Hotels to sigh for: 30 incredible places to stay with star quality

Jade Conroy
Star Quality hotels

I have only ever cried on leaving one hotel. Granted, it was my honeymoon, and granted, I had planned the entire trip around whether or not I could book a ­couple of nights at what had become, in my mind, the pinnacle of all hotel stays. I spent many nights in the doldrums of ­wedding accounting, dreaming about the day it would all be over and I could finally dip my feet in the legendary swimming pool of La Colombe d’Or in Provence with a glass of rosé in hand. And I had to dream about it, because the hotel has never had any social ­media presence, and its website gives nothing away, save for a phone number and email address (the only method of booking). It more than lived up to expectations: I sunbathed next to a modern art sculpture, drank champagne on the roof, and ate soufflé under twinkling lamp-strewn trees wearing my backup wedding dress. I stayed at another beautiful hotel on my honeymoon, but it wasn’t the same. It too was a cool, classy and totally romantic place to stay, but everyone was documenting how cool, classy and ­totally romantic it was to post on Instagram – and it ruined the vibe. 

What makes a hotel more than just the sum of its parts, like its other-worldly location or award-winning ­design? We asked our hotel reviewers worldwide and the answer is… there is no formula. Some hotels just have that ineffable, magical something and some do not. We pored over the list and the ones you’ll find across the following pages all have that eternal wow factor. Many are the stuff of legend, many have staff who really care – about their guests, but also about where they work. Retro, family-run Italian classics unchanged for decades share the spotlight with the likes of pink party palaces, whose walls could talk, in Los Angeles. Ultimately, it’s not about how much you spend, or which room you get – it’s so much more. So book in, jump into that pool… and hopefully, when you leave, there will be tears.

La Colombe d'Or, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

La Colombe d’Or

Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Côte d'Azur, France

8Telegraph expert rating

In 1920 local farmer Paul Roux opened a café-bar in the tiny village of Saint Paul and later added rooms. During the Second World War, painters and the literati sought refuge on the Riviera, and many stayed at La Colombe where they paid for their accommodation with paintings – the beginning of what is today an extraordinary collection of works by the likes of Matisse, Picasso and Braque. The casualness with which this art is hung – in bedrooms, the dining room, and even a monumental Calder mobile by the pool – is even more extraordinary. Read expert review From £185 per night

Phum Baitang, Siem Reap

Phum Baitang

Siem Reap, Cambodia

9Telegraph expert rating

It’s unlikely that anyone arrives at Phum Baitang without letting out a small gasp as the 20-acre resort, modelled on a traditional Cambodian village, reveals itself. Ride cream-coloured bicycles along wooden pathways which weave through rice paddies, past palm trees and lazing water buffalo. Open-plan villas are styled on a Khmer home, though the sleek interiors and stone tubs are pure rustic luxury. At night the resort is lit up by candles as guests tuck into curries of local fish served on home-grown rice. No wonder Angelina Jolie rented out the entire resort during a film shoot in 2015. Read expert review From £222 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Babylonstoren hotel, South Africa


Simondium, Franschhoek, South Africa

9Telegraph expert rating

Former magazine editor Karen Roos has an unerring eye, and has beautifully juxtaposed the historic, hand-hewn origins of her 18th-century farm with contemporary elements. The spa is exceptional, the wines award-winning, and the restaurant has a two-month waiting list, but it is the bountiful eight-acre kitchen garden that is the star, with more than 300 varieties of edible plants. There is also a dam-style swimming pool, and plenty of bicycles and canoes. Staff – sourced from the valley – are warm and justifiably proud to be here. Read expert review From £379 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Sunset Tower Los Angeles

