No one needs to tell you that Asia is home to some of the most out-of-this-world, over-the-top, in-your-face-awesome hotels. But we’re here to tell you exactly which ones are the very best of the best. Take a look at the top luxury hotels from Bali to Dubai, from Seoul to St. Petersburg.
Billing itself as the “world’s most luxurious hotel,” Burj Al Arab is a destination unto itself. Situated just off the coast of Dubai on an independent island, visitors can access the grounds by attending high tea in the afternoon or dining in one of seven restaurants. Almost every aspect of the property is meant to evoke extreme decadence, from the butler assigned to each of the 60 floors to the 24k-gold iPads in two-story suites. Some guests have felt the phenomenally expensive prices to be unjustified for the food and the service, which can occasionally be disorganized, though most are happy to shell out for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The 123-room Dhara Dhevi is Chiang Mai's top luxury property, and is much more than just a resort. It was built to resemble an ancient Lanna kingdom or Burmese temple complex, and with horse and carriage transport at the gate, a huge swimming pool sitting under towering castle-like surroundings, and impressive faux temple ruins, it delivers plenty of wow factor. Villas with private plunge pools are made from reconstructed rice barns and overlook working rice paddies, while the Colonial Wing has elegant colonial-style rooms. The features here are spectacular: One of Thailand's best spas is housed in what looks like a giant temple, and gourmet dining options range from haute French cuisine to royal Thai fare. Guests also get access to a library of over 5,000 books and DVDs. This is truly one of Thailand's most romantic and luxurious stays, but also one its most expensive.
The five-pearl RIMBA Jimbaran Bali by AYANA is part of the massive AYANA resort, but located a 20-minute walk inland from the namesake facilities. It offers an array of amenities, including several restaurants, an orchid-filled tea house, and a huge network of outdoor pools and waterfalls. There's also a Balinese village recreated alongside rice paddies where guests can browse vendors and partake in nightly performance dinners. Couples and tourists looking for seclusion and luxurious rooms with private balconies will find both here.
In many ways the 405-room Jumeirah Zabeel Saray is the epitome of the lavish hotels for which Dubai is famed. Sumptuous interiors combine with an exclusive Palm Jumeirah setting and one of the largest -- and most impressive -- spas in the Middle East. Set away from the attractions of Dubai, it's not in the best location for sightseers, though with its numerous on-site dining options, a private beach with volleyball courts, and kid-friendly facilities, there's little reason to leave. The extraordinary outdoor pool surrounded by tropical gardens is another property highlight. Opulent rooms have furnished terraces plus bathrooms with big marble tubs.
It’s hard to top Taj Exotica when it comes to food, romantic atmosphere, and convenience. Located on a private island just 15 minutes from the airport, this 65-room resort is one of the most luxurious destinations in the Maldives. Highlights include personal butlers, spacious guest rooms with private pools, gorgeous beaches, and two gourmet restaurants. Rooms and food are among the priciest in the Maldives (for good reason).
Only a few hotels in Hong Kong deliver the Ritz-Carlton’s level of luxury. Large rooms feature decadent touches, such as plush beds with 400- to 600-thread count linens, iPods and iPod docks, Nespresso coffeemakers, and high-end toiletries. The hotel is set on floors 102 to 118 of Hong Kong’s tallest building, and while acrophobes may not appreciate being this far from the ground, the height does make for breathtaking views -- that is, when the sky is clear. Highlights include a stylish indoor pool, sleek gym, and top-notch spa. The Ritz-Carlton is connected to a great shopping mall and corporate offices, and also offers easy access to the airport train and the MTR. However, its location in an up-and-coming business area west of Tsim Sha Tsui is a bit out of the way for leisure travelers, as there are no major attractions within walking distance.
Set on a private, 32-acre island off the coast of Doha, the Southeast Asian-style Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara is a luxurious, amenities-packed property. Guests would have to stay a week to try all of the available facilities, like the spotless crescent beach, huge lagoon-style pool, holistic wellness center, diving center, and eight-lane bowling alley, to name just a few. The 141 rooms, suites, and villas all have airy layouts, tons of natural light, flat-screen LED TVs, and balconies or terraces with Arabian Sea views. Palm trees and palapa umbrellas shading cushioned loungers dot the wide, half-mile-long beach. The seven on-site eateries range from an American diner to an international tapas restaurant on a floating deck.
