Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice on the canal at sunset

Live like nobility at The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice. (Photo: Marriott International)

Travel by Design

6 Hotels Breathing New Life into the Heritage Buildings That House Them

Recycle, reuse, repurpose — whatever you call it, breathing new life into old and historic buildings is on trend in hospitality.

From a former bank to a once-buzzing newsroom, these six luxury hotels have been carefully renovated and revived to pay homage to their historical lineages while ushering in the contemporary flair and comforts modern travelers expect in the 21st century.

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.

The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice

Rising like a Gothic mirage from the ripples of the Grand Canal, this former palazzo of noble Italian families, including Andrea Gritti, Doge of the Venetian Republic from 1523 to 1538, is now one of Venice‘s poshest places to stay.

The grand rooms, suites and social spaces are unapologetically opulent and full of fine art, antique furnishings and sumptuous silk embellishments — elegant reminders of the building’s five centuries of aristocratic pedigree and la dolce vita.

A portrait of Andrea Gritti presides over the Explorer’s Library, welcoming a new era of elite and illustrious travelers.

Hotel Telegraaf, Autograph Collection

marble-bottomed indoor pool with lounge chairs and skylight at Hotel Telegraaf, Autograph Collection hotel in Tallinn, Estonia
Savor stories of old while lounging at Hotel Telegraaf, Autograph Collection. (Photo: Marriott International)

This stately hotel has had some exciting lives before its latest incarnation as a contemporary boutique hotel in Tallinn, Estonia’s, Old Town.

Built in 1878, its ground floor was home to the Handelsbank, while elegant apartments were located above.

In 1918, the building became a center of communication as Tallinn’s main post and telegraph office, where a brazen attempt to overthrow the government took place in December 1924.

“Old-fashioned” phones in guest rooms keep the communication theme alive, and the elegant Tchaikovsky Restaurant and Lobby Bar are still gathering places for locals and travelers to swap stories and information.

The Marmorosch Bucharest, Autograph Collection

hotel bar, repurposed gold safe room of a bank at The Marmarosch Hotel Bucharest, Autograph Collection heritage hotel
Sip at the bank safe-turned-heritage hotel bar at The Marmarosch Hotel Bucharest, Autograph Collection. (Photo: Marriott International)

It took three years of work (and many millions of euros) to rejuvenate and revive the Belle Epoque grandeur of the former Marmorosch-Blank Bank, Romania’s most influential bank during the late 19th century.

The transformation into a lavish luxury hotel, opened in 2021 in the center of Bucharest‘s Old Town, is nothing short of impressive, especially in the bank’s former vault-turned-speakeasy bar, where national treasures and state secrets were safely guarded, as yours will be too.

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel

modern hotel suite living room at Renaissance Pittsburgh overlooking Pittsburgh
Peer over Pittsburgh in the grand Renaissance Pittsburgh. (Photo: Marriott International)

The architectural eye candy known as the Renaissance Revival–style Fulton Building dominates downtown Pittsburgh. Since its completion in 1906, it has served as an office building and a World War II Veterans’ Hospital.

Its two-story lobby even did a stint as the city’s Heaven nightclub in the early 1980s beneath the 30-foot-wide stained-glass ceiling. Now an iconic luxury hotel, the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel makes a majestic impression, with the original seven-story archway still dominating the building’s exterior.

The stained glass has been polished up, too, and the grand staircase of white marble is a picture-perfect spot for Pittsburgh weddings in the heart of the city’s buzzing Cultural District.

The Notary Hotel, Philadelphia, Autograph Collection

historic palatial hotel lobby with chandeliers and arched windows at The Notary Hotel, Autograph Collection in Philadelphia
Find a haven in a former city hall building at The Notary Hotel, Autograph Collection. (Photo: Marriott International)

As grand as it was when it opened in the 1920s as the annex building of Philadelphia City Hall, the resplendent and revitalized historic building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was once where city dwellers flocked to notarize documents that heralded new adventures — marriage licenses, real estate deeds, passport applications.

Now, visitors and well-heeled Philadelphians can stamp their approval on this architectural gem whose elegant guest rooms, suites and gathering spaces with jewel-tone pops of color bring contemporary panache to a beloved century-old gem.

The Press Hotel, Autograph Collection

gray and blue hotel lounge at The Press Hotel, Autograph Collection in Portland
Uphold storied history and cozy up with a paper at The Press Hotel, Autograph Collection. (Photo: Marriott International)

Each of the hotel‘s thoughtfully appointed guest rooms conjure 1920s writers’ offices, including vintage-styled journalist desks and playful newsroom references, all to pay homage the hotel’s beginnings as the home of the Portland Press Herald, a daily newspaper based in South Portland, Maine.

Take note of the front desk’s “letterpress art wall” and dip into the Inkwell lobby bar for coffee, snacks or handcrafted cocktails, such as the Pressman’s Ink, with gin, pineapple, ginger and lime. An onsite art gallery features local artists and includes a two-story installation of vintage typewriters called the SWARM.