As the world opens up after years of restrictive travel, wanderlusters crave aspirational escapes to sublime destinations, spoiling guests with sheer luxury. Fortunately, properties spanning the globe raise hospitality to bespoke art forms, showcasing pinnacle achievements in lavish accommodations, gastronomy, and wellness. Here are 20 lodgings escalating opulence to unmatched peaks certain to ignite lifelong travel fantasies regardless of budget. Just envisioning their splendor transports you temporarily.
1. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Pristine Shores Meet Arabian Nights Extravagance Lording over its own serene sandy cove, the Emirates Palace defines Abu Dhabi’s state-level hospitality through sublime attention to Arabian sensory detail. Its pool seemingly extends into the gulf, while private beach cabanas frame the unbroken turquoise sea, meeting azure skies. Eight worldwide celebrity chef restaurants get supplemented by on-call personal butler service amid palatial domed architecture and imported Italian marble. No indulgent whim goes unanswered here, with each stay custom-crafted into sheer perfection.
2. Lake Como’s Il Sereno
In Italy’s fashionable Lake Como area, Il Sereno’s crowning penthouse sanctum surveys sparkling waters rimming the Alps through floor-to-ceiling windows while lounging upon its lush terrace with an infinity dipping pool. Interiors fuse mid-century textures with sumptuous Italian leathers and fabrics, conveying understated glamour and allowing the magnificent vistas ample spotlight. The penthouse epitomizes taking glorious Lake Como as your private theatrical stage from dawn until star-kissed nights.
3. Mystique Santorini, Greece
Secluded Cave Suite With Stunning Caldera Views Seemingly organically merging into Santorini’s rugged cliffside, Mystique Hotel’s regal Mystery Villa immerses you within the island’s fabled legacy through cave-like domed architecture overlooking sunsets exploding over the Aegean Sea. Outside, the villa’s sleek, minimalist private pool draws eyes towards the azure waters 1,000 feet below your aerie. Inside, indulge in your personal spa, screening room, wine cellar, and Greek fine dining prepared by your chef. This private world leaves honeymooners spellbound.
4. The Ritz Paris
Unsurpassed Parisian palace The Ritz transports all who enter through its discreet Place Vendôme entrance into a dazzling world, melding timeless French décor with sublime modern hospitality since 1898. Immaculately restored original detailing graces lavish salons and suites, channeling France’s storied aristocracy. Five-star dining choices span historic Ritz Brasserie’s Belle Époque interiors updated with contemporary Michelin-grade gastronomy, entirely defined by superlative quality and personalized pampering.
5. Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
A Self-Proclaimed “World’s Most Luxurious Hotel” Anchored Offshore Whether reality matches its flashy “World’s Most Luxurious Hotel” claim gets frequently debated, but the stunning Burj Al Arab visually personifies peak Dubai extravagance. Its sail-shaped architecture dominates lavish artificial islands, with highlights including panoramic dining 202 meters up, a six-story aquarium lobby, gold-leaf everything, endless champagne, and multi-room penthouse suites with concert-grade media rooms. This billionaire playground keeps offering ever more outrageous amenities to maintain its bold façade amid fierce ultra-luxury competition.
6. Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
Terraced into a towering Mexican Baja California cliffside, the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal offers exhilarating coastal beauty alongside top-tier relaxation. Stylish adobe-inspired villas feature private plunge pools while watching sunsets illuminate the Pacific, with options like multi-room casitas or even private beachfront houses. Sensational regional cuisine, an airy spa sanctum, and curating memorable outdoor experiences like swimming beside migrating Humpback whales make Los Cabos a premier Mexican embodiment of hospitality.
7. French Polynesia’s St. Regis Bora Bora
Languid, South Pacific Beachfront Paradise Even repeat South Pacific visitors find Few earthly visions surpass arriving at their St Regis Bora Bora resort sanctum, secreted on a lagoon pearl fringed by emerald mountains and glittering waters in myriad hues spanning turquoise to indigo. Here, secreted beach houses called grand overwater villas feature therapy pools, panoramic living chambers, glass viewing floors, and dual master suites, letting balmy breezes soothe while feasting eyes on French Polynesia’s intoxicating natural masterpiece framed through floor-to-ceiling windows beside your private strip of white sand lapped by the South Pacific. This is true escape, perfected.
