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6 of the world’s oldest hotels

Learning more about the history of a new place is always interesting, especially for travellers far from home, and the world is crammed full of hotels that have been around long enough to become part of history themselves.

So why not do a bit of time travel and stay in a Japanese Ryokan that’s been around since 718 or a luxury Victorian palace on the banks of the Nile? We've selected some of the world's oldest hotels.

Hoshi Ryokan in Chugoku, Japan

Hoshi Ryokan in Chugoku, Japan

Hoshi Ryokan in Chugoku, Japan

Today Hoshi Ryokan is officially the world’s second oldest operating hotel, knocked out of first place only recently by the discovery of an even older Ryokan just up the road.

Stay in a traditional tatami room

Stay in a traditional tatami room

While it currently holds second place in terms of years, everything else about this Japanese guesthouse is first rate. Founded in 718 and operated by the same family for 46 generations, Hoshi Ryokan provides guests with modern hospitality in traditional surroundings.

Japanese Yukata robes, futon beds, tatami (woven-straw) floors, and bamboo arts and crafts workshops transport guests back in time. Meanwhile the flat-screen TVs, great WiFi, and elaborate breakfast and dinner menus supply all the modern day comforts.

Ringhotel zum Roten Baren in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Ringhotel zum Roten Baren in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Ringhotel zum Roten Baren in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Germany’s oldest guesthouse is located in the Old Town district of Freiburg, between the Swabian Gate and the town’s gothic cathedral. Opened in 1120, the Roten Baren guesthouse survived the Plague, witch-hunts, revolutions, and both World Wars (during which time it briefly belonged to France).

Wake up to breakfast in the wood-panelled dining room

Wake up to breakfast in the wood-panelled dining room

Today it’s a thriving guesthouse next to the lively Cathedral Market and the Freiburg Concert Hall, which makes it feel like you’ve travelled at least a few centuries back in time, while still being able to get a decent breakfast and WiFi connection.

Old Bell Hotel in Wiltshire, UK

Old Bell Hotel in Wiltshire, UK

Old Bell Hotel in Wiltshire, UK

The Old Bell Hotel in Wiltshire claims to be the UK’s oldest hotel (it was opened in 1220) but so does the Old Bell in Hurley (which opened in 1135). While the debate continues guests can at least be sure that they’re in for a cosy, well-pampered trip when they check into this atmospheric hotel.

A traditional log fire and beamed ceilings give the dining space a rustic feel

A traditional log fire and beamed ceilings give the dining space a rustic feel

Not only has the Old Bell Hotel kept its character with log fires, period furnishings, and eight (unoccupied) coffins in the cellar, it’s also based in one of the UK’s most historic market towns.

The town of Malmesbury hosts an annual two-day carnival that incorporates the Malmesbury Abbey and the Malmesbury Market Cross. The carnival includes street performances, classic English food, and repeated attempts at the world record for the largest pillow fight.

Old Winter Palace Luxor in Luxor, Egypt

Old Winter Palace in Luxor, Egypt

Old Winter Palace in Luxor, Egypt

Best known as the hotel where Dame Christie wrote Death on the Nile, the Old Winter Palace of Luxor was also the base for explorer George Herbert, aka the first European to enter the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Look out across the Nile from your bedroom window

Look out across the Nile from your bedroom window

A Victorian palace built in 1886 on the banks of the Nile, the Old Winter Palace of Luxor is steeped in history. Since it was first established in 1905 this luxury hotel has played host to a series of royals including the Queen of Crime: Agatha Christie.

During the First World War the Old Winter Palace was turned into a respite home for wounded soldiers and, walking through the tropical gardens to gaze across the Nile, it’s easy to see why it was chosen as a place of relaxation and recovery.

Raffles Singapore in Singapore

Raffles in Singapore

Raffles in Singapore

The traditional European architecture of this sumptuous hotel presents a striking contrast to the surrounding glass and metal skyscrapers of Singapore’s business district. Built in 1887 and a constant favourite among locals and international travellers, Raffles was where Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boom invented the Singapore Sling cocktail.

Complete with shuttered windows, these rooms are full of old world charm

Complete with shuttered windows, these rooms are full of old world charm

Drawn to the hotel’s many comforts (and superior cocktail menu), many famous writers have spent time at this Raffles, including Han Suyin, Rudyard Kipling, Noel Coward, and Somerset Maugham.

In fact so many of them pitched up here that a Writer’s Room was quickly established and in the 1930s Raffles was declared a national monument by the Singapore government.

Patios de Cafayate in Salta Province, Argentina

Patios de Cafayate in Salta Province, Argentina

Patios de Cafayate in Salta Province, Argentina

A self-declared ‘winespa’ the Patios de Cafayate farmstead is located in the vineyards of the El Esteco winery, next to the Calchaqui Valleys. And, despite the hotel owners making sure guests have access to every modern convenience, very little has changed since the hotel was established in 1892.

Making time for a wine tasting is a necessary item on the agenda

Making time for a wine tasting is a necessary item on the agenda

When they’re not enjoying the surroundings and soaking up the local history, visitors to Patios de Cafayate can explore the area on horseback, visit a group of friendly llamas, take photography workshops, visit the massage spa, and, of course, attend regular wine tastings.