Leave the been-there-done-that bed-and-breakfast route behind with these indulgent, honeymoon-worthy hotels throughout Thailand, Bali, the Maldives, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, St. Petersburg, and India.
The 51-room Layana Resort and Spa is a luxury beachfront escape, with James Bond-style treatment that starts with a private speed boat along the scenic Andaman coast to Koh Lanta Island. The lush, adults-only resort consists of exquisite Garden Pavilions as well as exclusive Beach Suites (stand-alone bungalows) that sport private terraces and direct beach access. The resort offers a saltwater infinity pool, spa, and fitness center. Guests can sample international and local Thai cuisine at the on-site restaurant, and as the name suggests, watch the sunset from the Sundowner Bar and Lounge.
The Bale is one of the most luxurious properties in Nusa Dua, and its soothing zen-inspired decor and gorgeous grounds wow at first sight. Housed in private pavilions set within their own walled gardens, the adult-only hotel’s 29 rooms offer a level of privacy hard to find in other luxury resorts. All units have lovely infinity pools, upscale amenities, and top-notch bathrooms with outdoor showers. The spa offers wonderful signature treatments in minimalist rooms, and there's a beautiful two-tier infinity pool. There are two excellent restaurants and a small fitness center with yoga classes, plus the hotel has a private beach club with loungers on a nice stretch of sand a short walk away. Rates can be steep, but freebies such as breakfast, airport transfers, welcome massages, and free daily restocking of the minibar add value.
Tucked away on a private stretch of sand, Kayumanis Nusa Dua is an intimate and luxurious adult-only retreat that feels a world away from the large neighboring resorts. Each of the property’s 20 villas is housed in a beautiful pavilion with an indoor-outdoor design and tasteful, traditional Indonesian decor. All have private pools, outdoor bathrooms, and top-notch services such as personal butlers, and drivers for free private day trips to as far as Jimbaran. The on-site beach is not the prettiest around, but it is sandy and relaxing, and has padded lounge chairs and a beach club. The spa is small but excellent, and also offers in-room treatments. The on-site Italian restaurant is mediocre, but there's a great Indonesian restaurant on-site and plenty of other options within a short distance of the hotel.
The luxury boutique Kandolhu Maldives is home to 30 villas, all featuring private sundecks and sea views. Surrounded by a fish-filled house reef and close to good dive spots, it’s a good option for underwater lovers -- and it offers various packages, including an all-inclusive plan. This small, screensaver-come-to-life island has four a la carte restaurants, a relaxing beachside bar, spa, dive center, library lounge, and state-of-the-art gym. Favoring couples, this idyllic island is set up for privacy, limited social interaction, and relaxation. Upscale and contemporary styled rooms are outfitted with all the trimmings -- from fluffy towels to wine fridges -- and can feature outdoor bathrooms, private beach areas, and private pools.
Tucked away in the jungle village of Kamala, the five-pearl Bell Pool Villa Resort Phuket exudes an air of private exclusivity behind gated walls. Its 16 villas feature secluded gardens, large private pools, and 24-hour butler service. A full range of in-room spa services are available, along with breakfast and poolside barbecues, and privacy is paramount; the al fresco restaurant serves as the only communal space. A free shuttle and bicycles provide easy access to the beach.
One of Bali's chicest properties, the five-pearl Bulgari Resort Bali is an ultra-luxury resort with 59 villas featuring Javanese mahogany furnishings and volcanic rock interior walls (plus five chic three- and five-bedroom mansions). Along with a private beach and gorgeous infinity pool, the resort offers four bars and restaurants, an opulent spa with a long menu of services and the option of private treatment pavilions, a fitness center with personal trainers, and plenty of space for meetings and weddings. The removed location is peaceful and romantic.
