23 Luxury Hotel Experiences to Cross Off Your List

From historic grande dames like Claridge's in London and The Gritti Palace in Venice to architectural marvels like Amangiri in Utah and the desert oasis of Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab, this curated collection represents the pinnacle of luxury hospitality around the world. 

23 Luxury Hotel Experiences to Cross Off Your List

The best moment of any hotel experience comes just after check-in, and just after the trip in the ornate lift, and just after the handing over of pleasingly heavy-set keys, and just after the bell-hop has escorted your luggage up to your room. It's that moment when you shut the door behind you and stand alone in your suite for the first time. Jump on the bed, hark at the view, take your shoes off amid the plush carpet, boggle at the steep-sided bath, and ogle the local lager in the hidden minibar. The world's finest hotels achieve a unique trick — they transport you completely, while always making you feel at home.

There are a few experiences that are imperative before your time is up. Staying at one of the world's incredible hotels is among them. They become gateways to entire destinations and forge indelible memories. From Claridge's in London to Qasr Al Sarab in the Arabian desert, Amangiri's untamed Utah setting to Le Sirenuse's legendary Amalfi perch, these are the top hotels you need to experience asap. 

Claridge's, London, England

Claridge's has cemented its reputation as London's most glamorous and best-loved hotel, becoming a byword for brilliant service, exquisite hospitality and old-world sparkle. From the moment you step through the revolving door onto the gorgeous art deco-tiled floor, you are enveloped in an aura of timeless luxury. The opulent interior blends rich historical elements like the striking carved staircase with modern amenities and impeccable personal service. With its central Mayfair location, Claridge's is the perfect pied-a-terre for exploring London's world-class dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Yet the hotel itself is a destination, with the sumptuous Michelin-starred Fera restaurant, the vibrant Fumoir bar, and the legendary afternoon tea service. Claridge's has the air of a private club where you're instantly made to feel at home — it's no wonder this is where so many discerning jetsetters make their London base.

Claridge's, London, England.

Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy

American writer John Steinbeck visited the Amalfi coast in 1953 and perfectly captured its allure, writing "Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone." At the heart of this dreamy coastal village sits the legendary Le Sirenuse, a family-owned gem celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2021. Its arched balconies, white terracotta walls, and creeping bougainvillaea epitomize Mediterranean elegance. Yet Le Sirenuse delightfully defies pretence — the vibe is warm and welcoming, created by the Sersale family who bought the former villa as their summer home in 1951. Elegant interiors blend antiques and contemporary pieces, while most rooms offer spellbinding views of the rugged Amalfi coastline. Take an invigorating dip in the pool seemingly suspended over the ocean, indulge in a treatment at the avante garde spa, and dine on phenomenal coastal Italian cuisine at the Michelin-starred La Sponda. Le Sirenuse is a tantalizing taste of la dolce vita.

Villa d'Este, Lake Como, Italy

Indescribably elegant and impossibly stately, Villa d'Este is a towering, glowing monument to la dolce vita that seems to rise organically from the waters of Lake Como. This 16th-century Renaissance villa turned luxury hotel seamlessly blends manmade splendour with natural beauty. The landscaped gardens designed by multiple acclaimed architects over the centuries are truly unique, with Renaissance grottos, Baroque ancient ruins, and miles of flowering trails. But the pièce de résistance is the floating pool — an ingenious design where a portion of Lake Como waters are siphoned into the pool, creating the illusion of the pool extending into the lake. After exploring the villa's museum-worthy interiors, sip a classic negroni at the baroque-inspired Canova Bar as the sun sets over the lakeshore for an utterly dreamy experience. Villa d'Este provides an unparalleled immersion into Italy's iconic lake culture.

Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, Valladolid, Castilla y Léon, Spain

Wine runs through this unique boutique hotel like lifeblood, soothing and caressing at every turn. The vineyards of the celebrated Ribera del Duero region surround the magnificent 12th-century abbey that forms the core of the property. Yet despite its historic provenance, Abadia Retuerta exudes a distinctly modern outlook melding old and new. State-of-the-art winemaking facilities including a gravity-fed vinification cellar sit adjacent to the abbey's ancient vaulted ceilings and stone walls. Interiors skillfully blend Period antiques and furniture with crisp, contemporary design. The two Michelin-starred Refectorio restaurant showcases the culinary genius of chef Andoni Luis Aduriz within the former monks' dining hall. While the LeDomaine Santuario spa pioneered the art of "vinotherapy" harnessing the potent anti-oxidants of grapes in treatments. With a world-class golf course, an exquisite infinity pool, and a breathtaking setting, Abadia Retuerta represents Spanish wine country hospitality at its most sublime.

Villa d'Este, Lake Como, Italy.

The Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy

A true grand dame, The Gritti Palace exemplifies the epitome of Venetian luxury and craftsmanship. This 15th-century palazzo occupies one of the finest spots right on the Grand Canal, just steps from St. Mark's Square. From the moment you arrive via private boat transfer and cross the intricately crafted marble Longhi entryway, you are enveloped in authentic Venetian opulence. Frescoed ceilings, rococo accents, and museum-quality antiques adorn the public spaces and guest rooms. Yet there is an inviting warmth amid the grandeur, cultivated through centuries of hosting global elites and showered in accolades as one of the world's most iconic hotels. The Gritti Epicurean School allows you to experience Venetian culinary culture firsthand, the Riva Lounge is a chic spot for classic cocktails, and the spa's ritual inspired by Venetian beauty traditions is a truly indulgent treat. The Gritti is simply one of Venice's most extraordinary places to experience quintessential Italian luxury.

Istoria, Santorini, Greece

Renowned as potentially the world's most Instagram-worthy hotel, Istoria is first and foremost a striking, seductive work of art sculpted into the cliffs of Santorini. This retreat on the island's quiet southeastern coast exudes a sense of mystery and intrigue hinted at by its name meaning "story" in Greek. The brilliant white sculptural forms designed by award-winning architects seem to grow organically from the volcanic caldera, seamlessly blending man-made and natural elements. The all-suite enclave was originally created by an eccentric Greek widow before taking on new life as a luxury boutique hotel. Swaths of pristine whitewashed stone frame intimate terraces and pools showcasing breathtaking Aegean views. Inside the discrete cave-like suites, natural materials like wood and stone create an intentionally minimalist yet opulent design allowing the panoramic vistas to take centerstage. While unapologetically striking, Istoria offers an unparalleled authentic sense of place and farm-fresh Greek cuisine in an atmosphere of laid-back island luxury.

Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville

Named for the king who commissioned it, Hotel Alfonso XIII is a Seville landmark embodying quintessential Andalusian grandeur and hospitality. Framed by regal palms and fountains, the salmon-coloured facade hints at the palatial opulence within. Handsome courtyards with tinkling tiled fountains, soaring archways, gleaming marble floors and original 1920s crystal chandeliers transport guests to the region's Moorish heritage. Yet modern comforts and impeccable service keep the ambiance feeling fresh and welcoming rather than stuffy. Guest rooms offer a quiet oasis in a warm Mediterranean palette, many overlooking the lush gardens or historic city center. The Andalusian culinary traditions shine in dining venues like the romantic courtyard Raza Terrace, tapas haven Ena Seville, and the legendary Hall of Ambassadors. With its unbeatable location steps from Seville Cathedral and the Real Alcázar, Alfonso XIII provides the perfect luxurious home base for exploring this vibrant Spanish cultural capital.

The Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy.

