Sleep in the Heart of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in These Stunning Hotels
Some locations across the world are renowned for their stunning natural beauty, cultural contributions, and examples of ancient days they still present to travelers. Many of these locations have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites over the years, with travelers from around the world heading to the famed locations to catch a glimpse of the glory.
While staying near such locations can give you quicker access to the sites, there’s nothing quite like waking up in the heart of them to find yourself immersed in immaculate history and nature everywhere you turn. At these properties, you’ll often find exclusive entrances and extended hours for guests, while exceptional attention is paid to each detail to ensure your stay is as luxurious and mesmerizing as the setting you’re surrounded by. For that reason, you’ll find that many of the properties included are members of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which recognizes boutique hotels with one-of-a kind experiences that guests won’t find anywhere else, and will never forget.
Below, you’ll find a selection of 18 properties that will put you in the midst of magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas—Iguazu National Park
The Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas is the only hotel located inside Iguazu National Park, situated in the northeastern tip of Argentina on the border of the Brazilian state of Parana.
The park, alongside Brazil’s Iguazu National Park, “constitutes one of the most significant remnants of the so-called Interior Atlantic Forest,” according to UNESCO, with its cascading falls and subtropical rainforest terrain offering a wide array of wildlife, natural scenery, and plants to admire.
A stay at this property means you can experience all of the park’s beauty in ways most tourists never get to, with guests getting an additional six hours after closing times to explore the park, in addition to helicopter tours and speedboat tours the property provides.
The surrounding scenery can be felt throughout your stay as well, from the products sourced from the rainforest used in spa treatments, to infinity pools that sit surrounded by lush vegetation and orchid gardens.
El Convento Boutique Hotel—Antigua, Guatemala
The El Convento Boutique Hotel, one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is located in the ancient colonial town of Antigua, often referred to as La Antigua, which stood as Guatemala’s capital for more than 200 years.
According to UNESCO, here is where you'll find one of the best examples of Latin American town planning to date alongside its array of sixteenth century Baroque churches, colonial architecture, and nearby volcanoes to explore.
The hotel draws on the town’s colonial heritage with its vaulted ceilings, candlelit archways, and stone fountains, though none of the suites you’ll stay in at this property are alike. Each suite is individually designed, with some that include terraces, private gardens, and fireplaces, and most of which sit in a courtyard housing a 100-year-old Tempisque tree.
Hotel de la Soledad—Morelia, Mexico
Opening its doors to guests since the 1750s and standing today as the oldest hotel in the city of Morelia, Hotel de la Soledad invites visitors to take a step back in time at its colonial setting.
Another property within the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the hotel houses rooms containing artworks dating back to the hotel’s origin and a restaurant where you can enjoy traditional cuisine from the region underneath palm trees that align its courtyards and stone arches.
Walk through the streets of Morelia and you’ll find more than 200 historic buildings that are adorned in the region’s pink stones alongside museums, hotels, and quaint chocolate shops that come alive with the area’s many art exhibitions and free concerts. Each of its outdoor gardens creates natural vistas where you can admire the city’s surrounding hills.
Jing’s Residence—Pingyao, China
With its historic origins and architecture, Jing's Residence blends right into the ancient walled city of Pingyao it sits in. Located in the former mansion of a wealthy Qing dynasty silk merchant, the property was built more than 260 years ago before it was carefully restored with traditional features like bamboo flooring, rice paper ceilings, and intricately carved wooden framings in its 19 guestrooms and suites.
Today, its tranquil corridors are nestled around courtyards that follow the ancient architectural styles of the country, connected to one another by brick-paved walkways that come alive in the evening thanks to serene lighting that encompasses the space.
From the master suite, guests will get overarching views over Pingyao, which stands today as “an outstanding example of Han cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties,” according to UNESCO. Walk its ancient streets, where you'll find age-old shops, homes, and temples that still remain preserved today. It's also located in the province of Shanxi, which is known to offer more than 200 noodle varieties to choose from.
La Sultana Marrakech—Marakkech, Morocco
The property is located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Medina of Marrakech, just minutes away from attractions like the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, the Saadian Tombs, and the Royal Palaces and the Bahia Palace.
