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Asia’s top new heritage hotels

Asia's heritage conversion trend is still going strong. Words by CYNTHIA ROSENFELD

The heritage hotel trend is nothing new: numerous run-down or abandoned properties around the world have become exclusive hotels, delighting guests with their history and authenticity while preserving valuable heritage. Here in Asia, the trend has moved into another gear, resulting in some spectacular transformations involving increasingly diverse buildings. The proof: these four luxury openings from the last year.

Alila Fort Bishangarh, Jaipur, India

Alila Fort Bishangarh

Looking for the spa? Head to the dungeon. That’s where it’s located in this imposing 230-year-old fortress that opened as a boutique hotel last year. Sitting high atop a granite hill in India’s Aravalli Range, an hour’s drive from Jaipur, the structure boasts architecture influenced by the Mughals and the British colonial era. Two-metre-thick, blush-hued exterior walls still have their openings for cannons and guns, while marble floors and stone walls fill the impressive interior. In the 59 rooms, guests enjoy captivating views of the landscape below through windows designed to frame the panorama. And keeping with Alila’s sustainable credentials, everything from light fixtures to textiles and custom furniture was sourced within 100 kilometres of the property. alilahotels.com

Amanyangyun, Shanghai, Mainland China

Amanyangyun

It was a huge undertaking: 10,000 old trees and 50 heritage structures were transported to create Amanyangyun. They came from Fuzhou, 700 kilometres away, where their existence was threatened by plans to build a reservoir. A Fuzhou-born philanthropist decided to relocate part of the forest and the Ming- and Qing-dynasty buildings to a huge plot just outside Shanghai for what would become Amanyangyun. After renovations, each heritage house now features two courtyards, one with a fireplace, plus an outdoor bath. Other contemporary indulgences include an Aman Spa with two swimming pools, and six dining venues, all surrounded by the forest. In these verdant surroundings, it’s hard to imagine that Shanghai’s metropolitan centre is less than an hour away. aman.com

Amanyangyun Antique Villa

Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li, Shanghai, Mainland China

Capella Shanghaino credit

Some of Shanghai’s quaint, calm shikumen buildings have been transformed into a luxury hotel. Capella created its 55 villas out of heritage structures built in the 1930s by a French real estate company. Shikumen architecture blends traditional Chinese and Western motifs, and the hotel’s houses feature striking gabled walls, with embellished stone arches over gates and doorways. The renovation has resulted in a spa, a library and, in keeping with the French influence here, Le Comptoir Pierre Gagnaire, a brasserie headlined by the celebrated French chef. The surrounding area is known as Jian Ye Li estate, a convenient spot that comprises the hotel, residences and luxury shops. As an ultra-luxurious touch, all rooms come with a dedicated personal assistant, a hallmark of the Capella brand. capellahotels.com

Six Senses Duxton, Singapore

Six Senses Duxtoncredit: Seth Powers
Seth Powers

Shophouses get a modern, creative second act in Singapore’s Chinatown district, Tanjong Pagar. Opening just last month, Six Senses Duxton is housed in a colonial-era property that joins a row of tri-level 19th-century shophouses along Duxton Road. Interiors are by celebrity designer Anouska Hempel, who created a unique look for each of the 49 guest rooms. Just steps away, a sister hotel, Six Senses Maxwell, is expected to open this autumn, and guests at each location will have access to facilities in both. Maxwell will be the larger of the two, with an outdoor swimming pool, a whisky room, a terrace and a Six Senses Spa. sixsenses.com 

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