Culture By Justin Gibson

World Heritage Sites

When it comes time to marvel at the magnificence that is out there in existence, the view back in time is awe-inspiring: from the wheel to the Renaissance, we’ve come a long way to get to current day. Now, reflecting back on this grand view is good for more than just existential goosebumps—it provides moments of wonder and euphoria that transcend culture, bridges the gap between you and strangers, makes the distance between us all a little smaller. Admiring the world’s heritage is what travel is all about… and it sets the scene for some epic getaways. For inspiration of where you should head to, as well as some recommendations of where to stay, check out the following cities and a few of their World Heritage Sites below.

Paris

A world-hub of chic cafes and stylish boutiques with the odd 12th-century cathedral thrown in the mix, the “City of Love” houses plenty of iconic heritage in tandem to the romantic ambiance. The Palace of Versailles resides right outside the city in the picturesque countryside with views warranting a visit. A former summer residence for French royalty, it still houses the most opulent architecture you’ll witness in this lifetime—not to mention the priceless art that adorns much of the walls. As impressive as Versailles may seem, it’s only a warmup for the sprawling magnificence that is Chateau de Fontainebleau. A palace of 1500 rooms centered on 130 acres, just glimpsing the massive estate is a “goosebumps moment,” while touring the grounds makes for an afternoon of utter wonder. Of course, for a moment of more pure Parisian magic, a stroll along the Banks of the Seine is as quintessential to Parisian life as croissants.

Palace of Versailles - Paris

Banks of the Seine River Paris
The Peninsula Paris


When it comes time to find an abode for your Parisian adventures, your lodgings should match in tone the charm of your sights—The Peninsula Paris delivers. Within the Peninsula, the French heritage is prominent: Haute Couture and savoir-faire are on full display within the aesthetic of every room, cementing a sense of C’est la vie if you happen to sleep in. Couple your late rise with a 100 USD Food & Beverage or Spa credit, an exclusive SELECT amenity, and it’s easy to fall in love with the French way of life—joie de vivre.

Tokyo

The neon skyscrapers of the ultramodern variety stand both thick and tall in Tokyo, while the very same city harbors imperial palaces and scraps of shogun empires from the ancient dynasties of yesteryear. Pockets of the country’s transformation await discovery: the Tomioka Silk Mill provides a snapshot of Japan in the late 19th century—at the crossroads between past tradition and industrialized future, eager to carve out a place in the global economy. Further back still on Japan’s timeline is Nikko—the picturesque town that grew around the temples of Rinno-ji and Chuzen-ji. A plethora of historic sites dot this cradle of Japanese history beyond these two ancient temples, but perhaps the one most worth seeing is the sacred Shinkyo Bridge. The entrance to many of the shrines and temples, legend says the Shinkyo Bridge has stood (in one form or another) since a god named Jinja-Daiou constructed it with two snakes, one red and one blue, in the year 766. However it came to be, the serenity of this scenery is timeless.

Shinkyo Bridge Tokyo


With the timeless enchantment of Tokyo’s tradition on full display in a day’s discovery, your evenings should be more of the same magic. For that reason, consider The Peninsula Tokyo. Sitting opposite the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park in Marunouchi, the Peninsula proves to be the conduit for all of Japan’s tradition and modernity.

Beijing

The modern-day capital of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing has been a center of human history dating back 3 millennia, making it one of the oldest cities in the world—something that might not have been immediately evident from the ultra-bustling modern daily life. But, chances for reflection on humanity’s history are abundant. Much of the city is parallel to the Great Wall of China, making Beijing one of the best places to easily witness this man-made marvel. Within Beijing itself, the Forbidden City beckons both the keen and the curious: the former imperial palace for many of China’s dynasties is today the definitive destination for retracing their royal steps. Finally, one of the best spots for dropped-jaws and ancient tranquility is the Temple of Heaven. This imperial complex of religious buildings has played a critical role in relationship between China’s politics and spirituality throughout time, and while Emperors are no longer paying respects to the heavens in the form of ceremonies, the park today is still the perfect place to marvel at existence.

Temple of Heaven Beijing


With a city as sprawling as Beijing, where you stay can make the difference between enjoying the city, and struggling to navigate it. For that reason, The Peninsula Beijing stands a cut above the rest. Between being close to the city’s heritage sites, housing the country’s most prestigious shopping destination as the Peninsula Arcade, the chauffeur-driven hotel limousines and the exclusive SELECT amenity of set lunch or dinner a Jing or Huang Ting, you’re never at a loss for where or what to enjoy next.

Shanghai

At first glance, the modern megaliths that make up Shanghai’s skyline would seem like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie—but just beyond the contemporary are moments of magnificence far more eternal. The jagged peaks and gnarled trees of Mount Huangshan have provided solace and refuge for the artistic minded since the 8th century—the déjà vu you feel from all the art its since inspired adds to the grandeur of the real-life experience. Equally picturesque are the sharp granite pillars and lush forest of Mount Sanqingshan National Park. A sacred place for Taoists since the East Jin Dynasty, a stroll along the staircases cutting into the cloud-blanketed peaks feels as if you’re ascending into the otherworldly. For a stroll through vibrant greenery more down to Earth, try instead the Classical Gardens of Suzhou. Just an hour west of Shanghai, these gardens have roots reaching all the way back to the 6th century BC—their origins are due to Chinese intellectual’s desire to merge the harmony of untamed wilderness with the cultivated precision of craftmanship and artistry. The end result: gardens of meticulous Zen, landscape paintings brought to life, moments of peace and beauty that stretch beyond the human timeline.

Mount Huang Shanghai
Classical Gardens of Suzhou Shanghai


For travels to the pockets of peace within the bustling metroplex of Shanghai, pick a home base that provides a continued respite from the chaos of modern life. Situated on the city’s iconic riverfront promenade, The Peninsula Shanghai is the flagship location for mainland China—the critically acclaimed Michelin star-rated restaurants and the commanding views make for moments unmatched in relaxation and reflection. Savor the start of every morning with a complimentary American breakfast for two—an exclusive SELECT amenity.