Yes, Balinese jungle resorts and Thai beach retreats made our list of the best boutique hotels in Southeast Asia. But an art-filled hotel in Cambodia and a remote island hideaway in the Philippines also made the cut. Discover all of our top picks.
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 25-room Viceroy Bali is a luxury hotel that draws high-end clientele with its tropical setting overlooking Petanu Valley and its convenient helipad. The property also offers airport limousine service, an open-air restaurant, and a lovely pool with a swim-up bar. A hillside spa and modern gym complete the list of excellent amenities. The spacious Balinese villas have private pools, flat-screen TVs, safes, and indoor/outdoor sitting areas; some have thatched-roof gazebos. There’s golf cart transportation on-site, but the grounds are often sloped so getting around can be tricky.
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 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.
The Belmond La Residence d'Angkor is a small luxury resort with 62 rooms set along the Siem Reap River, just a short stroll from Pub Street and the Old Market area. The elegant resort has handsome teak and Buddhist art throughout, and rooms offer a sharp contemporary style with local accents. In-room amenities include DVD players, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs, plus lovely balconies or patios. The resort has a garden swimming pool, an excellent spa, fitness center, and two excellent restaurants, along with an upstairs bar. An art gallery and traditional Apsara shows set this hotel apart from many in town, though the price tag is steep and can even exceed nearby luxury options.
Anantara Phuket Villas is a five-pearl property with gorgeous villas; all come with lovely private pools. It was designed by renowned architect Bill Bensley, and his high attention to stylish detail shows throughout the Sino Portuguese property: intricately carved wood, open-air buildings, reflection pools, and pagoda-style structures can be found here. Though Anantara has everything its competitors have -- a luxe spa, free breakfast buffet, cooking school, and free bikes -- the one major flaw here is the tiny, red-flag beach. But the Anantara does have one of the most spectacular pools in Phuket.
The five-pearl Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang offers 74 luxurious rooms at the only true beachfront resort in Nha Trang. The resort fuses traditional Vietnamese accents and contemporary design, and is set amid lovely tropical gardens. All rooms feature private terraces with garden or beach views, and some have outdoor showers and tubs. There are ample chances to relax or stay active, with a wide sandy beach, a spa, two outdoor pools, and activities like water sports, tennis, and biking. Two on-site restaurants have lovely sea views.
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.
Twinpalms Phuket is one of the most stylish and party-focused five-pearl options in Phuket. This boutique property is centered around a gorgeous swimming pool with a poolside bar. Surin Beach is reached by crossing a footpath through an empty field, which is slightly inconvenient, but it does mean that the party and drinking scene found at the property's two beach clubs doesn't filter over to the luxurious rooms. Most rooms have plunge pools or direct access to a semi-private lagoon pool, along with free Wi-Fi and furnished outdoor spaces. An on-site spa, modern fitness center, and chic restaurant round out the upscale touches at this intimate, 97-room hotel.
The 60-room Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa, Bali, is a luxury boutique resort located right on picturesque Seminyak Beach. The all-suites accommodations have a clean-lined, Zen-inspired aesthetic that underscores the decadent amenities like iPod docks, espresso machines, and walk-in rainfall showers. The hotel has two pools -- one infinity-edge, overlooking the beach and the ocean; the other, surrounded by a lush, serene courtyard. Two acclaimed Thai-Indonesian restaurants include a rooftop that's one of Seminyak's coolest nightlife spots. Anantara Spa is one of the island's most decadent spas, offering a full range of beauty and wellness treatments. Free Wi-Fi, bicycles to borrow, and an area shopping shuttle are available, and both room service and the business center are available 24-hours a day. If there's a downside to this resort, it's that the rooftop can be buzzy late into the night, which can bother those trying to sleep on higher floors.
The Racha is a five-pearl eco-chic resort on the small island of Racha Yai in the Andaman Sea. It's a 35-minute boat ride from Phuket to get there, and there's a charge for the transfer. Once guests arrive at the island they're greeted with the sight of white-washed villas built with clean lines, in harmony with the natural surroundings of the tropical landscape and water. The villas are clean and comfortable; some have private pools and spacious outdoor bathrooms. Recreation facilities are top-notch: ATVs, water toys, tennis courts, a spa, and more are all on offer. Be warned, though: The stunning sandy beach is a hot spot for tourist boats from Phuket and is often overrun with day-trippers, making it less than ideal for those who want a romantic and quiet tropical vacation.
