July 20, 2024


sights and trips

10 of the world’s best hotels for when it’s time to splurge

10 of the world’s best hotels for when it’s time to splurge

(CNN) — After more than a year of lockdowns and quarantine and social distancing, we’re all more than ready for a big, celebratory, I-just-endured-a-pandemic vacation.

Unfortunately, with many international borders still closed and some countries facing their second — or third, or fourth — Covid-19 waves, much of the world isn’t ready for leisure travel to ramp up just yet (though there are certainly signs of progress).

Still, we can plan, can’t we?

From tropical island escapes from the Maldives to Hawaii, to glamorous urban getaways in Sydney and Hollywood and Singapore, we’re dreaming of — and saving for — these post-pandemic splurges.

Starting rates are in US dollars, per night.

10 of the world’s best hotels for when it’s time to splurge

The Brando, on an island 30 miles north of Tahiti, is a favorite of celebrities.

Courtesy The Brando

The Brando, French Polynesia

If you’re after an over-the-top, once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list splurge, you can’t beat The Brando, Marlon Brando’s ultra-luxurious private island resort on Tetiaroa, 30 miles north of Tahiti.

The far-flung resort is a favorite of celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres. Former President Barack Obama also famously escaped to the island to write his memoir there after he left office in 2017. (More recently, Kim Kardashian infamously hosted her 40th birthday party on the island in October 2020).

It’s got just 35 thatched-roof villas, each one decked out with a private infinity pool, outdoor dining area and all the creature comforts you might expect to enjoy at a five-star hotel in London or New York. But the biggest luxury of all? Your own private stretch of powder-white sand and turquoise ocean, mere steps from your bedroom.

The Brando, Tetiaroa private island, French Polynesia. Rates start at $3,500.

W Melbourne, Australia

Opened in February 2021, the W Melbourne is the first international five-star hotel to launch in Australia this year — a hopeful sign for tourism, though Australia’s borders currently remain closed to international travel.

Built inside the glittering, $1.25 billion Collins Arch precinct — also home to luxury residences and upscale retail and dining offerings — the ultramodern hotel boasts five restaurants and bars, plus a gold-roofed indoor heated pool, featuring a poolside bar and DJ booth.

Its 294 rooms are as plush and design-centric as you’d expect from any W hotel, with the addition of luxe deep-soaking tubs and sweeping views over the city or Melbourne’s Yarra River.

W Melbourne, 408 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Australia. Rates start at $450.
Private spa cottages are scattered among lush foliage at Sensei Lanai.

Private spa cottages are scattered among lush foliage at Sensei Lanai.

Courtesy Four Seasons

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, Lanai, Hawaii

This adults-only wellness retreat is the epitome of post-pandemic luxury: for starters, it’s located on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, which is so peaceful and secluded it feels like you’re on your own private island.

Then there are the plush suites, hidden so discreetly amongst Lanai’s jungle-filled, mist-covered Koele mountains you’ll barely notice the other guests.

Finally, you get a personalized wellness itinerary crafted by your own Sensei Guide, which sets you up with spa treatments and wellness activities — everything from morning meditation to sound baths — aimed at melting away any lingering stress or anxiety.

Sensei Lanai, 1 Keomoku Highway, Lanai City, Hawaii. Rates start at $1,130 single occupancy/$1,610 double occupancy, including $600 per person in Wellness Experience credits (room-only rates from $650, single or double occupancy).
A swimming pool and acres of mazes, lakes and gardens are part of the allure at Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé.

A swimming pool and acres of mazes, lakes and gardens are part of the allure at Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé.

Adam Lynk/Courtesy Hotel Château du Grand Lucé

Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé, France

Tucked away in France’s bucolic Loire Valley, this serene 18th-century château feels like a million miles away from the rest of the world — even though it’s just 55 minutes from Paris by train.

Its 17 sprawling, sun-filled suites, each one adorned with hand-painted murals, crystal chandeliers and antique Louis XV furniture, make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. (Most opulent is the Le Grand-Lucé Suite, which boasts sweeping views of the gardens and a lovely claw-foot soaking tub).

Outside, there are 80 acres of mazes, lakes and rose gardens to enjoy, as well as a beautiful stone-rimmed swimming pool — the perfect countryside escape.

Secluded and luxurious, Jack's Camp is a once-in-a-lifetime retreat.

Secluded and luxurious, Jack’s Camp is a once-in-a-lifetime retreat.

Courtesy Jack’s Camp

Jack’s Camp, Botswana

If you’re after an ultra-exclusive escape, it doesn’t get much more secluded than Jack’s, a luxury safari camp tucked away inside a million-acre private wildlife reserve in the Kalahari Desert. (There are only two other camps in the reserve).

