Hotels and restaurants across the globe are constantly thinking about ways to push the boundaries of luxury travel. If you have some disposable dollars (or a generous work expenses account) you can be pampered like a Hollywood star and dine like a royal.
Luxury means different things to different people. Perhaps you require your own personal butler? Or access to a private pool or beach? Some simply require excellent customer service and an appreciation for the statement “the customer is always right”.
We have picked five destinations that personify luxury and can provide all of the above and more.
What to do: Do you love Japanese cuisine? Master the art of Kaiseki (traditional multi-course Japanese dinner) with a Michelin star chef. Using the freshest ingredients tied to the appropriate season, your world-class chef will show you how to prepare dashi (a special stock) and miso (soybean paste), which will provide the base of your meal.
A trip to Tokyo is incomplete without a visit to one of their world-class spas. Set high above the Tokyo skyline, the Aman Tokyo Spa is a light-filled sanctuary that is inspired by the Japanese principles of nature and balance. The spa features large Japanese-style hot baths and steam rooms as well as a 30m pool with panoramic views overlooking the city.
Where to eat: Excellent sushi can be found all over Tokyo, but the Tapas Molecular Bar offers something rather different. From the imagination of Chef Ngan Ping Chow comes a selection of tapas-style portions that resemble whacky science experiments but taste sublime. This is an interactive dining experience that screams luxury.
Where to stay: The Park Hyatt Tokyo has become a bit of an icon since appearing in the 2003 film Lost in Translation with Billy Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The 177-room hotel is all about modern luxury and offers some impressive views of Mount Fuji. It also has one of the city’s most atmospheric cocktail bars complete with live jazz: the 52nd-floor New York Bar and Grill.
What to do: Discover Sydney from above and take in views of the magnificent Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge by seaplane. Sydney Seaplanes depart from Rose Bay and offer a discreet VIP area at their terminal lounge. Sip on champagne while waiting to board your seaplane, then fly along the coast to Palm Beach for a luxurious lunch at Jonah’s.
If you fancy a little exercise, make your way to Royal Sydney Golf Club at Rose Bay and practice your swing on their lavish grounds. You’ll follow in the footsteps of the golfing greats, as The Royal Sydney has been a multi-time host of the Australian Open.
Where to eat: Plan the ultimate romantic dinner for two in one of the carriages of the Ferris wheel at Luna Park overlooking Sydney Harbour. Held most Sunday evenings during the warmer months, you’ll board your own private gondola for a three-course meal with wine pairings. Enjoy the gentle rotation of the wheel as the sun sets romantically over the harbour. For the ultimate luxury experience, upgrade to a Cinderella Carriage decorated with sparkling fairly lights.
Where to stay: Sydney is well-known for its love of real estate, so there are some very impressive hotels to choose from. The Park Hyatt Sydney occupies the number one spot, with uninterrupted views of the Opera House, a rooftop pool the highest level of personalised service.
What to do: Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world and is home to many famous designers including Chanel, Dior and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Don your finest outfit and head to Avenue Montaigne to shop in the city’s most prestigious designer boutiques.
After purchasing your outfit for the evening, take a cruise along the Seine on the private yacht Don Juan II. You’ll be greeted by sailors in uniform before boarding the yacht and sitting down for a gourmet dinner while you sail along the Seine. For the ultimate luxury, you can arrange to be picked up from your hotel by a vintage Rolls Royce.
Where to eat: For a truly Parisian experience book a table Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athenée, with its glittering chandeliers and distinctly French feel. Ingredients are sustainably sourced and very fresh – fruit and vegetables are picked each morning and arrive at the kitchen just a few hours later.
Where to stay: Le Meurice is situated in a prime position on arcade Rue de Rivoli and has a grand interior, with the ground-floor suites resembling something out of the Palace of Versailles. Despite its opulence, the hotel avoids being stuffy.
What to do: Enjoy a luxurious twist to your ride on the 164m tall Singapore Flyer, Asia’s largest observation wheel. Book a private capsule and watch the world go by as you sip on the finest bubbly paired with chocolate and strawberries.
For a more high octane experience, channel your inner Lewis Hamilton and book an Ultimate Drive Experience in a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Race around the official F1 circuit at Marina Bay Sands in a Ferrari F430 F1 Spider or Lamborghini Gallardo and get your adrenaline pumping.
Where to eat: JAAN, which is located on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford, has gorgeous views of Singapore’s skyline and waterways. The Michelin star restaurant has an imaginative and seasonal menu curated by Chef de Cuisine Kirk Westaway.
Where to stay: Take inspiration from the Hollywood blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians and bask in luxury at Marina Bay Sands. The hotel cost a whopping eight billion Singapore dollars to build and has luxury woven into it everywhere, from the 57th floor infinity pool to the upscale Banyon Tree Spa.
What to do: Nowhere in the world screams luxury quite like Dubai. Whether you’re relaxing on a private yacht on the Arabian Gulf or enjoying a facial with a 24-carat mask made with gold chains at the Talise Ottoman Spa, it’s likely almost every activity in Dubai will have a luxurious element. It’s even possible to indulge in an edible 23-Carat Ice Cream from Scoopi Café.
Where to eat: Fancy eating in a restaurant with an indoor waterfall? The Cavalli Club Dubai is set over three floors and its almost worth the money just experiencing the lavish interior. Launched in collaboration with Italian fashion designer Robert Cavalli, the menu comprises both Gourmet Italian and international cuisine, including New York steak of Wagyu grade 9+.
Where to stay: In keeping with the film theme, the Burj al Arab can be spotted in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol starring Tom Cruise (although it’s not the one he scales – that’s the Burj Khalifa). The Burj al Arab contains everything you’d expect from Dubai’s fanciest hotels: Eiderdown duvets, exquisite Egyptian cotton linen and an ultra-deluxe super king bed. It also has the world’s largest brigade of butlers and the 780 square meter Royal Suite has its own private cinema.
Source: The Travel Magazine