Here, we round up hotel stays that not only offer the warmth of home, but also a sense of luxury and grandeur. Whether an island getaway or city break, an all-time favourite or new opening, there are suites aplenty for all kinds of experiences – from unbridled decadence to laidback living.
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, UAE
All about the bling, this hotel is fit for royalty
Dripping with gold and decorated with 1,002 chandeliers, this one-kilometre-long palace screams opulence and shows the way for no-holds-barred decadence. To feel like a true royal during your stay, check into one of the Palace Suites. Swarovski crystal chandeliers light the entrance hall, which leads into a living room dressed in yellow or blue silks and decorated with Daum crystalware. At 73,192 sq ft with views of the hotel’s private beach (and its own private marina), a stay here has been likened to being on a private island. The Spa at Emirates Palace is worth visiting too – at least for the exclusive Emirates Palace Vita Drip, a specially formulated IV-blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants to keep you looking and feeling fresh during your holiday.
The Murray, Hong Kong
Impeccable style and modernism to impress design enthusiasts
Fans of modernist architecture are particularly drawn to the former government office building designed in the 1960s by British architect Ron Philips and now housing The Murray. The building’s signature deeply-recessed windows and high-arched colonnades have been respectfully kept by Foster + Partners, the firm responsible for its restoration, which was completed three years ago. Rooms are sleek and masculine, but comfortable at the same time, with hardwood flooring and plush rugs. The top suite in the house is the Murray Suite. Floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the hotel suite, giving it some of the best views of bustling Central. But our favourite room in this suite is the spacious bathroom made out of black and white Calacatta marble.
The Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, Maldives
Heaven is just a skip and hop away (from the airport)
Some of us cannot wait to see paradise again. So the newly opened Ritz Carlton on Fari Islands, an atoll of four islands developed by Singaporean real estate developer Pontiac Land Group, would be the perfect choice. The Fari Islands is just a 10-minute seaplane or 45-minute speedboat trip from Malé’s Velana International Airport. The all-villa property ticks the right boxes – soft sand, crystal-clear water, a suite of sustainable measures, and sleek and striking design by the late Kerry Hill (who had taken inspiration from the circular forms of the ocean and waves for the spherical shape of the buildings). Scuba divers would be thrilled to know that the resort has partnered with Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean’s Future Society to be the only property in the Maldives to offer the Ambassadors of the Environment programme. This is an immersive experience that will educate both adults and children about the country’s delicate marine ecosystems. As such, the two- bedroom villas have been popular with small families since the property opened.
Regent Taipei, Taiwan
The preferred choice of many of the city’s VIPs
Built in 1990, the Regent Taipei was probably the first international luxury hotel to open in the city. While a few other notable properties have opened since, Regent has kept its place at the top. Brands like Chanel and Harry Winston have also remained at the hotel’s shopping gallery (designed by the late Jaya Ibrahim) throughout the years. A drive through its long driveway past sculptures to an expansive entrance never fails to impress first-time guests. The hotel’s Presidential Suite has hosted heads of states, international celebrities such as Lady Gaga and high-profile individuals including the late Indonesian tycoon Liem Sioe Liong (Sudono Salim). Singapore architectural firm WOHA incorporated a blend of classic Eastern and modern Western into the suite during a renovation in 2006. In a study with a beautiful rosewood lattice window, a Herman Miller Aeron Chair (part of the permanent collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art) takes pride of place.
The St. Regis Istanbul, Turkey
Bentley lovers, check in here
The St. Regis Istanbul is located steps from some of the intoxicating capital’s most popular landmarks, stylish boutiques and art galleries. Thus, it is only fitting for British car manufacturer Bentley to choose the luxury group’s Istanbul property as the second St. Regis destination, after New York, to do up the Bentley Suite. From the curves of the room to the quilted leather of the sofa, everything in the suite has clearly been inspired by Bentley, or made by Bentley, even the sound system. The objective here is to give guests of this suite an experience similar to that of being inside a Bentley car. A Bentley custom-made backgammon set sits in the lounge area while drapes made of the same materials as a Bentley seatbelt conceal the balcony glass doors. Even a non-automotive fan would marvel at the attention to detail and level of customisation in this suite.
Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li, China
Steep in the romance of the Former French Concession
Nestled within the Former French concession, known for tree-lined avenues and an old-world charm, Capella Shanghai provides guests to Shanghai a reprieve from the bustling city and an escape into a bygone era. Twenty shikumen (or stone gate) lanes connecting over 200 two-storey townhouses have been restored to form the 55 villas and 40 private residences that make up the hotel. To pay tribute to the locale, Jaya International Design was recruited to blend Chinese design with French accents in the rooms. To that end, they used silk brocades, porcelain, wrought iron table legs, Impressionist artworks and Oriental rosewood windows. The top accommodation is the three- bedroom villas located within the hotel’s west wing, each with a rooftop terrace that overlooks the neighbouring areas.