The 46-room Uma By COMO, Ubud is an upscale hotel that blends modern and traditional minimalism on a secluded property, overlooking the Tjampuhan Valley. The on-site amenities are particularly appealing: It has a breezy yoga pavilion, garden pool with a bar, and open-air spa. The hotel also offers 24-hour concierge service, two restaurants, a gym, Balinese activities, and village tours. Stylish rooms, suites, and villas include flat-screen TVs and minibars, and many have pools; some also feature outdoor whirlpool tubs. Parking, breakfast, and Wi-Fi are all free, but note that there have been guest complaints that the staff can be pushy with add-on recommendations.
The Farm at San Benito is a unique luxury jungle retreat with a focus on holistic wellness. With personalized physical and emotional cleansing programs, and a secluded location amid coconut plantations, the property draws an array of travelers, from celebrities to wellness enthusiasts to those who simply want to get away from it all. Guests can do as much or as little as they want here, including snoozing by the lovely infinity pools, taking free yoga classes, participating in guided meditation sessions, or even getting a liver and gallbladder flush at the on-site certified clinic. Accommodations range from cozy units housed in small thatched pavilions to huge villas with private infinity pools and butlers. The vegan restaurant is known across the country as one of the best of its kind, and the spa offers excellent signature treatments in a serene pavilion with indoor and outdoor facilities.
The 74-room Oberoi Bali is a verdant, luxurious beachside resort in Seminyak, with large rooms and extra-large villas tucked onto a 15-acre property. The Oberoi skillfully combines luxury with simplicity and charges the surroundings with Balinese history and culture, including bi-weekly dance performances and daily offerings in the hotel's temples. Rooms feature tasteful, modern Balinese-inspired decor and bathrooms with sunken marble baths and showers; some of the villas also have private pools. There are two restaurants and a bar on-site, as well as a luxurious spa with open-air treatment rooms overlooking the gardens, a fitness center, and pilates and yoga classes on offer. There's only one pool, but the resort also has direct beach access.
This luxurious boutique resort consists of 16 private villas, all of which have beautiful private gardens and pools, as well as open-air living rooms with kitchenettes and dining areas. Massive, luxurious bathrooms are outfitted with soaking tubs and walk-in rainfall showers. Other lavish extras include a host of freebies like breakfast, afternoon tea, and daily fruit baskets, plus there’s a spa on-site. The gorgeous, lush grounds include a stunning outdoor pool and a restaurant, and though the beach is a bit far, the hotel offers free area shuttles (as well as airport transfers).
The Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel is a charming, intimate in-town resort, housed in an exquisitely designed northern Thai and colonial-style home. The 19 stunning rooms have period furniture and balconies, and property features include a small pool, spa, and restaurant (breakfast is free). The gorgeous building occupies a space near the Ping River, well out of the tourist noise and chaos of the central city, but it's only a 15-minute stroll to the Night Bazaar downtown; guests can take trips around the city in the hotel's classic Mercedes.
The 290-room luxury Crimson Resort and Spa has limited beachfront access, but its three-tiered pool offers stunning views of the sea. In addition to the open-air spa, the resort has a children’s room and a gym with an array of cardio and weight equipment. Rooms are spacious and elegant, particularly the Ocean Front Private Pool Villa Suites. Almost an hour's drive to the town of Cebu, Crimson Resort and Spa is a bit out of the way, and given its expansive grounds, which sprawl over 15 acres (six hectares), travelers might want to opt for rooms close to the lobby; buggy transport service is available, but it can be slow to arrive.
The 38-room Kupu Kupu Barong Villas & Tree Spa is an upscale romantic jungle retreat on a property with rice paddies and gorgeous Ayung River views. The peaceful property has two outdoor pools, a pool bar, and two restaurants along with butler service and a 24-hour front desk. Guided tours are also available and there's an on-site boutique. Balinese-style villas are luxurious with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and furnished balconies with striking river views; some have private pools. The expansive size of the property, though, makes it a trek to reach some of the facilities. Wi-Fi is free throughout.