Where To Find — Or Avoid — The World's Most Expensive Luxury Hotels
Joi Ito. Licensed under Creative Commons
Who doesn't want to stay at the very best of the best when traveling? Five-star luxury hotels are a world apart. The linen seems crisper, the service simultaneously more discreet and attentive, the accommodations that little bit more pampering.
But you pay for what you get.
A room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Berlin, which readers of Travel+Leisure magazine rank as world's best city-center hotel, starts at more than $300 a night. A suite can run you upwards of $1,350 a night at current exchange rates.
All of which set us wondering where the most expensive luxury hotels in the world were. Berlin, it turns out, is a bit of a bargain.
Our question, though, is a tricky one to answer meaningfully. First, each luxury hotel is special in its own way. Particularly with resort hotels, a unique location will be a main factor that sets it apart from rivals and lets it command premium prices. Second, all the other factors that drive demand on any particular day for rooms at luxury hotels, and thus rates, are so variable from hotel to hotel, resort to resort, season to season, even city to city that a consistent comparison is nigh impossible.
Start to look at the question at a country level and across all the seasons of the year, however, and you start to divine trends. We have done just that with the help of STR Global, a market research firm that specializes in the hotel industry and tracks data on supply and demand for rooms at tens of thousands of hotels around the world.
The data it supplied show the average daily rate for a single room that hotels achieved in 2013 and are for luxury hotels only. Rates have been converted to U.S. dollars where appropriate. With these numbers, we are able to identify the 15 countries where luxury hotel rooms are generally the most expensive.
We count down the 15 in the accompanying slideshow. As to be expected the list contains several countries that are expensive, particularly in their big cities, for everything, not just luxury hotels -- Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, China, Kuwait, Monaco, and the U.K. Most of the others countries on the list are exotic resort destinations, often faraway tropical islands that are expensive to supply with luxuries that have to be flown in. We count the Seychelles, Barbados, French Polynesia and the U.S. Virgin Islands among their number.
The Maldives tops the list and fits the faraway exotic resort destination to a T. It comprises two necklaces of atolls in the Indian Ocean strung out over an area equivalent to that of the state of Maine. Because 99% of it is water, it is Asia's smallest nation by land area. It is also Asia's smallest nation by population, barely 320,000 people, or about the same as that of Cleveland, Ohio.
The country is little more than a collection of coral reefs and sand bars — visible tips of an ancient volcanic mountain range that rises steeply from the ocean floor. For the traveler, that means shallow lagoons with pristine reefs teaming with marine life, palm-fringed white sandy beaches and endless views over crystalline tropical waters — and luxury resorts where even a single room from which to enjoy it all will cost on average more than $800 a night and a beachfront villa will run into four figures.