Aman Summer Palace, Beijing
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Directly behind the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Summer Palace complex of gardens and palaces, the Aman Summer Palace is made up of historic buildings and peaceful courtyards. Some of the carefully restored pavilions now used to accommodate guests in luxurious comfort used to shelter courtiers awaiting an audience with the Dowager Empress Cixi. The nine-room Chinese Restaurant echoes ancient Imperial meals with delicacies including crispy pork skin and Szechuan chicken.
The Carlyle, New York
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On the genteel Upper East Side is The Carlyle, a Manhattan icon dating back to 1930. Celebrities and world-leaders make its suites their New York pieds a terre, and Woody Allen and Jeff Goldblum make regular appearances on the jazz stage at Bemelmans Bar, which is a masterpiece in and of itself – walls are adorned in whimsical murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, creator of the Madeline books.
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“When I die I don’t want to go to heaven,” Spencer Traacy once said. “I want to go to Claridge’s.” The venerable Mayfair pile has hosted everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Mariah Carey and in 1860, the Empress Eugenie, who entertained none other than Queen Victoria in her suite of rooms. It’s clear upon entering the grand lobby with its marble floors, chandeliers and walls hung with gilt-edged mirrors and portraits that Claridge’s is the best address in town. It was opened in 1898 and designed by the same architect responsible for Harrods, another London institution.
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives
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There’s nothing else to do in the Maldives, really, except shade one’s eyes from the too-white sand and accept another mojito, so it makes sense to undertake these strenuous activities from the incredible comfort of Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. The resort is located on its own island and consists of luxurious villas, each with its own sandy path straight to the beach and many with their own pool, outdoor showers, overwater hammocks and steps directly into the water. The Al Barakat overwater restaurant glows with hundreds of lanterns and serves North African delicacies.
The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore
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Wrack your brains but you still won’t find a single thing left wanting at the 100-room waterfront Fullerton Bay Hotel. With views across the lake to the iconic tri-towered Marina Bay Sands and chic, luxurious rooms, the sister hotel to the historic Fullerton Hotel is arranged around an arresting atrium and has the city’s best rooftop bar and pool.
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi
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Guests at the elegant Giraffe Manor may be expected to share their breakfast each morning with an extremely tall ruminant. Several endangered Rothschild giraffes, the namesakes of this former mansion on the outskirts of Nairobi in Kenya, show up each morning – and at cocktail hour – for a snack through the dining room window. Twelve acres of private land surround Giraffe Manor, a boutique hotel that was once a colonial manor house.
Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris
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With its iconic red awnings and window boxes of bright geraniums, the Plaza Athénée is almost as much a Paris institution as its near neighbours the Champs Élysées and the Eiffel Tower. The interiors are mostly Louis XVI inspired, with marble bathrooms, antique furniture and luxurious finishes; its restaurants are helmed by France’s premier chefs; and in winter, it has its own ice-skating rink. And, of course, this is where Carrie Bradshaw stayed during her Parisian phase in the final season of Sex and the City. BYO beret.
The Hollywood Roosevelt, Los Angeles
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Opened in 1927, Hollywood Roosevelt is the oldest continuously operated hotel in Los Angeles. It hosted the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929 and its ornate Spanish Colonial architecture has featured in a swag of films including Catch Me if You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Fabulous Baker Boys with Michelle Pfeiffer and Beverly Hills Cop II with Eddie Murphy. Marilyn Monroe lived at the Roosevelt for two years, Errol Flynn distilled bootleg gin in the tub, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were visitors before their split.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
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The SkyPark, the rooftop platform that links the three towers of Marina Bay Sands is long – longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. This colossal complex of hotel, entertainment, casino, food and shopping was only built in 2010 but Marina Bay Sands quickly become one of the must-dos of Singapore. Visitors marvel at the rooftop infinity pool, set on the world’s largest cantilevered platform, and there’s room enough at the inn to accommodate thousands of guests. And no one will go hungry – everyone’s here including Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck and our own David Thompson and Tetsuya Wakuda.
