Top 10: my favorite luxury hotels & resorts in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (May 22, 2017): My favorite luxury hotels & resorts in the world.

The question I am asked most often is “what is your favorite hotel in the world?”. It’s somewhat difficult to answer that question since I prefer to rank hotels in different categories according to the experience they offer, whether it be a city break, a romantic getaway, a wilderness experience or a beach holiday. Nevertheless, there are a few luxury hotels that have left such an overwhelming impression on me that I rank them amongst my most memorable travel experiences ever. So, here you go: this is my top 10 list of the world’s most beautiful and amazing luxury hotels (and I highly recommend to put them on your bucket list as well).

There is more information (with reviews and Youtube clips) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below.

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10. PARK HYATT SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Seated majestically on one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, Park Hyatt Sydney perfectly personifies contemporary harbourside luxury with its coveted location between the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Reminiscent of an exclusive harbourside residence, Park Hyatt Sydney offers intimate surrounds with architecture, art and design that reflect the Australian landscape. Highlights include 155 spacious guestrooms and suites with contemporary interiors and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to private balconies, some with stunning views of the Opera House. There’s a lot to love about Sydney’s most luxurious hotel, but the jewel in this hotel’s crown is the outdoor rooftop swimming pool, with spa, private sun-deck, cabanas, and magnificent views of the Sydney skyline.


9. &BEYOND MNEMBA ISLAND, ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA

If you have ever harbored the secret wish of finding yourself the sole inhabitant of a beautiful tropical island, but without the effort of having to lift a finger to fend for yourself, &Beyond Mnemba Island is just the place for you. This romantic, private hideaway is an award-winning barefoot beach paradise just off the northeast coast of Zanzibar, accommodating a maximum of 20 guests at a time. Guest relax and unwind in the exclusivity of their own stretch of beachfront, where ten beachside bandas peep out onto unblemished sands from the dappled shade of the casuarina pine forest and overlook the Mnemba atoll (a scuba diver’s delight). From snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking to massages in the beach, to doing nothing at all, &Beyond Mnemba Island has something for everyone.


8. BELMOND HOTEL CARUSO, AMALFI COAST, ITALY

Situated in the most spectacular location, almost suspended between sea and sky, Belmond Hotel Caruso occupies a former medieval palace at the highest, quietest point of Ravello, overlooking the rocks and cliffs of Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the Mediterranean (or, more correctly, Tyrrhenian) Sea. With frescoed salons, arched stone vaults and just 50 highly individual rooms and suites occupying every shape and corner of the ancient palace’s architecture, it is an intimate retreat with an intriguing sense of history. But above all, with its rose arbor leading to one of the world’s most spectacular infinity pools, with sunlit or candlelit dining in the Belvedere Restaurant, and with a rich sense of its past as a retreat for presidents, writers and film stars, the hotel is almost impossibly romantic.


7. SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, OMAN

Six Senses Zighy Bay is an ultra-luxurious “hidden gem”, located on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, only a scenic two-hour car journey (but a world apart) from Dubai. The setting of this beautiful indigenous village-style resort with its private marina is spectacular, with dramatic mountains on one side, and a 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) sandy beach on the other. The resort gives the feeling of exotic remoteness, yet offers every comfort, easy accessibility and barefoot luxury beyond imagination. The accommodations are inspired by traditional Omani houses and feature high indigenous-style ceilings, colorfully cushioned living area and cloudlike bed made with unbleached cotton sheets topped with your choice of ergonomic pillows. All villas have a private pool, where guests can refresh within the privacy of high cobblestone walls.


6. AMANZOE, GREECE

Amanzoe is a hilltop property, laying amongst centuries old olive groves, boasting panoramic views of the Peloponnese countryside, the glittering tranquil sea, the neighbouring vineyards, and the awe-inspiring mountains. The property is located within easy reach of a wealth of archaeological sites and the cosmopolitan island of Spetses. Designed by quintessential Aman architect, the legendary Ed Tuttle, this exclusive haven of unsurpassed beauty has quickly become the Mediterranean playground of those in the know. Classically inspired yet sleekly contemporary, Amanzoe’s Pavilions and Villas open to expansive private terraces, creating a seamless extension of the airy interiors and an unrivalled sense of space and seclusion. A stone’s throw away, the Amanzoe beach club comes with two lap pools and two children’s pools and provides fun and games in total privacy by the water.