8. Udaipur’s Floating Palace Hotel
Romantic Lakefront Grandeur from India’s Maharaja Era Centuries ago, India’s nobility constructed elaborate pleasure palaces around placid Rajasthani lakes for luxury respites from power struggles in this former warrior kingdom region. Today, the shining Taj Lake Palace floating upon Lake Pichola immerses guests in this nostalgic era with elaborate fountain courtyards, ornately carved pillars, and sunset boat excursions serenaded by live classical musicians. History permeates each palace room and gallery, exhibiting heritage craftsmanship and textiles. Visitors feel transported, enjoying Indian hospitality traditions no contemporary hotel could ever recreate.
9. Dubai’s Atlantis the Palm
Dubai’s over-the-top ambitions crystallize through the immense Atlantis resort dominating its own Palm Island alongside signature soaring urban vistas. At its heart lies the Ambassador Lagoon aquarium habitat, which brings 65,000 aquatic beings nearly within touch behind floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests can fulfill sea-inspired fantasies by snorkeling with dolphins, cage diving with sharks, or posing with celebrities inside lavish suites. With nearly 20 celebrated restaurants spanning Nobu to Gordon Ramsay, Atlantis cements its celebrity status with larger-than-life adventures against Arabian grandeur.
10. The Plaza New York
Reigns Over Central Park From the Grand Heritage Building The Plaza New York stands as American hospitality’s crown jewel—a turn-of-the-century landmark residency-turned-luxury hotel facing Central Park distinguished by intricately restored baroque architectural details and staff delivering impeccable white glove service. Elegant multi-room suites transport you into New York’s prosperous Gilded Age from over a century ago, when titans of industry, politicians, and royalty converged within The Plaza’s splendid grand ballroom. Its timeless opulence and tales of The Beatles and Truman Capote, who visited, still inspire dreams.
11. Lago di Como
Mandarin Oriental Combines Italian Style with Eastern Wellness Against serene Lake Como vistas, the Mandarin Oriental blends Italian palatial architecture with Far Eastern hospitality influences, reflecting the group’s oriental heritage through spa concepts like signature therapies harnessing Chinese medicinal philosophies. But make no mistake—everything exudes an intimate, relaxed northern Italian aura, like enjoying Michelin cuisine beside the waters at Lake Restaurant, framed by cypress trees near the infinity pool. This tranquility lets wellness shine as the Mandarin brand gracefully merges two cultures into an artful European amalgamation.
12. Bali’s Six Senses Uluwatu
Perched High Atop Ocean Cliffs 100 meters above Bali’s Indian Ocean swells crashing against cliffsides sits the airy Six Senses Uluwatu, a boutique cliffside retreat seemingly organically emerging from lush jungle with an environmentalist focus channeling raw but refined Balinese inspiration through locally-sourced materials like volcanic stone and tropical woods. Private plunge pools hide among dense rainforest foliage and terraced rice paddies, with villas featuring private butler service and spectacular outward views from floor-to-ceiling windows. The Six Senses experience feels tailor-made for seeking personalized wellness among Bali’s graceful landscapes.
13. Marrakesh’s La Mamounia
Moroccan Palace Hospitality in the Heart of an Ancient City As Morocco’s most heralded luxury hotel, iconic La Mamounia brings Marrakesh’s essence to life through an intricate medina façade opening upon intricate inner gardens and Moorish-inspired architecture lavished with intricate geometric motifs in true Moroccan fashion. Four renowned eateries exhibit global creative flair, from intricate French pastries to modern Moroccan feasts. Guests even enjoy complimentary access to the city’s only traditional hammam spa, connecting La Mamounia’s lavish universe to North Africa’s cherished wellness heritage from outside its impressive antique cedarwood doors.
14. Queensland’s Lizard Island
Brings the Great Barrier Reef to You A luxury retreat surrounded by Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef marine sanctuary, remote Lizard Island sits a scenic 30-minute flight north of Cairns as Australia’s foremost luxury island, hosting 24 powdery beaches spanning over 1,000 hectares. Guests stay in plush pavilions and villas peppered across granite peaks descending into coral reefs teaming with vibrant tropical sealife. This exclusive hideaway simplifies experiencing Australia’s ecological magnificence through exceptional hospitality in quintessential Aussie style.