The legendary camp, which opened in 1993, was closed for renovation in 2019 and reopened in January 2021 with 10 enormous luxury tents (more than double the size of the original tents) outfitted with plush four-poster beds, gorgeous old-world safari decor and private plunge pools looking out over the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

There’s also a library, billiards room, bar and a sumptuous tea tent strewn with Persian rugs and plush cushions — the perfect place to unwind with a glass of iced tea after a long, hot day out on safari.

Jack’s Camp, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Kalahari, Botswana. Rates from $1,450 all-inclusive (game drives included).
1 West Hollywood has some of the largest and most luxurious rooms in all of Los Angeles.

1 West Hollywood has some of the largest and most luxurious rooms in all of Los Angeles.

Courtesy 1 West Hollywood

1 Hotel West Hollywood, Los Angeles

If a glamorous city escape is more your style, it doesn’t get much better than this sleek urban oasis on Sunset Boulevard.

Opened in 2019 — just months before the pandemic hit — its rooms are some of the largest and most luxurious in all of Los Angeles, boasting earthy, minimalist-chic decor, sumptuous marble bathrooms and unparalleled vistas over the Hollywood Hills.

Then there’s the daybed and cabana-flanked pool, a veritable sanctuary of calm and tranquility high above LA’s busy, palm-lined streets.

But most impressive of all is the brand’s sustainability-centered ethos, seen everywhere from the design (furniture is made using reclaimed California wood) to the dining (an onsite organic garden supplies restaurants with herbs and veggies).

The entire hotel is also plastic- and (nearly) paper-free, and guests can join a loyalty program that allows them to reduce their carbon footprint with every stay — touches that make all the difference as we move into a post-pandemic world.

Crown Sydney, Australia

Soaring gracefully over the Sydney skyline, the Crown Sydney — opened on December 28, 2020 after four years of construction and a whopping $1.7 billion — is the newest and most luxurious hotel in Sydney today.

Billing itself as a six-star hotel, the glittering, petal-shaped skyscraper boasts 14 restaurants and bars (including the world-renowned Nobu), an infinity pool overlooking Sydney Harbor (cabanas can be booked starting at $500) and 349 guest rooms outfitted with deep-soak marble baths and floor-to-ceiling windows offering vistas over the city.

The decadent spa features yoga and meditation terraces, relaxation rooms, infrared saunas and a separate hydrotherapy retreat inspired by a Roman bathhouse — the perfect spot to wash away worries.

Crown Sydney, 1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, New South Wales, Australia. Rates start at $850.
One of the pools at Grand Hotel Tremezzo floats atop Lake Como.

One of the pools at Grand Hotel Tremezzo floats atop Lake Como.

Courtesy Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Italy

As European borders begin to open back up to international travelers, your first stop should be the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, an iconic Art Nouveau hotel perched on the banks of Lake Como.

Its 90 rooms are all individually decorated, outfitted with indulgent details like sprawling balconies, terraces and whirlpool tubs. Though it’s worth every euro to splurge on the lake-view rooms, the garden-view rooms overlooking the beautifully manicured grounds also offer a tranquil oasis.

Outside, you’ll find three swimming pools, including one that floats directly atop the lake.

Soneva Jani, Maldives

If you want to treat your family to a post-lockdown vacation that’ll blow their mind, Soneva Jani is it: its overwater villas come outfitted with private infinity pools and waterslides that will transport you down to the glittering turquoise ocean below.

Other family-friendly attractions include an overwater cinema, a star-gazing observatory and an ice-cream and chocolate room. Each villa also comes with a retractable roof, so kids can doze off beneath the stars.

For parents: a sumptuous spa, an expansive wine cellar, multiple dining options ranging from sashimi to Spanish tapas and sunset cruises (you can even bring the kids — if you like).

Soneva Jani, Medhufaru Island, Manadhoo, Maldives. Rates from $3,290.
Raffles Singapore, a grande dame of luxury hotels, has recently updated its suites.

Raffles Singapore, a grande dame of luxury hotels, has recently updated its suites.

Courtesy Raffles Singapore

Raffles Singapore

If you want to splurge big — say, “Crazy Rich Asians” big — then you can’t beat Singapore’s iconic Raffles: one of the world’s grande dame hotels and the benchmark for many other five-star hotels across the globe today.

The 133-year-old property is the definition of luxury, from its recently updated suites (boasting the same old world Colonial charm as always, but with subtle contemporary touches) to its elegant Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented in 1915.

Every guest is assigned their own butler, who offers a rare kind of service that is intuitive and thoughtful, yet discreet — perhaps the greatest luxury of all.