Historic Hotels – photography assignments by Hotel Essence Photography

This section consists of a photographic portfolio of historic properties around the world.

These beautiful images were created by our founder, historic hotel photographer Michelle Chaplow.

With over 25 years of experience in visually promoting heritage properties, Michelle knows the importance of photography for historic hotels. Along with her highly-experienced team, she works together with heritage properties worldwide to create high-quality visuals for the promotion of historic hotels.

Our team will tailor-make a photoshoot, including striking architectural photography, well lit interiors, environmental portraits, and exquisite food shots, to the smallest, most precious details that portray the story, capturing the very essence of your historic hotel. Michelle Chaplow gives five great reasons why historic hotels should upgrade their photographic imagery right now More>

Michelle Chaplow gives five great reasons why historic hotels should upgrade their photographic imagery right now 

1 – Visual documentation of historic hotels – a record for the future

Historic hotel photography is an essential part of a hotel´s visual record. How many times do we look back at old family photos with endearing, nostalgic memories? A hotel is the same – the intriguing history and gradual evolution of a hotel over the decades and even centuries needs quality photography to document it.

A black and white photo of a grand ballroom or a hotel lobby taken 100 years ago, and an image of the same space today, is fascinating for guests to see how the magnificent room was back then, and how much it has (or, indeed, hasn’t) changed over the intervening period. The two images, displayed side by side, offer an important sense of continuity – an elegant space that has been hosting prestigious clients for a whole century.

Our lead hotel photographer and founder Michelle Chaplow, understands the value of documenting these unique properties:

“The photographs that I take of historic hotels today will be used as reference material in the future – this idea is so satisfying to me! Visual documentation is a key factor in historic preservation. Future generations will refer back to these same images, which will form part of the hotel´s story.” 

“When you walk through the door of a historic hotel, it is like being in a sacred space – you can almost feel the sense of history. It’s a privileged place where guests have created memories, and future generations will do the same. Without photographs to document a heritage hotel through time, important memories can be lost. Photography is a great tool not only to capture glamorous events and illustrious guests, but also to visually document the architecture and interior design from a specific period.”

2 – Quality historic hotel photography will ensure press coverage

Good imagery will help ensure that historic hotels appear in articles carried by important travel press – imagine outstanding photos of your property used across several double-page spreads. These visuals are irresistibly eye-catching for readers who are, in turn, your hotel´s potential guests. Anyone who loves travel will be constantly reading about the subject in beautifully designed, glossy magazines.

If a photo editor of a print publication has to choose between two similar historic hotels to include in a feature article, one of which has superb quality photography and the other does not, it’s obvious which hotel they will choose. As any journalist will tell you: give me a good visual and I can sell your story.

New York-based travel editor and Social Media influencer Kim-Marie Evans is a key opinion-maker in the world of deluxe hotels. As @LuxuryTravelMom, she has an impressive 28,000 followers on Twitter and 6,000 on Instagram. Kim-Marie told us: “I have dropped properties from print coverage because their image libraries were terrible.” So by simply not having good visuals, hotels can miss out on valuable press coverage.

3 – Historic hotels need to be portrayed in their very best light

With a good photo, you can tell a good story; with a bad photo, it´s all apologies and excuses. Countless five-star hotel managers, on meeting Michelle, have said to her “You must visit us,” and passed on their card. Then they’ve explained that their hotel is “much better than it appears in our photography”. A historic hotel deserves quality photography, so don’t be one of those who has to explain that the imagery doesn’t do your property justice. You want everyone else to see how beautiful your historic hotel is, with images that show off its unique character as you know and love it.

 4 – Archiving historic hotel photography – an essential step

There is a worldwide trend now to throw out and simplify (thanks to Japanese home organisation guru Marie Kondo). You can divide photographic archives naturally into two sections: analogue and digital hotel photography. Photographic film negatives are naturally archivable, as few people would throw away a negative. However digital negatives are much more disposable. Hard drives can crash, computer systems can change, and shoe-box collections of photographs can be lost. Because of all these potential disasters, every hotel needs to have a reliable archive and back-up system for their hotel photography, with at least two off-site copies. Yes, it is time-consuming, but when you consider that you are preserving a hotel´s visuals throughout time, it is undeniably worthwhile 

5 – Hotel websites and OTAs

Ensuring that you have eye-catching, memorable photographic images will attract guests to book their holiday at your property when they see it online. Hotel Essence will listen to a hotel´s story and work together with the marketing team to capture the hotel in its very best light, ensuring that those same exceptional images will attract future reservations.

Do you need new photography for your historic hotel?

Historic hotel photographer Michelle Chaplow is accredited by the most prestigious historic hotel groups:

Associate Photographer for The Most Famous Hotels in the World ®
Approved Photographer for Historic Hotels Worldwide™, The Historic Hotels of America
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts



She has photographed a wide range of historic hotels, from the top global brands with internationally-renowned landmark heritage institutions such as the Peninsula in Hong Kong  to low-key, independently-owned properties such as Dromoland Castle in Ireland, or the cosy Benbow historic Inn nestled away in Northern California.

However large and sumptuous, or bijou and intimate, your historic hotel, the Hotel Essence team will ensure that its character is represented in the outstanding visuals that we produce, so that guests are won over by its individual beauty and drawn into its fascinating history.

If you would like to find our more, please don’t hesitate to contact us.