From rock-star royalty to real-life royals, presidents and world-renowned composers, when VIPs travel, they stay in very important places. The stories that result practically write themselves: these are the tales behind some of Relais & Châteaux's most historically significant properties.
Where the Euro was born
To travel back in time to 9th December 1991, at Château Neercanne in The Netherlands, would be to witness history in the making. Under this roof, over 30 years ago, presidents and prime ministers from across the continent congregated for the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Nestled up against the Belgian border, the city’s central European position–there are no fewer than eight airports within an hour's drive–not to mention its Michelin-starred menu, made it the perfect setting for a historic lunch which set in motion the creation of a single European currency: the euro. Head here today to sample head chef Robert Levels' French-inspired, seasonal dishes.
Château Neercanne, Maastricht, Netherlands
December 9th, 1991 - Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands receives French President Mitterrand and other heads of government of the European Council for a celebratory lunch. A summit which laid the foundation for the Maastricht Treaty, served to establish the European Union and introduced the Euro as a common currency.
From royal residence to rock 'n' roll royalty
If Cliveden House's walls could talk, they would tell tales of political scandal, royal intrigue, Hollywood secrets, and rock 'n' roll legends. Both Queen Victoria and Nancy Astor have called Cliveden home, while the property is said to have inspired novelist Kenneth Grahame's Mr Toad of Toad Hall. On the silver screen, it has masqueraded as Buckingham Palace–in The Beatles' 1965 film Help!–and a location worthy of a Disney princess in the live-action remake of Cinderella. But, most infamously, in 1961, the then Secretary of State for War, John Profumo spotted Christine Keeler skinny dipping in Cliveden’s pool. Taking place against the backdrop of the Cold War, and with Keeler the mistress of a suspected Russian spy, her and Profumo’s five-month affair jeopardised national security and became one of British politics greatest scandals. Today, the only way to truly uncover all of Cliveden's secrets is to experience it for yourself.
Cliveden House, Berkshire, United Kingdom
The Beatles at Cliveden House for the movie Help!
A musical mecca
From Shakespeare to Giovanni Bellini, Venice has been a source of inspiration for aesthetes throughout the centuries. But music lovers take note: following a stay at Londra Palace in 1877, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote a letter to the German patron, Von Meck, extolling her hospitality. So moved was he by his stay that, after hearing a child humming along the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront, he composed the first movements of his Fourth Symphony in none other than Room 106. So, if you consider yourself a music buff, you know which room to request.
Londra Palace Venezia, Venezia, Italy
Where water and creativity flow
French conceptual artist Daniel Buren's kaleidoscopic works might be on the other end of the color spectrum to the minimalist, natural palettes of Asaba. Yet it is the place he retreats to again and again, and credits its energy as the inspiration for some of his most coveted works–even displaying some of his pieces at the hotel. As with Buren's artwork, clean, fluid lines abound in this traditional 15th-century family-run hotel. Let your creativity flow at this serene riverside ryokan.
Asaba, Shizuoka, Izu, Japon
The 'Godfather of Guinness'
It all began when Richard Guinness, estate manager of Cashel Palace (home to Archbishop Arthur Price, fondly known as ‘the Godfather of Guinness’) used hops from Cashel’s garden and water from its well to brew the first batches of the eponymous pint. His son, Arthur Guinness, used the £100 he was left upon the death of his Godfather, the Archbishop Arthur Price, in 1857 to secure the lease at St. James' Gate Brewery in Dublin, where Ireland's most famous pint is brewed to this day. Following an extensive renovation in 2022, this 18th-century Palladian manor has been restored to its former, glittering glory.
Cashel Palace, Cashel, Ireland
Right: Arthur Guinness decided to acquire what was then a small, disused and ill-equipped brewery at St James's Gate. The lease, signed on 31 December 1759, was for 9000 years at an annual rent of £45.