From poetry-loving Vietnamese monarchs to Japanese emperors with expansive imperial gardens, Asia is full of compelling royal links. Here are six amazing properties around the region that wear their kingly (or queenly) status proudly.
1. Regal recipes passed down to Raffles in Cambodia… Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor’s elegant new restaurant, “1932”, inherits the honor of being one of only two establishments in the country that is permitted to serve Royal Khmer Cuisine, the other being its sister Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh. These recipes were passed down by royal decree to the hotels from the king’s own kitchen. The Royal Khmer Menu brings together an array of textures and treats to whet the taste buds, such as mango and prawn salad, spicy and sour lobster consommé, grilled lamb chops in ginger sauce, red chicken curry in coconut, and for dessert, pumpkin custard. In fact, these two heritage hotels have a long history with the Cambodian Royal Family; it was King Norodom Sihanouk who, upon witnessing the careful and considerate restoration of Raffles Hotel in Singapore, invited the hotel group to take over Le Royal and the Grand in 1997. And today, HRH Princess Sita Norodom can be spotted regularly around the lobbies, meeting VIPs and guests in her role as the official ambassador of both hotels. <<Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor>>
2. Royal rhyme and verse at Laguna Lang Co… Unfolding over a pristine 280-hectare chunk of mountain-backed coastline, Laguna Lang Co lays strong claim to being one of Asia’s most beautiful properties. Indeed, the physical attributes of the area have been duly recorded through the ages, notably by Vietnam’s former emperor Khai Dinh. The nation’s former monarch was not exactly loved by his people, and was viewed as weak and greedy and loathed for his willingness to cooperate with France, the colonial power at the time of his rule. Nevertheless, like other rulers of the Nguyen Dynasty (including his father Dong Khanh and his great uncle Tu Duc), Khai Dinh was quite the aesthete, viewing himself as a man of letters and an authority on beautiful things. This flawed connoisseur was taken with Lang Co, describing his first visit there as “love at first sight”. His ardor is preserved to this day in the form of a poem he wrote about the destination and had carved onto a stone, which is now preserved in An Cu Hong village near the resort. <<Laguna Lang Co>>
3. A home away from home for international royals… From the Duke of Cambridge to the Queen of Jordan, and from the King of Morocco to the Emir of Qatar, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has hosted prominent royal family members from around the world over the years. Some, like Prince William, have stayed in the hotel’s classical French-style Graham Greene Suite, while others have opted for the 1,896-square-foot neoclassical yet contemporary Grand Prestige Suite. The latter offers its own spa, an elegant dining area for eight people, and a comfortable lounge, library and office area. Photographs from several royal visits are enshrined in the hotel’s “Path of History” exhibit, located just off the lobby in the historic Metropole Wing. <<Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi >>
4. An imperial feast (and more) at Azerai La Residence, Hue… The central Vietnamese city of Hue was the country’s imperial capital from 1802 to 1945, and no hotel in town brings guests closer to the Nguyen Dynasty than Azerai La Residence, Hue. The property sits just across the Perfume River from the Hue citadel, the Imperial Palace and Flagtower Bastion, and many guest rooms and suites (as well as the hotel’s swimming pool and garden area) offer views of the historic sites. In the hotel’s art gallery, guests will find portraits of all 13 emperors from the dynasty—it’s said to be the only spot in Vietnam where all the former imperial leaders can be glimpsed in one place. The hotel also serves a special Imperial Feast, in which diners can sample a variety of dishes that were favored by the emperors. Guests are given imperial costumes to wear, and the meal is served amidst the charming sounds of Hue court music. <<Azerai La Residence, Hue>>
5. Fit for royalty at Palace Hotel Tokyo… Situated at 1-1-1 Marunouchi, right next door to Japan’s Imperial Palace gardens, Palace Hotel Tokyo’s prime address is hard to beat. The historic hotel originally opened in 1961 and was re-launched in 2012 after being entirely rebuilt from the ground up. More than half of the 290 guestrooms and suites have open-air balconies, offering breathtaking views of the Imperial Palace gardens with its rolling pines and moats. The gardens provided the inspiration for the hotel’s interiors, which feature natural forms and a color palette inspired by moss, rocks, trees and water. Guests can start their day with a jog around the beautiful gardens, followed by breakfast at Grand Kitchen, which features a moat-side terrace. Meanwhile, the hotel’s signature Japanese restaurant Wadakura is named after one of the six moats surrounding the Imperial Palace. Wadakura also offers up a tempura bar called Tatsumi, named after the ancient imperial watchtower visible from the restaurant’s main dining area. <<Palace Hotel Tokyo>>
6. Cooking for royalty a feather in Alma chef’s cap… The new expansive Alma Resort on Vietnam’s scenic Cam Ranh peninsula has appointed seasoned chef Seref Ozalp to oversee its rich and diverse culinary landscape, comprising 14 dining venues casual enough for finger good and refined enough for a baby grand piano. British national Ozalp brings more than two decades of experience to the table working in some of the world’s top hotels such as The Savoy London, heating up the frying pan for the likes of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, as well as kings from Saudi Arabia and The Netherlands. If his cooking is good enough for the Queen… <<Alma Resort>>