Like clockwork, every two years—since the Winter Games were first introduced in 1924—the world shifts all attention to the Olympic Games.
Hosted in a different city and country each year, there are few places in the world that have ever been privileged to host the Games, and among them we’ve got some favourites. From the could-be-melting architecture in Barcelona (oh, Gaudi!) to the chilly Rocky Mountains north of Vancouver—here are 10 places, that have entertained the entire world, where we certainly wouldn’t mind visiting.
Olympics: Summer 2012 | Host: London, United Kingdom
Where to stay: Don’t be alarmed with the shabby-chic appearance of Rough Luxe, for a freestanding copper tub and cheeky art await behind your door. Next time you find yourself in London, where there is an ample share of posh stays throughout the thriving city, stay off the beaten path at this gem by King’s Cross.
What to do: Escape to the gleaming new King’s Place arts centre for plenty of world attractions springing up in the neighbourhood. Before you leave the unforgettable hotel, don’t forget to try some of the honey! They get their own from bee hives on the roof.
Olympics: Winter 2010 | Host: Vancouver, Canada
Where to stay: Between the slopes and sea lies the cool Canasian influence of the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Vancouver. With its heated black-tiled pool and the serene treatment rooms at CHI, The Spa, this hotel has the means to tame even the fiercest Olympic (or weekend!) warrior.
What to do: West Coast dwellers will tell you the charm of British Columbia lies in its rugged splendour. Make the most of your coastal visit by having a rainforest adventure at the 400-hectare Stanley Park and then eat your heart out at Bao Bei an Old Shanghai-style brasserie that will thrill your taste buds.
Olympics: Summer 2008 | Host: Beijing, China
Where to stay: For a stay that is more beguiling modern and less Old World urbanite, choose The Opposite House in the trendy Village at Sanlitun. Situated in the new entertainment complex, the glass-paned marvel, largely built from reclaimed materials and featuring wooden soaking tubs, offers its guests Zen before they swing open the doors to The Forbidden City.
What to do: Beijing’s past may have been bulldozed to make room for the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium and the twisted steel CCTV tower but ancient history is still alive and well in the city. Consider the impressive National Museum of China for a refresher on imperialist history, or head to Tianyi Mu’s mausoleum and see a glass-encased corpse you won’t forget.
Olympics: Summer 2000
Host: Sydney, Australia
Where to stay: While the Olympics were officially held in Sydney, if you are making the trip down under we suggest venturing to One&Only Hayman Island, the private island gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
What to do: The 3,000 kilometre stretch of reef, off the Queensland coast, may be visible from space but can only truly be experienced in the water. Book a fishing trip, snorkelling adventure or even a helicopter tour for vacation photos so spectacular they won’t need a filter when you Instagram.
Olympics: Summer 1992 | Host: Barcelona, Spain
Where to stay: This seaside Spanish city oozes style and Mandarin Oriental Barcelona—on the prestigious Passeig de Gràcia—is frankly a hub of panache. The impressive rooftop plunge pool presents Barcelona’s famed Gaudi architecture in the most flattering light, while the Banker’s Bar down below makes their bespoke Purple Emperor destined to leave you feeling the riches.
What to do: What you will find street-level is familiar names like Tiffany and Manolo Blahnik, jewels and shoes that is, and all the cosmopolitan Catalans your Spanish phrasebook can handle. What would a trip to Barcelona be without Picasso? Call a taxista to take you to the Museu Picasso de Barcelona where you can enjoy over 3,800 pieces of art that are on display. Get there early though, lineups often snake around the block!
Host: Seoul, South Korea
Where to stay: Settle peacefully in a lush oasis, with Mount Namsan as your backdrop, at the Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul. Far enough from the bustling downtown core of one of Asia’s most exciting cities, the resort features a spa retreat enticing guests with time honoured therapies as well as traditional Korean hospitality.
What to do: Discover true madness for shopping in the sprawling Dongdaemun market area. With no fewer than 20 shopping malls, the atmosphere is intoxicating so be careful you do not find yourself swept away with the current of the Cheonggyecheon stream. For tourists seeking great heights, a trip up top the N Seoul Tower is a must.
Olympics: Summer 1976 | Host: Montréal, Canada
Where to stay: The social heart of Quebec is said to beat loudly in the historic city of Montreal, so it is befitting to experience the grandeur of Ritz-Carlton Montreal where luxurious amenities—once thought to be rare—happen to be de rigeur.
What to do: Pack your formalwear and make a dramatic entrance down the Ritz-Carlton Montreal’s grand staircase on your way to gain cultural capital at the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. Then head back to the hotel to experience a food lover’s paradise: Maison Boulud. Internationally acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud brings global flair and haute cuisine to his namesake at the foot of the newly-renovated property.
Olympics: Summer 1972
Host: Munich, Germany
Where to stay: Just off Karlsplatz, amidst lively beer gardens and pairs of lederhosen, seek out the bold contemporary rooms of the Anna Hotel. The sleek interiors complement the avant-garde furniture and panoramic views of the sixth floor. Before you head out for the night, enjoy a bottle of Drusian Prosecco that will be waiting in the room upon arrival. Prost, as they say!
What to do: Get your medieval on at the Augustiner-Keller beer garden where you can queue up for meat and drink while rubbing shoulders with business folk, students and pensioners alike. The Olympic park still as lively as ever with Munich eager to position itself as the heart of Bavaria through year-round gigs and events proving its extravagance cannot be matched and its baroque edge has not eroded.
Olympics: Winter 1972
Host: Sapporo, Japan
Where to stay: Inspired by the first Winter Olympics ever held in Asia, explore some of the best the Land of the Rising Sun has to offer on an 11-day Silversea cruise adventure aboard the Silver Explorer. An Olympian in spirit, the Explorer was specifically built to easily navigate waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations—which means you are guaranteed the expedition of a lifetime, in very comfortable quarters.
What to do: With an expert Expedition Team on board and a fleet of Zodiac boats providing safe passage to some of the more remote locations—such as the Volcanic Islands or the port of Hakodate—guests experience a side of Sapporo (and Japan!) that cannot be found in any guide book.
Olympics: Summer 1968 | Host: Mexico City, Mexico
Where to stay: Bring out your inner city slicker at Las Alcobas hotel with mod decor and posh amenities you will need to see to believe. The coiffed aesthetic extends well beyond the leather-lined walls and hints of high-tech gadgetry peppered throughout suites to the urban spa and 24-hour butler service guaranteed to spoil you silly. Better yet, quesadillas and ceviche are prepared fresh anytime you need a little spicing up.
What to do: The air may be dry but the world’s best tequila is always flowing in Mexico. Pick up a take-home bottle at the Tequila Shop at La Villa Madrid in the chic Polanco district. Before indulging in the famed agave nectar, head to El Lago de Los Cisnes in Lomas de Chapultepec to sample typical Mexican fare rumoured to be the best in the city.