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9 heavenly hotels

Here’s a round-up of the most stylish, desirable, comfortable-beyond-your-wildest-dreams hotels in which to rest your weary head… But be warned: your wallet will be returning home considerably lighter!

They’re the gold standard of travel – often described as the world’s top resorts and hotels. Their unparalleled mix of prestige and opulence attracts world leaders and A-list celebrities alike, and guarantee to make you feel like a million dollars – which is the sort of money you’ll need when splashing out on one of these five-star experiences.

1 Bellagio
Las Vegas

Lavish in décor and mammoth in scale, pure Vegas meets real luxury here. And with its own botanical gardens, fine art collection and musical fountain show on offer, the Bellagio has all bases covered. The many attractions of Las Vegas are on the doorstep, and the hotel is also only 10 minutes from the airport.

The 3,000-plus classically styled rooms boast up-to-the-minute facilities, while rustic artefacts and candle-packed bathrooms designed for soaking add a sense of true romance. Take a minute or more to marvel at the gob-smacking backdrops of the Vegas Strip, as well as the surrounding mountains and sparkling Lake Bellagio.

Musical theatre, six citrus-fringed pools, a European patisserie, themed gardens, a spa, salon and fitness centre, plus seven fine dining restaurants and the uber-cool Light nightclub make for a jam-packed stay.

Prices start at around £80 per night for a deluxe double room.

2 Burj Al Arab

For a time the Burj Al Arab was marketed as ‘the world’s first seven-star hotel’. At a staggering 321m, it is the tallest building used exclusively as a hotel. The hotel stands on an artificial island 280m from the well-known and popular Jumeirah beach, and is connected to the mainland by a private bridge. A truly iconic structure, it has come to symbolise Dubai’s urban transformation.

A major feature of the Burj Al Arab is its atrium lobby – the tallest in the world, of course – which dominates the interior of the hotel, taking up over one-third of the available floor-space. While the exterior of the Burj Al Arab uses sleek, ultra-modern sculptural design, the interior combines the lavish and luxurious architectural styles of both the east and the west. The hotel boasts an incredible 8,000 square metres of 22-carat gold leaf, as well as 24,000 square metres of 30 different types of marble.

Despite its colossal size, the Burj Al Arab has only 28 double-storey floors, which together accommodate 202 bedroom suites. It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world. Suites can easily cost over £7,000 depending on the room’s level of opulence; the Royal Suite is the most expensive, at a whopping £13,325 per night.

One of the hotel’s many incredible restaurants – accessible only by panoramic elevator – is located 200m above the Persian Gulf, offering unbeatable views across Dubai. Another restaurant, the Al Mahara, is accessed via a simulated submarine voyage and is home to a large seawater aquarium. The tank is even made of acrylic glass in order to reduce the magnification effect. It really has to be seen to be believed!

Prices start from around £972 per night for a deluxe king suite.

3 Mandarin Oriental
Hong Kong

Soon after opening its doors in September 1963, the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong became known as one of the most prestigious hotels in the world.

The hotel’s Mandarin Oriental spa offers traditional Chinese medicinal treatments and has spectacular 24th-floor views of the city and harbour. In the gym, instructors are on hand to show you how to use the state-of-the-art Kinesis equipment – a new way to increase strength, stamina and suppleness using a floating pulley system. There is also a cool spiral staircase leading up to a unique herb-infused steam room, and a beautifully calming water-pebble walk of enlightenment.

The hotel has several excellent restaurants, whose army of talented chefs conjure up superbly crafted fusion food. The 25th-floor restaurant, Pierre, boasts a dining experience that is as breathtaking as its views. And the Mandarin Cake Shop has been delighting customers since it opened over 25 years ago. As well as delicious homemade chocolate items, it sells a range of savoury foods such as quiche, sandwiches and salads, as well as French pastries, cakes and bread. It remains a popular shopping location at all times of the day. Signature items include Mandarin Oriental’s cheesecake, chocolate truffle cake, homemade XO sauce (spicy seafood sauce) and rose petal jam – an internationally revered recipe. The Mandarin Oriental has 502 rooms and suites, each of which has a marble bathroom with handy anti-mist mirrors. Almost all rooms have their own private balconies, complete with a pair of binoculars, to allow guests access to the spectacular views across Victoria Harbour and the breathtaking Hong Kong cityscape.

Prices start from £429 per night for a deluxe suite with harbour views.

4 Sinigita Game Reserve
South Africa

A collection of luxury safari lodges spread across two game reserves famed for their wealth of natural wildlife, the incredibly stylish and utterly distinctive Singita properties
are beacons of sophisticated design in the African wilderness.

The beautifully appointed Boulders Lodge is set in the Sabi Sands, while Lembobo and Sweni Lodges look out over the Kruger National Park. Both reserves boast private airstrips and many onsite activities – from spa and gym facilities to swimming pools and a library.

The legendary morning and evening game drives and guided bush walks give a unique opportunity for guests to see local wildlife up close and in the flesh.
Stunning Boulders Lodge uses natural materials such as thatch, stone and leather to create a calming atmosphere, while Lembobo Lodge’s cliffside lofts marry glass, water, steel and timber with unrivalled panoramic views. Meanwhile, diminutive Sweni offers dark wood, flashes of colour and deep tranquillity.