Badrutt's Palace, St Moritz, Switzerland

As iconic as the frozen Swiss Alps it overlooks, Badrutt's Palace keeps the spirit of Europe's jetset cultura alive and glamorously thriving in St. Moritz. This historic grand hotel exudes a welcoming, convivial energy that embraces its storied past hosting movie stars, royalty and moguls. The decadent neo-Renaissance interior dazzles with ornate Belle Epoque details, chandeliers and period furnishings, while modern comforts and attentive service keep things feeling fresh. Guests can take advantage of the hotel's enviable lakefront location with ice-skating, curling and snowsports in winter followed by indulgent après-ski. In warmer months, hiking, golf, tennis and swimming provide ample opportunities to soak in the alpine splendor. Long celebrated as an epicentre of conviviality, Badrutt's rollicking parties and events like the birthday bash where an elephant was paraded through the ballroom cement its reputation for fun and bonhomie. A glittering jewel amid the Swiss peaks, Badrutt's is as magical today as when it opened in 1896.

Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Perched high on the rocky Amalfi Coast, this former 17th-century monastery's lofty hilltop setting provides a serene hideaway retreat above the day-trippers thronging Positano and Amalfi below. Now transformed into a romantic boutique hotel, Monastero Santa Rosa retains an air of sacred tranquillity. The spacious rooms and suites blend elegant antique pieces with all modern comforts, many with private terraces and spellbinding sea views. Tiered gardens perfumed by lemon groves, lavender and bougainvillaea lead to a spectacular infinity pool suspended over the rugged coastline. Dining highlights include the al fresco La Cantina wine bar carved into rock grottos, while the gourmet restaurant features seasonal Campanian cuisine sourced from local farmers and the on-site garden. A full-service spa and boats offering coastal cruises provide ample ways to relax and appreciate the Mediterranean magic of this cliffside sanctuary.

Le Bristol, Paris, France

The epitome of Parisian poise, Le Bristol was the first hotel in the City of Light bestowed the extraordinary "Palace" status denoting unparalleled luxury. Its prestigious address on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré places it in the heart of the city's fashion and cultural pulse. Yet inside its ornate 18th-century facade, a hushed, discreet atmosphere envelops guests in a cocoon of plush comfort and refinement. Marbled hallways, sparkling chandeliers, and sumptuous details at every turn celebrate French artistic heritage. Guest rooms feel more like opulent private apartments, some of the largest in Paris. Other indulgent highlights include the rooftop pool fringed by solarium overlooking Parisian rooftops, the exquisite Cafe Antonia within a charming interior courtyard, and the three Michelin-starred Epicure restaurant. Effortless elegance combined with uncompromising service makes Le Bristol the embodiment of Parison's perfection.

Badrutt's Palace, St Moritz, Switzerland.

Ett Hem, Stockholm

The very name "Ett Hem" translates to "a home" in Swedish, which perfectly captures the welcoming, intimate vibe of this boutique hotel housed within an impeccably renovated 1910 arts and crafts villa. Stylish yet blissfully unstuffy, Ett Hem embodies warm Scandinavian hospitality at its best. The interiors masterminded by owner Jeanette Mix blend richly textured vintage pieces with contemporary minimalist furnishings to compose elevated yet inviting living spaces finished with flourishes like fresh-cut garden roses. Each of the 12 guest rooms is individually decorated, with details like heated marble bathroom floors and tactile linens making for an ultra-pampering experience. In the garden kitchen, the hotel's talented chefs serve up masterful modern Nordic cuisine using local, seasonal ingredients - which guests can enjoy family-style amidst the convivial ambience. With its residential comforts and discreet personal service, Ett Hem truly feels like a luxurious Stockholm pied-à-terre to call your own.

Amangiri, Utah, United States

Amangiri takes the world-renowned service and design ethos of the Aman brand and transports them to a breathtaking untamed desert setting in Utah's Grand Circle region. This sculptural, minimalist retreat was designed by architects to complement and blend seamlessly into the dramatic landscape of deep canyons, towering mesas and undulating sand dunes. Clean lines, natural materials like concrete and blackened steel, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow the surroundings to take centre stage. Yet plenty of indulgent luxuries from sunken living room lounges to sleek plunge pools keep things supremely comfortable. Outdoor adventures like private hiking, horseback riding and hot air ballooning provide immersion into the surreal scenery, as do experiences like dining amid the rocks and star-gazing from the stargazing pavilion. An unabashed celebration of the rugged American Southwest, Amangiri highlights the raw beauty of the region while wrapping it in a cocoon of unmistakable Aman refinement.