5. ROYAL MALEWANE, SOUTH AFRICA

Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge with only 7 one- to six-bedroom villas, located in Thornybush private game reserve on the western border of the Kruger National Park. The lodge, which has Bill Gates, Bono and Elton John among its repeat guests, exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age while offering every modern comfort and convenience. Here, the classic safari experience is unsurpassed with unrivaled Big Five game viewing and the country’s most qualified guiding team, who will provide detailed insights into the complex and fascinating ecosystems of the South African bushveld. Guests can also indulge in sensual treatments at the tranquil waters of Royal Malewane’s Bush Spa and enjoy nightly feasts under the African stars.


4. AMAN TOKYO, JAPAN

Occupying the top six floors of the recently-built Otemachi Tower, Aman Tokyo is an urban sanctuary high above the atmospheric whirl of tradition and modernity that epitomises Tokyo. The hotel draws its design inspiration from traditional Japanese residential structures, with classic Japanese materials such as timber, Washi paper and stone blended to great effect with modern technology and luxurious fabrics. The hotel has 84 rooms and suites, all with unique layouts, magnificent city views and every contemporary convenience. Each room has a large ‘furo’, a deep soaking tub intrinsic to the Japanese ritual of bathing. There is also a continuous reference to nature, from the hotel’s inner garden in the phenomenal lobby, to the fabrics and art incorporated into the design.


3. SONEVA KIRI, THAILAND

Remote yet accessible by a 90 minute flight from Bangkok on the resort’s private plane, Soneva Kiri sits on Thailand’s 4th largest but least populated island, Koh Kood, in the Gulf of Siam. One of the most exclusive resorts in the world, Soneva Kiri offers an unrivaled combination of luxury, environmentally friendly design and unforgettable, authentic Thai experiences. The 36 resort villas (including 11 private residences) are amongst the largest in the world. Located on the idyllic beach or sunny slopes in the rainforest, all have stunning infinity pools, impossibly chic furnishings, personal electric buggies, and impeccable service courtesy of private butlers. Highlights include the open air cinema Paradiso, Benz’ mangrove restaurant, the chocolate & ice cream parlour, the children’s den and the spectacular Treetop dining pod.

Contact me to receive complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Kiri (e.g. upgrade, resort credit, and a personalized Soneva experience).


2. NORTH ISLAND, SEYCHELLES

North Island has a reputation as world’s most exclusive hideaway and I am still blown away by my visit a couple of years ago. The insanely beautiful island has only 11 opulent hand-crafted villas overlooking the pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters of the Ile Du Nord eco-reserve. Raised off the ground to catch the cooling Indian Ocean breezes, all villas open up onto your private garden and the beach. Plunge pools and outdoor showers provide the finishing touches to your private sanctuary. The island’s lounge and dining areas, scenically located health spa and gym, library and dive centre, and a rim-flow swimming pool are all built into a granitic outcrop. Keep an eye out for Brutus, the island’s 160-year-old tortoise. The resort was the decor for honeymoon of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.


1. SONEVA JANI, MALDIVES

Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on Medhufaru island, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll. The Maldives’ most exclusive hotel, and my absolutely favorite hotel in the world, is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. Currently, Soneva Jani features 24 water villas and one beach villa, although additional beach villas are planned at a later stage. Each one of the 24 water villas is superbly designed and has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze. Soneva Jani is the sister resort of the equally stunning Soneva Fushi resort, which features Robinson Crusoe-style, multi-bedroom luxury villas hidden among dense tropical foliage on the Maldives’ most beautiful island.

Contact me to receive complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Jani or Fushi (e.g. upgrade, resort credit, and a personalized Soneva experience).


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5 Comments

  1. Huka Lodge in Taupo is remarkable and for a city hotel, The Oberoi Udaivillas in Udaipur or Widflower in Shimla

  2. A great bucket list. Royal Malewane would be my first stop. Thanks for your excellent newsletters and videos.

  3. Interesting list for sure ! It is of course a personal list, But I honestly believe that Soneva Fushi should be there as Well – and maybe also Rosewood Mayakoba. Thank you for your always valid and informative postings, be it
    reports, videos or other !
    Our Family is now Looking forward to our triple Soneva vacation this August – starting in Thailand
    Mid-August.
    Christiansen, Nice, France.

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