For many travelers, hotels are simply a means to an end — little more than a place to crash aftera long day of exploration. It's easy to overlook the fact that the places where we lay our heads can be destinations in their own right. While very well-known hotels can be quite expensive (consider a boutique option for a more affordable stay with some character) they're often packed with architectural and historic significance you can't find anywhere else.
Caesars Palace has plenty of over-the-top competition on the Strip, but this is the hotel that started it all. The first themed resort in Vegas, it opened in 1966 sporting brash faux-Roman décor that remains today. In true Sin City fashion, it's been the site of spectacles including Evel Knievel jumping his motorcycle over the hotel fountains and shows featuring Frank Sinatra, Elton John, and Celine Dion. Today's complex includes around 4,000 guest rooms, a shopping mall, and a lavish casino, of course.
Rising gracefully above Mumbai Harbor, the red-domed Taj Mahal Palace opened in 1903. It was the first building in Mumbai, then Bombay, to have electricity and luxuries such as elevators and butlers. In 1966, Ravi Shankar taught George Harrison to play the sitar here; other prominent guests have included Gandhi, the Clintons, and the Obamas. Sadly, recent history hasn't been as kind: A 2008 terrorist attack on the Taj, part of a larger wave of attacks across Mumbai by militants, left 31 dead. The attack spurred a two-year renovation that included enhanced security.
The mystery surrounding this unfinished hotel has made it perhaps the unlikeliest icon on our list. With a pyramid-like silhouette that towers above Pyongyang, Ryugyong was meant to be one of the world's tallest structures when construction started in the 1980s — and quickly became its tallest unoccupied building when work was halted in the 1990s.Nicknamed the “Hotel of Doom,” there have been rumors that at least some of the building will be opened soon — but since it's North Korea, no one can really say for sure.