From inside the hotel, the area's history continues, with traditional hammams in its spa to its restaurant where you can learn how to make your own traditional tagine.
Laguna Larga Lodge—Los Alerces National Park, Argentina
For a truly private stay in nature, head to the Laguna Large Loge, located within Argentina’s Los Alerces National Park.
The hotel only accommodates eight guests at a time, with each of its rooms offering mesmerizing views of the surrounding park, lakes, and the Andes Mountains.
The park, which stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been molded by glaciers over the years to create a scenery dotted with clear-water lakes, alpine meadows, lagoons, hanging valleys, and forests composed of Alerce, which is the second longest living tree species in the world.
Enjoy all it has to offer throughout your stay, with outdoor activities that include everything from rafting and hiking to horseback riding, kayaking, and river floating before returning to your hotel to have a swim in its private dock area or to dine on traditional meats and wines from the area.
Hotel Villa Athena—Agrigento, Italy
Set in a 300-year-old villa, this luxurious Small Luxury Hotel of the World is the only five star hotel to be located within Agrigento’s archeological area of the Valley of Temples, and is the only hotel to grant guests an exclusive direct entrance into the area.
That means you can explore the centuries-old temples and structures that still remain in the ancient town, engulfed splendidly in fields and orchards, without the crowds.
Meanwhile, rooms in Hotel Villa Athena, some of which come with their very own private spa, guarantee you either views of the ancient lemon trees or views of the Temple of Concordia.
Enjoy the mesmerizing views as it becomes illuminated in the evening, either from your room or the property’s pool, and make sure to try its restaurant, where you’ll find favorite dishes like the crispy urchin egg, and dishes that incorporate oranges, pistachios, figs, and olives from the hotel’s farm.
The Luang Say Residence—Luang Prabang, Laos
The Luang Say Residence houses its guests in a colonial-style mansion in the ancient UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang.
The property, another member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has 32 suites that are spread out across five different pavilions woven through its setting of lush gardens. Rooms come with mountain or garden views, open terraces, and bathrooms that open up into gardens, while its pool sits surrounded by banana palms and lily ponds.
Once you’ve had a chance to have a drink at its bar, which dating back to 1861, head out the door to explore Luang Prabang, where you’ll find streets dotted with temples and monasteries and French colonial buildings alongside lovely sweeping mountain views.
Hotel Plitvice—Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Hotel Plitvice is one of three hotels located within the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia’s oldest and largest national park that’s famous today for its series of lakes. The hotel is the oldest in the park, constructed in the 1950s and still home to an old-world charm you’ll find today throughout its décor.
Besides its variety of rooms, you’ll find an a la carte restaurant, a lobby bar, and an outdoor terrace where you can take in the sounds of the park.
Once inside the park itself, you'll find a series of 16 lakes that cascade into one another among scenery of lush forestry and waterfalls.
Far View Lodge—Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
The lodge offers rooms that come with handcrafted furniture pieces and private balconies where you’ll get sprawling views over the park’s wildlife and stars that arrive each night.
Outside, you’ll find hundreds of ancient Pueblo Indian dwellings dating as far back as the 6th century and range from small homes to grand palaces and massive spaces housing more than 100 rooms.
Gran Hotel Son Net—Mallorca, Spain
Nestled at the foot of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, which runs along the backbone of the island of Mallorca, the secluded Gran Hotel Son Net is housed within a traditional pink-hued estate dating back to 1672.
You’ll see traces of historic remnants throughout this member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, from the arched stone entryways that line some of the suites to one of the restaurants which houses a 17thcentury olive press.
The hotel is surrounded by pine forests, soaring mountains, and tended gardens you can admire before heading to its private vineyard for wine tastings. You can also enjoy views of the Valley of Puigpunyent from its bar, have a private dinner party in its secluded treehouse space, relax in one of the cabanas that line its outdoor pool, or step outside to explore activities that range from cycling and rock climbing to hiking to the many olive terraces and ancient farming grounds that still remain in the area today.
