The Best Hotels
Asia & the Pacific
For a large swath of U.S. residents, it’s a long haul to Asia–and longer still to Australia. Which is why choosing the right accommodation is paramount to the trip’s success. And while this list isn’t even a smidgen of the vast hotel offerings throughout such a massive and varied part of the world, choosing any of these selections will provide you with a memorable and happy stay.
From magnificent villas along the Vietnamese coast and whimsical treehouses in southern Japan to a 1920s New Zealand fishing lodge and a converted Australian prison, each of these properties is so memorable that we’d gladly fly 18 hours to visit them for even a short while.
Anantara Quy Nhon
Quy Nhon, Vietnam
Anantara Quy Nhon’s spectacular spot overlooking the Bay of Quy Nhon is reason enough to venture to this under-radar Vietnam spot on the coast. The region itself—its rich cuisine, commitment to ancient arts, and famous Buddhist center—remains ripe for discovery and Anantara’s skilled team offers Vietnam heritage tours, Viet Vo Dao (a form of Vietnamese martial arts) sessions, and cooking classes which include market shopping for produce and other provisions. The resort spa’s cliffside treatment pavilions enhance such services as chakra crystal balancing or the Journey of Vietnam, a 210-minute long mix of massage, facial, and coconut bath.
While there’s plenty to do beyond the walls of the luxury villas (26 in total), you’ll want to bake in time to relax in the private, pristine, and panoramic space. Floor-to-ceiling doors open up to a sundeck and plunge or infinity pool, depending on the villa type, and there’s ample space to lounge in the sun or shade as you refuel on Vietnamese coffee. A selection of daily fruits is delivered daily and in addition to a robust selection of minibar snacks and sips, villas feature a small wine cellar and Nespresso machines. Anything else you need, you may call upon your gracious butler.
Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape
It’s hard to imagine feeling more at one with Bali’s spectacular nature than at this adults-only property with no walls or doors located in Northern Ubud, in the Island of the God’s storied uplands.
Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape opened in June 2022 with just 16 villas designed by a local sustainable architect, Gede Kresna, whose expertise masterfully placed the property among the surrounding rice paddies, jungle, waterfalls and natural springs lining the Ayung River. Natural pathways wind up and down the resort’s steep hillsides, much of it farmland that’s foraged for the culinary program.
The villas themselves, outfitted with mosquito nets for sleeping and shades that can be rolled down in case of rain, are entirely open and without walls, save for an anchoring natural earth green wall on one side. Salvaged ironwood from Indonesian boat jetties, teak wood furnishings, bath tubs wrought from Javanese copper, and woven rattan mats complete the natural appeal.
Guests can dip into an infinity pool that stretches out over the valley from the resort’s central pavilion or enjoy a locally-inspired spa treatment. The resort’s concierge can arrange everything from cooking classes mountain biking at Mt. Batur to aerial silk yoga classes and trekking expeditions in Central Bali.
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
Koh Samui, Thailand
Luxury is all about the details. Nestled on a lush mountaintop overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is a testament to intuitive service and intentional design, with superb attention to detail at every turn. Each villa, designed by world-renowned architect Bill Bensley, comes with a private infinity pool with panoramic views of the sea, surrounded by native flora and fauna that offers ample privacy for guests. In fact, nature is an integral part of the design ethos: The resort was built around the verdant greenery, including nearly 900 coconut trees, with minimal intervention to the existing landscape.
After a day wandering the island with a private chauffeur or diving at Sail Rock, guest can enjoy themed dinners on the beach, chef-curated dining experiences for two, or holistic spa treatments (including sound healing, ecstatic dance, and earth-based massages with herbal poultices) from certified therapists and instructors that blend contemporary techniques with old-world wisdom. There are also ample classes to choose from, like painting on the beach or high-intensity Muay Thai lessons in a ring surrounded by the tropical jungle. Unwind in the evening with a hydrating, rose petal and coconut milk bath back in the villa or enjoy a nightcap under the stars at CoCo Rum or down at the beach.
Taupō, New Zealand
Known as the “Grande Dame of New Zealand,” Huka Lodge started as a simple fishing lodge in the 1920s and has grown into the premier location for luxury experiences with tennis court and petanque grounds, fine-dining restaurant and private dining gardens, jetty pavilion and the pièce de résistance: more than 17-acres of well-manicured grounds featuring orchards, native plants and fauna, all against the backdrop of the Waikato River.
