Booking the right accommodations is an important aspect of vacation planning, and as good hospitality is a common value throughout the world, the competition is fierce no matter where you go. If you can afford your dream vacation, not a dollar will go wasted on good concierge service, world-class amenities, and a good night’s sleep on the finest bedding. Even with the fast-growing popularity of Airbnbs and other alternative accommodations, hotels continue to be a safe bet throughout the world, ensuring a quality stay and peace of mind.
As you trot the globe in search of Instagram fodder, you’ll find that there are high-quality hotels nearly everywhere you go. Not all stays are created equal, however, and so we sought out lodgings around the world that are most likely to take your breath away.
This utterly romantic hotel in one of the most romantic cities in the world is set right along Venice’s Grand Canal, giving guests a fantastic view outside as well as inside, where breathtaking frescoes and grand furnishings make visitors truly feel they’re living a life of luxury. Stay in a gorgeously decorated room with a view of the canal or the hotel’s private garden, dine on delicious Italian cuisine in their high-end dining rooms, and rejuvenate yourself at the hotel’s three-suite spa.
Take a romantic escape to Amangiri, a serene retreat tucked away in the Colorado Plateau. Spanning about 600 acres, the resort offers guests a chance to stay in spacious suites or private homes, all with stunning views of the surrounding canyon. Indulge in locally sourced meals and Navajo-inspired spa treatments after taking on adventures like horseback riding, rafting, and flying in a hot air balloon.
A medieval castle turned five-star hotel, Ashford Castle is a magical spot in Ireland that offers beauty, history, and luxury all in one. Built in the 13th century by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke, it had passed through different hands over the many centuries — including those of the Guinness family of beer fame — before being bought by a hotelier in 1939. Guests can stay in one of 83 opulent rooms and suites (as well as their Hideaway Cottage), enjoy some great Irish cuisine, and explore about 350 acres of ancient woodland. The estate is known for its plethora of activities, such as archery, falconry, zip-lining, riding, and stand-up paddle boating, and its award-winning spa is the perfect place to wind down afterwards.
Offering heaven on the water, Atlantis Paradise Island is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. In addition to 4 miles of beautiful beaches, guests have access to an oceanfront golf course, casino, and Aquaventure, a 154-acre waterpark that includes marine habitats, pools, fresh and saltwater lagoons, and plenty of water slides and river rides. The huge resort has over 3,800 rooms, as well as a marina and accompanying shopping center.
Glory Ann D./Yelp
Named for its Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Baccarat Hotel is a modern Manhattan hotel with a Parisian flair. All of its more than 100 rooms and suites — as well as all of its salons — are decorated with Baccarat crystal as well as Baccarat’s signature crimson, giving it a bold yet sophisticated vibe. The luxury of your stay is apparent in the pleated silk walls and white marble tile, as well as the hotel’s private collection of art from Paris scattered throughout. Relax in the luxurious spa, take advantage of their luxury car chaffeur service, or go for a swim in one of the best hotel pools in America.
Located in the essential foodie stop of Lausanne, the Beau-Rivage Palace is a stunning luxury hotel situated on Lake Léman . Its stunning façade is matched by its gorgeously opulent interior, with the hotel containing 169 rooms which include 33 suites. Guests can dine on delicious food, most notably at a top dining room by famous French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, indulge in amazing spa treatments, or even take a private lake cruise.
One of the most popular free attractions in Las Vegas is the lights show at the Bellagio fountains, but a stay at this famous luxury resort and casino is even more exciting. Not only are you located right on the Strip, but there’s more than enough fun to be had without even leaving the resort. In addition to, of course, its casino, guests can dine at more than a dozen restaurants, visit the conservatory and botanical gardens, admire works of fine art at the hotel’s very own gallery, or shop at its many stores. Concerts with top artists, famous show such as Cirque du Soleil, and dance parties at the resort’s clubs also provide some fantastic entertainment and nightlife.
There are tons of amazing things to see or do in Dubai, but a definite check on your bucket list if you can afford it is a stay at the Burj Al-Arab. The iconic sail-shaped building is the third tallest hotel in the world, and it stands on a man-made island that can be accessed by a private bridge. The interior is just as impressive, with 202 duplex suites, nine restaurants and bars, and three outdoor and two indoor pools, as well as a spa, fitness center, and private beach. Luxury is at its height here, with 24-hour private butler service on every floor and a Rolls Royce chauffeur service, as well as a private yacht charter service.
