The Top 9 Most Iconic Hotels In The World

What makes a hotel iconic? Is it the stunning architecture, the rich history, the luxurious amenities or the famous guests who have stayed there? There is no clear answer, but some hotels have undoubtedly left their mark in the world of hospitality. From grand palaces to modern skyscrapers, here are nine of the most iconic hotels that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

Each of these hotels, with their unique allure and timeless elegance, has become a destination unto itself. They have been immortalised in literature, film and song, and have seen the comings and goings of influential figures from around the globe. Some of these establishments have played pivotal roles in historical events, while others have been the backdrop for unforgettable moments in popular culture. But more than that, these iconic hotels have defined and transformed the landscapes of their respective cities, etching their indelible mark onto the world stage.

So without further ado, let’s explore the top 9 most iconic hotels of the world and discover what sets them apart.

Top 9 Most Iconic Hotels of the World

1. The Plaza Hotel, New York

Located at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, The Plaza hotel is one of New York’s landmarks.  Opened in 1907 and recognised as a New York City landmark in 1969, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously lived here. It has also been featured in many films, notably Home Alone 2 (Where Kevin stays at the Plaza un-chaperoned when he is lost in NYC) and The Great Gatsby’s (where the climactic scene is set in the Plaza).

2. Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro

The interior of the Belmond Copacabana


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Opened in 1923, the art deco styled Belmond Copacabana Palace is located near Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. Modelled on French Riviera resorts, the hotel has 245 rooms and suites. Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and Walt Disney have stayed at this famous resort. Known for inspiring Manilow’s song Copacabana, the hotel has also had renowned musicians Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles play at the club.

3. Raffles, Singapore

Raffles Hotel. Singapore, Asia. (Photo by: Mikel Bilbao/VW PICS/UIG via Getty Images)

Opened in 1887, the Raffles has become a National Monument of Singapore. Renowned for its colonial-style architecture, the Raffles oozes old-style charm from a bygone era. It is also the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail. Famous guests have included Rudyard Kipling and Michael Jackson, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Louboutin, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

4. The Waldorf Astoria, New York

Renowned for its art deco architecture and art, the suites of the Waldorf-Astoria have hosted every president from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama. It has also hosted Hollywood royalties like Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor. In 1993 the Waldorf-Astoria was made a New York City landmark, and it is recognised for creating the Waldorf salad, red velvet cake, and being the first to provide 24-hour room service.

5. Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai

Built in 1903, the iconic sea-facing landmark of the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai is the city’s first harbour landmark. A blend of Islamic and Renaissance styles, the hotel has a history that is intrinsically linked to that of its nation. The hotel was the first to employ women and have electricity, and is renowned for having the first licensed bar in the city. The Taj Mahal Palace boasts 560 rooms and evokes the grandeur of another age with original paintings and furniture.

6. Claridge’s, London

A Mayfair mainstay, Claridge’s is an art deco masterpiece. Steeped in art deco art and architecture, Claridge’s has an unmistakeable and timeless feel. Their afternoon tea is as iconic as the location, and the breathtaking rooms were created by leading designers, like Diane von Furstenberg. Claridge’s was also a haven for foreign dignitaries in WWII, and is a mainstay for royalty and celebrities.

7. The Ritz, Paris

As iconic as the city of lights itself, the Ritz Paris demonstrates a timeless piece of French elegance and style. Located by the Tuileries Garden and overlooking Place Vendome, the Ritz Paris is most famously known for having Coco Chanel as a resident. As with many of these iconic hotels, the Ritz guest registry is a list of famous people including Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

8. The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles

Opened in 1912, the iconic hotel has hosted Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few. The famed Polo lounge was said to be a favourite of the Rat Pack. With 12 acres of landscaped gardens, the combination of modern and old-hollywood glamour makes this hotel as iconic as the area. Famous for its legendary service and guests, the Beverley Hills Hotel remains an iconic building in its prestigious neighbourhood.

9. La Mamounia, Marrakech

Set within 12th century ramparts surrounding the medina, La Mamounia is a hotel hidden from the bustle of the nearby souks. Evocative of Morocco’s imperial palaces, La Mamounia is characterised by its Hispano-Moresque architecture. Every inch of the hotel has been designed with the utmost attention to detail.

In conclusion, these top 9 most iconic hotels of the world have stood the test of time and continue to attract travellers from all corners of the globe. Each one has its own unique history, charm, and influence on their respective cities. From Hollywood glamour to colonial charm, these iconic hotels have played host to some of the most famous people in history and have left a lasting impression on the world of hospitality. Whether you’re looking for luxury, history, or simply an unforgettable experience, these hotels are sure to provide it all. So next time you plan a trip, consider adding one (or more) of these iconic hotels to your itinerary for an experience like no other.

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About the author

Amanda is Preno’s content strategist, with added skills in copywriting and digital marketing. Working across Marketing & Sales, she enjoys writing content that covers trends, tips, and resources that help empower hoteliers.

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