May 31, 2012 at 8:23 AM ET
Historic forts were often set up on high elevations or perched at the edges of bodies of water—in other words, places that have amazing views. Lucky for us, many of these buildings are now historic hotels.
Cap Rocat, Mallorca, Spain
On a secluded peninsula in the Bay of Palma, Cap Rocat is a 19th-century military fortress that's been transformed into a 24-room hotel. You have to cross a drawbridge to enter, and the old bunker, or gunpowder depot, is now the setting for cocktails or private events. But to get the best views of the bay, you should leave the bunker and peek out over the fortress walls on the rooftop terrace.
Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar, India
The impressive Ahilya Fort overlooks the sacred Narmada river, and the outside appears just as it did in the mid to late 1700s, when Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar built the structure. Inside, though, Prince Richard Holkar — her descendant and the last Maharajah of Indore — restored the property, and now it has a Relais & Châteaux distinction.
Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito, Calif.
Once known as the Fort Baker military base, this California complex still has a location that's of strategic importance to travelers: It's situated right in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Visitors stay in historic buildings that were once officers' quarters, which still bear many of the original touches from when they were built between 1901 and 1915. The best feature might be the view, looking out onto San Francisco Bay.
Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore
The location of Hotel Fort Canning has played a key role in the country's history as early as the 14th century, when it was the site for the palatial resort of former Majapahit kings. In 1859, it was converted into military barracks and it served as the headquarters of the Singapore Base District until World War II. Now, it's once again a resort, complete with 86 stylish guest rooms — though a display of artifacts from the 14th through the 19th centuries, embedded in the lobby floor, pays homage to the site's history.
Hotel Kaštil, Bol, Croatia
Near the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, the Hotel Kaštil is a baroque fortress that once belonged to the aristocratic Vusio family of Brač. The hotel is also close to another historic building — Bol's 15th-century Dominican monastery — which hosts classical music concerts on summer evenings.
Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho, Lisbon, Portugal
Despite its lengthy history — which dates to 1642 and includes both the Seven Year's War in the mid 1700s and the Liberal Wars in the early 1800s — Fortaleza do Guincho was abandoned and almost became ruins before it was sold at public auction. The fort now serves (in our mind) a higher purpose — as a hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant and eight courtyard rooms where small fortress windows provide views of the beach.
Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
The old feudal chief who used this fort as a summer retreat could really pick a location, as every window in the Kasbah looks out onto the Toubkal National Park and High Atlas Moutains. Today, the hilltop site — which was restored using traditional building techniques and local labor — has 14 guest rooms, and a portion of the room rates are funneled back into the local Berber village that surrounds it.
Spitbank Fort, Portsmouth, England
Sure, the utilitarian exterior might not make for the prettiest-looking hotel, but what the Spitbank Fort lacks in beauty, it makes up for in exclusivity. The hotel is its own private island destination, accessible only by boat from nearby Gosport. It was built in the late 1800s to fend off an attack from Napolean III, but now it's home to eight luxury bedrooms and a rooftop sundeck with 360-degree sea views.
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