Hotel des Bains, Italy
Hotel des Bains, Italy
The Hotel des Bains has taken pride of place on Venice's lido since 1900. Open only in summer, it is just 15-minutes by boat from St Mark's Square and its rooms and suites maintain a belle époque feel, despite modern facilities such as WiFi. In Thomas Mann's Death In Venice, the main character becomes so obsessed with a boy he sees at the hotel that he refuses to leave the city when cholera breaks out. Today you can expect a happier ending.
Hotel des Bains, 17 Lungomare Marconi, Venice (00 39 041 526 5921; www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton). Doubles from €246 (£168), with breakfast
The Seelbach Hilton, USA
The Seelbach is important enough to warrant an appearance on the US National Register of Historic Places. Al Capone and nine US presidents have checked in here and F Scott Fitzgerald was so taken with the hotel's Kentucky charm (or possibly its steady supply of bourbon and cigars - he was once banned for drunken behaviour) that he name-checked the Seelbach in The Great Gatsby, setting Tom and Daisy's wedding reception in its ballroom. The hotel has recently undergone a $10m (£5.3m) renovation, and those with a taste for history can book in for dinner in the wood-panelled Oakroom, the hotel's former billiards suite.
The Seelbach Hilton, 500 Fourth Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky (001 502 585 3200; www.seelbachhilton.com). Doubles start from $149 (£78), without breakfast
The Shelbourne, Ireland
This grand old Dublin landmark, set in a row of three town-houses on St. Stephen's Green, is nearly 200 years old. Over the years it has played host to many celebrated visitors and events, including the drafting of the Irish constitution in 1922. In James Joyce's Ulysses, also from 1922, Leopold Bloom refers to buying black underclothes at the hotel.
The Shelbourne Hotel, 27 Stephen's Green, Dublin (00 353 1663 4500; www.shelbourne.ie). Doubles start from €210 (£144), without breakfast
The Savoy, England
Arnold Bennett was inspired to write The Grand Babylon Hotel after he was taken to tea at The Savoy, and it still serves the Arnold Bennett omelette, which is named after him. With Frank McCourt the current writer in residence, the Savoy may appear in print again soon. He should have plenty to inspire him - the roll call of famous guests includes Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtry, Edward VII and various maharajahs. The Savoy was also where Laurence Olivier first met Vivien Leigh.
The Savoy, The Strand, London (020-7836 4343; www.fairmont.com/savoy). Doubles start at £149, without breakfast
The Venice-Simplon Orient Express
The best-known book about this hotel on wheels is Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Her detective story, set amid a snowstorm near the Turkish border, has done more to attract passengers than the train's wood panelling, polished brass and personal stewards could ever do. When you arrive in Istanbul, stroll over to the Pera Palas hotel, where Christie wrote the book. The rooms are shabby these days but much of the building's original character remains.
Venice-Simplon Orient Express (0845 077 2222; www.orient-express.com). The next five-night journey to Istanbul leaves Paris on 2 September 2005 and costs £3,725 per person one-way, with meals