Main attractions of most adventures include the popular tourist sites located within the city and nearby areas, but sometimes the highlight of a trip could be the hotel itself. Scattered across the globe are hundreds of luxurious abodes that exceed expectations. While the nightly rate for these accommodations are nowhere close to that of the typical Holiday Inn hotel, they do offer an elevated level of comfort and relaxation to all of their guests.
1. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The capital of the United Arab Emirates is home to the incredible Emirates Palace, a five-star resort that reflects the elegance of the Arab culture. Its unrecognizable architectural style attracts the attention of people miles away. Underneath its 114 domes exist the 394 rooms and suites decorated with gold and marble furnishings. In addition to its own private beach and acres of lush gardens, the Emirates Palace features an array of water sports, two outdoor pools, as well as tennis courts that will entertain guests all day long. The resort also has facilities for avid cricket, rugby, and soccer players.
2. Mardan Palace, Antalya, Turkey
Located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the Mardan Palace combines the ancient Ottoman style with modern amenities. Stunning views of the mountainside and oceanfront come at a hefty price, as the Mardan is considered to be the most expensive resort throughout all of Europe and the Mediterranean. The resort is home to the Mediterranean’s largest swimming pool, which contains a sunken aquarium and a restaurant where guests can dine in the company of almost 2,400 fish. The 560-room hotel has its own zoo, bowling alley, man-made swim reef, and championship golf course. Exclusivity of the Mardan extends beyond these amenities and its own private beach contains 9,000 tons of shimmering white sand imported straight from Egypt.
3. Jade Mountain, Soufriere, St. Lucia
Built into the mountainside overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the Jade Mountain Resort is designed to showcase the natural beauty of St. Lucia. The 29 private sanctuaries, connected through a system of bridges, feature an innovative open concept style that invites guests to disconnect from the world and find peace within nature. Wooden suites feature impressive sea views, whirlpool tubs, and private infinity pools. The beautiful scenery follows guests to the open-air restaurant serving bold flavors and featuring evening entertainment. Guests at Jade Mountain can choose from a menu of spa treatments and attend complimentary yoga classes at the fitness center. Nature enthusiasts might opt for jogs along the bike trail or escorted strolls and hikes across the estate. Visitors also have access to the beaches and facilities at the nearby Anse Chastanet Resort.
4. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
Awarded the title of the world’s best hotel by Travel and Leisure in 2015, the Oberoi Udaivilas is a family friendly resort situated on its own private island in Udaipur. The luxurious 50-acre estate, also home to a 20-acre wildlife sanctuary, can be reached by boat across Lake Pichola. Modeling the layout of the city, the resort is connected through domes and corridors that exude the grandeur of Indian culture. Guestrooms, furnished with elegant décor and modern technologies, either offer sweeping views of the gardens or lead to private pools.
Recognized for its signature therapies and Ayurvedic massages, the wellness facilities at the Oberoi will leave guests feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. The three restaurants on the estate serve a mix of Western and Indian delicacies. Guests looking for a unique culinary experience can make arrangements for a light lunch in the middle of Lake Pichola, an afternoon tea featuring homemade scones, or an evening candlelight dinner by the poolside. The service and amenities at the Oberoi Udaivilas redefines luxury and comfort.
5. Hotel Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
With its doors first opened in 1913, Hotel Plaza Athénée is an upscale hotel only five minutes from the Alma-Marceau train station and seven minutes from the boutiques of Champs-Élyséees. The suites at Athénée, decorated in French Regency or Art Deco style, feature warm tones accented with elegant damask patterns and remarkable views of the Eiffel Tower. The signature red awnings of the courtyard provide the perfect backdrop for al fresco dining in the summer months and ice-skating in the winter.
Equipped with five restaurants and a bar, the Paris hotel offers a variety of dining experiences to its guests. The hotel’s Dior Institut aims to provide the ultimate beauty experience through a series of treatments including customized back massages and facials. With a team of well-trained staff, Hotel Plaza Athénée is prepared to make guests feel welcome and at home during their stay in Paris.
6. Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy
Echoing the grandeur of the Italian Renaissance, the Villa d’Este is a former royal residence of the 16th century. The estate, transformed into the resort it is known as today in 1873, is a popular destination because of its rich history. Recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage site, the Villa d’Este is in a constant state of renovation yet maintains its elegant historic charm.
The grand hotel, a combination of the Cardinal Building and the Queen’s Pavilion, has a total of 152 rooms decorated with antique furniture, vintage prints, silks, and brocades. The dining experience at this opulent hotel has been nicknamed a “moveable feast” since the seven options are available at any time of day, anywhere on the premises. Guests staying at Villa D’Este will be enchanted by the sleek architecture and feel that they have become a part of history at the end of their stay.
7. Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest, Hungary
Driving along the Chain Bridge that spans across the Danube River will lead guests to the incredible Gresham Palace. Recently transformed, the luxury hotel retains its original art nouveau architecture, stained glass, vibrant mosaics, and ironwork. Situated in the center of the city, the Gresham Palace provides panoramic views of the river, luscious hills, and nearby tourist attractions.
Some of the 179 rooms feature vaulted ceilings and private balconies overlooking the interior courtyards. Dining at the Gresham Palace, which includes meals at the KOLLÁZ and drinks from the lobby lounge, give visitors a true sense of the Hungarian culture. The hotel seeks to provide its guests with an outlet for recreation and relaxation through its year-round golf course and award-winning spa. Guests who have stayed at this hidden treasure in Budapest continue to praise it and some consider it worthy of seven stars.
8. Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville, Spain
The bustling city of Seville is the capital of Andalusia and home to a number of historic landmarks. Located on Calle de San Fernando and adjacent to the University of Seville is the historic Hotel Alfonso XIII. Inaugurated in 1929, the guestrooms of this hotel tell the tale of the different eras of Seville’s history through décor that blends together elements of the Andalusian, Castilian, and Moorish styles. Its unique architecture showcases traditional minarets, colorful ceramic tiling, and grand Moorish arches reflective of the city’s Arab roots.
Guests have the option of tasting authentic cuisine at Restaurante San Fernando, experiencing a marriage of flavors at Ena by Carles Abellán, or trying the cocktail selection at Bar Americano. The best part about staying at Hotel Alfonso is that visitors will always be surrounded by a handful of tourist attractions including shopping at Soho Benita, exploring the quarters in Santa Cruz, and visiting La Giralda Tower.
9. The Mulia, Bali, Indonesia
Offering magnificent oceanfront views of the Nusa Dua Bay along the south tip of Bali, the Mulia pampers its guests with its abundance of amenities. Guests of the Mulia will never feel hungry, as the resort has four restaurants and five bars that serve Japanese, Chinese, Pan-Asian, & Mediterranean dishes along with other types of international cuisines. With an average year-round temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, guests will want to spend some time cooling off in any of the six pools scattered across the resort.
Families might also be interested in the array of watersports available, including stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, and canoeing. While the Mulia has an award-winning spa of its own like other luxurious resorts, it is known for Asia Pacific’s first Ice Room. Guests in the room alternate between steamy and icy environments, which stimulates blood circulation and benefits the immune system. Although the phrase “it’s better in person” is sometimes overused, it’s the only way to experience the true beauty and serenity of the Mulia.
10. Lion Sands Game Reserve, Sabi Sand, South Africa Lion Sands Game Reserve is the only private reserve that has access to the Sabie River, shared with the Kruger National Park. Although this hotel might not appear on the typical list of luxurious hotels, it provides its guests with a memorable experience that is incomparable to anything else. Guests can choose to book their room at any one of the four beautiful lodges: River, Ivory, Tinga, and Narina.
Each room has its own luxurious amenities such as plunge pools and wooden decks looking out into the trees. The earthy, healthy meals made by the culinary team at Lion Sands are guaranteed to please all types of eaters. The magical bush dinners are what guests cherish the most since they dine in the wilderness surrounded by hundreds of lanterns. Guests at the lodge can choose from a wide range of activities such as an open safari ride, bush walk, bird watching, and wildlife lectures. The owners of Lion Sands vow to provide its guests with an experience that lives up to the memories of their childhood.