The world's 50 best hotels
Thursday, April 29, 2010
One of the great things about travelling is arriving at your hotel after a long flight or drive, knowing your stay will be comfortable and enjoyable. Kelly Landry has put together a list of 50 of the best hotel rooms in the world in big cities, tiny islands and everywhere in between.
The Setai, South Beach, Miami, United States
This art deco landmark building was built in 1936 as the Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel. Now it has a 40-storey glass tower adjoining it and is the most expensive sleep in Miami.
The Langham, Melbourne, Australia
Last year the hotel was named in Travel + Leisure
magazine's "World's Best Awards Readers' Survey" as the top city hotel in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. It has hosted former US president Bill Clinton.
Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong
Quite the place for afternoon tea, this grand establishment has been hailed as one of the world's finest hotels since 1928. It offers classic comfort and has brilliant views of the exciting Victoria Harbour. A fleet of gleaming Rolls-Royces grandly lines the front of the hotel to ferry guests to their destinations.
Trump International Hotel & Tower, New York, United States
The only Forbes
five-star hotel with a five-star restaurant in New York, this 52-storey hotel is teeming with style and exclusivity. At the juncture of Broadway and Columbus Circle, the hotel overlooks Central Park.
Esperiea Palace Hotel, Athens, Greece
Only 300m from Syntagma Square and close to The Acropolis, Plaka, National Garden, archaeological sites and museums, this is a hotel with warm, friendly Greek hospitality.
Commune by the Great Wall, Beijing, China
This private collection of 42 villas was designed by 12 Asian architects amidst 8 square kilometres of private land, the Great Wall is at your fingertips. It's in the Shuiguan Mountains, just over an hour from Beijing.
Lalu Hotel, Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
Once serving as travel accommodation for former president Chiang Kai-shek, this hotel has a base area of 10 hectares. The three buildings have guest rooms, spa, gym, sauna and club. Its architectural design is Zen style and made from wood, stone, glass and iron.
Bauer Hotel, Venice, Italy
The Bauer has a delightful mix of decor including Murano glass chandeliers, sconces and sculpture, and the Venetian fabrics from the houses of Rubelli and Bevilacqua are blended with deco furniture. The Bauer honours the soul, spirit, romance and culture of Venice.
From the water, Likuliku looks like an ancient village. Close up it's a haven of subtle luxury with Fiji's only over-water bures. There are sprawling ceilings with handwoven thatch and a mix of natural materials and modern elements.
Aitutaki Lagoon Resort, Cook Islands
A stunningly coloured lagoon is home to an all-bungalow resort with over-water accommodation. It is all about Polynesian hospitality, sandy beaches and total relaxation.
Bora Bora Nui, Tahiti
Suspended between crystal waters and blue skies, Bora Bora Nui is in a cove of lava rock and white sand. A wonderful way to spend a day is to picnic on the resort's private island, Motu Tapu.
Intercontinental Moorea, French Polynesia
Representing South Sea splendour at its best, the Intercontinental is between mountains and lagoon on the beautiful island of Moorea. Timber and thatch bures, colourful tropical flowers and plenty of activities, including the Moorea Dolphin Centre, make it a special destination.
Coral Palms Island Resort, New Caledonia
Here is some of the South Pacific's finest overwater accommodation, the closest to Australia. I'llot Maitre is an enchanting islet at the heart of an 80-hectare marine reserve, just 15 minutes from Noumea. Modern and stylish decor, marble and exotic wood blend to produce luxury and comfort. Large terraces overlook the emerald water and sunsets are special.
Soneva Gili, Maldives
In one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives, jetties thread across crystal waters to villas with Indian Ocean views from every room. There are just 45 over-water villas, each with private water garden and sundecks.
Manono Island Resort, Samoa
Off the west coast of Upolu, Manono Island Resort has over-water fales with verandahs, as well as staircases leading to the lagoon. Mountains form a backdrop and sunrises are spectacular. The island has just four villages, a circling coastal track and no cars. It's a very traditional place and on Sundays the only activity is attending church.
Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy
On Italy's magnificent Amalfi Coast, Le Sirenuse was once the summer house of 18th-century nobleman Marchesi Sersale. The grand 63-room hotel was opened in 1951 and many rooms overlook Positano Bay. Five-hundred candles are lit each night in its romantic restaurant. Meals are also served on a terrace overlooking the green and yellow tiled dome of the village's Renaissance church.
Las Brisas, Acapulco, Mexico
Imagine sipping a pink frozen margarita in the lush surroundings of 16 hectares of hibiscus trees on a hillside high above Acapulco Bay. The Beach Club has two salt water pools and a freshwater pool and guests tootle around in pink and white Jeeps. Bellavista Restaurant is on a wide terrace with views of Acapulco.
