How many of us choose a destination for its UNESCO World Heritage sites? I don’t know, but what is certain is that a listed area or building always adds something extra special to a location. After all, they are designated as such sites for their ancient history, outstanding beauty, and contribution to the national heritage and culture.
Alas, more often than not, these sites are overrun with everybody else who wants to take a closer look. It is something avid travelers have to contend with, unless you manage to get some early entry or special admission tickets.
But there is another way to truly enjoy the sight of a UNESCO-listed location, and that is having it right outside of your hotel room window. So, why not catch two birds, or sites, in one swoop? (I might be mixing my proverbs there, but you know what I mean.)
Here are some fabulous hotels where you cannot only stay in luxury and comfort, but you don’t even have to leave your room in order to get a good look at the UNESCO World Heritage site next door.
1. Palazzo Manfredi
One of my favorite luxury hotels in Rome, the Hotel Palazzo Manfredi is right next to the Colosseum, providing views across the entire historic site stretching way past the structure. Many of the rooms have a designated view, but the best views are to be had from the Colosseo Suite or the Grand View Junior Suite. Add to that one of my absolute favorite rooftop terraces in Rome, the Court Rooftop Bar, and you can appreciate that you can really not go wrong with this hotel when it comes to UNESCO site views. And even if you are not staying here, try out the bar for a sunset aperitif.
2. Oberoi Amarvilas Agra
This next hotel in Agra is practically perfect in every way. And the views? Breathtaking! The Taj Mahal is probably one of the most beautiful and romantic of all UNESCO World Heritage sites. After all, it is held in elegant white marble and was built as a testament to undying love. The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra, built like a Maharaja’s palace just a few hundred yards from the Taj Mahal, is a luxury hotel that is a pleasure to stay at — views or not.
But, with every room offering views across the Taj Mahal — and not only those super-expensive suites that cost even more because of the view — you can book yourself into any room without worrying if you get that promised view. See the incredible site from sunrise to sunset, from your room, at the bar or the lounge, or, quite honestly, practically every window of the Oberoi. It is pure romance.
3. Marriott Mena House
There is lots to do in Cairo apart from the Great Pyramids, but there is no doubt that these amazing, ancient structures are a must-see on every first-time visitor’s list. And what better than waking up and drawing back the curtains to have them right there, within (near) touching distance from your balcony?
The historic Mena House hotel in Giza has drawn illustrious travelers from around the world throughout its history, but even the relatively modern extension has views to gasp at. Sitting on your balcony, morning coffee in hand, watching the day start over the pyramids is something that will stay with you forever.
4. Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
From ancient monuments to a modern inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the Sydney Opera House has been on the list since 2007. The Four Seasons Sydney hotel right by Circular Quay, steps away from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has undoubtedly one of the best views in the city and offers some of my favorite rooms with a view in the world.
From the corner rooms, you can watch the bridge with its bridge-climbers, the ferries shuttling in and out of the port, the large cruise ships docked right below you, and, of course, the iconic opera house glinting against the blue water of Sydney’s natural harbor.
5. Longitude 131
From Australia’s modern, architectural world heritage site to an ancient, natural one, Uluru is formerly known as Ayers Rock. The UNESCO site here is two-fold: The protected Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has within it the iconic Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Uluru, in all its monolithic splendor, can be seen from your glamping bed when you are staying in the superbly luxurious Longitude 131, which seriously puts the ‘glam’ into glamping. Fifteen “tents,” or lodges, are located in such a way that you get the best views of Uluru on the horizon, and you can see it change color right from your deck, depending on the sunlight throughout the day. It’s costly, but utterly magical, especially if you add some spa treatments involving traditional aboriginal healing methods and dinner at the restaurant that serves up Australia’s best ingredients.
6. Hotel Rübezahl
The castle that inspired Cinderella’s in Walt Disney World, Neuschwanstein truly is a castle to end all castles. The delicate turrets of the fairytale castle balancing on a mountain top can be seen from the pool and the sun lounges of the wellness hotel Das Rübezahl in Schwangau — the nearest small town to Neuschwanstein and its close neighbor Hohenschwangau. But even in winter, when the magical setting is covered in snow, the views from the hotel are perfect. Rübezahl, by the way, is the name of a German forest spirit that is supposed to live in this mountain range, which stretches all the way to Czechia and Poland.
7. Arielles Château De Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle
The Palace of Versailles is not only a UNESCO site, but with its 7-million-plus visitors per year, it’s one of the main attractions in France, right on the doorstep of Paris. The palace is huge and takes time to visit. The gardens are even bigger and studded with many other residences, the small faux-village of Marie-Antoinette, a boating lake, and many secluded gardens full of art.
So, really, there is too much to see for a simple day trip. But, if you stay at the chic Arielles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, you won’t have to leave at all. This hotel is on the grounds of the palace, and for proximity and views, they really don’t come much better. Earmark this for your next special occasion.
8. Hotel De La Cite
Carcassonne City, France
Visitors are drawn to the sturdy fortress city that is Carcassonne in the south of France for its imposing beauty and wealth of history. And while most visitors are day-trippers, the best way to explore this ancient site is by staying overnight and walking along the streets in the late afternoon, when most people will have left, and in the morning, before the rush starts again.
But what if you could stay somewhere, not only with an amazing view of this UNESCO World Heritage site, but a place that is actually right within the ramparts? With views all around a truly unique setting, the Hotel de la Cite is a stunning hotel with a garden and restaurant where you can sit and be immersed in the historic location.
9. Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
Being on the grounds of one castle may be fabulous, but what if you can see an entire city’s Castle Quarter from your bedroom? The stunning art nouveau Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest stands by the Danube on the Pest side of Hungary’s capital, Budapest. And, if you are treating yourself to a romantic occasion coinciding with your trip, be on the lookout for the many tiny hearts hidden in the architecture of the hotel. In the wrought-iron gates, the mosaic floor, the lifts, and many other places, they are present everywhere.