The 10 Most Incredible, Over-the-Top Hotels You’ll Want to Put on Your Bucket List
It's all five-star service and over-the-top amenities in this decadent countdown of the world's most luxurious hotels. (Spoiler alert: Each one is worth every penny!)
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Luxurious hotels you’ll be daydreaming about
All vacations provide you with an escape from your day-to-day reality. But when you visit a luxurious hotel that pays attention to even tiny details like what kind of pillow you prefer, delivers a romantic six-course dinner to your room and really makes you feel like you’re in the lap of luxury? Now that’s a vacation!
High-end hotels are raising the bar with over-the-top amenities, and it’s the stuff fantasies are made of. Sure, these experiences come at a premium (though there are a few “affordable” choices, relatively speaking), but it’s hard to beat five-star accommodations. And hey, you deserve to experience this kind of pampering at least once in your life, don’t you? Heck, yes! After all, this is what bucket lists are for.
How we chose the best luxury hotels
As a travel writer, I’ve been on more than 50 trips in the past five years, and those have included some incredibly fancy hotels. I’ve experienced service so personalized, the staff knew which side of the bed I slept on and what my lunch order was from the previous day at the hotel’s restaurant. Since I haven’t seen the entire world (yet), I also looked at online reviews, star ratings and recommendations to come up with this list. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, an adventure abroad or even a quick trip in the United States or the Caribbean, here are some of the best five-star hotels and resorts that are totally worth the hype.
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Kokomo Private Island Resort, Fiji
The type of luxury offered at the Kokomo Private Island Resort is once-in-a-lifetime service, and it starts before you even step foot on the island. Guests take a private seaplane from Nadi (on mainland Fiji) for a 50-minute ride before being greeted by a welcoming staff singing, playing ukuleles and serving welcome cocktails. Guests then check into their own private villas, each with a pool and a separate building with an additional bedroom. The main part of the villa boasts the main bedroom, high ceilings, an outdoor shower and private beach access to one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Guests can press a button on the phone to be picked up by a buggy that will arrive in just a few minutes.
At this resort, you can also experience a dive shop unlike any other—and I’ve been to my fair share. Here, they go the extra mile to make sure that you feel safe and comfortable with the equipment. They also craft your itinerary according to your preferences, choosing dive sites based on what you want to see. Bonus: The resort is close to the Great Astrolabe Reef, the fourth largest in the world. On my excursion, private dive guides provided sandwiches, drinks, snacks and towels on the boat, and my group dove in a new area that no one had before, so we got to name the site. That really made the excursion one to remember.
Rates start at: $2,200 per night*
*Rates for all hotels as of Summer 2023
Best overwater bungalow
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Staying at the Four Seasons Bora Bora in French Polynesia is like living in a real-life daydream. You can start your morning at this luxurious hotel by watching the sun rise from your bathtub, which has a giant sliding window for unobstructed views. Then, lay out on your private outdoor deck, and when you get hot, simply stand up and dive right into the South Pacific for a morning swim. The water is so aqua, it looks photoshopped. Looking for a different kind of activity? Pick up the phone, and the staff will deliver water-sports equipment—such as paddleboards, kayaks and snorkel gear—to you within minutes. It’s an entire adventure before you even leave your bungalow!
Elsewhere on the property, you can snorkel in a private lagoon that connects to the ocean and check out the colorful fish and stingrays. To set the mood before dinner, you’ll not only be able to request a buggy from your bungalow—you’ll also be treated to a mini private concert as a staff member plays the ukulele on the back. Be sure to eat at Vaimiti, which offers Asian cuisine, sunset cocktails and a drink that’s not listed on the menu but comes with a pearl at the bottom of the glass! The romance factor is high at this stunning spot in French Polynesia—and it’s one of the most romantic resorts you can visit in this tropical paradise or anywhere else.