Santorini is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places on the planet, so you’ll want to ensure you have the best view of its famous blue domes and pure white buildings. Located in the village of Oia, famous for its sunsets and picturesque cliffside location, Canaves Oia Sunday Suites are the latest endeavor launched by the family-owned Canaves Oia. Experience luxury in one of eight suites with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, as well as Santorini’s volcano and caldera. Each suite has its own courtyard, and the master suite is especially notable for its private veranda featuring an outdoor heated infinity pool surrounded by sun beds.
Istanbul is one of those places you should see at least once in your lifetime, and what better place to stay in the former capital of the Ottoman Empire than a former Ottoman palace? Guests of Çırağan Palace can stay in one of 279 rooms and 20 suites in the main hotel section or 11 suites in the imperial palace section. The hotel’s multiple restaurants and bars provide a high-class atmosphere, and its luxury spa offers authentic Turkish baths, as well as other rejuvenating treatments. The infinity pool — heated in the winter — opens out in front of the Bosporus for a breathtaking view, and guests can also find Turkish handcrafts and top brand items at the hotel’s shopping arcade.
If you want to experience London like a royal, a good step would be to book a stay at Claridge’s. The famous five-star hotel, located in the affluent Mayfair district of the West End, has long hosted visiting royalty and royal guests, as well as big names in finance, fashion, and film. Famous guests include Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Aristotle and Jackie Onassis, Brad Pitt, U2, and Mariah Carey. During World War II, the kings of Greece, Norway, and Yugoslavia all stayed at Claridge’s, and Suite 212 was even declared Yugoslavian territory for a brief period at the request of then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill so that the country’s heir could be born on native soil. The Queen Mother was also a frequent guest in her lifetime, and to this day, her favorite table in the hotel’s restaurant is decorated with sweet peas, her favorite flower. It should be noted, however, that there’s good reason for Claridge’s being the hotel of choice for the upper echelon of society; luxury and glamour is apparent in every detail. Notorious for traveling with his own mattress, the late King Hassan of Morocco not only used the hotel’s mattress but also ordered 24 identical ones for his own palace. The building’s décor is well-known for being a fine example of Art Deco, and their afternoon tea is an excellent chance to experience the best of British culture.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac/Yelp
Looming over the Saint Lawrence River, the historic Fairmont Le Châtea Frontenac is the iconic crown jewel of the Old Quebec neighborhood, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most underrated tourist spots in the world, Quebec City’s French flair is even more emphasized at this stunning, Château Style hotel which has over 600 guestrooms and suites, all the pinnacle of European luxury. Some of the suites have been named in honor of their famous guests, such as Celine Dion, Alfred Hitchcock, Queen Elizabeth II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, French president Charles de Gaulle, and Canadian Prime Ministers Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Justin Trudeau. Guests will also find exquisitely fine dining at the hotel’s multiple restaurants, as well as rest and relaxation at its indoor pool, spa, and hair salon.
If you’re going to be on one of the best island vacations in the world, you’ll want to stay at one of its best hotels. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay is made up of 147 amazingly picturesque villas with separate thatched-roof pavilions, most of which have gorgeous gardens, a sun terrace, and a private pool. Guests can also laze about at the resort’s Sundara Beach Club, which has an oceanfront pool surrounded by daybeds, as well as delicious food. If not dining at one of their eateries, you can also have a fine dining experience right inside your villa or join the Jimabaran Bay Cooking Academy where you can learn to make classic Balinese cuisine. Join the resort’s High Priest on a tour of the resort’s oceanfront gardens filled with hundreds of shrines, swim or ride an aquatic bicycle on the three-mile beach, try local spa treatments, or learn about local art and dance.
Chiang Mai is a truly exciting travel destination located in the northern part of Thailand, but a stay at the Four Seasons Resort here is a stay full of calm and utter relaxation. Stay in one of four pavilions, a private pool villa, or one of their many private residences for a private getaway full of exclusivity and luxury. Enjoy Northern Thai cuisine at the resort’s three restaurants and lounge, as well as their weekly food events and customized culinary experiences, local markets, and cooking school. Learn about local culture and ancient rituals from Buddhist monks, try your hand at rice farming, and go whitewater rafting or ziplining before hitting the spa for ancient Thai treatments or to learn meditation practices.