Hotel Chromata, Santorini, Greece
This small hotel on the rim of a caldera facing the sea and volcano in the village of Imerovigli is a special place to stay in the Greek Islands. It has an outdoor infinity pool, heated jacuzzi, poolside bar and lounge and excellent restaurant.
Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast, Australia
Regularly voted as Australia's best luxury hotel, Palazzo Versace has all the elements of style the Versace family is famous for. It reflects past and present, classic and contemporary in the heart of the Gold Coast.
Qualia, Hamilton Island, Australia
The Qualia represents world-class luxury on the northern tip of Hamilton Island in the beautiful Great Barrier Reef. Accommodation is superb and there are two pools, two bars and restaurants and fitness centre. Diving and snorkelling are right on your doorstep.
Bedarra Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
With just 16 villas nestled in rainforest, Bedarra offers peace, privacy and the ultimate in tropical luxury. There are secluded beaches to visit by dinghy with a gourmet hamper and therapeutic spa treatments for total indulgence.
Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island, Australia
Cool interiors, art and architecture, stunning ocean and mountain views greet visitors to Capella Lodge. Cuisine is contemporary Australian and the experience is best described as "relaxed sophistication".
The Standard Hotel, Los Angeles, United States
There's nothing standard about this hotel. It's quirky to say the least. There's mood lighting, scented candles, giant mirrors and treat-filled mini bars. You sleep in platform beds, furniture is Formica, furnishings are chrome and built-in wardrobes are bright orange. Rooms are categorised as: Medium, Large, Double Standard, X-Large, Huge, Gigantic, Humongous, Wow!, Big Penthouse and Bigger Penthouse.
Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart, Australia
Once a jam factory, the historic warehouses have been transformed but the feel of adventurers, seafarers, whalers and traders remains. An elegant three-storey glass and timber atrium is a focal point and comfortably accommodates around 300 guests for various events. Architects have blended old with ultra-modern the original staircase, timber ceilings and restored machinery sit comfortably with the rich influences of trading history with India and China.
Alfajiri Villas, Ukunda, Kenya
On the deserted and quiet Diani Beach overlooking the Indian Ocean, Alfajiri Villas have elevated positions ensuring privacy and marvellous views. Large verandahs with huge handcarved sofas with cushions dominate the front of the villas, where a stretch pool sits on the edge of a small cliff merging into the sea and the horizon.
Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
Sitting on a 32-hectare patch of heaven on the outskirts of Hoi An in the centre of Vietnam, 60 one-bedroom villas have indoor and outdoor areas, bathrooms opening to private gardens and outdoor showers. Some have a pool and each has landscaped gardens. Its name means "Heaven on Earth" and that is so appropriate.
Villa Imogiri, Ubud, Bali
The magnificent estate of Villa Imogiri sits above a lush green canyon above the Wos River near the beautiful traditional village of Ubud which is Bali's artistic centre. There are five pavilions: the entrance pavilion, two guest villas, a larger imperial villa and a main lounge pavilion. A maximum of six guests are accommodated in the three spacious thatched roof villas.
Emerald Valley Villa, Byron Hinterland, Australia
Poised in hinterland above an area that inspired its name, Emerald Valley Villa is a five-star private estate with resort-style facilities. It comfortably accommodates up to eight and is a perfect model of sustainable living without compromising luxury or technology. All buildings and surrounding grounds were designed to have minimal impact on the environment, are climate neutral and run on 100 percent green power.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, Australia
This exclusive safari camp is hidden in the white sand dunes of Cape Range National Park. Nine wilderness tents are set up metres from the water's edge and a stunning fringing coastal coral reef. It's Wild Bush Luxury with no television, minibars or telephones. Rooms are fan cooled and the property has strong ecological principles.
Cedar Creek Treehouse, Washington state, United States.
Sixteen kilometres from the Nisqually River entrance to a national park in the north-western corner of Washington state, Cedar Creek Treehouse Bed and Breakfast cottage is 15m up in a 200-year-old western red cedar. Its observatory and "Stairway to Heaven" give spectacular mountain views. Reached by a rainbow-coloured bridge, Stairway to Heaven rises 24m from the forest floor.
The Pole House, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Now here's a rather special place to stay. At Aireys Inlet on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, this is a real show-stopper. The Pole House pedestal, supported by a pole jutting from a cliff, has a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and sitting area with a walkway connecting the rest with solid ground. Spectacular from the outside comfortable on the inside.
Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand
Entry to the three-hectare Huka Lodge is along a manicured driveway. The main building has reception, library and conservatory with log fires. The upstairs Hunting Lodge is decorated as its name suggests. Floors are rich and warm and country furniture is complemented by wool fabrics, with specially woven carpets to blend with the decor. The deep blues and greens of the river and forest, touched with the red of sunsets, complete the picture.
There is complete privacy, and each of the 20 suites is different but all decorated in the New England style. They are light, spacious and peaceful, have walk-in robes and fully stocked minibars.
Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia
On a secluded cliff top over a rugged stretch of coast, Southern Ocean Lodge has uninterrupted views of the ocean and island wilderness. Twenty-one king suites cantilever along the coast. They have sunken lounge area, glass-walled bathroom and terrace.
El Questro Homestead, The Kimberley, Australia
Absolute luxury can be found in the far reaches of The Kimberley in accommodation cantilevered over the Chamberlain River. The El Questro Homestead is decorated with artefacts and antiques from tropical Australia and Indonesia and is surrounded by lush gardens. It has a freeform pool, spa and tennis court. Air-conditioned bedrooms have ensuite facilities and night skies are a mass of stars.
Wolgan Valley, The Blue Mountains, Australia
A 1600-hectare slice of paradise, now known as Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, is the first resort built by the Emirates Group outside of Dubai. The environmentally responsible resort is built around a fully restored homestead built in 1832 and is nestled within its own conservation and nature reserve.
It was designed and built with sustainable materials and runs with optimum energy efficiency in order to conserve its natural environment.
Giraffe Manor, near Nairobi, Kenya
Just 12km from the centre of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is The Giraffe Manor, a remarkable place built in 1932 by Sir David Duncan. It is surrounded by 60 hectares of its own park and forest and has superb views of the Ngong Hills.
Guests are personally hosted at the elegant and exclusive small hotel with a rich blend of welcoming accommodation, highly trained staff and one of Nairobi's finest kitchens.
Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai
As you would expect, accommodation at Atlantis, The Palm, is out of this world. There are 1539 guest rooms with views of the Arabian Gulf. Marble and granite have been used everywhere, and the soap is flecked with gold.
Lost Chambers Suites have bedroom and bathroom views into the Underwater World of the Ambassador Lagoon. About 3500 staff keep the resort running, and 218 lifeguards keep you safe on the beach, at swimming pools and at the water park.
Burj Al Arab, Dubai
The seven-star hotel soars 321m into the air and its 202 suites reflect the finest that the world has to offer. Suites have a dining and living area and office with laptop, Internet access, fax, printer and copier.
Hidden technology operates lighting, curtains and air-conditioning at the touch of a button. A 42-inch plasma screen shows a variety of cable channels, video and there is an incredible number of DVDs to choose from.
The dazzling, white sail is dazzling by day and at night presents an unforgettable sight. It becomes a rainbow of colour at night with sculptures of water and fire.
The Palms, Las Vegas, United States
The one-stop 605 room resort has everything you could want. The 9000 square metre casino never closes. The Palms Casino's Fantasy Tower is the latest development in the expansion. The 40-storey tower has more than 40 mega-suites and Sky Villas with one-of-a-kind amenities never before seen in Las Vegas.
From a basketball half-court and personal bowling alley, to vibrating beds and private Show Showers, the Fantasy Tower is designed for those who think big.
Empire Hotel, Brunei
Along the South China Sea, Empire Hotel & Country Club is a white marble feast for the eyes. No expense was spared and it cost more than $1 billion to build. Gold is everywhere, even laced through the carpet, dotted on furniture and splashed on ceilings. There's a championship golf course and eight pools.
Red Bluff, Coral Coast, Western Australia
The 75,000-hectare Quobba Station was established in 1898 and some of the original cottages surround the homestead. There's the blacksmith workshop, stables, overseer's residence, garage and jackaroos' quarters.
Accommodation ranges from camping to palm frond humpies, fishing shacks, chalets, shearing quarters and luxury eco safari tents on top of the Red Bluff cliffs.
Sydney Harbour YHA, Sydney, Australia
There are six mixed dorms, four each of female and male dorms, twin or double rooms with bathrooms and four family share rooms with bathrooms. Many have harbour or city views, but both of those are right on the doorstep for a closer look.
The $25 million three-level building has an enormous communal lounge area, complete with cafe and computers. A large kitchen has all mod cons and there's a movie theatre. It's all bright and cheerful and immaculately clean, air-conditioned, there's a barbecue, food store, television and tour desk.
Tanu Beach Fales, Samoa
Tanu Beach Fales is a hostel in a family resort where backpackers are exposed to Samoa's rich culture in beautiful surroundings. It is all about traditional lifestyle on the white sandy beach of the village of Manase. There are 25 fales on the beach and nine double rooms just a minute's walk from the beach. Toilets and showers are easily reached from wherever you choose to stay.
