Care to sample a life of champagne and caviar? Be sure to pack your designer luggage for this fun countdown of the world’s most luxurious (and expensive) hotels.
1. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
When it comes to luxurious hotels, this one is at the top. Costing approximately $3 billion to build, Emirates Palace has 394 grand rooms and suites, 40 meeting and conference rooms, a white sand beach, a myriad of pools and fountains, two sumptuous spas, marble imported from 13 different countries and over 1,000 Swarovski crystal chandeliers. It’s like a small pleasure fortress that also boasts the most prestigious marina development in the Middle East. Royalty, or those who want to feel like it, can luxuriate in one of the many palace suites, all with lavish surroundings that would befit a Sultan of old yet with enough modern amenities to please today’s top tycoons.
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PHOTO: COURTESY RANCHO VALENCIA RESORT & SPA
2. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, California
If you have a need for speed, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, the only Relais & Chateaux property in Southern California, has a program for you! Automobile enthusiasts can hit the road in newly-released Porsche models. Forget a quick lap around the parking lot, the high-performance vehicles can be checked out for four hours a time. —Lindsay Cohn, RD.com
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3. The Westin Excelsior, Rome
Built in 1906, The Westin Excelsior Rome has an impressive pedigree in the Via Veneto district. Though most rooms are affordable, their piece de resistance is the Villa La Cupola Suite, which was renovated at a cost of $7 million. This signature luxury cocoon spans two full floors, making it the largest suite in Italy. Furnished in grand old style with modern high-tech gadgets, hand-frescoed cathedral-style domes, its own private fitness area, Jacuzzi, and a formal dining room, it’s a perennial favourite for those who deem money to be no object.
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4. Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai
Built to resemble a billowing sail, the stunning architecture of Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai makes it one of the most photographed in the world. All rooms are luxurious suites spanning two floors with state-of-the art everything and incredible views. And beyond the unique over-the-top amenities like the attached helipad and hovering tennis courts, there is a vast array of futuristic dining and nightlife options. Their guest care is also seriously intensive. Upscale extras include in-suite check-in, 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.
PHOTO: SEAN PAVONE/SHUTTERSTOCK
5. The Plaza, New York City
Though the Big Apple has many legendary and swanky hotels, The Plaza is often the top choice for visiting VIPs. The Royal Three Bedroom Suite is styled in the most opulent of old world charm with a formal dining room for up to 12 guests, a library, a gymnasium, a grand piano, full kitchen (for personal chefs), and is serviced by its own private elevator. Butler service is also included. Built in 1907, the iconic structure was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1969.