Qasr Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi

Sitting amid the rolling, burnt orange dunes of Abu Dhabi's Empty Quarter — the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world — Qasr Al Sarab emerges like a mirage. This desert oasis resort channels the dreamy, romanticized Arabian architecture of ancient forts, with its crenellated towers and sandstone facades seemingly rising from the sands. The effect upon arriving is utterly transportive and otherworldly. Wind-sculpted dunes stretch in every direction surrounding the shimmering citadel. Inside, sleek rooms are a cocoon of serenity with traditional Arabian touches like intricate woodwork and Bedouin textiles. Labyrinthine courtyards, traditional wind towers and trellised gardens add to the authentic atmosphere. Beyond the palatial accommodations, recreational activities like fat biking, dune bashing, camelback riding, archery and falconry provide thrilling ways to immerse oneself in this dramatically stark yet entrancing environment. A true bucket list experience for those seeking an incomparable desert escape.

Amangiri, Utah, United States.

Royal Mansour Marrakech, Marrakech, Morocco

From the moment you pass through the traditional Moroccan entrance into the lush, secluded gardens of Royal Mansour, you're instantly transported to an opulent yet serene oasis. Conceived by King Mohammed VI himself, the Royal Mansour was created as the ultimate showcase of Moroccan artistry and hospitality. The hotel comprises 53 individual riads (traditional houses with interior gardens) seamlessly blending centuries of Moorish architecture and intricate mosaic craftsmanship with modern conveniences like private heated pools. The 1.5-hectare landscaped medina provides a verdant hidden sanctum within the bustling city, with winding paths leading to a kaleidoscope of shaded courtyards, ornate tilework and bubbling fountains. Michelin-starred dining, an exquisite spa inspired by ancient beautifying rituals, and a unique underground arrival experience where guests arrive by brilliant white horse-drawn carriages complete an atmosphere of royal indulgence. Beyond unparalleled luxury, Royal Mansour represents the epitome of Marrakech's exotic spirit and enduring allure.

The Mercer Hotel, New York City

In the heart of one of New York City's trendiest neighbourhoods, The Mercer seamlessly blends the artistic, bohemian spirit of Soho with impeccable modern luxury. The hotel occupies six historic buildings that once housed a Renaissance revival palazzo dating to 1835, with interiors that strike a brilliant balance between preservation and reinvention. Original architectural details like brick archways, cast iron Corinthian columns and Parquet de Versailles oak floors commingle with contemporary furnishings in a richly layered yet minimalist aesthetic. Designer Christian Liaigre's influence is everywhere, from the intimate candlelit Lobby Bar with its soaring atrium to the Mercer Kitchen restaurant featuring New American seasonal cuisine under vaulted brick ceilings. Despite its fashionable ambience, The Mercer cultivates a residential vibe where guests can feel at home, aided by discreet attentive service. A true urban sanctuary amid Soho's artistic boutiques and cafes.

Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland

For many, witnessing the ethereal Northern Lights is a quintessential bucket list experience - and Finland's Hotel Kakslauttanen provides arguably the world's most memorable setting to view this celestial phenomenon. Located deep within the Arctic wilderness near the town of Saariselkä, Kakslauttanen has garnered global renown for its innovative glass igloo accommodations. From the cosiness of your personal thermal glass igloo, gaze up at the night sky and with luck, witness the surreal dance of the Aurora Borealis. The nearby smoke sauna and ice bar offer more unique arctic experiences. In warmer months, visitors immerse themselves in the pristine Lapland nature through activities like reindeer safaris and dog sledging, while winters bring snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing on a sprawling frozen lake. For a more traditional stay, Kakslauttanen's log cabins marry Scandinavian cosiness with modern comforts. Whatever the season, this incomparable hotel lets guests connect with the mythical, untamed wilderness of the circumpolar north.

