Thousands of stays around the world may claim luxury as their defining trait, but at some hotels you’ll find a degree of luxury that the word itself fails to fully capture. There are the famous stalwarts that exist in their own strata – the likes of Claridge’s in London, New York’s The Waldorf-Astoria or the Hȏtel Plaza Athénée in Paris, who number presidents, royalty and A-list celebrities amongst their guests. But a new generation of five-star properties are now making a claim to these highest levels of hotel excellence, with cutting-edge facilities and attention to detail that rivals even the most iconic institutions. Private islands, 24-hour butlers, couture design and world-class dining are just the start at the 10 most luxurious new hotels in the world right now.
Amanyangyun, Shanghai, China1/11
Hidden from the urban hustle of downtown Shanghai on the outskirts of the city, this tranquil property is a perfect marriage of tradition and modernity. Surrounded by ancient camphor trees on the edge of the Qizhong Forest, 13 antique villas dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties – moved brick by brick and log by log from nearly 700km away – form the core of this one-of-a-kind stay. A further 24 courtyard suites, a sprawling spa with private bathing suites, Russian banya and a hammam, a fitness centre with yoga and pilates studios and two pools, plus a variety of restaurants add the mod cons that are a must for any luxury property. What sets Amanyangyun apart is the range of cultural discoveries it offers – a unique melding of heritage, preservation and storytelling. At the heart of the hotel, the Nan Shufang, named after the royal reading pavilion in the Forbidden City, is a grand recreation of a 17th-century scholars’ studio where guests can learn calligraphy from skilled artisans, hear traditional music performances by folk virtuosos, and experience a tea ceremony.
Mondrian Singapore Duxton, Singapore2/11
Located in Singapore's vibrant Duxton Hill, the 302-room Mondrian Singapore Duxton offers luxurious suites, four bars and restaurants, and a rooftop pool. A secret extra is its hidden tropical bar, the Jungle Ballroom, which celebrates South East Asia’s wild nature, while the ginger-tomato-cognac Jaguar Juice confection is a flavour bomb.
Six Senses Rome, Italy3/11
Located just five minutes walk from the Trevi Fountain, Six Senses Rome takes its cues from the traditional Roman bathhouse. Billed as an “urban retreat”, its spa-like tranquillity stretches from the lobby and beyond. You’ll find more than the run-of-the-mill treatments here, too – the on-site biohacking offering puts your body through its recovery paces inclusive of everything from compression therapy to diet shifts.
Capella Sydney, Australia4/11
Fanning up from the lofty central atrium adorned with a blooming installation from multidisciplinary Dutch artists studio DRIFT, the hotel never ceases to amaze with its soaring ceilings and sharp yet subtle interior design. With interiors filled with art, books and history, Capella Sydney feels more like a luxury home than a hotel. And with one of the best restaurants in the city, Brasserie 1930, there are few reasons to venture beyond its walls.
Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, Japan5/11
Glittering mosaic feature walls, an 8-seat sushi omakase with an attached zen garden amongst its four in-house restaurants, and a state-of-the-art spa with an enormous pool that peers out over the city through floor-to-ceiling windows are just a few of the features that make Bulgari Hotel Tokyo the jewel in the crown of the brand’s accommodation expansion. Add to this a suite of bespoke services – including packing and unpacking tailored to each guest’s needs, barber services and even an in-room tailor and shoeshine – and you have the last word in luxury in the heart of the Japanese capital.
Atlantis The Royal, Dubai, UAE6/11
What might be considered extravagant in most other parts of the world are just the status quo in Dubai. So topping those already sky-high standards of luxury is no mean feat. The opulent opening of Atlantis The Royal was nothing short of a game changer, with Beyoncé twinkling brighter than the sweeping trail of fireworks that illuminated the geometric façade of the 795-room property. The hotel itself easily lives up to this spectacular unveiling, with the requisite over-the-top additions luxury travellers expect, including a tank with 2000 jellyfish, a staggering 90 pools and a helipad for VIP guest arrivals. This is Dubai, after all.
COMO Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands7/11
This private island retreat takes rejuvenation to a whole new level. A two-hour flight south-east of Miami, the Parrot Cay resort commands four miles of pristine white beaches, dotted with private beach houses with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea. As a wellness-focused retreat, you can expect fresh Asian-inspired fare, revitalising and detoxifying spa treatments and a range of complimentary activities to activate body and mind, from kayaking and scuba diving to boat excursions and eco tours of the island. No matter how you spend your days here, every guest here is treated like a celebrity by the warm and welcoming staff.
Raffles London at The OWO, United Kingdom8/11
A new era of luxury has dawned in the British capital with the opening of Raffles London at The OWO. The stately building, located in Whitehall, impresses upon entry with its sweeping marble staircase, soaring ceilings, rich furnishings and opulent chandeliers. When you stay in one of the hotel’s plush suites, you can unwind by an open fireplace, select the day’s ensemble from a walk-in wardrobe and access 24-hour butlers who will cater to your every need.
Vermelho, Melides, Portugal9/11
Attention to detail is the modus operandi of shoe designer extraordinaire, Christian Louboutin. So it’s no surprise that the fashion legend’s first hotel, Vermelho – a small yet exquisite 13-room place of splendour with abundant azulejos, frescoed ceilings and geometric flooring – is a temple of sublime interiors and refined experiences. On-site, there’s more than just great decor. Wander a garden designed by Louis Benech (who has the Gardens of Versailles on his resumé), experience a “wellness sanctuary” where top-of-class French cosmetics meld with the serenity of Indian mindfulness techniques and sample Portuguese-inspired fare at Xtian, the hotel’s on-site restaurant with cherry-red window frames.
Duke’s Camp Botswana, Africa10/11
To describe this luxury safari experience as glamping would be like describing one of the African elephants you’re certain to see at Duke’s Camp as “not small”. Yes, you will be sleeping in a tent, but the 12 canvas safari suites, atop individual raised wooden decks overlooking the delta’s waterways, are sumptuously furnished with four-poster beds, draped with scalloped canopies and the finest bedding including cosy feather doonas. The hardwood floors are laid with Persian rugs while leather poufs, colourful cushions and antique lamps dot the rooms. When you’re not out of camp spotting game in the wild – the aforementioned elephants, as well as red lechwe, big cats, African dogs and hundreds of bird species – you’ll enjoy around-the-clock service and extras such as hot air-balloon rides and spa treatments upon request. But the true value of a stay such as this is the opportunity to wake up in the heart of the Zambezian flooded grasslands and witness its remarkable wildlife in their natural habitat.