Beyond luxury, beyond a mere place to stay, these unique properties transform vacations into once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
The ultimate escape atop a tranquil lagoon encircled by coral reefs in Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Don’t let the thatched roofs fool you. Within the humble exteriors of these 100 over-water bungalows lie the epitome of luxury. Frequently named the best hotel in the South Pacific, the resort’s bedrooms sit atop the Ruahatu Lagoon Sanctuary. A marine biologist on staff offers daily tours of the brilliantly-hued creatures that live under the surface. Don’t miss open-air dining at one of the hotel’s three restaurants and bars.
Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle De France
Classic French styling in an idyllic setting on the elite Caribbean island of St. Barts, French West Indies
On the white sands of Flamands Beach, surrounded by lush gardens, a collection of 37 private bungalows and villas, the Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France, reigns. This boutique hotel in the French Caribbean’s most prestigious destination offers the kind of high-end shopping central to this tiny island’s jet-set culture, epitomized by the fashion show held every Tuesday evening around the pool. The island plays host to Europe’s elite every winter when the warm waters, lively social scene and numerous duty-free luxury boutiques beckon vacationers from afar.
Palazzo Avino, Italy
Sweeping vistas of Italy’s Amalfi Coast make this former palace a must-see property
To understand how beautiful this region is, consider that the entire city of Ravello, and its underlying coastline, are protected UNESCO World Heritage sites. The privately owned Palazzo Avino fits perfectly in the setting, housed in a 12th-century palace decorated with antique furniture, Vietri tiles, and Bulgari adornments. Cuisine here is a sampling of Italy’s best and the Mediterranean vistas are endless.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, India
Inspiring architecture and unlimited service in Rajasthan, India, “the land of kings”
Reachable only by a private boat trip across Lake Pichola, The Oberoi Udaivilas is an experience of isolated luxury. Hand-painted frescoes adorn the the grand entrance, and traditional Indian works of art add a touch of authentic elegance throughout. Premier rooms feature private pools and terraces and the outstanding attention from staff has turned heads at the World Travel Awards, the “Oscars” of the travel world.
Gamirasu Cave Hotel, Turkey
An exotic escape carved into the rocks of Turkey’s spectacular Cappadocia region
Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Switzerland
The height of European luxury in the beautiful setting of the Swiss Alps
With 112 luxurious rooms in a Belle-Époque building set amid Switzerland’s scenic majesty, it’s no wonder the Kronenhof was named 2014’s Hotel of the Year by TripAdvisor. Inside, the finest European fabrics and antiques fill every room, but the real treat is outside, where the high Alpine valley and natural springs provide spectacular scenery that make for world-class hiking, swimming, and even golfing.
Hôtel Métropole, Monte Carlo
A royal retreat in the Mediterranean’s most glamorous principality of Monaco
With an outdoor restaurant by Joël Robuchon and pool area design and art installation by Karl Lagerfeld, Hôtel Métropole is a stylish place to stay in a realm renowned for style. Its setting, the historic Monte Carlo, is built around a Grand Prix racetrack, giving it pizzazz no other city has. Ruled by Princess Grace Kelly’s son, Monaco is a haven for celebrities and global royalty who have frequented the Metropole since 1886.
A glorious mansion rich in traditional style set amid the rolling hills of Ireland
One of Ireland’s largest and most lavish private estates, Ballyfin was originally built in the 1820s for the Cootes family, whose portraits still hang along the grand staircase. History and tradition fill every room—from the vast collection of Irish artwork to the extensive library with volumes dating back to the middle ages. There are just 15 bedrooms, and only registered guests are allowed on site, which means you’ll almost have the entire 600 acres to yourself. Take tea on the terrace, walk the gardens, and soak up the fairy-tale atmosphere.
Aria Hotel Prague
A symphonic experience awaits at this music-inspired resort in the Czech Republic
Prague’s most luxurious and unique resort, Aria Hotel has just 51 rooms housed in a former theater. Each room is themed around a different composer, musician or style of music, from Billie Holiday to Beethoven, and features a music library along with an excellent sound system (and soundproof walls so your neighbours don’t interfere). The rooftop garden features live grand piano performances, and even the award-winning restaurant serves musically-themed dishes.
The Peninsula, Hong Kong
The flagship property of one of the industry’s diamond-standard bearers
The Peninsula first opened in 1928 and it has lost none of its style over the past 86 years. A fleet of Rolls Royce limos sits at the ready to chauffeur the hotel’s most elite guests around one of Asia’s most dynamic cities, and the grandeur inside is certainly no less. East meets West here in the colonial architecture replete with contemporary finishes, original sculptures and Chinese antiquities.