Reaching to the Converted
Plan a trip to one of these unique, converted hotels.
The weathered red brick lighthouse has guided many ships along their way in the 145 years it has stood at the mouth of Esopus Creek along the Hudson River. Its beacon, now solar-powered LED, can be seen from five nautical miles away. But the interior is still a time capsule, looking very much as it did in the early 20th century. About 100 miles north of Manhattan, the historical landmark Saugerties Lighthouse is also a bed and breakfast where guests can stay in either the West Room, with windows looking west toward the Catskills and south over the Hudson, or the East Room, which looks east over the river. Open Thursday through Sunday year-round, there is no air conditioning and only coal stove heating in the winter. Breakfast is provided and the kitchen is available for cooking or guests can go into the village for meals. And there is only one bathroom. In spite of those less-than-luxury characteristics, the rustic and romantic spot is so popular that it’s booked through the end of the year, so reservations for 2015 must be made well in advance starting in June. Rooms are $225 per night for two people.
Oxford Castle is now on its third life. Created as a Norman castle in or around the year 1071, the castle came partly into use as a prison in the 14th century. Much of the original structure was destroyed in the English Civil War, then rebuilt as a new prison in 1785 and remained a prison until 1996. Parts of the complex now feature shops and a historical center, but most of the prison blocks have been converted into guest rooms as the Malmaison Oxford Hotel. The 95 guest rooms only show traces of their former existence (though cells associated with capital offenders are used as office space), as large beds, mood lighting, TV, high-speed Wi-Fi, and private baths now fill the space. The brasserie is known for its steak, famous Malburger and wine list. The Malbar is known for being a local evening hotspot for spotting celebrities. The Cocktail, Dine & Dream package offers a three-course dinner, nightcap and overnight stay for $181.
Once the site of an Incan palace, the former monastery and convent is a 16th-century Spanish design sitting at 11,000 feet in the Peruvian capital of Cusco that was used mostly as a seminary until 1965, before the building was eventually converted into the Hotel Monasterio. The cloistered corridors wrap around a stately courtyard that features a 300-year-old cedar tree at its center. For modern technology, several oxygen-enriched rooms are available. The Relaxation Package includes accommodations along with a daily breakfast buffet and a 60-minute massage for $535 per night.