH Smith stationery dynasty (who later became Viscount Hambleden). Originally named the Manor House, it even became a military hospital during World War II. After Viscount Hambleden died, The Manor House was sold to the Great Western Railway for conversion into a golfing hotel, though was only in 2003 that it was renamed Bovey Castle. Enjoy a whiskey by the fireplace in the wood-paneled Oak Bar, or make the most of the award-winning 18-hole golf course and two restaurants. 

 

Hotel Altes Brauhaus  

Rothenburg, Germany 

Hotel Altes Brauhaus dining room, Rothenburg, Germany

The history of Hotel Altes Brauhaus dates back to 1698, when it was built in Rothenburg by the municipal authorities and opened as a Stately Brewery. It wasn’t until August 1804 that Johann Georg Roth bought the brewery at an auction, marking the first time it was privately owned – though this proved a smart business move, and the brewery was soon so successful it had to expand to a second larger site. In 1984, the Beugler family renovated the old brewery buildings to create a 60-room hotel, combining modern amenities with the building’s history – you’ll enjoy breakfast in the old brewhouse.  

Stay here on: Best of Germany 

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Ashford Castle 

County Mayo, Ireland 

Aerial view of Ashford Castle, Ireland

As Insight hotels go, this one is particularly impressive – the chance to stay in an actual castle isn’t one that comes around very often, not least one that dates all the way back to the year 1228. Given its history, it’s unsurprising that Ireland’s Ashford Castle has had many owners through the centuries. The medieval castle started as the stronghold of the ancient, powerful Anglo-Norman de Burgo dynasty, and has passed through the hands of Dominick Browne (one of the first Catholics to serve as Mayor of Galway), the famed Guinness family, and eventually into the possession of hotel businessman Noel Huggard, who transformed it into a renowned country hotel. Its guestlist is something to behold too; past patrons have included Oscar Wilde, both John Lennon and George Harrison, Ronald Reagan, Barbara Streisand, and Brad Pitt. Prepare to stroll its 350-acre estate, lounge in antique furniture, and dine like royalty when you stay here with Insight Vacations. 

Want to stay in one of these historical Insight hotels, or one of our many more incredible 4- and 5-star hotels? Explore our Insight Vacations tours here.

Jess is an experienced writer and editor, with 6 years' experience working within the whisky industry. Her work has taken her to Scotland and beyond, while her personal travel highlights include backpacking around Vietnam with her sister, trips to California, Madrid, and the Greek islands.

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