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Expand your mind with an educational getaway

Enjoy the perfect mix of education and recreation on your next getaway — these elite destinations make it easy to further your knowledge and create amazing experiences. | By Paul Oswell | May 3, 2023

There’s nothing like some self-improvement while you’re traveling to expand your mind — and your horizons. A historical tour or instructional cooking class are fun ways to explore a new city or culture, and you’ll leave with fun-filled memories and enriched skills and knowledge that will last long beyond your vacation. Here are three suggestions for your next educational trip:

  • Washington: The historic U.S. capital has some of the world’s finest museums, diverse stories to tell and exquisite yachts from which to view the monuments

  • Versailles: Dip into a regal lifestyle with a palatial tour before exploring the house and gardens that inspired Monet

  • Seoul: 600 years of history await, as do the tempting delicacies of traditional Korean cuisine

Atrium view with flag
Steeped in history, Washington offers endless opportunities for learning.


The U.S. capital is an obvious seat of learning, with historical monuments and markers throughout the city, and a host of world-class museums to explore. At the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, you can see everything from an original copy of the Gettysburg Address to the original Star-Spangled Banner flag. Your concierge can organize a private museum tour where a dedicated historian personalizes an itinerary catered to your interests.

African American history is an important part of the city’s evolution, and a private guide can help contextualize landmark spots such as the African American Civil War Memorial and provide a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Waldorf Astoria Washington DC has diverse options for entertaining curious minds. One of their most popular private excursions is the Abe Lincoln tour, which starts at Ford’s Theatre, before moving on to the neighboring Petersen House, where there’s a reconstruction of the room where Lincoln died. The tour concludes at the National Archives, home to the original Emancipation Proclamation.

For an elevated educational tour, cruise the local Washington waterways aboard Cru Classé’s private 47-foot (14.3-meter) sailing yacht. The concierge at Waldorf Astoria Washington DC can arrange for an expert tour guide to join you and provide exclusive insights into the historical sites and monuments while you enjoy chef-curated pairings of Champagne and wine with coastal cuisine.

Château de Versailles
Elevate your educational travels with a regal private tour of Versailles palace and gardens.

Versailles, France

The history of Versailles, just outside the French capital of Paris, is closely tied to the history of France and the focus here is the stunning palace of Versailles itself. With a behind-the-scenes VIP tour, you can see the personal living quarters of the former royal family where the public and the court were not permitted. Private guides often have access to exclusive spaces, offering serenity in the often-crowded palace, walking the rooms where Louis XVI or Marie Antoinette spent their final days before the French Revolution.

For those with an artistic curiosity, it’s only a one-hour drive from Versailles to Claude Monet’s house in Giverny. Your concierge can arrange a guide with their own transportation to whisk you away to this charming rustic home and artist studio. See the inspirational lily ponds and learn about the revolutionary techniques of impressionism.

Back in Versailles, further expand your royal French history knowledge at the palace gardens and the Domaine de Trianon. If you book Waldorf Astoria Versailles Trianon Palace's culture getaway offering, you gain an exclusive two-day passport with unrestricted access to all three sites. After exploring, take a moment for self-indulgence with included experiences at the Guerlain Spa pool, fitness room, sauna and hammam before enjoying a three-course dinner for two at the property’s La Veranda restaurant (excluding drinks).

The hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Gordon Ramsay au Trianon, also offers a behind-the-scenes look at its kitchen via their Chef’s Table, where you can learn the art of the restaurant’s high-end menus and service — all explained by executive chef, Frédéric Larquemin. Additional educational experiences off-site include insights into wine cultivation with experts at Domaine la Bouche du Roi vineyard, or a glamorous historical tour of Chantilly or the Chevreuse Valley in a classic car from the hotel’s Cartis collection.

Spacious lobby area at Conrad Seoul, featuring high ceilings and marble floors. A spiral staircase is in the background.
Conveniently located near the city's main attractions, Conrad Seoul is the perfect base for exploration.

Seoul, Korea

Although Seoul has a reputation as a modern, cutting-edge city, it has a long and storied past. Chosen as the capital of the Joseon dynasty in the late 14th century, Seoul became the center of the Japanese rule in Korea from 1910 to 1945.

Be whisked back in time with a private tour from a local guide. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and arguably the most elaborate of the five major palaces in South Korea with vast stone sculptures, decorative roofs, colorful screen paintings and serene gardens. A private walking tour of the bustling Insadong neighborhood is like experiencing a living museum, and your personal guide can point out the evocative Korean arts and crafts, workshops, galleries, restaurants and tea houses.

Korean cuisine is gaining more popularity worldwide. To improve your culinary proficiency, join a local expert on a tour of one of Seoul’s many food markets, such as Mangwon Market, before partaking in a personal cooking class. Your instructor will explain Korean ingredients and teach you how to make traditional delicacies such as bibimbap (mixed rice with meat and vegetables), dak-galbi (spicy stir-fried chicken), or haemul pajeon (seafood pancakes).

Take this newfound knowledge with you to order with confidence at any of the seven gourmet dining outlets at Conrad Seoul. Look out over the city from their rooftop restaurant and bar, VVertigo. Conveniently, the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace and streets of Insadong are just across the river from the hotel. For young learners, Conrad Seoul has an educational program for children — their Conrad Barista Package is suitable for 3-5-year-olds, and kids can role-play with an imitation coffee machine and desserts to improve social and vocabulary skills.

There are countless ways to dive deep into the history, culture and traditions of a destination with a sense of curiosity that will guarantee you return home with lasting memories and newfound knowledge.

Paul Oswell is a British award-winning journalist and published travel author based in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. His books include Bucket List North America and The Great American Road Trip, as well as New Orleans' Historic Hotels. He has also been an editor of and contributor to several guide books/editions published by Dorling Kindersley (owned by Penguin), including New Orleans, Florida, Orlando, Los Angeles, California and The United States. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure (both of which he has written multiple online travel guides for) and The Guardian, as well as dozens of international newspaper and magazine titles, and inflight magazines for major airlines.

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