Oyster’s hotel reporters inspected almost 2,500 hotels throughout Southeast Asia (2,500, you guys!). These 20 properties in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore stood out as the region’s most luxurious.
The Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia is an unrivaled five-pearl property, an exclusive beachfront getaway on the north side of the island, which offers tours through the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park mangroves. Luxurious Malayan beachfront villas feature lovely wooden designs, outdoor terrazzo bathtubs, verandas, and private pools. The vibe here is harmoniously balanced between romantic and family-friendly -- there are intimate beach dinners, spa pampering in waterside cabanas, and an adult-only pool but also kids' pools, pony rides, rock climbing, and an educational discovery center. The resort is isolated and far from Langkawi attractions, but it is self-contained, with restaurants, bars, pools, and a private beach, and should appeal to travelers seeking a luxury getaway.
The 78-unit Villas at AYANA Resort is a huge, opulent property on a private beach looking out over the sea. Villas are large and luxurious, with gorgeous bathrooms, garden terraces, and private plunge pools, but no kitchens. The property shares a plethora of amenities with the AYANA Resort and Spa, including a private beach, 11 pools, an 18-hole putting course, a spa, 15 restaurants serving a variety of cuisine types, and the famous cliffside Rock Bar, which has beautiful ocean views. This resort is definitely a showstopper, with rates that reflect this.
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 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 88-villa Banyan Tree Samui is an intimate, ultra-luxury property that draws those seeking an exclusive taste of the high life. Each room is a gorgeous stand-alone villa featuring a private pool, separate living area, and a beautiful bathroom with a rainfall shower and separate soaking tub. With four restaurants, a gym and yoga studio, a renowned spa, an infinity pool, and free water sports on the private beach, guests don't need to ever leave. However, those wishing to explore the island can request free shuttle service to nearby towns.
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. Wi-Fi, breakfast, and parking are all free at the Viceroy (but expect sky-high rates).
JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa is one of the most luxurious resorts (with a price tag to match) in Phuket. The tropical grounds and friendly service are almost impeccable. A location near Phuket International Airport is convenient for flights, but less so for those who want to explore Phuket. There are three upscale swimming pools, a luxe spa, and 12 distinct restaurants and bars. Contemporary rooms include balconies and mini-fridges, while the Villa has a private pool. Downsides are that the beach isn't suitable for swimming and past guests have reported that kids have a run of the place.
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.
The 300-room Siam Kempinski is one of Bangkok's most opulent hotels. It's a five pearl property located smack in the city center, behind the Siam Paragon luxury mall. Elegant rooms -- set around a garden oasis with saltwater swimming pools flowing through it -- are decked out in contemporary Thai decor and feature silk curtains and paintings as well as amenities such as daily stocked minibars and big flat-screen TVs. Some rooms give direct access into the large meandering pool that is the centerpiece of the property. There is a bright, well-equipped fitness center with shiny wood floors. Siam Kempinski is also the home of the acclaimed Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, by a Michelin-rated chef. The opulence here comes at a hefty price tag, but it is comparable to other five pearl elite properties in the city. With its gardens, pool, and private feel, this is more like an island resort than a city hotel. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
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 natural jungles and a small Muslim 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 St. Regis Bangkok is an impressive five-pearl luxury hotel next to the Ratchadamri BTS Skytrain station, a short walk from high-end shopping and dining. The hotel features a huge outdoor pool, a full-service spa with hot tubs and steam rooms, a top-notch fitness center, Italian and New York-style eateries, a drawing room with afternoon tea, and a clubby St. Regis bar with its own signature Thai-style Bloody Mary. The 228 spacious rooms are decked out in sexy, but sober, contemporary tones and have marble bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. Every room has butler service as well.
From its cliffside location overlooking the Indian Ocean, to its minimalist, modern architecture that seamlessly melds with lush, green grounds, the luxurious Alila Villas Uluwatu provides a serene retreat with spectacular views at every corner. There’s a gorgeous and vast infinity pool, though each of the 65 villas on the property have their own private pools as well. The sleek, contemporary spaces offer a host of other comforts, from techy amenities like flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi, to gorgeous bathrooms that provide indoor and outdoor showers and tubs. The remote location means that guests are limited to the two restaurants on-site, though these offer tasty fine dining and local cuisine. There’s also a beautiful spa providing sumptuous treatments and a modern fitness center, plus morning yoga classes offered daily. Note that reaching the beach requires a hike down the cliff via steep stairs.
The Raffles in Singapore is a sight many visit even if they are not staying at the hotel; the colonial-style building opened in 1887, and after extensive renovations, reopened in 1991. It has hosted everyone from Glenn Close to the Queen of England and it has a hall of fame to prove it. Numerous amenities contribute to its iconic feel, including a shopping arcade with high-end shops such as Louis Vuitton, antique-filled common areas, and beautiful gardens. The hotel also features fifteen restaurants and bars, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a luxurious spa. All rooms are spacious suites with classic decor, including oriental rugs and mahogany furniture -- but the old tube TVs could use an upgrade. This hotel is a solid luxury choice for business and leisure travelers, and anyone who appreciates history and old-fashioned charm.
The expansive Siam is the epitome of luxury in Bangkok, taking elegance to the extreme. Just 39 plush, spacious rooms occupy this vast property, which is scattered with pieces from the owners' art collection and has everything from an infinity pool to multiple dining venues to a library, cinema, gym, and spa -- while maintaining an intimate vibe. Secluded Villas offer private pools, hot tubs, and rooftop terraces. All rooms include breakfast, butler service, and free longtail boat service along the river, though reaching city center attractions can be difficult, as can finding the hotel by taxi. Some rooms have unattractive views and/or lack windows. Though somewhat more expensive than competitors like The Peninsula and the Mandarin Oriental farther upriver and closer to the Skytrain, The Siam is in a league of its own when it comes to exclusivity.
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. However, the removed location, while peaceful and romantic, may not be to everyone's liking, and it's not a good spot for travelers who like to explore destinations on foot.
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.
One of the best resorts in Nusa Dua, The St. Regis Bali Resort is a luxury property with a lot to love. The classically elegant atmosphere is set by a style that blends Old World and contemporary accents, while luxe amenities include private butler service and a private beach with water sports. The children's education center and a lovely spa make this property as pleasurable for kids as it is for their parents, and dining and drinking are all top notch. The 123 spacious suites and villas include marble bathrooms, plush beds, large flat-screen TVs, and balconies -- some even have private pools and ocean views.
Perched on a clifftop above a lovely sandy beach, family-friendly Karma Kandara is one of southern Bali’s most luxurious resorts. It offers 54 stunning multi-room villas set in private gardens with infinity pools, all featuring full kitchens, outdoor dining areas, and upscale amenities such as free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and outdoor showers. The gorgeous, serene grounds include two pools (one of them overlooking the ocean), a top-notch spa with cliffside massage huts, a Mediterranean restaurant, and a rooftop bar with views. But the highlight here is the hip beach club, complete with cabanas and a restaurant, and accessed via a funicular.
The 52-room Samaya Bali is an all-villa, beachfront luxury property offering amazing ocean views throughout, with restaurants and attractions a five-minute walk away. Modern Villas have humongous bathrooms with jetted tubs and rainfall showerheads, private outdoor pools, free minibars, and 24-hour butler service, but some have minimum stay requirements. Hotel highlights include beach access and two outdoor pools, and there are two on-site restaurants and an included a la carte breakfast. Other features include a contemporary spa and a fitness center with free yoga classes along with free Wi-Fi and a free area shuttle. This is one of the top options in the area.
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.