The Majestic Malacca—Melaka, Malaysia
This Small Luxury Hotel of the World is a riverside 1920’s colonial mansion that sits in Melaka, known to have been one of Southeast Asia’s prime trading ports during the 15thcentury.
Its silks, porcelains, textiles, and spices drew interest from around the world, with The Majestic Malacca paying homage to that today with its interiors featuring porcelain flooring, silk fabrics, and antique like Straits Settlement windows in its dining room that open up to views of the Malacca River.
Everything from its restaurant, which fuses together Portuguese, Malay, Chinese and Indian flavors, to its spa villages, which incorporate regional ingredients like starfruit and tapioca masks, yogurt hair masks, guava leaf body scrubs, and bird’s nest facials, are a nod to its surroundings.
Outside, walk through Melaka and you’ll find 600-year-old pathways lined with Dutch colonial buildings and bustling night markets.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins—Yellowstone National Park
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel is usually open from mid-May through late September and early October each year, inviting visitors in to take advantage of the sprawling views that await of the world's first national park.
Once you enter, you’ll be greeted by the sounds of a string quartet as you make your way through the Colonial Revival structure, famed for its massive white columns and yellow facade that provide a striking image against the lush scenery it sits surrounded by.
Head to the Presidential Suite, complete with three rooms, two restrooms, and a living room with its own wet bar, and you can stay in the same quarters former president Calvin Coolidge would rest in.
Casa Ellul—Valletta, Malta
This 19th century palazzo sits in the historic center of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Valletta. With only nine suites, this member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World is a private paradise located just steps from the historic remnants that make Malta’s capital city a must-see.
Its rooftop suites, some of which come with traditional Maltese wooden balconies and private terraces and hot tubs, offer panoramic views over the city, while its quaint courtyard is filled with classic statues.
Outside its doors, the open-air museum of Valletta awaits, with its 320 monuments that sit within the fortified city making it what UNESCO representatives refer to as “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.”
Phantom Ranch—Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Located at the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park on the north side of the Colorado River beside Bright Angel Creek, this property is the only one you’ll find below the canyon rim and can only be accessed via mule, hiking, or through rafting on the Colorado River.
Once you’re there, you’ll find a variety of cabins that vary in size and can fit anywhere from two to 20 people, with a canteen that serves daily breakfast and dinner (though you’ll need to make reservations).
Considering its prime location, the lodge is an immensely popular one, with reservations starting to be accepted on the first of each month for the same month the following year. The park currently takes lotteries for slots and then opens up the remaining rooms to general sale on its website.
The Edison George Town—George Town, Malaysia
This restored colonial mansion was formerly commissioned for a tycoon who lived there during the 1900s, which is why you'll see opulence around every turn, from its open spaces to its glass and tile features.
Rooms at the Small Luxury Hotels of the World property lead into an open-air courtyard featuring the building's original cast-iron columns and decorative frescos, while daily complimentary drinks give you the opportunity to unwind before heading to George Town.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to not only incredible food, which the hotel's staff can give you a wide array of recommendations on, but also to booming street-art, eclectic bars, temples, and coffee shops galore.
Chuzenji Kanaya Hotel—Nikko, Japan
In the hotel, dine on traditional curry dishes while taking in views of the lake, or go for a dip in one of its natural indoor and open-air hot spring baths.
Nearby, Nikko National Park awaits with its shrines, temples, and bridges that sit scattered among waterfalls, lakes, forests, and rivers that come alive in the fall when the leaves become illuminated in rich hues of reds and oranges, making for an ideal hike.
Strawberry Hill—St. Andrew, Jamaica
The location of where Bob Marley was taken to recover after he was shot in 1976, Strawberry Hill is home to 26 acres of secluded cottages that sit nestled within Jamaica’s Blue Mountains.
Each cottage is carved into the mountains, with each veranda angled strategically to offer each room its own views, so you’ll feel like you’re the only ones on the mountain terrain. Tropical gardens surround the properties, while dinner consists of traditional dishes like lamb curry and fish stew served with a modern twists.
Make sure to take the time to go hiking around the mountain terrain with its 365 winding beds, where you can explore prime beaches and even visit the easily accessible Kingston to learn of its rich art and music history during your stay.