Wonderful Heritage Homes Just Waiting to Tell You Their Stories
There is nothing quite like the heritage homes and palaces that Secret Retreats have searched out and curated to share with our guests and travellers to Asia.
These charming heritage properties are full of history, character and a seasoned sense of old-world luxury. Their charm and allure spans over many generations of the families that call these wonderful places home. When these historical places were built, they were built as grand family homes. They were homes to very successful business magnates, and homes to princes and families with royal connections and in many cases are still homes to these first families today.
For our readers many of whom are architectural admirers, history buffs and culture junkies, and well-versed explorers: today, you don’t have to be one of the nobility to be able stay within these historical homes and palaces. In fact, these historic palaces and heritage homes have opened their gates for curious travellers to stay within their opulent interiors as these ancient places of luxury have been transformed into heritage hotels where all travellers are welcome, and all guests are treated like Royalty.
Secret Retreats has hand-picked these heritage homes and palace boutique hotels to share with you the experience of living the old-world’s highlife. Enjoy their lush tropical gardens, classic car experiences, incredible food and delightful rooms and suites where one only wishes that the walls could talk. We invite you to experience your own royal tour in Asia with Secret Retreats Heritage Homes and Palaces…
Built 260 years ago by a wealthy Qing Dynasty silk merchant, Jing’s Residence is set right in the centre of the old town of Pingyao. Nestled amongst dusty curio shops and bustling restaurants in the old walled city of Pingyao is the 19-room Jing’s Residence, a small boutique hotel that is set within this beautifully renovated old mansion. Sensitively and with great attention to detail (and cost) the property has been faithfully restored to its former glory as a grand courtyard residence in town, and as such the design of the hotel fits in harmoniously with the traditional surroundings of this ancient city.
Each of the 15 meticulously renovated guestrooms and suites reflects the residence’s unique character. Unobtrusive landscaping features range from ancient carved wooden window frames and timber structural elements to bamboo flooring, white stones from northern China and traditional brick-paved walkways that connect the various courtyards. The dramatic lighting at night enhances the courtyard’s almost palpable sense of time and history.
Cheong Fatt Tze
Discover Penang’s illustrious history at one of Malaysia’s most iconic boutique hotels. The story began in the late 19th Century where Cheong Fatt Tze aspired to house his descendants in a home that equated with his status and success whilst celebrating the tradition of his heritage and that of Penang. Not long after, the bricks were laid and design refined with painstaking and arduous attention to detail after a thorough consultation with the era’s leading Feng Shui master. Cheong Fatt Tze loved the sophisticated beauty of traditional Chinese houses. More than anything, he wanted to preserve his heritage and share his love of culture and tradition through this statement in architecture.
Majestic rooms are tucked within tranquil tropical courtyards. Each of the 18 boutique guestrooms is unique in terms of design and décor, with all guest rooms adorned and intricately furnished with precious heirlooms and 19th century antiques. The wide array of amenities includes an exquisite contemporary dining experience in Cheong Fatt Tze’s locally renowned ornate Asian style restaurant, a courtyard dining space, and an idyllic terrace. And all perfectly located to enjoy and explore Penang, one of Malaysia’s most fascinating regions, for its history, its culture, its renowned cuisines blessed by the mix of ethnicities and cultures that have made their homes here over 100s of years, and wonderful natural scenery both mountain and marine.
Kolkata – West Bengal, India
Once a lavish home to aristocratic Zamindar landlords, ‘The Rajbari Bawali’ has been skillfully restored to reflect in ambiance, feel and experience the atmosphere and personality of a typical 18th century Zamindar mansion. Integral to Bengal’s glorious history and culture, this 300-year-old Boutique Heritage hotel is reminiscent of both the British Raj and the feudal lifestyles of Bengal’s Zamindari family. The Rajbari was discovered by Ajay Rawla in a state of near ruin in 2009 and he dedicated the next 7 years to painstakingly and lovingly restoring the property back to its former and celebrated glory. And in so doing not only created opportunity for local businesses and support for the community, he has also created a wonderful experience for travellers to Bengal to enjoy and in so doing help preserve an important part of the region’s culture and history.