Jade Mountain is a gorgeous mountain retreat that will take your breath away, with a truly stunning view and no access to television, radio, or even landline calls to distract you from the beauty that surrounds the resort. Cell phones are not allowed in public areas so that guests can enjoy the resort’s truly impressive infinity pool sanctuaries and fine dining to their fullest. Guests also have access to two beaches and opportunities for water sports, tennis, yoga, and other fitness activities. Take advantage of their ayurvedic and holistic treatments at the spa or in the privacy of one of the resort’s infinity pool sanctuaries.
Morocco is a fun-filled country, and the city of Marrakesh in particular is a thrilling destination full of colorful bazaars, beautiful mosques, Instagram-worthy architecture, and a characteristic local hospitality. La Mamounia is not only an icon of the city, but also an example of everything that’s great about it. The palatial hotel is a gorgeous display of Arab and Andalusian architecture, and its gardens are filled with fragrant rose bushes, orange trees, palm trees, and cacti. La Mamounia’s restaurants serve Moroccan, French, and Italian cuisine, and its bars offer cocktails and spirits in charming settings. Indulge Middle Eastern-influenced spa treatments, take a dip in beautifully decorated indoor or outdoor pools, or enjoy a game of tennis on their clay courts.
Seeing the amazing palaces, temples, and floating markets of Bangkok should definitely be on your travel bucket list, and the Mandarin Oriental located on the Chao Phraya River should be on your shortlist of lodging options. Stay in one of more than 350 rooms and 35 suites featuring rich décor and furnishings and offering fantastic views of the city or river. Nine great restaurants and bars offer world-class cuisine and entertainment, and the Oriental Spa — located a short boat ride away from the hotel — offers treatments using a combination of traditional Thai and modern Western methods.
Luxurious inside and out, the Oberoi Udaivilas has a palatial presence on the banks of Lake Pichola where its domed façade is as gorgeous as the surrounding gardens and lake. Excite your taste buds with delicious Indian cuisine and relax your mind and body at the hotel’s spa, where guests can receive both Eastern and Western treatments, as well as enjoy yoga sessions or a swim in their incredible outdoor and spa pools.
For 90 years now, the Peninsula Hong Kong has been renowned as one of the top luxury hotels of the Far East. Its modern yet classic rooms are the picture of elegance, and the hotel’s gourmet restaurants offer French, Cantonese, Japanese, and Swiss cuisine among other specialties. An English-style afternoon tea is served in the lobby, and the hotel’s shopping arcade contains over 80 luxury brand stores. In addition to a state-of-the-art spa featuring Chinese techniques and a heated indoor pool with breathtaking views of the city skyline, guests are also treated to the ultimate luxury in the form of a shuttle service consisting of Rolls-Royce Phantoms painted in the hotel’s signature Peninsula Green.
The Peninsula Paris/Yelp
The haute couture style of the Peninsula Paris’ 200 rooms emphasizes chic living in one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Just steps from the Arc de Triomphe and with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower from its rooftop, it’s the perfect place to stay for European landmark enthusiasts, and guests also have privileged access to tours and programs exploring French history and culture. Enjoy fine dining in its exquisitely decorated dining rooms, as well as access to the largest luxury hotel spa in Paris.
This 20-story luxury hotel is a historic national landmark and has been featured in too many books and films to count, with an impressive celebrity guest list that includes the likes of the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Christian Dior, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Beatles in addition to many other world leaders, industry giants, and dignitaries. Since its debut over 110 years ago, the Plaza Hotel has led the competitive New York hotel industry, offering guests the chance to stay in spacious guest rooms and suites decorated with gold fixtures, commissioned artworks, and top-quality furniture and bedding. The food and drink options here are among the finest in the city; the Palm Court’s afternoon tea is legendary, and the Rose Club is a known celebrity hotspot.
Currently undergoing restoration with a planned reopening for early 2019, Raffles Hotel is an icon of Singapore. Stay at the most famous hotel in one of the safest cities in the world, and you’re guaranteed a good time; upon reopening, the hotel will offer fine dining with Singaporean, Indian, French, and Mediterranean cuisine, and the new spa will offer a variety of holistic and restorative treatments. The rooms and suites are spacious and have a historic, colonial vibe, and the hotel’s shopping arcade has more than enough specialty boutiques for guests to peruse.