Park Hyatt Sydney
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Snag the capacious 350-square-metre Sydney Suite for the best views in town at the Park Hyatt Sydney. The suite has a private terrace with views of the big three: harbour, Opera House and bridge, plus sun lounges and day beds. Inside, there’s a spa, sauna, steam room and state-of-the-art kitchen. The 21-year-old hotel recently underwent a dramatically modern transformation, a freshen-up that saw it named the Sydney Deluxe Hotel of the Year at the 2016 Tourism Accommodation Australia Awards for Excellence.
The Peninsula, Hong Kong
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This grande dame of Hong Kong hotels sets the standard for all others in the city. It dates back to 1928 and manages to retain its historical grandeur while providing the utmost in modern comfort. For example, the rooms, while dotted with antiques, are also equipped with at least three tablet devices that control everything from the air-con to the light. Other exceptional features include the spectacular views of Victoria Harbour, the fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms that ferries guests to and from the airport and the majestic Peninsula Suite complete with cinema, 10-seat dining room and landscaped terrace.
The Ritz, London
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It’s been a London landmark for more than 100 years and in that time, the Ritz has been a home away from home for some of history’s most fashionable, discerning and fascinating: Charlie Chaplin, Nöel Coward and the Aga Khan all took suites at The Ritz. The Grade II listed building has been fully restored to its former glory and guests enjoy lavish Louis XVI décor, butler service and the Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant.
The Royal Hawaiian Resort, Honolulu
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The so-called Pink Palace of the Pacific, where palm trees sway lazily and Waikiki Beach glitters, has been Hawaii’s most famous hotel for 90 years. It was once the stomping ground of surfing’s progenitor Duke Kahanamoku and his cohorts and remains, with its opulent rooms and stuccoed salmon exterior, a landmark.
The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles
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Another “Pink Palace”, the Beverly Hills Hotel has been drawing celebrities since it was opened in 1912. In the early days, the hotel, built in the Mission Revival Style, was surrounded by open fields. The Beverly Hills of today has risen around it and by 1920 stars such as Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson were flocking to build mansions there. The hotel has been the watering hole of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, a hideout for John Lennon and Yoko Ono and a romantic bolthole for Elizabeth Taylor and her many husbands. Now, its 208 guest rooms and 23 bungalows are as popular as ever – and the ghosts of Harpo Marx and Sergei Rachmaninof are said to keep watch over the property.
The Plaza, New York
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This hotel is most famous to generations of little girls as the Midtown Manhattan hotel where Eloise from the Eloise at the Plaza books lived (and to a generation of teen girls as the place The Beatles stayed during their first visit to the US in 1964). Throughout its storied past the hotel has seen Miles Davis record a live album in the Persian Room, played host to Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball and was the setting for Donald Trump’s wedding to Marla Maples. If those walls could talk…
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Overlooking Place Vendôme in the museum-heavy 1st arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine, The Ritz has been Paris’s premier hotel since it was founded in 1898. The 159-room hotel was built behind the façade of an 18th century townhouse and has a reputation for luxury that began with the first-ever hotel ensuites and continues today with steam-bath showers and cosmetic fridges. The Imperial Suite is listed as a National Monument in France – it has a wine cellar and a four-poster bed said to be identical to Marie Antoinette’s at Versailles. It’s where Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed dined the night before their fatal car accident in 1997.
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After visiting tourists leave the UNESCO World Heritage city of Venice for the day, guests of the Aman Venice can emerge to explore the city’s nighttime beauty. The hotel is a 16th century palazzo on the Grand Canal with just 24 luxury suites. Some are decorated with centuries-old frescoes by painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, all have views of the canal or the private garden, and there are modern luxuries such as king-size beds and wifi. The entire property is replete with priceless antiques, Murano chandeliers and gilt fixtures, but nothing compares to eating breakfast with a view of the bustling Grand Canal. It’s the same view George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin woke up to the morning after their wedding.