The Shore at Katathani is an upscale, 36-room villa hotel that caters mainly to couples and honeymooners. Its private location, tucked away in a cove along Kata Noi Beach, adds to the hotel's intimate, beachy atmosphere. Guests spend most of their time lounging beside their private plunge pools or in oversize daybeds facing the ocean at the main infinity pool. While the property, which includes a small spa and oceanfront restaurant, does not allow children under the age of 12.
Located on a small island 35 minutes from Male, this luxury resort has 33 high-end water bungalows and a peaceful, all-natural vibe. Cocoa Island is primarily geared towards couples, and children’s facilities are sparse. Property highlights include gorgeous beaches, an infinity pool, on-site reef, excellent a la carte restaurant, and a pricey spa with a hydrotherapy pool and free daily yoga classes. Rooms come at a fair price for this caliber of property, but food and extras can add up fast.
Paresa means "heaven" in Thai, and with a staff that refers to themselves as angels, panoramic views of the Andaman Sea over Millionaires' Mile, and private luxury villas -- to some guests, Paresa is truly a five-pearl piece of (expensive) heaven on earth. At night, the infinity-edge pool is lit up with hundreds of twinkling LED lights. Two on-site restaurants and a cooking school offer gourmet fare. The location on a cliff means privacy (and those uninterrupted views), but the trade-off is a remote neighborhood and no direct beach access; the resort works around that problem with a free hourly shuttle to town and Kamala Beach.
This five-pearl resort is best known for its breathtaking main pool, which sits dramatically over jungle treetops and offers gorgeous vistas of the gorge below. With a secluded location about 30 minutes from Ubud, the hotel offers a peaceful, rain forest getaway, complete with a luxurious spa and dining options that range from an on-site restaurant, bar, and cafe, to romantic private dining experiences. Its 44 suites and private villas offer panoramic views as well as private pools and terraces. The jungle setting means that various critters are to be expected, which might be an issue for some, and travelers should also be prepared for pricey dining.
The Alila Villas Soori is a luxurious beachfront resort set on lush grounds surrounded by rice paddies. Features include two restaurants, a volcanic-sand beach, a beautiful spa, and a stunning infinity-edge pool overlooking the sea -- though all of the hotel’s 48 villas have private pools of their own. Villas are spacious, ranging from one-bedroom units to a lavish 10-bedroom estate complete with private gym, spa, chauffeur services, and more. Each is equipped with an array of modern amenities such as Apple TVs, Nespresso machines, and free Wi-Fi, as well as luxurious bathrooms with deep tubs and rainfall showers. As with most five-pearl hotels, rates are high, and the peaceful, secluded location might not suit everyone.
It's pretty difficult to beat the wow factor found at The Naka Island, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa Phuket. Guests arrive at the small, tropical island via a five-minute speedboat ride from Phuket. The five-pearl property consists of 67 private villas with private courtyards that boast plunge pools and giant outdoor soaking tubs. Naka Spa is one of the best in Thailand; it includes an ice room and warm Watsu pool. A private sand beach, a gorgeous two-tiered swimming pool, and three on-site restaurants are convenient and necessary features, as there isn't much else on the island besides jungles and a small fishing village. One oddity is that the grounds aren't very well maintained and look patchy in many areas. Overall, this is an excellent choice for those who want a quiet tropical beach vacation with all the trimmings and no crowds -- but expect to pay high prices (by Thailand standards).
The 87-room Fusion Maia Da Nang is a luxury spa property located on the beachfront between Da Nang and Hoi An. Its focus is on health and relaxation, and spa treatments are included in the rates. The lovely villas are modern and spacious, and all come with their own private plunge pools and gardens. Breakfast is free, and guests can choose to have it whenever and wherever they want. Three restaurants include a fine-dining option for dinner, a tea lounge, and a bar by the pool. The infinity pool overlooks the beach and is a nice spot for swimming and relaxing.
