Every year we travel the globe and stay in dozens of hotels on every continent. Some places aren’t that memorable, while others blow us away. We inspect all the aspects of the hotels in which we stay, taking them to the limit. We look for both big picture excellence as well as more detailed refinements, from the bedding, to the wellness facilities, room service, restaurants, concierge services and much more.
There are indeed hotels that stand out as the best, normally those that take care of even the smallest details with a strong culture of intuitive service. We refer to this annual summary of our top experiences as ‘The Exceptional List’ and we are happy to present here the properties we think you should consider for your 2020 travels.
Note: If you want to learn more about some individual hotels please click on the hyperlinked title.
A hotel that offers Panoramic views of the surrounding mountains from every angle. It sits alone in the middle of a massive golf course and gated community complex with views all the way down to Lake Gutiérrez. The property feels sophisticated with its central bar and restaurant, modern artwork displays and winter chalet/cabin decor. It is not in Bariloche itself but halfway between the lakeside city and the Cierro Catedral ski resort.
This hotel complex is an positive outlier on an island that often sees massive waves of tourism. The over 400 rooms on site could make the place completely impersonal, but we found staff never wearied of being friendly and approachable. The room we were upgraded to had epic sea views, the lounge was full of delightfully creative dishes and it was very easy to drive to some of the island’s most famous natural wonders all within an hour away.
This hotel combines three elements in a wonderful fashion: serenity, service and relaxation. St. Regis Sanya’s appeal is a double whammy of the world class nature of St. Regis service and the competitive nature of high end hotels in idyllic Sanya. There was no lounge so they offered us a complimentary access to the high tea and free access to the minibar at all times. A wonderful suite upgrade was provided on request too.
This hotel has undergone several name and management changes in recent months, but that has not taken anything away from its appeal and our impression of its quality service. Vail can be a competitive market and the hotel delivers a sense of exclusivity and service that even many top U.S. hotels lack. The setting of the hotel within nature was what immediately stood out. Food was delightful, relaxation facilities easily accessible and a champagne vending machine in the lobby is just genius.
Koh Samui is already a secluded getaway among Thailand’s touristed islands and the Ritz Carlton occupies a corner of the island that will make you feel like the whole world stops and starts right there. The staff went above and beyond to recognize our status and provide us with perks and upgrades. The Spa is the crown jewel of the property and we daresay that if you don’t get one of the fantastic treatments there, you won’t have enjoyed one of the best massages in Thailand. This is a memorable property.
Rosewood is all about ‘A sense of place’ and their San Miguel property was both a dream and a revelation upon our visit. Every inch of this colonial city is an orchestrated adventure into colonial enchantment and the hotel echoes it inside of monolithic walls. The hardwood floors, gardens, fireplaces, former monastery atmosphere all give a sense of lived history. The best luxury of all happens to be the rejuvenating wellness facilities: indulging the lingering silences of the refreshing swimming pools and Jacuzzis.
This property set the tone for personalized service by greeting me by name as I entered to the lobby and letting me know my upgraded suite was ready. The promise and follow up did not disappoint. It was indeed a gorgeous, well appointed, one bedroom suite with two bathrooms and separate living and dining room. Butler service was prompt and it was very difficult to find anything lacking in this cosmopolitan style hotel.
Sport Hotel Hermitage and Spa Soldeu, Andorra
This hotel’s alpine décor and unparalleled vistas are what put it on our radar to want to go. The Sport Wellness Mountain Spa, ski in and ski out facilities as well as the on site world class restaurants make it a place for physical challenge, beautification and indulgence.
St. Regis Mexico City
A luxury hotel in the world’s largest city certainly has high pressure to deliver a fantastic experience and St. Regis does not disappoint. The location is one of the hotel’s greatest perks. Set in Reforma, steps from all the happenings of the city, it is one of the most imposing skyscrapers in the entire skyline.
This is one of the newest editions of Rosewood Hotels. Much like its properties in this part of the world it is a takeover of a colonial compound. One of the main focal points of the hotel is the pool with a spectacular view of the city. The environs are surrounded by parks, churches and historic charm. The spa facilities are very small, but the treatments are intimate and inviting. We found the services memorable and unique as local herbal ingredients and techniques were applied. It is very affordable for a hotel of this caliber.
This hotel really, really impressed us. It occupies a corner of the island where seaside views are tiered along the beautiful hills. At the sea level a private beach encompasses all of the sights, colors and sounds you could hope for on a tropic isle. Halfway up the resort hill we found a modern gym with forest views and an infinity pool that delivered intimacy and open air indulgence all at once.
Four Seasons Jakarta is a relaxing place to recharge when the heat and congestion of JAkarta wears on you. It is filled with beautiful artwork and sculpture and is really an impressive property. The shift has been from a more urban resort palace hotel (the previous property) to a business style, so travelers should be aware of that if they stayed at the previous property.
Keraton at the Plaza Jakarta
Jakarta is a city of refined luxury hotels and we intended to visit this property many times on previous visits. Its status as a luxury collection property is well deserved. There is great recognition of Bonvoy status and the lounge with its bespoke food offerings is just amazing. The hotel has a sense of privacy and indulgence in all of its venues.