7 luxurious hotels loved by royalty
From the British Windsors to the Aga Khan to Monaco’s House of Grimaldi, privacy and discretion is paramount for royals when traveling. First-class hospitality, personalized service and luxury amenities are also essential, so it takes a truly remarkable hotel to capture their hearts.
With far-flung and glamorous destinations from Grenada to Gstaad on their radar, and private jets at their disposable, the world is their oyster.
Travel in the royals’ regal footsteps with seven of their favorite places to stay:
Cliveden House, UK
The former home of several Dukes and the Viscount Astors, Cliveden House is now most closely associated with the Duchess of Sussex; US actress Meghan Markle stayed with her mother Doria Ragland the night before her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.
Previous royal guests over the years include Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and Queen Elizabeth II.
The Berkshire estate, which boasts a checkered history of scandalous affairs among the jet-set elite, most famously the notorious Profumo Affair of 1961, is now enjoying a new lease of life as a sumptuous country hotel after being sold to the National Trust in 1985.
All 48 rooms and suites are named after a prominent figure from Cliveden’s past with the décor to match. One of the finest options is The Lady Astor, complete with a huge canopy bed and decadent upholstered velvet furniture.
Cliveden House & Spa, Taplow, Berkshire, England SL6 0JF; +44 1628 607 107
Gstaad Palace, Switzerland
Gstaad has long been synonymous with the international jet set and no other five-star bolthole is more loved than the legendary Gstaad Palace. Opened by the Scherz family in 1913, the Monégasque royals are loyal patrons. Having visited for decades with Princess Grace, Prince Rainer and their children — including their son and reigning monarch Prince Albert II — the Monégasque royals frequented the carpeted corridors during their annual winter ski vacations.
Following the family tradition, Princess Grace’s grandson Andrea Casiraghi chose the castle-like retreat set against the majestic backdrop of the Swiss Alps to celebrate his wedding to US-born Colombian heiress Tatiana Santo Domingo in 2014.
Combining alpine glamour and impeccable hospitality, other royal guests include Princess Diana, King Hussein of Jordan, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and the Aga Khan.
Gstaad Palace, Palacestrasse 28, 3780 Gstaad, Switzerland; +41 33 748 50 00
Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada
The Spice Island Beach Resort is an institution in Grenada so it’s no surprise it has won a number of royal fans (as well as countless awards) over the years.
During their 2019 Caribbean tour, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall chose the contemporary hideaway, where they stayed in the palatial Royal Cinnamon suite with floating four-poster bed and en-suite bathroom boasting views of the ocean.
Perfectly nestled on the island’s coveted Grand Anse Beach, owner Royston Hopkin, who runs it with his family, has been welcoming the British royals for years. Queen Elizabeth II visited on her first Caribbean tour in 1966, Princes Anne has stayed twice, and Prince Harry tried the homemade avocado ice cream that his grandmother had sampled all those years ago.
Spice Island Beach Resort, Grand Anse Beach, St. George’s, Grenada; 001 473 444 4258
Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
Cheval Blanc is renowned for welcoming A-list guests to its famed outposts around the world. Those craving privacy in paradise head to Randheli Island in the Maldives.
Managed by French luxury goods empire Moët Hennessy — Louis Vuitton (LVMH), and designed by one of the world’s leading architects Jean-Michel Gathy, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed a romantic break here just months after it opened in November 2013.
The couple stayed on the two-acre “Private Island,” the pinnacle of luxe escapism. Complete with four bedrooms, personal overwater spa, a sleek 25-meter pool, and a dedicated team of butlers, valets and chefs, who magically appear by boat, it’s an extravagant Miami-style villa for VIPs to enjoy all the luxuries of a five-star resort away from prying eyes.
Cheval Blanc Randheli, Noonu Atoll, Republic of Maldives, Maldives; +960 656-1515
Kampala Serena Hotel, Uganda
Uganda, fondly known as the Pearl of Africa, has been welcoming royal dignitaries for years with Kampala Serena Hotel hosting the likes of the Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko of Japan, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, and Mswati III, King of Eswatini and head of the Swazi royal family.
Surrounded by 17 acres of manicured water gardens, the resort is a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of Uganda’s vibrant capital, Kampala. With architecture and design influenced by the country’s cultural and natural heritage, the 188 guests rooms and suites are elegantly furnished boasting an impressive collection by local artisans.
High-profile guests praise the exceptional service, as it’s impossible to leave this much-loved flagship Serena resort without being enchanted by the genuine warmth of Ugandan hospitality.
Kampala Serena Hotel, Kintu Road, Kampala, Uganda; +256 31 2309000
Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, Portugal
Once the summer retreat of the Portuguese royal family, this 18th-century palace has enjoyed long-established links with aristocratic guests who came to relax and rejuvenate in the charming hills of Sintra.
Since 1955 it’s been enjoying its latest incarnation as a boutique hotel with just 30 rooms, all which have an unmistakable air of romance with four-poster beds, elaborate tapestries and frescoes of remarkable beauty.
There’s a rare Steingraeber grand piano in the lobby, a postcard-worthy swimming pool framed against the rolling Sintra mountains and visiting peacocks from the princess who lives next door.
A perfect balance between elegance and excellent service, it’s welcomed King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima from The Netherlands, as well as pop royalty — the queenly Madonna — in recent years.
Tivoli Palácio De Seteais Sintra Hotel, Rua Barbosa du Bocage, 8 2710-517 Sintra, Portugal; +351 38 795 277
Emirates Palace, UAE
Sun, sea and unparalleled luxury can be found at Abu Dhabi’s spectacular Emirates Palace, which opened in 2005 to the reported tune of US$1 billion.
Dripping with gold, its 394 elaborate residences with palatial marble bathrooms are a blend of Arabian splendor and state of the art mod cons.
The Palace Suites are exclusively reserved for dignitaries, who often arrive under a veil of secrecy, landing at one of the resort’s two helipads.
Beloved by Middle Eastern royals, guests have included UAE President and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan, all Gulf Cooperation Council heads of states and Queen Rania of Jordan.
It seems no request is impossible at Emirates Palace, where pampered guests can expect 24/7 butler service, access to an expansive private beach and opulent spa, as well as 24-karat gold-flaked cappuccinos.
– Selina Julien is a celebrity, travel and lifestyle journalist and editor. Follow her on Instagram: @Selinajulien