The Best Hotels
A gigantic land mass complete with regions from icy desert to beachy paradise, Asia’s vastness and multitude of cultures creates rich opportunities for a variety of unique travel provisions–Korean-style spas, Buddhist retreats, elegant tea services, and one-of-a-kind decor–all delivered with a similar sense of superlative hospitality and thoughtfulness that goes beyond dutiful service. Out selections across Asia highlight the scope of contrasts and convergence across the continent: modern and traditional, Eastern and Western, opulence and comfort.
Tokyo may seem like an odd choice for a brand that is best-known for its ultra-luxury resorts in remote locations, but the Aman Tokyo is so serene that you’ll forget you’re in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world. Occupying the top six floors of a 38-story high-rise steps from the Imperial Palace, the Aman Tokyo boasts one of the most beautiful lobbies in the world, combining the best of modern and traditional. The rooms are all spacious and stunning, utilizing natural materials and large windows to great effect. They also come with a high price tag, though, so you may find yourself wanting to spend as much time as possible in your room. Fortunately, the spectacular soaking tubs overlooking the city make that easy to do. Aman is famous for their spas and the Tokyo version doesn’t disappoint. Access to the breathtaking pool is free for hotel guests and is worth a visit.
Rich & Famous
Baa Atoll, Maldives
The name Amilla Fushi translates to “my island home” in English, but in its native Dhivehi this tropical resort makes its home on one of the 26 Maldivian atolls in the Indian Ocean. Amilla Fushi occupies the entire Baa Atoll, protected as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, with 67 luxurious homes and residences that include a range of overwater lagoon villas, beach villas, beach residences, and over-the-top tree houses set in the canopies of coconut palms. All accommodations come with private pools and private butlers. Every guest receives a customized experience upon check in, where guests of the beach residences can even customize their license plates to distinguish one Rolls Royce style buggy from the other. The resort is a snorkeling and diving paradise, with onsite PADI courses for guests and a variety of complimentary watersports and daytime excursions.
Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul
Seoul, South Korea
Any trip to Korea isn’t complete without a Korean spa experience–the bathing, soaking, steaming, and dunking in pools of water and rooms of heat. But with gender-segregated spa experiences, it can be difficult to participate with opposite-sex partners. Or, if you feel like having the experience without the crowds? Banyan Tree Spa and Club Seoul offers the most pampering and private opportunity for traditional Korean spa relaxation in your very own room or suite, including a relaxation pool as well as a steam room with rain shower. So whether you want a solo spa experience or don’t want to leave another’s side, you don’t have to leave your room in order to unwind in exclusive luxury.
Tried & True
Four Seasons Sayan, Bali
Beyond the sheer exquisiteness of the property, with its rice terraces, rushing river, and serenity spas, the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan offers one-of-a-kind experiences ranging from exhilarating whitewater rafting on the Ayung River to meditative rice planting in a day in the life of a Balinese farmer to the blissful wellness activity of the Sacred Nap and even Balinese cooking lessons, full moon yoga, a guided jungle and town tour with a local and a variety of pools, soaks, and spa services. The incredible design of the hotel, intertwined harmoniously with the grounds, will leave you awestruck with every new view. If you go to Bali, you won’t want to leave Sayan.
The Fullerton Hotel
Where the River meets the Bay in this city of East-meets-West stands the Fullerton, a hotel where the past and the present happily collide. Built as the stately home of the General Post Office in colonial times and converted into a luxurious paradise in the years after the turn of the millennium, it’s a glorious reminder of the country’s history and rapid evolution to the future. Though much of the Singapore’s development feels a bit too much like Vegas (the Marina Bay Sands is brought you by the Sands Corporation, after all), the Fullerton presents scale while maintaining sophisticated elegance. And, if you’ve got yourself a room with a view, you’ll find it’s so impressive, it’ll almost be impossible to abandon it come check-out.