Royal Mansour Marrakech, Marrakech, Morocco.

Palácio Príncipe Real, Lisbon

There's an indescribable feeling of coming home as one enters the garden gates of Lisbon's Palácio Príncipe Real. On the surface, this meticulously renovated 1877 mansion in the heart of the Príncipe Real district exudes stately grandeur, with a lofty atrium and garden oasis where Lisbon's elite once held court. Yet the hotel cultivates a warm, playful, almost bohemian spirit exemplified by flourishes like the classic red Renault 4 parked in the courtyard or the endearingly kitsch decorative ducks meandering about. Much of this whimsical, personal vibe emanates from the English owners Gail and Miles Curley who revived the dilapidated palace in 2015 as Lisbon burst into renaissance. Their passion for the project shines through, creating an ambience that balances reverence for the heritage with an unstuffy, welcoming joy. The 25 unique rooms and suites blend original architectural details like soaring azulejo tiles and statement fireplaces with globally eclectic furnishings. Some open to the lush Jardim Principe Real gardens centred around a Balinese-inspired pool deck. As the sun sets, guests mingle over cocktails enveloped by that same sense of coming home to a cherished residence.

Las Ventanas al Paraíso, Los Cabos, Mexico

With its pure white domes and terracotta rooflines cascading over Baja's desert-meets-ocean landscape, Las Ventanas al Paraiso instantly evokes the romance and magic of old Mexico. Yet this iconic luxury resort consistently ranks as one of the world's most exceptional hospitality experiences thanks to its masterful combination of sophisticated service, exceptional cuisine, and spellbinding views over the Sea of Cortez. Opt for a beachfront suite with a private infinity pool to experience the mesmerizing convergence of desert and sea

Finca Cortesin, Malaga

The international luxury marques may be piling into Spain at breakneck speed, but none has yet achieved the status of the great Finca Cortesin. Situated on the cusp of the whitewashed town of Casares near Marbella, Finca Cortesin epitomizes Spanish luxury at its finest. With just 67 suites, the low-density property allows abundant privacy and space. Bali-inspired pools, a Mediterranean-facing beach club, an expansive spa, and a championship golf course designed by Cabell B. Robinson provide a wealth of world-class amenities. Yet Finca Cortesin transcends the sum of its exceptional parts - each element has been meticulously conceived by masters of their craft. Visionary CEO-owner Javier López Granados oversees the entire paradigm of perfection, while renowned hotelier Rene Zimmer lends his hospitality expertise as managing director. The striking Andalusian Cortijo architecture by Roger Torras and Ignacio Sierra features gleaming white façades accented by vivid geraniums spilling from planters. Inside, the ultra-sleek public spaces brim with museum-quality antiques originally curated by the late Portuguese designer Duarte Pinto Coelho. Landscaper Gerald Huggan has crafted lushly perfumed gardens punctuated by palms, jasmine and wisteria. The inviting suites, designed by Ana and Cristina Calderón, feature soaring ceilings, colourful accent walls, fresh floral arrangements and original artwork. Dining at the hotel's signature El Jardín de Lutz restaurant is a master class in elevated Spanish cuisine from two-Michelin-starred chef Lutz Bösing.

Finca Cortesin, Malaga.

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest

This is Budapest's grandest hotel, a 1906 Art Nouveau marvel that has undergone an exceptional renovation restoring it to opulent glory. Original architectural details like chandeliers, stained glass and mosaic tiles have been meticulously restored, while the striking white stucco façade glows anew. Its coveted location on the Pest riverfront places it at the heart of the action yet provides transcendent views across the Danube to Buda's medieval quarter and nearby landmarks like the iconic Chain Bridge. Concierges like Peter Buday embody Hungarian hospitality, enthusiastically guiding guests to the city's best bars, restaurants and cultural experiences. Yet the Gresham Palace's immediate surroundings provide ample delights - the district brims with attractions like the opulent 1910 Gundel restaurant, the upscale shops of Andrássy Avenue modelled after the Champs-Elysées, the Franz Liszt Museum, and the majestic Hungarian State Opera House. An architectural icon reborn as a luxury hotel par excellence.