This 377-room luxury property is considered by many to be the most exclusive hotel in Abu Dhabi. Located a short drive from downtown, the property feels removed from the hustle and bustle, but is still near tourist attractions on Saadiyat Island. Guests receive personal butler service and have access to a private white sand beach. Facilities are beautiful and extensive, and include a spa with mosaic tile hot tubs, four restaurants, and four outdoor pools. Rooms are large and all have balconies with great views. Families will enjoy the kids' club and children's pool with waterslide, while business travelers have 13 meeting rooms at their disposal. Some complain that the on-site restaurants are expensive, but perhaps that's to be expected in this caliber of hotel.
The Santiburi Golf, Resort & Spa, with its 45 acres of palm gardens, is one of the poshest, most pampering resorts on the island of Samui, and possibly in all of Thailand. This five-pearl property, with its pristine and lovely beachfront, is located on Mae Nam Beach in the northern part of the island. The villas and one- and two-bedroom duplexes are Thai-inspired and contemporary, and come packed with amenities. There's a huge swimming pool, a kids' pool, a sports complex with a tennis court, Thai boxing, billiards, mountain bikes, and yoga, plus three fancy restaurants and several bars. The resort also owns the nearby championship 18-hole Santiburi Country Club Golf Course, where resort guests get tee-time priority.
The 294-room Al Qasr is a seriously upscale, Arabian palace-style hotel with stunning interiors set in the exclusive Madinat Jumeirah resort in central Dubai. Comprising of lovely canal-like waterways and manicured tropical gardens that lead to a mile-long beach, the grounds are particularly impressive, as is the almost innumerable selection of facilities (a rock climbing wall, spa, playground for kids, and fitness center among them). While rooms suitably reflect the hotel's deluxe pedigree, the vastness of the resort can mean sluggish service and dining get very expensive. However, for guests who can afford the eye-watering room rates of this super-lavish hotel that may not pose an issue. Wi-Fi is fast and free.
Arguably the most luxurious hotel in Hong Kong, the 565-room Shangri-La features opulent details -- including the largest Chinese silk painting in the world, and TVs in every bathroom. Elegant rooms are outfitted with silk throws, gilded wooden furniture, crystal chandeliers, and high-tech features such as large flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Amenities include an outdoor pool, a well-equipped fitness center, and a spa. They are not exclusive to guests, though, as Health Club members also have access to them. The Shangri-La has steep rates, but most guests claim the hefty price tag is worth it, particularly when staying in rooms with harbor views.
Dar al Masyaf is a destination unto itself. This exclusive hotel is part of Madinat Jumeirah, a massive, one-of-a-kind beachside resort home to over 40 restaurants and bars, three outdoor pools, several miles of waterways and jogging trails, a traditional shopping center, a turtle sanctuary, and a theater. Rooms are large and luxurious, with top-notch amenities and large balconies offering serene views. With an impressive array of on-site activities (rock climbing, fitness classes, a swimming academy, water sports, live shows...you name it) and a beautiful private beach, only those looking to explore Dubai’s attractions will feel the need to venture out.
The Conrad Tokyo is a five-pearl hotel with 289 rooms on the 28th to 37th floors of a luxury skyscraper in Tokyo's business-friendly neighborhood of Shiodome. When asked what makes the Conrad different from its competitors in Tokyo, the general manager explained that he thinks guests' own homes are where the competition truly lies, and he works to ensure that all guests feel the luxury of being themselves while at the property. Unless your home comes with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Tokyo Bay, an indoor lap pool, on-site wedding chapel, peekaboo bathrooms, and variety of upscale restaurants -- you'll probably find the Conrad more than comfortable.
