By Rebecca Dalzell
Updated: February 02, 2017

Two historic European buildings are being reborn as luxury hotels. Which becomes a legend most?

Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna
Auspicious Origins:
A hotel built for the 1873 World Exhibition.
Humdrum Later Tenants: Police HQ (1875 to 1945) and Health Department (1941 to 1997).
Surprise Visitors: Ladies of the evening, who frequented the Health Department for checkups.
Design Flourishes: New custom bird’s-eye-maple furniture gives the neo-Renaissance building some Art Deco flair.
Best View: Roomy third-floor balconies overlook the chestnut trees on the Ringstrasse.
Ask the Concierge To... Arrange a tour of hidden vineyards within the city.
Vital Statistics: 152 rooms; opened March 2013. $$$

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg (pictured)
Auspicious Origins: The 1800’s residence of Princess Cleopatra Lobanova-Rostovskaya.
Humdrum Later Tenants: The Ministry of War (1824 to 1917).
Surprise Visitors: German bombs during World War II’s Siege of Leningrad.
Design Flourishes: The chandeliers and light fixtures are based on original drawings by palace architect Auguste de Montferrand.
Best View: All fifth-floor rooms face the gilt dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
Ask the Concierge To... Introduce you to the ballerinas backstage at the new Mariinsky II Theater.
Vital Statistics: 177 rooms; opening August 2013. $$$

Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000