3 of a kind

Sat, Sep 29, 2012, 01:00

Hotels that made history

CULLODEN HOUSE, SCOTLAND

Inverness, Scotland, tel: 0044-1463 790461, cullodenhouse.co.uk

Bonnie Prince Charlie used this great country house as his lodgings and headquarters during the ill-fated battle of Culloden in April 1746 (against his cousin the Duke of Cumberland, who was fighting to keep his dad George II on the throne). Both men were 25.

The prince was the grandson of James IV of Scotland and II of England and Ireland, the very same man who fought at the battle of the Boyne in 1690, a year after being effectively turfed off the throne by William and Mary. James was the last Catholic king to reign over Ireland, Scotland and England and Bonnie Prince Charlie (or Charles Edward Stuart aka the Young Pretender) was in the Jacobite movement that tried to put the Stuarts back on the throne.

The Battle of Culloden had other historical repercussions: it was the last full-scale battle fought on British soil and saw the end of the Highland clans (which were devoted to the Jacobites). After the battle the English parliament banned bagpipes and tartan. Many of the clan diaspora return to visit the battle site (a 180-acre moor managed by the National Trust of Scotland) and stay at the four-star hotel.

Another visitor to this historic house was Robert Adam, who helped to renovate it in the late 1700s, giving it its Palladian style, airy interiors and ornate plasterwork and fireplaces. The hotel is on its own grounds and classical sports on offer include croquet and tennis. Or you can wander the gardens, wildflower meadows and forest trails.

Rooms:there are 28 bedrooms, ranging from standard doubles, to those with garden views as well as suites. Doubles from £270 (€339). Or you can book the whole house – which sleeps up to 54 people – for £14,000 a day (€17,571).

SCHLOSSHOTEL CECILIENHOF, GERMANY

Neuer Garten, Potsdam, tel: 0049 331 37050, relexa-hotel-potsdam.de

Prince Wilhelm of Prussia and Princess Cecilie built this palace for themselves in an English country manor, half-timbered style (inspired by Little Moreton Hall) between 1914 and 1917. The construction of the house in Potsdam, a town butting Berlin on its southwest side, was held up by the first World War but after the second World War it became the setting for the Potsdam conference in which the ‘Big three’ – the victorious Allies – met between July 17th and August 2nd, 1945 to decide the terms for the end of the war. This included drawing up post-war European borders and deciding what to do about Germany.

Harry Truman, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill came here – the latter apparently enamoured with its English style. The atmosphere was often acrimonious – the Cold War was looming – but they came up with the Potsdam agreement, which is often summarised as the four Ds: denazification, demilitarisation, democratisation and decentralisation of Germany.

Cecilienhof is now a four-star hotel and museum sitting in a park, with two lakes, ancient trees and gardens that retain the red star flower-bed planted by the Soviets and it has been declared a Unesco World Heritage site.

It is about an hour from both Berlin airports and trains run into Berlin.

Rooms: there are 41 rooms all furnished in an English country manor style (although this is more twee than grand). Rooms range from singles through doubles, deluxe doubles and suites. Doubles from €70.

THE TAJ MAHAL PALACE, INDIA

Apollo Bunder, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, tel: 0091-226665-3366, tajhotels.com

This hotel, built in 1903 by a member of the Tata industrialist family, was recently refurbished following the terrorist attacks there in 2008 when 167 people were killed and hostages taken.

Its vaulted alabaster ceilings, archways and marble floors remain along with antiques including Belgian chandeliers.

From the time it was built – in an amalgam of styles that draw from the Florentine Renaissance, Indo-Islamic, Indian, Gothic and Moorish architecture – this grand hotel became the first thing those sailing into Bombay (now Mumbai) saw. And many stopped by: it not only played host to Indian royalty, stars of the silver screen and writers (including George Bernard Shaw), it also became the meeting place for those in the Indian independence movement. Movers who held court in suites at the hotel included Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who sought partition – into India and Pakistan – along with independence from Britain (he became the first head of Pakistan) and Sarojini Naidu, a president of the Indian National Congress. Those who discussed independence here included Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who became the first prime minister of independent India. He gave a speech in the hotel’s ballroom in August 1947 to mark independence including the words: “Today, we join the community of the free people of the world.”

Rooms: there are 560 rooms including 44 suites, working the historical look with modern conveniences. One of the grander rooms is the Ravi Shankar suite, where the Indian musician taught George Harrison to play the sitar. Doubles from 10,250 rupees (€148.50).

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