It is the ideal place to experience centuries old architecture, opulence and the history of this small hamlet of the 24 Paganas. Guests can enjoy authentic local cuisine, discover Bengal’s traditional performing art forms, immerse yourself into the slow rhythmic pace of life of this grand old home while relishing the warm hospitality. In addition, there is also a strong focus on highlighting the centuries old local art styles and handicrafts in order to support and preserve the traditional work of the artisans in the palace’s surrounding village communities.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Built in 1904 by Prince Souphanouvong’s parents, Satri House was once the childhood home of Prince Souphanouvong, the resistance leader who became known as the “Red Prince” and who later became the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s first president in 1975. Satri House was refurbished in 2002 by Mrs. Lamphoune Voravongsa and since then it has been run as a truly charming boutique hotel. Located in Luang Prabang a town in the mountainous north of Laos that was once the ancient capital city of the kingdom of Lan Xang (13th to 16th C), this region is a bucket-list place to visit for any fan of Asia and its cultures and history.
Set on the banks of 2 rivers, the Mekong and the Nam Khan, the old town of Luang Prabang is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the story of the town’s history is told in the facades of the ancient buildings that line the criss-crossing lanes of the peninsula on which the old town is set. It is the perfect location for a boutique hotel such as Satri House with its mature tropical gardens and strong sense of place, and Lamphoune’s wonderfully sensitive renovation which has both preserved the heritage and character of what was once a grand family home for Laotian royalty, and today provides an incomparably enchanting boutique hotel experience to its guests. The French colonial style hotel houses 28 guestrooms and 3 suites, with all rooms and suites set with handcrafted hardwood furniture, oversized balconies looking out onto the gardens and pools, and spacious airy bathrooms. Facilities include a restaurant, garden bar, library, outdoor swimming pools, and an excellent spa.
Kolkata – West Bengal, India
The Bari Kothi was built in the late 1700s. The name of the house, Bari Kothi (literally meaning the Palace of the Elder), was coined in the late 1800s since it was the house of the elder (bari) brother, Rai Bahadur Budh Sing Dudhoria. Bari Kothi is known across Murshidabad as one of the most architecturally significant houses in the region showcasing as it does Greek, Roman and French architectural styles in its demonstration of the fantastic business success of the Dudhoria family who built this opulent family home nearly 300years ago. It is important to note that at that time, during the mid 1700s, Murshibadad was of great importance on the world’s stage for business. The region did in fact produce more than 5% of the world’s GDP. But, with Bengal’s centre for domestic and international trade moving from Murshibadad to Kolkata, many of the families behind this success moved their homes to Kolkata to continue their trade. In leaving their family homes in Murshibadad, Bari Kothi, like similar palaces of the region were left abandoned, and in Bari Kothi’s case the property was left abandoned for more than half a century.
In 2015 however, inspired by the dream of saving their family home and preserving the stories, heritage and history of this elegant property for generations to come. Darshan Dudhoria and his sister Lipika, direct descendants of the family who first built Bari Kothi, appointed a Canadian restoration specialist architect, Dr. Samar Chandra, and employed a team of 150 local artisans and embarked together on an impassioned project to breathe life back into the walls, grounds and rooms of this once beautiful home. Over a period of 5years hard work Bari Kothi was sensitively restored to its former glory. From the outset the 3 keys and high ideals to this restoration project were Heritage, Hospitality and Humanity. It was never the goal to simply create a wonderful heritage boutique hotel, though create one they have, but to connect to the community, to celebrate, preserve and share the heritage, and at the same time return Bari Kothi to being an integral working property within the community, providing livelihoods and support to local families, offering opportunity and inspiration, as well as providing a truly wonderful heritage boutique hotel to share the stories of Bari Kothi and Murshidabad with the travelling world.
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