The 252-room luxurious five-pearl Raffles Dubai rises out of lush gardens and grounds in an impressive glass-and-stone pyramid structure. Spacious, light-filled interiors are sumptuous yet understated, tastefully displaying a blend of Middle Eastern and Asian design influences. Huge rooms and suites are cloaked in luxurious fabrics and materials with handcrafted decorative details, modern technology, lavish bathrooms, private terraces, and personal butlers on call 24/7. The hotel’s expansive features include seven restaurants and bars, a gorgeous pool with swim-up bar, and expansive spa facilities in the gardens. The hotel is far from the beach, however, and not within walking distance of most sights.
The 299-room St. Regis Singapore is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. From the extensive private art collection to the beautiful rooms, this hotel has incredible attention to detail. Rooms are comfortable and elegant -- even the standard Executive Deluxe Rooms are spacious -- and feature floor-to-ceiling windows with great city views. High-tech amenities include bedside controls for drapes and lights along with big flat-screen TVs. Huge marble bathrooms have standalone soaking tubs and rainfall showerheads. Additional hotel highlights include a sleek outdoor pool, an indoor tennis court, a luxurious spa, a "Bentley Fleet" for car service around town, and butler service. There are also numerous on-site restaurants. However, there's a pesky fee for Wi-Fi.
This luxury hotel in the center of St. Petersburg recreates the ambience of the Winter Palace, once the residence of the Russian royal family and today home to the Hermitage Museum. The hotel's historic building dates from the 1830s, and it was completely renovated in 2013, when it opened as the official hotel of the Hermitage Museum. There are 126 rooms and suites decked out in an Empire style complete with art reproductions. A free shuttle bus takes guests to and from the museum, and staff can assist with booking entrance tickets. There are two on-site restaurants: The first draws inspiration from the Winter Palace; the second focuses on Italian cuisine. Other features include a spa, gym, pool, 24-hour business center, and free Wi-Fi.
The luxury Ritz-Carlton Okinawa has a dramatic hillside setting within a sprawling country club lending it a tranquil atmosphere. The 97 modern rooms have large bathrooms, and many have secluded terraces with hot tubs and spectacular ocean views -- but some rooms get outside noise. Facilities include attractive indoor and outdoor pools, a stunning spa and full gym, a championship golf course, and three excellent restaurants. Wi-Fi is free, along with valet parking and a beach shuttle service. And a breakfast buffet is included in the room rate. But English is not widely spoken here, which might pose a challenge for some guests. And though the mid-island location is convenient for getting around, there's little in the immediate area.
Andara Resort and Villas is one of the most expensive five-pearl options in Phuket, but with the high price tag comes over-the-top extras like private chefs and access to a customized yacht. Well-heeled guests choose from luxury villas or suites; most of them have gorgeous private pools and sweeping views of the Andaman Sea. It would be easy to spend an entire vacation holed up in the villas, which get stocked with guests' favorite foods, and a private chef comes to prepare customized meals. Other great features are the relaxing spa, infinity-edge swimming pool, and Silk restaurant found in the common areas. One caveat: the beach is about a 10-minute walk (or quick buggy ride) from the hotel.
Overlooking the Han River, the Conrad Seoul is a luxury 38-floor skyscraper located in Korea's Wall Street, connected to the International Financial Centre with an underground mall. The 434 elegantly furnished rooms have flat-screen TVs with Apple technology and city and/or river views, and suites feature living rooms. Features include four elegant eateries serving international fare, a spa with an indoor pool, and a 24-hour gym with virtual golf ranges.
The Pimalai Resort and Spa is the grandest luxury property on Koh Lanta. It's hidden away near the southern end of the island, along beautiful Kantiang Beach and Bay. Sprawling across a hillside and onto the beach, the resort has two sides -- a hill estate and a beachfront. Most of the rooms are clustered on the beach side, although there are luxury pool villas up on the hill. All rooms are large and include teak floors, rattan curtains, daybeds, furnished patios and balconies, and plenty of privacy. The resort offers two swimming pools, one an infinity-edge pool overlooking the entire bay, plus a fitness center, spa, and tennis court. There are four restaurants and cafes, several bars, and secluded, lush grounds. The whole resort exudes exclusivity and romance.