The Gritti Palace, Italy
Perfect for the bibliophile and the fashionista
It would be hard to sum up the charms of the Gritti in Venice better than novelist W. Somerset Maugham. In 1960, Maugham proclaimed: “There are few things in life more pleasant than to sit on the terrace of the Gritti when the sun about to set bathes in lovely colour the Salute [basilica], which almost faces you.” And he so loved the grande dame of the Grand Canal that a suite was named after him – the Somerset Maugham Royal Suite (which happens to be our favourite suite, instead of the Presidential Suite named after Ernest Hemingway). Within this Luxury Collection hotel’s suite are beautiful antique furniture, Murano glass chandeliers, a selection of Maugham’s works and photos. However, the winning feature in the room (for some guests) may actually be the bar, which stocks some of the writer’s favourite spirits and wines. If Italian fashion (and not just English literature) is your thing, you’d be pleased to know that guests of this suite may opt for a private dinner with trunk show at the Dolce & Gabbana boutique in the 19th-century Palazzo Torres, at an additional cost.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto, Japan
Sleek suites with great views of old-school Kyoto
In a city that celebrates craftsmanship and culture, one would not expect the André Fu-designed rooms and suites in this hotel to be anything but minimally chic and serene. At this Luxury Collection hotel, the best room is the 1,205 sq ft Nijo Suite – through two floor-to- ceilings windows, it commands a breathtaking panorama of the nearby 17th century Nijo Castle. The suite also boasts a bird’s eye view of other historic landmarks, such as the East Main Entrance Higashi Otemon Gate and the Sumi Yagura Watchtower. While the well-appointed accommodation will entreat you to stay in, we urge you to check out the rest of the property, especially the basement. There you would find the Thermal Spring Spa, a sprawling sanctuary with waters drawn from a natural hot spring located some 1,000 metres underground.
Hôtel De Crillon, France
The ultimate indulgence for the bon vivant
In a city like Paris, quite a few hotels can lay claim to being the ultimate vacation address. However, the Crillion, built in 1758 and now a Rosewood hotel, is in its own league. This is not least because of its storied history: Winston Churchill and Leonard Bernstein were guests, and Marie Antoinette took music lessons in one of the salons during one of its previous incarnations (and was guillotined outside Place de la Concorde where the hotel stands). The building also bore witness to the signing of the 1919 covenant of the League of Nations. Its lavishly appointed suites are also another reason for its revered status. While Suite Marie Antoinette and Suite Bernstein are sumptuous, the highlight here is the Grands Appartements designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld. Besides furniture created by him and bedlinen by Porthault, the two mega-suites are also fitted with a bathtub made from a single slab of out-of- production Carrara marble that weighs over two tonnes. In fact, the floor had to be reinforced so that Kaiser Karl’s tub would not fall through to the floor below it. Cat lovers would be thrilled to find a room in the suite dedicated to Choupette, Lagerfeld’s cat, and featuring a carpet designed to look as if a cat had scratched it.
St James Hotel and Club Mayfair, UK
Like a member’s club for those who value intimacy and privacy
With just 56 keys, this boutique hotel in a quiet cul-de-sac in Mayfair, London, reminds one of a private club for the privileged. In fact, this Small Luxury Hotels of the World member was actually founded in 1857 as a clubhouse by aristocrats for travelling diplomats. Today, the building quietly services an elegant clientele who value white- gloved service above its proximity to high-end shopping in Bond Street and Jermyn Street. The Penthouse Suite designed by renowned designer Anne Maria Jagdfeld showcases the perfect harmony between contemporary chic and Victorian elegance. While outfitting the suite, Jagdfeld was extravagant in her use of luxurious furnishings, including Murano glass chandeliers and Loro Piana cashmere wallpapers. Impressionist, Expressionist and Cubist works from all over Europe deck the walls. The suite’s grandeur notwithstanding, the icing on the cake for guests of the Penthouse Suite may actually be a special seven-course dinner by executive chef William Drabble of the hotel’s Michelin-starred Seven Park Place.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, South Korea
Rub shoulders with the glitterati and chaebols
This Four Seasons property is one of the hottest venues in Seoul for celebrity weddings and private bashes held by the city’s high society. Besides sterling service, its location – in Seoul’s “embassy precinct” away from the madding crowds – offers utmost privacy. Rooms here are in demand for their tasteful décor and wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows that not only let in natural light (a must in the fall when daylight hours are short), but also showcase views of the beautiful Gyeongbokgung Palace or the scenic Cheonggyecheon stream. The hotel’s crown jewel is the 4,445 sq ft presidential suite with an art collection featuring sculptures, blown glass pieces and paintings by renowned local and international artists.
Six Senses Ibiza, Spain
For the hippie at heart who only does luxury
Although Ibiza has a reputation for being a party island favoured by a jet-setting clientele, there are less touristy spots on the White Isle that are known for scenic beauty and lush nature. And Six Senses, which has a cult following for its successful blend of wellness, sustainability and luxury, has chosen one of them for its first Spanish outpost, which opened this summer. It is situated in Xarraca Bay, a picturesque cove on the quiet northern tip. Thoughtfully designed wellness and immersive cultural programmes are par for the course when it comes to Six Senses. As are tastefully furnished sleeps. What’s different at Ibiza is that the resort is making music programmes a key part of guest experiences. In line with such a feature, the Cave Royal Suite has been outfitted to be a music lover’s fantasy accommodation. The 2,077 sq ft suite (with a large outdoor area) is built into a cliff and, as its name suggests, designed to look like a hidden coastal cave. A grand piano sits in the room but the pièce de resistance here is a secret passage that leads to the resort’s recording studio, so you may drop by whenever inspiration strikes.
(Main image: Emirates Palace; featured image: Regent Taipei)
This story first appeared in the September 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.