There are no rooms at the Huka Lodge; instead there are 20 spacious junior suites each with a king-size bed and terrace with views facing the banks of New Zealand’s longest river. For added splendor, guests can choose to stay in one of the owner’s residences like the Alex Van Heeren Cottage, which oozes opulence and regality with furnishings by New Zealand designer, Virginia Fisher, as well as a private plunge pool which overlooks the estate.
There is only one restaurant at the Huka Lodge, and, fortunately, it is a great one. The dinner tasting menu features sustainably sourced ingredients which include spanner crab, John Dory with fermented black lime, as well as Te Matuku oysters, and Southland lamb all of which are best enjoyed on the restaurant’s charming terrace.
It might be hard to imagine a luxury urban oasis in the heart of a concrete jungle like Melbourne, but after a billion-dollar renovation project, the newest addition to the city is the transformation of a former 170 year-old prison site into one of the most hyped-up luxury urban retreats, The Interlude.
Standing outside the hotel, the original facade and structure of Pentridge Prison still looks as austere as ever, and inside with the original stone walls still in place, guests continue to sense reminders of these historical grounds. The internal structure may be intact, but these rooms do not resemble the cells from the past. Nineteen suites feature heritage bluestone walls decorated with local artisan furnishings and black marble tiled-bathrooms. Windows are barred for dramatic effect, but drapes hang from the barrel-vaulted ceiling, softening the space.
The hotel’s wellness area revolves around a candlelit swimming pool, which is best paired with a 60-minute bathing ritual and a glass of bubbly. Follow this by dinner at The Interlude’s wine bar and restaurant Olivine and North & Common for a combination of great Aussie wine and seasonal dishes from the state’s celebrated producers.
Jetwing Vil Uyana
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Jetwing Vil Uyana is a man-made wetland with gorgeous views of lakes and paddies. Inspired by the London Wetlands Center, Sri Lankan hospitality brand Jetwing reclaimed abandoned paddy fields and transformed it into this oasis. The eco-resort is spread over 28 acres and none of it looks made up even after almost two decades of operation.
When you first enter, an electric buggy takes you to the lakeside library for check-in where you’re introduced to your private butler. The hotel has five different types of natural dwellings: garden, forest, water, paddy, and marsh. Each of the 36 rooms has a bathtub while some also feature plunge pools. There’s an in-house restaurant with Sri Lankan fare as well as an outdoor pool, a spa and gym, a wine cellar, and an organic farm.
Explore the wetlands on foot with the in-house naturalist to learn about the ecosystem. There are over 140 species of birds here. You may get to see the in-house crocodile or catch a glimpse of the elusive gray slender loris that’s often slinging on tree branches after sunset. When you step out of this 28-acre property, you are minutes from the 5th-century Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Challenge yourself to climb 1,200 steps to see this ancient city built 180 meters from the ground and you will get a chance to see the cave paintings that have influenced artwork at the hotel.
Treeful Treehouse Sustainable Resort
Take a break from the rush of modern life at this serene treehouse resort. Way down in southern Japan, lapped by clear blue seas and crowned by dense forests, is the subtropical island chain of Okinawa. Here, the carefully curated Treeful Treehouse Sustainable Resort offers the chance to experience Okinawa’s abundant nature.
Inspired by a book he read as a child, owner Satoru Kikugawa set out to build the resort with a focus on coexisting with nature. Since opening in 2021, the venture has grown to a cluster of treehouses constructed among the dense green forest. Sustainability has been a priority from the start; the hotel’s carbon-negative claims are corroborated by facilities such as composting toilets, and future plans to generate their own electricity.
Far from rustic, guest rooms are polished and feature interiors decked out with hand-crafted furnishings. Each has a character of its own. The newest addition, the Golden Trophy Treehouse, was influenced by Kyoto’s famous Kinkaku-ji temple. Attention to detail is everywhere, from natural wood basins to tessellating wood-tiled floors. But it’s nature that takes center stage here. Cleverly positioned windows throughout allow guests to take a bath, lounge around or read on a backdrop of bristling trees.
Spend days unwinding among verdant nature, enjoying traditionally cooked al-fresco meals, or embarking on guided excursions into the forest. The sultry sauna adds a sense of childlike wonder with a slide that leads directly down into the river below. Leaving here, like waking up from a dream, is bittersweet.