Each fale has two beds and some can be made into a triple or more. Bedding and mosquito netting are supplied, but you need to take your own towels.
Bokissa Island, Vanuatu
The resort's centrepiece is a 25m freshwater pool with swim-up bar. The upper deck provides sea-gazing during the day and star-gazing at night. Shoes are optional, jackets and ties are not allowed and meals are served to the toll of the island drum.
Farés have absolute beach frontage and are air-conditioned if the nights are a little too balmy for comfort. Wood shutters regulate light and air and netting keeps mosquitoes where they should be. Each faré has an ensuite, vanity and minibar and can be configured for single accommodation up to quad-share.
Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland
The stately Anglo-Norman Ashford Castle dates back to the 13th century. It was built by the de Burgos family after their defeat of the native O'Connors of Connaught. Successive lords expanded and fortified it. The central building, a French style chateau, was built in the mid 1700s by Lord Ardilaun.
In 1852, the castle became the country home of the Guinness family who lived there for almost 100 years. It has since been restored and transformed into one of Ireland's finest five-star resort hotels.
Ashford has 80 spacious bedrooms, and luxurious furnishings provide great character. Castle shaped windows are surrounded outside with ivy, and inside there are heavy sash curtains. Soft furnishings are traditional in style and autumnal shades set the relaxing theme.
Park Hotel, Vitznau, Switzerland
Quite possibly the main reason people love to visit Vitznau is the lavish Park Hotel. It opened in 1902 and many say it has Switzerland's most beautiful views and that's a huge statement! Originally known as Villa Pfyffer, a simple boarding house, it is in the belle epoque style. There have been numerous structural and decorative renovations and today it is a majestic, fairytale castle with all modern comforts.
The hotel provides 69 luxurious double rooms with spacious white and rose marble bathrooms. Rooms are in soft pastels and all have balcony or terrace with mountain or lake view. King, French or twin beds are available.
Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is a luxurious three-hotel village, nestling alongside the bay of Al Jissah. The setting is dramatic with desert, rugged mountains and the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Oman.
Al Husn (The Castle) has been rated with six stars. It has 180 rooms focusing on luxury. Guests enjoy exclusive dining, bar, access to the private and secluded 100m-long Mahhara Beach and personal butler service. Decor was inspired by royal Arabian palaces and all rooms face the sea, have balconies, terraces or patios and guests are served pre-dinner cocktails and canapés in their rooms.
Chiva-Som, Hua Hin, Thailand
"'Chiva-Som" means "Haven of Life" and the resort's philosophy focuses on the wellbeing of mind, body and spirit and their mission is to develop ways for better health, fitness and fulfilment. They can pamper every facet. There are 57 rooms and suites which are perfectly balanced with Thai beauty and western standards. Ocean-view rooms in the main building face the Gulf of Thailand and resort pool. They have private balconies or terraces.
Pavilions are clustered in the gardens by a carp-filled lake offering a peaceful and calming atmosphere. Seven suites overlooking the Gulf and are themed into Herbal, Fragrance or Rainforest.
Cocoa Island, Maldives
The Maldives are tiny dots strung across the Indian Ocean. Cocoa Island is a small, private island surrounded by warm waters, bountiful coral and some of the world's best snorkelling and diving. Over-water bungalows give uninterrupted azure views to the horizon and as there is no traffic outside Malé, the Maldives main city, all you will hear is lapping water and fishermen calling to each other.
Al Maha Desert Resort, Dubai
Discover the romance of Arabia, Al Maha is nestled within a verdant oasis of palm groves and red-tinged dunes against a backdrop of the rugged peaks of the Hajar Mountains. It all resembles an ancient Bedouin encampment with neutral-toned "tents" of modern luxury. Each private suite has original and rare collections of regional artwork and antiques.
Dining embraces the culinary cultures of east and west using the finest organic ingredients and the freshest fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs available. Guests may indulge in horseriding across the desert, four-wheel driving, camel trekking, safaris, falconry and archery.
Le Meridien Pyramids, Egypt
Set between the city and the wilderness, Le Meridien boasts unparalleled views of the majestic, ancient splendour of the Giza Pyramids. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens providing an oasis of greenery amidst golden sand. It has a wide choice of restaurants, pools and spas.
Oberoi Armavilas, Agra, India
Only 600m from the Taj Mahal, the world's greatest monument to love, Oberoi Armavilas was inspired by Moorish and Mughal architecture. It has terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions with rich interiors. It transports you to an era of emperors and princes.
Great places to stay around the world.