15. Maldives’ Soneva Fushi
Offers an Intimate Indian Ocean Island Idyll Typical visions of Maldivian overwater bungalows hovering just above crystalline shallows immediately materialize upon arriving at Soneva Fushi, the ultimate castaway fantasy. Recently refreshed by world-famous designer Yuji Yamazaki, the resort’s spacious waterfront villas frame ocean panoramas from floor-to-ceiling windows. Outdoor showers and lounging nooks seamlessly connect you with the nurturing environs as this solar-powered, largely self-sustaining haven strives for an ultra-light imprint while thoroughly indulging visitors immersed in exceptional natural beauty.
16. Iceland’s Retreat Hotel
Adjacent to the Blue Lagoon’s Hot Springs Against a backdrop of coal-black volcanic rubble lies Iceland’s world-renowned Blue Lagoon complex, with the stylish Retreat Hotel adjacent for unwinding after relaxing within the steaming, silica-rich geothermal lagoon. Spa treatments harness natural elements like lava and algae alongside cold-pressed oils for nourishing skincare. Each modern suite surveys the dramatic surroundings through expansive windows, capped by the top-tier luxury Lagoon Suite literally hovering above the waters through a glass floor showcasing the azure spectacle year-round.
17. Cape Town’s Ellerman House and Villas
Victorian Grandeur and Contemporary Cape Town Wholesomeness Cradled by the Atlantic’s crashing waves 100 meters below, Ellerman House gazes beyond Cape Town towards distant Robben Island from an exclusive suburban enclave called Bantry Bay. Illustrious for refined hospitality, Ellerman’s villa collection of contemporary residences features an in-house chef team, luxury cars, dedicated service staff, infinity pools, and dazzling sunsets over the sweeping bay for effortless entertaining. Superb seaside hospitality matched by exceptional wines and bountiful gardens overflowing with bright proteas encapsulates wholesome South African splendor.
18. India’s Oberoi Udaivilas
Evokes the Grandeur of the Mughal Empire Transporting guests into India’s regal past, the Oberoi Udaivilas sprawls across 50 acres of elaborately sculpted gardens and courtyards reminiscent of grand Mughal palaces. Visitors admire inspiring architecture honoring traditional Indian geometry and symmetry while reflecting by candlelight in enormous soaking tubs. India’s heartfelt hospitality shines throughout this contemporary heritage property fringing idyllic Rajasthani lakes. 80 private villas and royal suites cater to diverse tastes with 24/7 highly personalized service, ensuring every desire gets graciously fulfilled.
19. The French Riviera
Iconic Hotel Martinez Pampers VIPs With Unobstructed Mediterranean Vistas Since 1929, the fashionable Hotel Martinez has attracted celebrities with its sixth-floor celestial suite spanning over 1,125 square meters. The undisputed gem remains its expansive private terrace overlooking the glamorous Croisette, meriting’million-dollar’ panoramas of azure Mediterranean backwaters dotted with lavish yachting playgrounds. After luxuriating upon plush lounge chairs beside the suite’s designer outdoor pool framed by tropical palms against ancient hilltop villages in the distance, moments feel suspended blissfully at the Martinez-like days of Gatsby-esque Grand Hotel escapism.
20. St.Moritz’s Badrutt’s Palace
Beckons Glitterati to the Swiss Alps for Wintery Pursuits When snow blankets St. Moritz, the captivating Badrutt’s Palace transforming into a snowy kingdom entices royalty, celebrities, and tycoons yearning for winter alpine amusement paired with exceptional hospitality since 1896. Behind its imposing Belle époque façade lie plush accommodations with an atmosphere galore. Apres-ski options are unlimited; unwind beside crackling fireplaces or within Alpine-chic bars. Or indulge totally with soothing Turkish olive oil massages inside extensive wellness spas. Serviced by a polished staff attending to your every whim, Badrutt’s reputation for discretion while curating treasured memories remains sterling.
So for anyone needing inspiration to fantasize about future voyages, these 20 icons of hospitality splendor frame lavishness through diverse global lenses sure to ignite serious travel cravings or maybe even lifelong dreams of experiencing their glamorous histories firsthand. At the uppermost travel echelons, singular settings get matched by superlative service crafting luxury uniquely personalized to exceed imaginations.