Luxury has a language of its own that’s diverse. The idea of luxury is hard to define, but everyone has their own idea of what it means, making it something in which everyone can participate. And, when luxury is preserved, you have the exclusive opportunity to see history around the world by simply hopping onto your private charter jet.
One of the European “Capitals of Culture,” Istanbul is home to the Çırağan Palace (Sarayı) Kempinski Hotel in the Besiktas district, along the Bosporus shore. The current palace is the fourth built on the site. The first was built in the 17th century as a summer home, and the second and third were built according to the tastes of the sultans. The current palace was constructed during the 1860s by Sultan Abdülâziz, and serves as the last example of how Ottoman sultans constructed new palaces rather than inhabit those of their ancestors. The structure had Persian and baroque elements intertwined, colorful outer marble walls and a marble bridge that connects Çırağan Palace to nearby Yildiz Palacel. After a fire in 1910 gutted the palace’s wooden walls and roof, it served as a football stadium until the Kempinski group restored it to its former glory. Today, the historical Çırağan Palace is one of the world’s most expensive hotels.
A medieval Victorian estate on the shore of Lough Corrib, Ashford Castle is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. It was built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke, formerly the de Burgo family, after the defeat of the Royal House of Connacht. On the estate is the notable Abbey of Cong where the last High King of Ireland, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, died. The king left the greatest relic of his Court, the Cross of Cong, which is said to be a piece of the True Cross. (The relic is now in the National Museum of Ireland.) Through the years, thousands of trees were added to the property, along with roads, gardens and two Victorian-style extensions. Ashford Castle was converted into a hotel in 1939, and was restored and expanded in 1970. Notable guests of the luxury hotel and historic site include Queen Mary with King George V, Oscar Wilde, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Brad Pitt and HSH Prince Rainier III with HSH Princess Grace of Monaco.
Amid the ancient temples and opulent yachts in the center of the Mediterranean is the city of Mdina in the well-kept secret archipelago of Malta. Just south of Sicily, Malta, one of the world’s smallest states, was ruled by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Normans, French and the British (to name a few) before gaining independence from the U.K. in 1964. Malta’s Apostolic Sea is mentioned in the Bible’s Acts of the Apostles, and archeologists have found proof of stone-age settlements that existed as early as 5200 BC. Also unearthed in Malta are the remains of prehistoric pygmy elephants and dwarf hippos, megalithic temples and the famous fertility figure “Venus of Willendorf.” The Phoenicians and Romans during separate points in time inhabited the area of Mdina, the old capital of Malta. Mdina remains surrounded by its medieval walls and is home to the Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul. The palaces within the city serve as private homes. When visiting the Malta, the five-star Xara Palace Relais & Châteaux in Mdina is as exclusive as it gets with just 17 rooms and pieces of antique furniture and art.
What type of history do you seek to unearth on your private charter jet travels?