King for a Day

2 minute read

The fairy-tale lifestyle of the European aristocracy has been moving slowly toward extinction for several generations now. Many of the nobility’s historic homes survive, but they’re under threat too. Governments don’t have the funds to maintain all of them, and few buyers can afford to maintain them as private homes. So what’s happening to these stately piles? Many find new lives as luxury hotels.

ITALY As early as 1822, Italian entrepreneur Giuseppe Dal Niel rented the central apartments of the crumbling Venetian Palazzo Dandolo, the 404 Not Found

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nginx/1.14.0 (Ubuntu) 14th century Doge’s palace just off the Piazza San Marco. He restored and opened them to the public as the Hotel Royal, eventually acquiring the entire palace, which still welcomes guests today as the glittering Hotel Danieli. Many suites feature 18th century furniture and ceiling paintings; period artworks, some from the Caravaggio school, adorn the walls, and the decor — pink marble floors, gold-leaf columns and Murano glass chandeliers — are enough to make an old archduke weep. Rates vary by season. tel: (39-041) 522 6480;

SPAIN In 1928 the Spanish government began rescuing its architectural treasures by converting them into paradores, or inns. One of the finest is the Parador de Granada inside the Alhambra — the sprawling 14th century Moorish palace comprised of royal quarters, court complexes, a mosque and exquisite gardens. Visitors stay in a converted Catholic convent built in the palace by 15th century monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. Guests can enjoy the famous Generalife gardens by moonlight long after the gates are shut to day trippers. Rooms from $283 per night. tel: (34-958) 22 14 40;

GERMANY The Hotel-Restaurant Schloss Landsberg, about 100 km from Frankfurt, is at its best on sunny days, when guests sit in the beer garden and savor the brew from the nearby town of Meiningen. Built in 1836, the neogothic former castle of Duke Bernhard II of Saxony is stuffed with fine art and antiques. Rooms from $160 per night. tel: (49-3693) 44090;

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