Gangtey Valley, Bhutan
Happiness is embedded in the founding principles of the Kingdom of Bhutan, where the country measures its progress through Gross National Happiness. The Gangtey Lodge is a natural extension of the country’s ethos, with immersive experiences and impactful programs designed specifically to incite happiness in all who arrive to this Bhutanese farmhouse-style lodge. Located on the fourth of the five valleys of Bhutan, beneath the 17th–century Gangtey Monastery and overlooking the valley floor below, all-inclusive full-board packages await guests checking in to any of the 12 suites. The intricate details, like hand-cut stone and exposed brickwork and hand-carved beams, elevate the experience in-suite, while luxuries like under-floor heating, woven blankets, and WiFi offer extra comfort without taking away from the experience. Plan to spend at least three days here to take advantage of even just a few of the wellness, culinary, spiritual, and adventure programs offered.
Nestled in the verdant rainforest of Thailand’s largest islands, the serene ambiance of this luxury treetop resort acts as a welcomed respite from the energetic atmosphere of the shores of Phuket. From Keemala’s perch above the Andaman Sea, guests have the option of sleeping within the 38 pool villas, clay cottages, nests, and tree houses spread throughout four locations named after the historic Keemala clans—the Khon-Jorn (wanderer clan), We-Ha (sky clan), Rung-Nok (nest clan), and Pa-Ta-Pea (earth clan). The property is home to a number of trickling waterfalls and lush gardens, but it’s the resort’s holistic programs and healing treatments at the Mala Spa that truly bring about tranquility. Book a Raindrop Healing therapy or Holistic Slimming massage before venturing out to the Keemala meditation cave.
Lagen Island, Philippines
There’s one thing you have to know about Lagen Island and the surrounding area—it is without a doubt the most beautiful natural setting in the world. Limestone cliffs rise dramatically from crystal clear turquoise water, while every available non-cliff surface is covered with lush jungle. It is the stuff of daydreams and fairytales, a place that feels like a private paradise the world has yet to ruin. And here, in the center of it all, is a small and simple hotel that’s somehow luxurious, romantic, and downright fun. It’s not the most stylish hotel in the world, but that’s beside the point. The rooms are crisp and comfortable, but you’ll barely spend any time there—it’s the setting that’s the star of the show here, and the hotel can arrange any excursion you’d like. Picnicking on a private island? Sure. Snorkeling in a hidden lagoon? Definitely. Hanging upside-down with bats in a cave? You bet. This is a hotel for adventurers who also love to drink during the day, run by a group of people so friendly and accommodating that we dare you not to cry when it’s time to leave.
Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge
Madulkelle, Sri Lanka
Glamping has become a travel buzzword in recent years, but Madulkelle is the real deal. You’ll find no fairy lights and bell tents here, but instead, a semi-permanent structure with a green canvas safari tent with concrete floors. Inside each tent, there’s a private bathroom (with real plumbing) and a luxe queen-sized bed, but beyond these modern amenities, staying here makes you feel like an old-timey fancy explorer, setting up camp at the end of the world with a lantern to light your way, an elegant desk for writing letters to your loved ones back home, and framed prints on the wall to remind you where you’ve been. A stay here is a thrilling experience from the start, as an old Land Rover picks you up at the hotel entrance and drives you through the lush tea plantations until you get to the hotel—a permanent main house with a bar and restaurant surrounded by tents. High in the mountains, it’s always cozy here, with mist-shrouded peaks in the distance, an unlimited supply of tea, and scratchy wool blankets to keep the chill away.
New & Noteworthy
The Middle House
Fittingly located right in the middle of Shanghai, the stunning Middle House is the newest addition to the much-celebrated House Collective hotel group. Like its legendary siblings the Temple House in Chengdu and the Upper House in Hong Kong, the Middle House excels at delivering understated luxury to its guests, while also making them feel right at home (albeit an extraordinarily well-curated home). The bold yet chic design embraces both the contemporary and the traditional, much like Shanghai itself. Fantastic dining, a high-tech spa, and one seriously impressive lobby chandelier give this place the perfect amount of history, hospitality, and hipness.
