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10 of the World’s Most Famous Hotels

You might already know these famous hotels by name, but do you know why they’re famous? Here’s what earned some of the world’s best-known hotels their prominence—and why you should stay there.

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Burj Al Arab, Dubai

famous hotel burj al arab from a distance

An architectural wonder and one of the most famous hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab is a Dubai icon. The third-tallest hotel on Earth, it sits on its own private island and is shaped like a giant ship’s sail. The hotel is over 1,000 feet tall and features infinity pools overlooking the Persian Gulf, nine restaurants, a luxury spa, and a $24,000-per-night suite fit for a king. And if staying here isn’t ritzy enough, the hotel also offers guests the option to arrive by private helicopter transfer or via Rolls-Royce (the hotel owns the world’s largest fleet of the half-million-dollar car; 10 of them).

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The Plaza Hotel, New York City

New York’s most famous hotel is a French-style historic landmark adjacent Central Park that opened in 1907 and was quickly dubbed the “greatest hotel in the world.” The Plaza has served as a filming location for classic movies like Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and millennial-favorite Home Alone 2—and even offers a Home Alone 2 package that will serve you the ice cream Kevin eats in the movie. Because it was the setting of the beloved children’s book Eloise at the Plaza, the hotel also offers an all-pink Eloise Suite. And if all that isn’t enough, The Plaza has also hosted some of the 20th century’s most famous musical names—from Miles Davis to Peggy Lee. To this day the ultra-luxurious hotel staffs a white-gloved butler on every floor and offers traditional etiquette lessons at The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program.

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Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

famous hotel marina bay sands from afar

A symbol of Singapore’s crazy-rich luxury offerings, the Marina Bay Sands is a famous hotel that’s become best known for its massive rooftop infinity pool, which connects the hotel’s three buildings and overlooks the Marina Bay. You have to be a hotel guest to visit the pool—but base room rates are surprisingly reasonable, starting at around $300 per night. The Marina Bay Sands made headlines when its first opened in 2011, and again in 2018 when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited it during a summit of world leaders.

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Brown’s Hotel, London

Brown's hotel suite bathroom

Famous hotels don’t get much more “fit for a queen” than the five-star luxury hotel where Queen Victoria took her tea: Brown’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair district. Instagram-worthy interiors (hello, marble soaking tubs) and an award-winning afternoon tea program make it the ultimate splurge when staying in the heart of London, just a short walk from Buckingham Palace’s Green Park and Birdcage Walk.

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Atlantis Bahamas, Nassau

famous hotel atlantis towers

The massive resort and casino built around Nassau’s Paradise Island, Atlantis is a famous hotel for having the largest open-air marine animal habitat in the world. Named for a mythical underwater empire, the real-life resort’s Royal Towers make it looks like a castle. The Atlantis Resort has six unique sections all  centered around Aquaventure, a 141-acre water park featuring 11 pools, a lazy river, and the iconic “Leap of Faith” waterslide—a tube that passes down a faux Mayan temple and through a live shark tank. And if you’re not looking for shark-adjacent thrills, it all sits beside five miles of pristine Bahamian beaches.

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The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles

Beverly hills hotel entrance

Want to sleep where Marilyn Monroe once lived? Dubbed the Pink Palace, the retro-luxe Beverly Hills Hotel on historic Sunset Boulevard has served as a meeting spot and makeshift home to a slew of movie stars like Monroe while they were working on set in Los Angeles. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton also honeymooned at the hotel in the 1960s, and many more celebrities of Hollywood’s Golden Age made the property their go-to hotel. To this day Bungalow Seven, the room which is rumored to have been Marilyn Monroe’s favorite, is nicknamed Norma Jeane—the star’s real name.

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Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janiero

famous hotel copacabana rio

Rio de Janeiro’s most famous hotel, the Copacabana Palace is known for its location on one of the world’s best beaches. The property’s art-deco style dates back to the 1920s and the spacious rooms are an added bonus to the prime Copacabana Beach location, on-site pools, and top-notch customer service—all in the heart of Rio.

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The Brando, Tahiti

famous hotel the brando

If visiting the far-off French Polynesian islands of Tahiti aren’t enough of a status symbol for you, staying at world-famous hotel on a private island should be. The Brando is named for actor Marlon Brando, who purchased the island after having filmed a movie there.

Brando’s exclusive namesake resort sits on a remote atoll that’s only accessible via a 20-minute plane ride from Tahiti’s capital of Papeete. Made up of private beachfront villas complete with their own outdoor pools, The Brando is billed as a “carbon-negligible” eco-lodge and also supports Tahitian conservation efforts and nature research.

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La Mamounia, Marrakech

Famous hotel la mamounia pool

A former palace that dates back to the 12th century, La Mamounia Marrakech is a Mudejar-style luxury hotel that will transport you back in time. Named the Best Hotel in Africa and the Best Urban Hotel in the world, its four restaurants, full spa, pools, and quiet terraces are all within walking distance from bustling historic landmarks like marketplaces, Koutoubia Mosque, and Bahia Palace.

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Omni Parker House, Boston

Omni parker hotel restaurant parkers

The longest continuously operating hotel in the U.S., Boston’s historic Omni Parker House dates back to the 1800s and is also a famous hotel for its high-end restaurant, Parker’s, where John F. Kennedy proposed to his wife Jackie in 1953. The table where she said yes still sits in Parker’s Restaurant. The restaurant is also thought to be the birthplace of Boston creme pie (circa 1865). Parker’s has served Boston’s elite for centuries, but packs some lesser known trivia, too—like the fact that it separately employed historical figures Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh as wait staff and kitchen staff, respectively. And while this famous hotel is super historic, thanks to a recent renovation it’s also modern and luxurious.

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SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

By Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider, blog.TripAdvisor.com, Boston.com, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC, People.com, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

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Email Shannon at smcmahon@smartertravel.com.

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