Holidays with a United Nations twist
From time to time when I’m reading about travel I see a mention of UNESCO.
Place X has become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Or hotel Y is close to a UNESCO World Heritage site, why not have a look?
I’m always slightly impressed by this as it sounds important. But if I’m entirely honest with you I never really knew what it meant. Does it mean the place is old? Beautiful? Historically significant?
I didn’t even know what UNESCO stood for until I googled it. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. I can see why everyone abbreviates.
It turns out they do rather a lot of very important stuff but for today we’re just looking at the World Heritage bit. The idea, the internet tells me, is to protect sites of outstanding universal value for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. So we’re talking about places that are so amazing they get a badge to say so from the UN and get levels of protection and care that ensures nobody will ever be able to build flats. Or even a small shed.
In my mind if the UN says something has outstanding universal value then it probably is impressive. I can’t imagine they fling this label around willy-nilly, it doesn’t seem their style.
So having been duly impressed I now want to start ticking off UNESCO sites as I travel. Unfortunately for my obsessive need to finish lists, but fortunately for mankind, there are over a thousand sites. You may have heard of some of them: the Pyramids of Egypt; the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the Galapagos in Ecuador; the Taj Mahal in India; the Grand Canyon in the USA; the Acropolis in Greece. All rather pleasant spots and thankfully I’ve already seen a couple.
But now I must see more. Many more. And obviously I’ll need a place to stay.
So I’ve picked out 5 very handily placed rather lovely hotels that are actually within World Heritage sites. Because I’m a genius.
BLOOMFIELD LODGE, Cairns, Australia
This 17 room secluded lodge comes first because I can tick off two sites with one stone. It’s set between Daintree Rainforest (the longest unspoiled stretch of rainforest in Australia) and the Great Barrier Reef. Quite a nice spot then.
CASA ELLUL, Valletta, Malta
Whatever you do don’t ask the receptionist at this 19th century palazzo where the World Heritage site is. You’re in it. The historic centre of Valletta is all in it. This 8 room delight has the best views in town from the roof and a classical central courtyard set around a sculpture of Hercules.
HOTEL BERGS, Riga, Latvia
Latvia is swiftly rising to the top of my to do list. The historic centre of Riga is UNESCO and this hotel is in the perfect place to enjoy it. It’s design led with 19th century roots, art nouveau touches and original artworks by Latvian Old Masters.
PANGULASIAN ISLAND RESORT, El Nido, Philippines
This little gem is in Bacuit Bay on Pangulasian Island – the ‘Island of the Sun’.
Here I can tick off a UNESCO box, go scuba diving and snorkelling, chill in the spa and get in a private boat for a sunset lagoon cruise. A pleasing collection of things to do!
THE MAJESTIC MALACCA, Malacca, Malaysia
This riverside mansion house that will soon celebrate its hundredth birthday overlooks the Malacca River and Kampung Morten. Antiques, porcelain floors and silk give the place a genuine colonial feel and, of course, it’s sat in a World Heritage site.
That’s my five. There are loads more here and as you’ll see not one of them is going to be an unpleasant place to stay or visit. No time to lose with 1000 to get through so get UNES-going!