The Oberoi Udaivilas
The Oberoi Udaivilas is heartbreakingly beautiful and truly one of the most stunning properties in the world. The magic begins before you even arrive, as you drive up to a dock on stunning Lake Pichola in Rajasthan. There, guests abandon their luggage to board a wooden boat as refreshments are served and musicians play. As the sun sets on Lake Pichola, the hotel comes into view—a sand-colored palace full of domes and arches on an expansive green property. As you disembark, you’re whisked to the entryway, where an enormous Seussian garden welcomes you to a vast, exquisite palace. The hotel is full of design surprises, like checkered pools, clawfoot bathtubs, and gilded domes. While the hotel is large, it’s far from impersonal—in fact, it’s the exact opposite, with individually-decorated rooms filled with local antiques and textiles, and generous, smiling staff who remember the way you like your coffee in the morning. It’s hard not to fall in love here—with the hotel, with India, and with life in general.
Phulay Bay, a Ritz Carlton Reserve
Craggy peaks loom in the distance as manicured gardens and hand-laid stone pathways greet guests and welcome them deeper into the luxurious world of Ritz Carlton’s signature reserve. Phulay Bay, a Ritz Carlton Reserve, opened in 2010 as the brand’s first Reserve property. This pristine resort features 54 spacious suites with oversized bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes, enormous king beds, and 24-hour butler service. The resort specializes in exclusive experiences, where spa treatments and culinary offerings can be customized at any time. Spend the day adventuring off property to Hong Island or Naga Mountain or revel in the poolside butler service at the infinity pool overlooking the Andaman Sea.
Cheap & Chic
Luang Prabang, Laos
Once the childhood home of Prince Souphanouvong, the first President of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, this French colonial guesthouse has since been converted into one of the country’s most luxurious hotels. Satri House was built in 1904, but it wasn’t until 2002 that the property welcomed its first guest to the 31 guestrooms and suites. The hotel is a member of Secret Retreats, and offers an elegance that would make the “Red Prince” proud, with handcrafted wood furniture and antique touches throughout. The hotel partners with local artisans, offering guests the chance to dine on authentic Laotian cuisine, lounge about in handcrafted robes, or even take to the loom with an immersive Laotian weaving class. The hotel also features a world-class spa, as well as an on-site library, garden bar, and outdoor swimming pools.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is an icon, with wrought iron details and green shutters that have weathered the seasons since the hotel first opened in 1901. Extensive renovations have kept this grand dame hotel thriving throughout the years, and today, more than 364 rooms and suites spread throughout two wings (the historic Metropole Wing and the new Opera Wing) welcome guests in with Sofitel’s signature MyBed and Hermes & Lanvin bathroom amenities. A recent renovation uncovered the historic Vietnam War air raid shelter on the property that protected American folk singer Joan Baez during the Christmas bombings of 1972, which inspired her song, “Where Are You Now, My Son?”
Weird & Wonderful
Three Camels Lodge
The Gobi Desert, Mongolia
The 40 gers (traditional nomadic tents) spread throughout the Gobi Desert at 3 Camels Lodge are as Mongolian as the people that built them. This luxury eco-lodge was created with the goal of preserving and protecting Mongolian culture while offering guests the chance to enter quietly into the world of an authentic Gobi Desert camp staffed entirely by native Mongolians. Not a single nail was used to construct the central building, modeled after an ancient Buddhist temple, where guests can gather for sundowners and traditional Mongolian games like shagai after a day of adventuring around the Gobi Desert. Gers come equipped with modern luxuries like hardwood floors and private bathrooms among a space outfitted in hand-carved furniture, camel hair blankets, and traditional wood-burning stoves.