The 300-room Peninsula Hong Kong is the city's oldest hotel; built in 1926, it evokes the elegance of the '20s but the modern sophistication of the 21st century. The grand lobby features high, gilded ceilings and stately pillars, and hosts the hotel's popular afternoon High Tea. The European-style rooms are classic and tasteful, if a bit stuffy to some, and marble bathrooms have separate showers and soaking tubs. The amenities are, as expected from such a high-caliber hotel, top-notch: six gourmet dining options, an indoor pool, a full-service spa with stellar city views, and a modern fitness center, also with stunning views. Many people (who can afford it) stay here for the bragging rights alone -- after all, some of the hotel's guests are flown in by private helicopter. The vibe is very upscale, and there's even a dress code that's enforced throughout the hotel (no flip-flops allowed!). The location in the touristy Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood, near designer shopping and Victoria Harbour, is very convenient.
The 183-room Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg is a luxury property inside of a 19th-century palace. It's ideally located next to Saint Isaac’s Square and Cathedral. Old World architecture and antiques blend with modern features in this maze-like building, which includes a spa, pool, and 24-hour gym. Fine dining is offered in Asian and Italian restaurants, afternoon tea in a conservatory lounge, and vodka tastings in a lobby bar. Classically elegant rooms have Illy espresso machines and marble bathrooms with deep-soaking tubs; many offer gorgeous cathedral views from windows or terraces. One-bedroom suites feature dining tables in stylish parlors.
Sandwiched between the U.S. and Dutch embassies in Bangkok's leafy and residential Lumpini neighborhood, the Oriental Residence Bangkok is home to 145 luxury apartment-style residences that attract both long- and short-stay guests. Even without its romantic, French-inspired decor, the hotel would be impressive as the home of Michelin-starred chef Henk Savelberg's Thailand outpost; these, together with a stylized roof deck pool, modern fitness center overlooking the city, two other restaurants and bars, and full kitchens in every room cement its place as a truly luxe and discreet destination. That the nearest skytrain station is within walking distance (as is verdant Lumpini Park) is just icing on the cake.
The Lodhi is an elegant, ultra-contemporary luxury hotel on Central Delhi's moneyed Lodhi Road, right across from the Delhi Golf Course. All 40 rooms here have private plunge pools, and those on higher floors have beautiful city views, many with Humayun's Tomb in the distance. Amenities are excellent, and include a lovely spa with Turkish baths, a beauty salon, a lap pool, three tennis courts, and an extensive gym with personal trainers and high-end equipment. The restaurants get rave reviews for their cuisine, though they often close for private events.
The 100-room, historic Eastern & Oriental Hotel has been in operation since the height of the British Empire when George Town was an important harbor and trading hub. Known locally as the E&O, its colonial pedigree sets it apart from other five-pearl hotels, but it also has a fully modern all-suite addition with private balconies and rainfall showers. The doormen in white knee socks and pith helmets help sell the period experience, and it is one of Malaysia's top romantic spots, thanks to its rich atmosphere, two elegant pools, and fine dining.
Opposite the old Moorish style railway station in a historic part of town, the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is a five-pearl grande dame near the city's museums and manicured botanical gardens. The hotel is an attraction in itself, built around a restored 1932 colonial landmark filled with parlors and drawing rooms from another era. The bulk of its rooms are luxurious modern dwellings with Art Deco flair, and suites in the original wing retain their period elegance along with personal butlers. A spa, two outdoor pools, an old-school barber shop, and a wood-paneled restaurant with gold leaf ceilings round out the lavish facilities, and the orchid garden in the conservatory is a lovely spot for afternoon tea.
The Twin Lotus Resort & Spa is a large, adults-only beachfront resort with 76 rooms and bungalows on a property large enough that buggies are used to shuttle guests around. All categories of rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, with DVD players and huge furnished terraces. The upscale resort sits toward the quiet northern end of Klong Dao Beach, and is close to Saladan town and the ferry pier for the mainland. Resort features include two swimming pools, two restaurants, a fitness center and spa, bicycle rentals, and a library with books and DVDs.