Exploring a historical site without the crowds used to require waking up early. There’s another more convenient option, though: waking up at the right address. Hotels in and around UNESCO-designated sites are increasingly getting creative with their guest experiences and granting travelers exclusive access to each landmark’s highlights, just steps from their front doors.

Hands-on workshops and after-hours tours are underpinned by a growing interest in interacting with nature and culture in a more immersive way. As the impacts of overtourism, climate change, and development continue to threaten UNESCO World Heritage Sites, these hotels are contributing to conservation efforts, while also encouraging a slower and more thoughtful style of travel.

Below are some of cntraveler’s favorite hotels located in UNESCO World Heritage sites—plus, the unique experiences they offer.

The Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

Located in: Val d’Orcia, Italy

As fall gilds the vineyards of Castiglion del Bosco, a Tuscan wine estate owned by Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo of the Salvatore Ferragamo clan, it’s not uncommon to see guests of the onsite Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco hotel filling baskets with ripe Sangiovese grapes. Here in Italy’s UNESCO-listed valley of Val d’Orcia—where the property has stood for over 800 years—agricultural communities have always lived in harmony with nature.

During the long-awaited harvest season (September and October), guests of the Rosewood can participate in the ancient traditions of hand-harvesting organic grapes and learn about the production of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wines. The estate’s natural viticultural methods have left much of its 5,000-acre estate free for deer, wild boar, foxes, and rabbits to roam, and flora to prosper. And for good reason: promoting biodiversity naturally shields vines from thunderstorms and insects—and preserves the pastoral landscapes immortalized in paintings by Renaissance artists. For the first time ever, the hotel will stay open for an extended season this year, allowing wine lovers to enjoy the fall and festive season while staying in one of 42 luxury appointed suites (19 of which were renovated last summer) or 11 villas housed in restored 17th- and 18th-century farmhouses.

La Sultana

Located in: Medina of Marrakech, Morocco

With urban development posing a constant threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the medieval Medina of Marrakech, supporting the use of traditional Moroccan decorative arts techniques—and the artisans keeping them alive—is critical. That’s why when La Sultana, a boutique hotel nestled in the heart of the old city, began restoring its historical building in 2001, it partnered with the Ministry of Culture to employ several melems (craft experts) to revive its architectural details.

Today, the hotel’s 28 opulent rooms form a living museum for techniques like tadelakt (a traditional wall surfacing method composed of lime plaster and soap made from olives), zellige tiling, delicate brickwork, and intricately carved plaster. Guests interested in a behind-the-scenes look at how methods are passed from generation to generation can join the property’s private curator-led Living Architectural Heritage tour which includes stops at decorative arts workshops and some buildings in the vicinity that La Sultana has helped maintain.

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle

Located in: Palace of Versailles, France

This past summer, the first-ever hotel located on the grounds of France’s Palace of Versailles opened its doors, giving travelers the chance to luxuriate like Louis XIV. With just 14 individually designed rooms restored to their former 17th-century glory, Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle affords guests a rare and royal respite in the ducal residence, an extension of the palace’s south wing. The project’s architect and designer Christophe Tollemer worked with a team of artisans to meticulously restore details like parquet and wall paneling, in addition to spending several years hunting down original and period-appropriate furnishings.

What’s also exciting here is the private access to the palace before and after hours, when guests can stroll down the Hall of Mirrors sans crowds, ​​explore the private royal apartments, which are generally not accessible to the public, or get a peek inside the Queen’s Hamlet (Marie Antoinette’s former stomping grounds).

Hotel Vilòn

Located in: Rome’s historic center, Italy

The Eternal City is filled with hidden doorways and subterranean secrets, but the key to accessing them is knowing the right person—or, in some cases, checking into the right hotel. One of the perks of staying at Hotel Vilòn, an art-filled boutique hotel housed in an annex of the Palazzo Borghese within Rome’s historic center, is the rare opportunity to privately savor Ancient Rome.

Through a partnership with Imago Artis Travel, a local experience provider co-founded by art historian and tour guide to the stars Fulvio De Bonis, guests can enjoy access to the city’s clandestine corners, such as an elevated church (only accessible by appointment) that offers sweeping views over the Roman Forum. The property’s newest Roman Art Connoisseurs package includes a private visit to the Mausoleum of Augustus—the largest circular tomb in the ancient world—which, after being closed to the public for 80 years, reopened last year following a 13-year restoration. After a journey through the ancient world, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the property’s Vilòn Suite, which pays homage to the Roman aqueducts with a gargantuan walk-in shower and ensuite steam room.

Hotel Das Cataratas, A Belmond Hotel

Located in: Iguaçu National Park, Brazil

Iguaçu National Park is one of the most-visited places in Brazil but with less than one percent of its 457,000 acres accessible to the public, it can be near-impossible to appreciate its namesake waterfalls without other tourists around. As the only hotel located within the national park on the Brazilian side (the pale-pink hacienda was constructed in the 1950s before Iguaçu was protected by UNESCO), Hotel Das Cataratas, A Belmond Hotel offers a perfect solution.

Guests of the property can access the park’s namesake waterfalls before- and after-hours—equating to an additional six hours of daylight time in the summer. Early risers can borrow a complimentary pair of Leica binoculars and a curated map of the trail leading to the Devil’s Throat, where the deepest and most dramatic of the falls roar, creating countless rainbows. Aware of tourism’s impact on fragile ecosystems, the property actively supports a jaguar conservation program.

Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel

Located in: Machu Picchu, Peru

Belmond’s knack for exclusive access may be most useful at Machu Picchu, which has recently limited capacity to 2,244 visitors per day to preserve the archaeological park. For most, a visit to the Incan city involves getting on a packed bus from the nearby town of Aguas Calientes, where lines can form as early as 6 a.m. during peak season. Those resting their heads at Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel (though technically outside the park, it’s the only accommodation at the entrance of the Incan citadel), can enjoy a more exclusive visit.

The 31-room hotel is located in a historical building used by researchers after explorer Hiram Bingham encountered Machu Picchu in 1911. Here, guests can pair a sunrise Andean mint tea with a before-hours tour of the Guard House and Sun Gate. You’ll still have to wake up early, but the grand finale panorama is more luxurious than the plushest king-size bed: a sun-dappled view of Machu Picchu, without a crowd in sight.

Written by

Sourced from cntraveler.com