Synonymous with luxury, the Ritz Paris underwent a four-year, multimillion-dollar renovation before reopening in 2016 in order to gain official "Palace" distinction from the French government. Even before then, however, it was a favorite of the Parisian elite and the rich and famous such as King Edward VII, Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fashion giant Coco Chanel lived there for over 30 years, and Princess Diana had her last meal at the hotel. Today, its opulent rooms and suites are the height of sophistication, and the dining is among the best in the world. The dining rooms and event halls at the Ritz Paris are a sight for sore eyes, and the hospitality here is what has long helped it reach iconic status.
Have an off-the-grid Caribbean adventure in Grenada where Sandals Grenada Resort & Spa offers a tropical getaway full of romance and relaxation. The resort is made up of four villages, each with its own distinct vibe, and guests of all four villages have access to three freshwater pools and two river pools, as well as 10 restaurants with world-class dining. Stay in one of the award-winning “Skypool” suites, and you’ll have access to an infinity plunge pool that makes you feel as though you’re suspended in the air.
Having opened its doors in 1901 when Vietnam was still under French rule, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi was built in the French colonial style and its long history has led to some interesting guests. Graham Greene wrote part of the Vietnam War-era book ”The Quiet American” while staying here, and W. Somerset Maugham also worked on ”The Gentleman in the Parlour” during his own stay. Other famous guests have included Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda, George H.W. Bush, and Joan Baez, and a permanent exhibit goes in-depth on the hotel’s fascinating role in Vietnamese history. Today, guests can stay in one of 364 rooms and suites in either the historic, colonial-style Metropole Wing or the newer, neo-classical Opera Wing.
Sun City is a resort made up of four hotels, each with its own unique style: the glamorous Soho Hotel, the family-friendly Cabanas, the elegant Cascades Hotel, and the luxurious Palace of the Lost City. At this top African resort, you’ll find two international-standard golf courses, a water theme park, kids’ camp, theater, nightclub, and opportunities to go horseback riding, go on a safari, visit with local villagers, or fly high in one of the coolest places to go ziplining.
The Taj Mahal Palace’s 285 rooms and suites blend the traditional side of Indian hospitality with the modernity of Mumbai, and its grand exterior is a reflection of the high-end service guests receive. Hosting world leaders, film stars, and industry giants from around the world in this fast-growing tourist destination, the hotel’s famed status in India has made it a landmark of the city. Some of the best fine dining in the country can be found here, with delicious Indian, Middle Eastern, and East Asian cuisine being served at its restaurants. The Taj Mahal Palace is also home to a prestigious art gallery, award-winning salon, and highly-acclaimed spa.
Enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty of Chilean Patagonia at Tierra Patagonia, located on Sarmiento Lake on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park. One of the best all-inclusive resorts in the world, its award-winning architecture and wooden interior complement the earthy surroundings and breathtaking views of the area’s surrounding mountains. The perfect spot for adventurers, Tierra Patagonia’s outdoor adventures are divided into three levels of difficulty and include bike rides, scenic hikes, horse rides, fishing, sailing, and birdwatching. Guests can also enjoy some of the finest Chilean wines along with traditional Patagonian cuisine, as well as the Uma Spa, which includes an outdoor Jacuzzi, sauna, steam bath, and indoor swimming pool with hydro massage and cascades.
The largest casino in the world, the Venetian Macao is modeled on its sister resort in Las Vegas and has 3,000 suites; 3,400 slot machines; 800 gambling tables; and tons of conference and retail space. Just a stay in one of its opulent suites will make you feel like a high roller, and the hotel’s four outdoor pools and spa pools heighten the sense of luxury. Top artists from around the world come to perform here, and the shows at the Venetian Macao are absolutely superb. Sands Shoppes, the shopping complex within the hotel, is the largest indoor shopping mall in Macau, with 850 duty-free shops, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s even an artificial canal that runs between the storefronts.
Situated on the shores of the awe-inspiring travel hotspot that is Lake Como, Villa d’Este was built to be the summer residence for a prominent Italian cardinal in the 16th century before it was converted into a hotel in the late 1800s. Its 152 rooms contain antique furniture and modern amenities, and the surrounding 10 hectares of park grounds contain four private villas for guests who can afford a bit more exclusivity. Guests have access to restaurants, bars, banquet halls, boutiques, a beauty center, and a sporting club that includes a gym, sauna, jogging path, pools, lakeview tennis courts, and a floating pool right on the lake. The Saudi Arabian royal family, King Leopold of Belgium, Mark Twain, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de La Renta, and Calvin Klein are just some of the famous guests who have stayed at Villa d’Este thanks to Lake Como’s status as a celebrity vacation hotspot.
More From The Active Times: