Five Best: Hotels with a view of history

Rhiannon Batten finds the vistas that really put you in touch with the past


Hotel Gladiatori, Italy

With plenty of Latin charm but none of the unrestrained kitsch of so many Italian hotels, the Gladiatori is a smart, independent hotel in the centre of Rome. So central is it, in fact, you can see the Colosseum from many of its bedrooms and from the roof garden. It stands on the site of a 16th-century hunting lodge. The hotel opened four years ago and features such contemporary necessities as free Wi-Fi and satellite TV, as well as views across the city's monuments.

Hotel Gladiatori, Via Labicana, Rome (00 39 06 7759 1380; www.hotelgladiatori.it). Double rooms start at €250 (£179), including breakfast.

Mena House Oberoi, Egypt

So close is this renowned colonial hangout to the Great Pyramids that it's hard not to wonder, at first, whether those gigantic trig points just beyond the hotel's garden aren't some kind of overgrown Disney model. They are the real thing, though, as is Mena House itself. One of the oldest hotels in Giza, and decorated with handcrafted furniture and elaborate textiles, this 523-room hotel opened in 1869. It has played host to a steady run of kings, emperors, heads of state, celebrities and spreeing tourists ever since. Many of the guest-room windows frame perfect views of the Great Pyramids.

Mena House Oberoi, Pyramids' Road, Giza, Cairo, Egypt (00 800 1234 0101; www.oberoimenahouse.com). Double rooms start at US$273 (£136), room only.

Machu PicchuSanctuary Lodge, Peru

The decadent Sanctuary Lodge is set spectacularly at nearly 8,000 feet above sea level and is the only hotel directly adjacent to Machu Picchu. Run by Orient Express Hotels, it offers suitably exclusive surroundings from which to take in the ancient Inca citadel. Think dark wood furniture, sumptuous fabrics and a handful of rooms with patios that look out towards the citadel itself. There is also a lush garden, planted with native flora. Orient Express also operates PeruRail, which operates the only route (other than hiking) from Cusco to the Inca site.

Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru (020-7960 0500; www.orient-express.com). Double rooms start at US$815 (£408), full board.

Commune by the Great Wall, China

One of the world's most individual hotels, Commune by the Great Wall is a collection of sleek, contemporary buildings designed by 12 different architects (including Kengo Kuma, Kay Ngee Tan and Gary Chang). It is set in the Shuiguan mountains just over an hour's drive from Beijing. The property was exhibited at the 2002 Venice Biennale before opening as a hotel. It is made up of three components, with rooms scattered through the original buildings as well as 31 new villas. Many have direct views of the Great Wall.

Commune by the Great Wall, Badaling Highway, near Beijing, China (00 86 10 8118 1888; www.communebythegreatwall.com). Double rooms start at CNY2,185 (£141), room only.

Hotel Grande Bretagne, Greece

Established for almost 130 years, Hotel Grande Bretagne is one of Athens' oldest hotels. It re-opened four years ago after a major refurbishment. It's set right in the city centre, with views of the Acropolis of Athens from some of the rooms and the roof garden. If you fancy an antidote to the city's ever-expanding clutch of hip new hotels, this is the place for old-school luxury. Expect antique furniture, oceans of swagged silk, 24-hour room service and the kind of decadent, with-frills spa that will have you looking like a Greek goddess faster than you can say Sofia Kokosalaki.

Hotel Grande Bretagne, Constitution Square, Athens, Greece (0800 325 45454; www.luxurycollection.com). Double rooms start at315 (£225), room only.

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