Hotel Imperial, Vienna

Step through the doors of the Hotel Imperial and be swept away into a fairytale fantasy of 19th-century pomp and imperial grandeur. This neoclassical grande dame deserves the full Baz Luhrmann treatment, with its dazzling crystal chandeliers illuminating marble floors you'll be tempted to slide across in stocking feet trailed by regal liveried footmen. The ambience exudes old-world sophistication yet remains refreshingly approachable - the hotel simply wants its guests to relax and enjoy themselves amid the splendour. In fact, head concierge Michael Moser who served for 31 years was the inspiration for the iconic Monsieur Gustave in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Moser even received an invitation to appear in the film though his duties precluded it. Guest rooms continue the cinematic maximalist aesthetic with rich velvets, ornate wallpaper, and lavish draperies. Even the classic Viennese cuisine gets an over-the-top treatment, like the legendary schnitzel so enormous you could use it as a blanket. The Prince of Württemberg chose well in locating his palace on the Ringstrasse, the grand boulevard encircling Vienna's historic core putting all the major sights within easy strolling distance. At the Imperial, imperial splendour meets modern irreverence.

Çirağan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul

Certain hotels achieve such a dreamlike, perfect ambience it feels like they were plucked directly from a Wes Anderson film set - the Çirağan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul is one such example. This opulent Ottoman-era palace commands a majestic perch overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, its grandeur amplified by soaring marble columns and strutting peacocks in the gardens. Originally constructed in the 17th century for a Sultan, the labyrinthine palace complex transports guests back to the glory days of the world's longest-enduring Islamic empire. Rooms drip with Ottoman decadence from ornate woodcarvings and arched windows to lush textiles in ruby and sapphire hues. Four-poster beds, tulip motif headboards, velvet sofas, and marble bathrooms leave no luxury unexplored. Beyond the sumptuous guest quarters, the palace surrounds courtyards shaded by trailing vines and fragrant citrus trees. Fine Turkish dining by the water's edge at Tuğra, the centuries-old hammam complete with intricate carvings, and the original tower where the Beşiktaş soccer team played all lend an authentic sense of living history. In modern Istanbul, the Çirağan offers a chance to experience sublime hospitality steeped in centuries-old opulence.

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort, Dubai

An emerald oasis shielded by undulating dunes, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort reveals itself gradually to arriving guests. The traditional sandy-hued façade echoes the UAE's ancient forts, blending into the arid desert surroundings half-obscured by dancing palms. In this ultra-luxe Middle Eastern playland of excess, Bab Al Shams operates on an understated, classic sense of Arabian hospitality. It has remained a favoured desert escape for Dubai residents for nearly two decades, a place to unwind and celebrate life's milestones amid sumptuous yet restrained environs. The iconic infinity pool seems to dissolve into the vast sandy expanse, two primal elements converging. Throughout the resort, design details follow the region's vernacular - solid barrier walls, alcoves, arched doorways, and intricate patterning. Yet interiors avoid the gilded maximalism prevalent at Dubai's beach resorts, adopting a lighter, more contemporary take on tradition. After a decade-long renovation by the Kerzner group, the Bab Al Shams reemerged with an open, airy lobby flowing into tranquil outdoor spaces. Guest rooms feature carved arches, mother-of-pearl accents, and brass hardware. By evening, the property takes on a warm glow - palm-lined paths illuminated by lanterns, the silhouettes of dunes awash in mauve. Activities range from stargazing to embracing the resort's desert setting on exhilarating adventures like dune bashing, fat biking and horseback riding. An evening at Al Hadheerah transports diners to a bygone Bedouin era with belly dancers, whirling dervish performances, and Emirati feasts like slow-cooked ouzi cooked underground.

Çirağan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul.
Hotel Imperial, Vienna.
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest.