The best hotels in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, from Versailles to Machu Picchu
To explore a historic site without the crowds, you had to get up early. There is, however, another more practical option: wake up at the right address. Hotels in and around UNESCO-designated sites are increasingly creative in their guest experience, offering travelers exclusive access to the highlights of each landmark, just steps away from their front door.
Hands-on workshops and after-hours tours are supported by a growing interest in interacting with nature and culture in a more immersive way. As the impacts of overtourism, climate change and development continue to threaten UNESCO World Heritage sites, these hotels are contributing to conservation efforts, while encouraging a slower, more thoughtful style of travel.
Below are some of our favorite hotels located in UNESCO World Heritage sites, along with the unique experiences they offer.
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The Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco
Situated in: Val d’Orcia, Italy
As autumn gilds the vineyards of Castiglion del Bosco, a Tuscan wine estate owned by Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo of the Salvatore Ferragamo clan, it is not uncommon to see guests of the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco hotel filling baskets with ripe Sangiovese grapes. Here in the UNESCO-listed Val d’Orcia valley, where the property has stood for over 800 years, farming communities have always lived in harmony with nature.
During the long-awaited harvest season (September and October), guests of the Palissandre can participate in the ancient traditions of organic harvesting by hand and learn about the production of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wines. The estate’s natural wine-growing methods have left much of its 5,000-acre estate free for deer, wild boars, foxes and rabbits to roam and flora to thrive. And for good reason: promoting biodiversity naturally protects the vines from storms and insects and preserves the pastoral landscapes immortalized in the paintings of Renaissance artists. For the first time, the hotel will remain open for an extended season this year, allowing wine lovers to enjoy the fall and the holiday season while staying in one of the 42 luxurious suites (including 19 refurbished l last summer) or 11 villas housed in restored farmhouses from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Situated in: Medina of Marrakech, Morocco
With urban development constituting a constant threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the medieval medina of Marrakech, it is essential to support the use of traditional techniques of Moroccan decorative arts and the artisans who keep them alive. That’s why when La Sultana, a boutique hotel nestled in the heart of the old town, began restoring its historic building in 2001, it partnered with the Ministry of Culture to employ several melems (experts in crafts) to bring its architectural details to life.