For an A+ Vacation, Try These 10 Luxury Hotels in Former Schools

For an A+ Vacation, Try These 10 Luxury Hotels in Former Schools

These posh properties redefine "class."

By Karen Gardiner

Falling asleep in school has never been so comfortable (nor socially acceptable): These luxury hotels are all housed in former schools, and offer posh, unique accommodation options around the world. And unlike the experiences in the previous lives of these buildings, no one will be disciplined for enjoying a few drinks or showing up late. 

1. Ellenborough Park — Cheltenham, England

Courtesy Ellenborough Park

Built in the 15th century, this was the 19th-century home of Lord Ellenborough and his scandalous society beauty wife Jane Digby, before turning into Oriel Private School for Girls in the mid-20th century. The girls kept their horses in the stable next door to the main house, which has been converted into Ellenborough Park's guest rooms, decorated by famed English designer Nina Campbell.

2. Miss Clara — Stockholm, Sweden

Courtesy Design Hotels

Stockholm’s Art Nouveau gem, the former Ateneum girl’s school, has been restored and transformed into Miss Clara, a design-focused boutique hotel, named after a distinguished headmistress. In the hip Norrmalm neighborhood, Miss Clara is well-schooled in simple, Scandi-chic style and retains such original features as arched windows and a grand early 20th-century staircase.

3. Ballyfin Demesne — Ireland

Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in central Ireland’s County Laois, Ballyfin was built the 1820s as a private home and run as a boarding school for much of the 20th century. After years of restoration, the property again reinvented itself as a 20-room luxury hotel, part of the posh Relais & Chateaux collection, in 2011.

4. Kennedy School — Portland, Oregon

This former elementary school makes the most of its history, with original features such as chalkboards and cloakrooms appearing in its classrooms-turned-guest-rooms. The school cafeteria is now the restaurant and there are two pubs, called the Detention and Honors Bars, naturally — plus a brewery in a former girls’ lavatory.

5. College Hotel, Amsterdam — The Netherlands

Also staying true to its scholastic history, College Hotel occupies a former school dating from 1895 and is staffed by hospitality students from various colleges, providing them with hands-on training for their future careers. Contemporary Dutch cuisine is served in the old gymnasium, while the best room, the Chemistry Special Suite, occupies a former chemistry laboratory.

6. Hotel da Estrela — Lisbon, Portugal

In a similar vein, Hotel da Estrela is next door to Lisbon’s Hotel School, whose students do their on-the-job training with the hotel. In the heart of Lisbon, this 19-room boutique hotel is housed in the historic Condes de Paraty palace, which was until recently a school. School days influence the interior design style with charts and maps on guest room walls and carpets decorated with equations and doodles.

7. Washington School House — Park City, Utah

                                               Courtesy Design Hotels

One of the Park City’s three original schools, Washington School House opened in 1889 and was put up for sale following the stock market crash of 1929. It was used for dances and social events until the 1950s. Run as a bed and breakfast for more than 20 years, the building underwent an even more thorough renovation and reopened as a luxury boutique hotel — complete with ski lounge and valet — in 2011.

8. Allee Hotel: Bavaria — Germany

Housed in a former boarding school, originally built in 1866, Allee Hotel is set next to a lake and surrounded by gardens in the Bavarian town of Neustadt an der Aisch, three hours from Nuremberg. The style here is very old world and serene — and probably far removed from the property's days of housing school kids. For added seclusion, book a room in the “Fürstenhof” annex.

9. Omni La Mansiόn del Rio — San Antonio, Texas

Built in 1852 and set along the banks of the River Walk, this building originally housed St. Mary’s boys’ school. St. Mary’s later became a junior college, then a senior college, then, in 1931, St. Mary’s University Downtown College. By 1968 it had transformed once again to La Mansión del Rio, a luxury hotel now run by Omni Hotels and retaining its Spanish colonial architecture and European-style architecture.

10. Hotel Rei! — Singapore

Quirky Hotel Rei! describes itself as a “modern retro themed boutique hotel,” which, in part, means lots of bright colors, glittery bathroom tiles, and '70s-era graphics. Before it was Rei! (their exclamation mark, not ours), this 12-story building was a primary school. Perhaps better suited to its current function, the building features a different color theme on each floor and special themed suites featuring Jacuzzis and, ahem, water beds.

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