Travel like a king (literally) by staying at these beyond-five-star hotels. —By Grant Stoddard
These ten incredibly luxurious hotels are sure to delight anyone, from a rapper to a sultan. In their own way, each of these properties is a monument to opulence, decadence and sumptuousness. A stay in any of their premier suites doesn’t come cheap, but then these palaces weren’t designed with penny-pinchers in mind. So read on, then check out our exclusive report on The 10 Best Vacation Destinations for 2016!
Mardan Palace Hotel - Antalya, Turkey
Ten eateries, 17 bars, a white-sand beach made from 9,000 tons of sand flown in from Egypt, a sunken aquarium stocked with exotic fish, the largest swimming pool in the Mediterranean (it can accommodate 1,000 splashers) — when Russian billionaire Telman Ismailov had this place built for a princely $1.65 billion in 2009, he was thinking big. Consequently, The Mardan Palace Hotel is regarded as one of the most elite luxury hotels in Europe. If anything is understated here it’s understatement: Interiors bristle with gold leaf, crystal, and Italian marble. Oh, and round-the-clock personal butler service is thrown in, of course.
Marquis Los Cabos - Los Cabos, Mexico
If you want to get an idea of Marquis Los Cabos' sublime location, consider this: the beach villa next door belongs to connoisseur of all things luxe, George Clooney. This spot is inspired by a celestial legend of two angels seeking paradise on earth. Fittingly, the joint features specially commissioned sculptures, massive waterfalls, copious infinity pools, and a serene spa that might well have you wondering if you've died and gone to heaven. The luxurious rooms also have balconies where you can often spot migrating (and possibly envious) whales. Book yourself an underwater adventure: It's one of 25 Adventures Everyone Should Have!
Las Vegas Palms
You’re in Vegas. You want to have a private shindig for about 250 of your newest friends, and ideally, you need there to be a massive rooftop jacuzzi that overhangs the famed strip. OK, High Roller, you're staying at the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa at the Las Vegas Palms. You’ll head on up to this luxury apartment in the sky, Charlie Bucket-style (in a glass elevator) and enter a world of pure, if somewhat lurid, imagination. Like rotating-circular-bed lurid. There’s also a gym, a sauna, media room and a full bar to make your dream of living like Hef come true. In a pad named after the world’s eternal playboy, there's no earthly way of knowing which direction you're going.
Burj Al Arab Hotel - Dubai
You may not know its name, but it’s very likely that you’ll recollect a building that looks remarkably like a sail billowing in the wind. That’s because the innovative architecture of Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai makes it one of the most photographed hotels in the world. Suites here all boast two floors and are replete with every state-of-the-art feature you can imagine and several that you can’t. And then there are the Persian Gulf views: Two of Dubai’s closest artificial archipelagos are The Palm Jumeirah to the left and the World Islands to the right. Upscale extras include 24/7 personal on-call butlers and a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce fleet, all catering to an extremely well-heeled VIP clientele that often includes royalty. By the way, if the cities on this list seem too tame, book a visit to Dubai: It's one of 20 Cities to Visit Before You Die!
Emirates Palace - Abu Dhabi
"Beyond 5 stars." That’s how Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi describes itself, and with good reason. It’s less of a hotel and more like a fortress of opulence. The place cost around $3 billion to build, and that’s hardly surprising, given it's festooned with marble imported from thirteen different countries and more than 1,000 crystal chandeliers. If leisure is your pleasure, head to the private white-sand beach and beat the Arabian heat alongside one of the many pools and fountains, or take a load off in the impossibly lavish spa. This joint also boasts the most prestigious marina development in the Middle East. You don't have to be a tycoon or a sultan to luxuriate in one of the palace’s many suites — but it probably wouldn't hurt.
The Plaza - New York City
You may still think of the Plaza as the hotel where Paul Hogan learned what a bidet is for in Crocodile Dundee. However, this iconic New York City hotel, constructed in 1907, has been a National Historic Landmark since 1969. So how does a hotel stand out in a city that is packed with fancy places to stay? First, there’s the location. Situated on the southeast corner of Central Park, there’s hardly an address that could be more quintessentially New York, and it’s said that the Royal Plaza Suite boasts the best views of Manhattan. This three-bedroom/three-bathroom suite has a formal dining room, a library, a gym, a grand piano, full kitchen (for personal chefs), a butler’s pantry (butler included) and is serviced by its own private elevator. Pro tip: With these Top Tips for Booking a Luxury Vacation, you can put your mind at ease by saving money and time, while scoring world-class perks.
The Westin Excelsior - Rome
Predating the Plaza by one year is Rome’s Westin Excelsior. Unlike many of the hotels on this list, several rooms in this this jewel of the Eternal City are relatively affordable. But the Villa La Cupola Suite is what really earns the Excelsior a plum place on this list. The suite encompasses two full floors, which makes it the largest suite in the Boot. Inside is a mash-up of high-tech gadgets and old-world opulence. (The recent “refreshing” of the space cost a reported $7 million). Don't miss the hand-frescoed cathedral-style domes; it also has its own private fitness room, sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi, and a formal dining room.
The Boulders - Arizona
A few of the hotels on this list were constructed more than a century ago, which is pretty cool. But only one can claim to have undergone construction when our ancestors were still up in the trees. Arizona’s The Boulders is a hotel housed in a 12 million-year-old rock formation, but that doesn't mean that guests are living like it’s the Cenozoic era. Spanning 1,300 acres of the Sonoran Desert, the massive spa compound affords visitors the ultimate in natural rejuvenation treatments. And if golf’s your thing, the resort's two courses rank with the best in the world. If rubbing shoulders with other hominids is not your thing, there’s the super-exclusive gated Villa Retreat, where privacy is paramount. “Our clientele is among the wealthiest in the world,” says rep Deborah Bridges. “But we’re not allowed to talk about who our VIP guests are until they’re dead.” So make a visit one of the 40 Things You Must Do in Your 40s!
The CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa - Anguilla
Do you own a Cuisinart product? They’re pretty handy, no? Now imagine that the minds behind these culinary aids were tasked with creating a luxury resort in Anguilla. Confused? We don't blame you. Nestled in Rendezvous Bay, the CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa was originally built as a tropical playground for its puree-obsessed owner but was later expanded to include well-heeled guests. In fact, this swanky hideaway is popular among celebrities seeking barefoot luxury well out of the paparazzi's unrelenting gaze. Luxury guest rooms and Moorish-inspired villas dot the massive grounds, cresting Anguilla’s world class beaches. The property has also just acquired a $50 million Greg Norman-designed golf course next door.
Atlantis Paradise Island - Bahamas
Said to be the premier luxury resort in the Bahamas, Atlantis Paradise Island is a 141-acre facility inspired by the famous lost city of the same name. It’s pretty luxe from top to bottom, though it’s the’ Royal Towers Bridge Suite on the 23rd floor that that takes the cake in terms of swankiness. This pad boasts 10 rooms with 12-foot ceilings and full-length windows. But if the view isn’t enough to entertain you, have no fear. The suite also includes a grand piano, twin entertainment centers, a formal dining room with a 22-karat gold chandelier and whirlpool tubs. This, as they say, is the life. For more amazing getaway ideas, check out these 10 Best Vacation Destinations for 2016!