Rates start at: $1,750 per night
Best for honeymoons
Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia
This hotel is literally built into a mountain, and you’ll access your very private accommodations via a long walkway. However, this won’t be just any ordinary hotel room—all the rooms at Jade Mountain are called sanctuaries. Why? Because they’re designed to make guests never want to leave … which isn’t hard considering that each one comes with its very own pool. Other in-room services include yoga sessions, spa treatments and even six-course dinners. You can take a dip in your private pool in between courses! You can’t get more perfect than this if you’re looking for a honeymoon spot where you literally leave the world behind.
Another unique feature of this luxurious hotel: None of the rooms here have four walls. While most have three, a couple suites have two. That means you’ll be treated to unobstructed, picturesque views of St. Lucia’s iconic Piton mountains, no matter which sanctuary you book.
When I visited, I was given a flip phone with just one number in it. If I was down by the beach, at one of the restaurants or inside my sanctuary, I simply called the number and asked for anything I needed. And when I say anything, I mean anything—from a freshly squeezed mango cocktail to a beach towel, snorkel gear, a ride to the beach, dinner reservations and more.
Rates start at: $2,750 per night
Best for wellness
Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, St. Barts
Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa and Le Barth Villa Rental in St. Barts, which have long been known for their luxury and relaxation, have taken things to a new level with unique water-healing concepts. Elevating the idea of Nordic water therapy, the spa’s Janzu and Aquatic Tibetan Sound Healing are like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Janzu combines guided rhythmic movements in water, while Aquatic Tibetan Sound Healing uses bowls placed on water to transmit deep vibrational frequencies, alleviating pain, reducing anxiety and improving overall well-being. If water isn’t for you, the spa has a wide range of offerings, from tailored massages to hydrating facials—and many of them include luxe skin-care brand La Mer.
And, of course, there’s more than just the spa at this wellness retreat. The suites are oversized and located steps from the beach, and they all have two stories, offering two bathrooms and an outdoor patio on both levels. Sleep with your doors open without the worry of mosquitoes—the outdoor spaces have a retractable screen, so you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves. From the beach to the full food and beverage service to the breathtaking infinity pool, it will be hard for you to tear yourself away from the property.
Rates start at: $1,500 per night
Best for adventure
Hotel Rangá, Iceland
If you book the Ultra Luxe Package at Hotel Rangá, you can enjoy a candlelit dinner inside the mysterious Hellas Caves, which is as cool as it sounds. This package also features private day tours, including ATV-riding on black-sand beaches and hiking through glaciers. Plus, you’ll be treated to a champagne breakfast and a locally made Gilbert watch gift upon arrival, enjoy an a la carte dinner and included drinks, and get to stargaze at a private observatory. Oh, and you’ll have your own personal photographer to capture all of your special moments throughout your stay.
With little to no accommodations nearby, it’s the perfect hub to explore all that southern Iceland has to offer, whether or not you indulge in the over-the-top (and admittedly pricey) package. After you’re done chasing waterfalls in the area, you can put on robes and stare at the stars. The concierge offers wake-up calls so you can catch the best of the Northern Lights.
Rates start at: $1,750 per night, and $40,200 for the Ultra Luxe Package, making it the most expensive hotel option on this list
Best for going off the beaten path
Capri Palace Jumeirah, Italy
The only way to get to Capri is by sea, and while ferries are available from Naples and Sorrento, they’re packed to the gills and book up early in the summer. But at the hidden oasis of Capri Palace Jumeirah, the concierge provides options to book a private helicopter transfer from the Italian airports, a private driver to take guests to a hydrofoil ferry service or a private speedboat transfer. Talk about arriving in style!
And fancy is an understatement here. The property offers 68 rooms and suites, and they all look like a scene out of The White Lotus, decked out in a distinctly European style, light colors, marble floors and picturesque balconies. And trust us when we say that their views of the Mediterranean Sea are hard to come by for non-guests.
This resort also has two Michelin-starred restaurants. First up: L’Olivo, led by chef Andrea Migliaccio, which boasts Mediterranean dishes with fresh local ingredients; the Chef’s Tasting menu of seven courses is a must-try. And the second is II Riccio, located on a terrace overlooking the sea and specializing in seafood and Italian dishes you’ll be dreaming about long after you’re back at home.
