Back before computers and cell phones, people wrote letters. Star-crossed lovers professed amorous desires. Presidents shared wartime worries with trusted generals. Parents checked on their children in other states. Authors scribbled ideas to literary confidants. And all these correspondences were sent to their intended recipient by the postal service. It didn’t take long for cities to begin erecting grand buildings to house mail depots.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and the invention of email and a major shift toward tech-based forms of communication have changed the scope and scale of the postal service. So what became of these extraordinary temples to snail mail? Some old post offices around the world — from Washington, D.C. to Singapore — are having a fascinating second act as luxury hotels worth writing home about. Here, a few of our favorites.
Related: The 100 Best New Hotels in the World
1898 the Post, Ghent, Belgium
Tucked away in the corner of a neo-Gothic landmark originally built for the 1913 World Expo, 1898 the Post is a boutique hideaway set where Ghent’s central post office functioned for many years, and it brings postal chic into the present moment. After entering through the courtyard on a cobbled side street, guests ascend a spiral staircase. Once inside, the quirky charm of the historic building comes into focus; the hallways slope down at the sides and some accommodations are couched inside turrets. Inspired by Old World offices but with a contemporary overlay, rooms and suites feature built-in bookcases, rotary phones, and antique writing desks topped with paperweights, pencil boxes, postcards, and paper.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington, D.C.
The story of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington, D.C. dates back to the 1830s with the construction of the General Post Office. After nearly 150 years of official government use, the first all-marble building in the nation’s capital sat abandoned. And so the job of restoration and transformation began. The rehabbed property honors American history and heritage in an impressive way. Original elements, including a pair of circular staircases, monumental columns, and a neoclassical fireplace framed by gold bald eagles, are complemented by draperies and pillows crafted from contemporary fabrics. The postmaster’s library is now a ballroom, and the mail sorting room houses Dirty Habit, a stylish bar and restaurant.
The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
Many travelers are familiar with The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore, as it’s one of the most iconic and popular places to stay in the city center, but few know much about its intriguing history. Before pivoting to the luxury hospitality sector, the 1928 neoclassical building was home to the central post office for nearly a century. Today, the prestigious 400-key property and national landmark channels the heritage of yesteryear with its preserved (and magnificent) portes-cochères, Doric columns, and commanding marble staircase. Having traditional afternoon tea here is a treat complete with finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones pastries, and harp music in the atrium.
Hôtel Madame Rêve, Paris
Hôtel Madame Rêve reanimates the 19th-century Louvre post office building, which was built toward the end of the Second Empire of Napoleon III. The impeccably executed project makes incredible use of the structure’s Haussmann proportions while weaving in period details like intricate moldings, parquet floors, and chandeliers, which provide even more art nouveau character. Poised in the first arrondissement — a hub of designer shopping, world-class museums, and sidewalk cafes — the World’s Best Award–winning property is a fashionable base for exploring. Though it is admittedly pretty tempting to stay put on property, given its stylish boudoirs accented by mail-themed art, roof terrace with panoramic city views, and tranquil spa.
COMO The Treasury, Perth, Australia
Located on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street in one of Perth’s oldest neighborhoods, COMO The Treasury shares a lot of commonalities with its environs: both are steeped in history and were recently revitalized. The collection of 19th-century state buildings that used to harbor the post office, land titles office, and treasury now welcomes business and leisure travelers visiting the capital of Western Australia. In contrast to the Victorian-era façade, the 48 accommodations take a decidedly contemporary approach to design with muted hues, natural wood, and sun-drenched spaces. Post, the on-site Italian osteria, serves seasonal pastas and more.
Villa Copenhagen, Denmark
Built in 1912, the architectural marvel that’s now home to Villa Copenhagen, part of the Nordic Hotels & Resorts, spent 104 years as the Danish Central Post and Telegraph Head Office. Billed as a grand dame for the 21st century, the recently opened property offers 390 bedrooms that reflect a deep-rooted understanding of Scandinavian minimalism and hygge. Herringbone wood floors, crisp linens, and soft shades create an exceptionally serene atmosphere. Other standout spaces include the rooftop swimming pool, sauna, courtyard bar, brasserie, and T37, a cozy drinking den named after the code postal employees used for after-work gatherings.
BoHo Prague Hotel, Czech Republic
A short walk from Old Town Square, BoHo Prague Hotel, a member of SLH, breathes new life into an art deco post office. While the building’s past may have been focused on sorting, filing, and delivering letters, its latest iteration as a polished boutique retreat gives few signs — other than, perhaps, the giant windows — that it might have served any purpose other than delighting guests with contemporary design, warm hospitality, and bespoke amenities. Intimate, swathed in neutral tones, and exuding cosmopolitan sophistication, the property supplies 57 soundproof rooms and suites, a cocktail bar, an international restaurant concept, and a sleek wellness area with a heated pool.