Prices start from £550 per person per night, all-inclusive.

5 Chedi Muscat

Located in the heart of Oman and flanked by azure ocean waters, the Chedi Muscat pampers its guests with a selection of modern rooms and private villas offering access to two turquoise pools, a water-garden, lush poolside cabanas and a private stretch of beach.

Designed in the style of traditional Omani architecture and offering breathtaking views of the gulf of Oman and the mountain ranges of Muscat, the Chedi provides all the services you’d expect from a top quality hotel.

The Serai superior rooms are housed in the 4-story Serai wing. Rooms are designed to make maximum use of natural light and all have either a view of the Indian Ocean or the majestic mountain of Muscat. Sixty deluxe rooms are scattered amongst the one- and two-storey Chedi Wing, designed to create a feeling of elegant sophistication. Sitting furthest away from the lobby are the 36 Chedi Club Suites. Each one consists of a sitting room area, bedroom and bathroom with either a balcony or patio where you can sit and enjoy views over the Indian Ocean or the mountains of Muscat.

Prices start from £924 per person for a double room on a bed and breakfast basis for seven nights (including flights)

6 Santa Caterina

Italy’s shoreline reaches its chic peak around Amalfi, a stretch that combines history, glamour and natural beauty like nowhere else in Europe. The queen of the coast is the Santa Caterina, the hotel where Brad and Angelina were first spotted canoodling during the filming of Mr and Mrs Smith.

The location is spectacular – perched high above the Gulf of Salerno, with lifts down to the beach and a gorgeous saltwater pool.

The grand 70-room pile, which has been owned and run by the same family since it was built in the 1880s, is the epitome of simple good taste – hand-painted floor tiles, swathes of beautiful bougainvillea, spacious and elegant rooms, impeccable service and indisputably top-notch food.

Prices start at around £160 per night for a standard double room with sea views.

7 Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree Bangkok is an all-suite hotel in the heart of Bangkok. There are 216 exquisitely furnished suites, each with a spectacular view of the city or the historical Chao Phraya River. When it comes to dining, guests can choose from several different restaurants including the Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar, situated on the rooftop of the hotel, and offering a panoramic and breathtaking view of the city. Indulge in barbecued seafood, champagne and a wide selection of cocktails and wines. The Moon Bar is an al fresco bar offering a stunning venue for any occasion while Japanese restaurant Taihei features chic mini stations for sushi, yakitori and teppanyaki preparation. Lacquered finishes and atmospheric mood lighting make dining in this bistro an elegant event. Bangkok’s largest garden spa is serenely located on the 19th and 20th levels. Live entertainment in the evenings makes the Lobby Lounge a favourite nightspot. All 16 indoor spa rooms offer everything from traditional massages to pampering hair treatments.

Prices start at £260 per night including all taxes.

8 Killarney Park Hotel

The five-star Killarney Park Hotel is wonderfully situated in the picturesque town of Killarney, Co Kerry. Situated beneath leafy trees on its own private grounds, the hotel consists of 68 spacious bedrooms. The ultimate in luxury accommodation, its classically designed suites feature a private entrance hall, lounge area, large marbled bathroom, a workstation and spacious bedroom, and provide an exceptional space for business, entertaining and relaxing. The Killarney Park Hotel has a wide range of dining options, from classic afternoon tea in the elegant Residents Lounge to a daytime menu in the casual Garden Bar. The Garden Bar menu offers snacks, lunch and supper options all day, and has the latest cocktails and a wide range of wines on offer. The award-winning Park Restaurant is one of Kerry’s most notable restaurants, specialising in traditional cuisine with a contemporary twist. The Ross Suite is the perfect venue for receptions, meetings or even private dining because it can seat up to 40 people. The Spa at the Killarney Park Hotel includes eight private treatment suites, a specially designed relaxation room, hydrotherapy suite and a caldarium, and features Eve Lom and Elemis treatments. It is Ireland’s only member of The Leading Spas of the World. The hotel is also in a premier location for golf lovers – they can access the finest golf clubs, links and championship courses in the South-West of Ireland.

Prices start from around £192 per night for a deluxe room.

9 Taj Lake Palace
Udaipur, India

Udaipur is arguably the most attractive city in India, and certainly the most romantic. Every other lane or alleyway turns up another fine palace or haveli (ornate merchant’s house) in creamy white marble, reflecting the still waters of lovely Lake Pichola. At the centre of it all is the Taj Lake Palace hotel, a 250-year-old confection that seems to float miraculously in the middle of the water – postcard-perfect, especially by moonlight. The hotel has 83 air-conditioned rooms including 17 suites. All rooms overlook the lily pond or the terrace and offer all manner of modern facilities.

As for dining, Jharokha is an informal 24-hour restaurant and coffee shop facing the lake and the city palace. You’ll also find guests at the Amrit Sagar, a bar that has been decorated with intricate glass mosaic work on the walls and ceiling and also has an enviable selection of vintage wines, spirits and cigars.

Prices start at around £242 per night for a luxury room with a garden view.

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