Rates start at: $2,600 per night (and FYI, this is the best time to travel to Italy)
Best for cultural immersion
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Big Island, Hawaii
You know you’ll get a serious dose of luxury when you step onto any Four Seasons property, but the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is particularly exceptional. The rooms and villas are as fancy as you’d expect and have incredible ocean views, but the resort also has a Hawaiian Culture Center that offers guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich traditions and heritage of Hawaii. On site, you’ll find cultural masters who cover heritage, music and dancing, and guests can get one-on-one sessions in various traditional activities, such as hula dancing, ukulele playing and lei-making, as well as Hawaiian-language lessons.
And the customer service at this Hawaiian resort is incomparable. Each room has an online chat system so you can talk to the front desk right away. I asked for a screwdriver for my GoPro, and someone was at my door within minutes. For those traveling in large groups, the four-bedroom villa has a five-night minimum and comes with a personal manager to plan the entire trip—from activities to in-villa dining to spa treatments and more.
Rates start at: $1,500 per night, and the four-bedroom villa starts at $30,977 (which includes a $500 credit for food and beverages)
Best Instagrammable hotel
Hotel Barrière Fouquet’s Paris, France
Traveling to France? You can’t go wrong with any room at the Hotel Barrière Fouquet’s Paris, which is conveniently located on the Champs-Élysées and has an oh-so-French feel. But the Harcourt Suite, in particular, provides an unrivaled vantage point to see the breathtaking view of the Arc de Triomphe through its iconic, oval-shaped window. This over-the-top suite, which is nearly 2,000 square feet, is adorned in elegant gray and gold hues, and it seamlessly blends the allure of a Parisian apartment with the feel of the famous 1930s French photography studio, the Studio Harcourt. The suite features a dining room, sitting room, makeup salon, fitness room, bedroom, office nook and terrace—and the lounge literally transforms into a photography studio. Guests who stay in the space will receive a private session and take some unforgettable portraits.
Other guest rooms and suites capture elegance as well, with high ceilings, dressing rooms that have plenty of space to get ready for a night out and marble bathrooms designed by renowned French architect and interior designer Jacques Garcia.
Rates start at: $1,300 per night for guest rooms and $20,000 for the Harcourt Suite package
Best for service
Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, Champillon, France
This aptly named hotel doesn’t mess around when it comes to Champagne: Each of its 47 meticulously crafted rooms has an on-demand “Champagne, Please” button. Press it, and a bottle of bubbly will be delivered to your room within minutes. The best room in this luxurious hotel, however, may be the Josephine Suite, a true gem with a lavishly appointed bedroom, dressing room and living room that offer breathtaking views of the picturesque Marne Valley.
The Royal Champagne is just a 45-minute train ride from Paris, and it overlooks the Champagne wine region and its stunning wineries. While checking out the sights, visit the region’s top Champagne houses in a chic convertible via a “Champagne chauffeur.” Bonus: You’ll have access to a few spots that aren’t open to the public through Royal Champagne’s local relationships.
After a day exploring, grab a bite at Le Bellevue or the Michelin-starred Le Royal, led by newly appointed executive chef Paolo Boscaro. Be prepared for complete decadence—and to never want to eat a “normal” meal again.
Rates start at: $1,000 per night and $3,400 for the Josephine Suite
Best for affordable luxury
French Quarter Inn, Charleston, South Carolina
Have you ever been offered a menu for pillows? Well, if you stay at the French Quarter Inn, you will, and there’s a good chance you’ll have the best night of sleep of your life. Some pillow options include: down, buckwheat, five-foot body cushion and snore-no-more. It’s no surprise that the French Quarter Inn made it onto the Best of the Best Hotels list in Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards series for 2023.
And while this may be the cheapest property on our list, it doesn’t lack in luxury. Located in the heart of Charleston’s historic district, the hotel features an elegant design that pays homage to the town’s classic and contemporary heritage. And with an intimate vibe, the inn strives to make guests feel at home with loads of Southern charm—from a welcome flute of Champagne to turndown service at nighttime that comes complete with warm cookies and milk. This is an East Coast vacation you should take at least once … though you’ll likely want to visit again and again.
Rates start at: $490 per night