Sunset Tower Hotel

West Hollywood, Los Angeles, United States

8Telegraph expert rating

There is, of course, Chateau Marmont – but for an under-the-radar starry choice in LA, it has to be Sunset Tower, the 1930s Art Deco landmark home to the greats of both golden era – and today’s – Hollywood. Its new incarnation respects the hotel’s heritage but has added a touch of glitz and glamour – found in the art installation by Lawrence Weiner in the Terrace Bar, say, or the black marble basins and gold wallpaper designed by pop artist Donald Robertson. Don’t miss the chicken paillard in the theatrical dining room. Read expert review From £279 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Ashford Castle Hotel, Cong, Ireland

Ashford Castle

Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

9Telegraph expert rating

With a peerless Lough Corrib setting and innate grandeur, centuries-old Ashford Castle has long been known as one of Ireland’s best hotels. It showcases the best of traditional craftsmanship and interior design, from a gleaming bar counter made of moss-green Connemara marble to glittering Waterford and Donegal crystal chandeliers, and is bedecked in antiques and artworks. That all-encompassing grandeur is balanced by a warm welcome – from predominantly Irish staff – that ensures guests feel at home rather than in a museum. Activities range from boat trips to zip-wiring. Read expert review From £297 per night

Mezzatorre Hotel

Mezzatorre Hotel

Ischia, Naples, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

From the moment it re-opened under the direction of Marie-Louise Scio of the Pellicano Group, the coral-tinged hotel has become a magnet for fashion folk and an Italian clientele eager to escape the crowds of Capri. Like its celebrated siblings (Il Pellicano in Tuscany and La Poste Vecchia in Rome), this is a place to come for la dolce vita. The horseshoe terrace is the drawcard, where Missoni-clad guests spend the day dipping into the ocean and sunning themselves by the saltwater pool. Guests gather under chic scalloped umbrellas for al fresco aperitivi every day, served by waiters in smart white jackets. Read expert review From £265 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Sabora Tented Camp, Serengeti, Tanzania

Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Serengeti National Park, Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania

9Telegraph expert rating

The most romantic tented camp in Africa, furnished with authentic 1920s handmade campaign furniture, cut glass, chandeliers, four posters, Persian rugs and bowls of fresh roses, in one of the most remote parts of the planet: vast plains dotted with wild animals and bonsai-shaped acacias under big blue skies. The migration moves through here April to June, but game-viewing is always excellent. It’s a private concession, so you can get really close to animals, and you will not find better trained guides anywhere. Service is trademark Singita: attentive yet discreet. Read expert review From £1,817 per night

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The Caves, Jamaica

The Caves

Negril, Jamaica

9Telegraph expert rating

Reportedly Naomi Campbell’s favourite hotel — and after staying here, it may be yours too. This is all-inclusive but not as you know it; a tiny resort of just 12 cabins, set atop and aside the cliffs of Negril, where access to the sea is predominantly via a series of characteristic jump spots. Everything is made of straw, palm or wood, in bright primary colours, down to the cute crockery and place mats featuring hand-painted scenes. You’ll try some of the best rum-based cocktails you’ve ever tasted — bartenders will make you anything you like, using the freshest ingredients. Read expert review From £288 per night Check availability Rates provided by

São Lourenço do Barrocal, Alentejo, Portugal

São Lourenço do Barrocal

Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal

8Telegraph expert rating

People have been living on this site, a former family estate, for almost 7,000 years, making it one of the oldest inhabited places in Europe – and now you can stay, after a family member reopened it as a boutique hotel. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura declared the buildings too perfect to alter, instead using the lightest of touches to create a place that is almost monastic in its simplicity. History is everywhere: the winery was a schoolroom; the restaurant was the kennels; the pool, with a huge barrocal rock at one end, is in the old vegetable garden. Read expert review From £402 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Kasbah Tamadot, Ouirgane Valley, Morocco

Kasbah Tamadot

Asni, Morocco

8Telegraph expert rating

Seven years of hard graft transformed this crumbling fortress into one of the most luxurious High Atlas addresses, with gardens, courtyards and mountain-view suites. Scheherazade herself would feel comfortable here, wafting kaftan-clad through the madly blooming gardens to spin her tales on the candlelit roof terrace while reclining on beautifully embroidered pouffes. Book one of the Berber tents nestled amid the maquis where evenings end in your own hot tub beneath a sky of dazzling stars. Staff will do anything for guests, from baking gluten-free cookies to organising a carefully considered hike for beginners. Read expert review From £339 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Asaba, Japan


Shuzenji, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

9Telegraph expert rating

The ryokan – which dates back to 1489 – is as serene as a temple. Guests are greeted by bowing kimono-clad staff before shoes are swapped for slippers. It may be traditional – all tatami mat floors and in-room banquets – but despite its heritage there is a fresh atmosphere, as reflected in splashes of modern design, including the white diamond Harry Bertoia chairs in the lounge overlooking the lake. Soaking in restorative onsen waters is the highlight, with private and communal bathing areas fringing the lake, all with haiku-inspiring views fringed with bamboo forest. Read expert review From £535 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Lowell Hotel, New York

The Lowell

New York, United States

8Telegraph expert rating

With just 74 rooms, each one differently sized, shaped and decorated, The Lowell was a boutique hotel before the term was even invented; regular guests (and there are many - 75 per cent of bookings are return visitors) ask for the specific room number rather than category. Some suites feature four-poster beds and kitchens; others have large stone terraces overlooking Central Park. There is an old-world glamour to The Lowell. Try the pistachio soufflé, the restaurant’s house specialty, which is served with crème anglais – and great pride – by the highly attentive staff. Read expert review From £626 per night Check availability Rates provided by

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Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Thailand

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

9Telegraph expert rating

A series of hotels line the banks of the Chao Phraya river, but everyone knows the Oriental is the only place to stay. It’s legendary, having first opened in 1876, and has hosted a library’s worth of enthralled writers since, but this is no museum. It has been kept elegantly updated, always filling its halls with dramatic floral displays and its restaurants with world-class chefs. At its heart, it is wedded to its river. Every room has views and gazing at life on the water is irresistible, especially the hotel’s wooden boats, which drift back and forth to the spa and Thai restaurant. Read expert review From £607 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Rae’s on Wategos

Rae’s on Wategos

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

9Telegraph expert rating

The Spanish Mission-style building was built in the 1960s by a local, Ruth Harris, and according to legend the garden was designed by family-friend, Salvador Dalí. Expect one-off items sourced from an Italian furniture fair, such as antique clam shells as sconces in the bar. Melbourne wunderkind, Lucy Folk, designed all the fabrics, from the pastel upholstery in the restaurant to the rose beach towels (that guests can purchase). The property is small enough that staff know how you like your coffee. They’ll also alert you when the dolphins and whales are putting on a particularly good show. Read expert review From £354 per night

Four Seasons George V Paris

Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris

Paris, France

8Telegraph expert rating

Paris’ most historic little-black-book address. The Art Deco hotel was unveiled in 1928 and was named after the reigning king of England as an affable nod to the relations between Britain and France. Opulent period interiors are bourgeois to the hilt, with crystal chandeliers, 17th-century Flanders tapestries and wildly extravagant flower displays by artistic director Jeff Leatham (the theme changes every season, with a team of nine florists expertly arranging 15,000 freshly cut Dutch blooms a month). Paired with its dazzling mirage of aristocratic Paris is a gastronomic galaxy of stars across its three Michelin restaurants. Read expert review From £849 per night Check availability Rates provided by

UXUA Brazil, South America

UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa

Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil

8Telegraph expert rating

Disillusioned with the fashion industry after two decades at the helm of Diesel, owner Wilbert Das was keen to channel his creative energies into a meaningful project. One by one, 500 year-old homes and shacks off the main square have been remodelled as part of UXUA’s leafy compound. Furniture is fashioned from driftwood while many of the original artworks are thanks to collaborations through their in-house programme. The beach lounge – where cocktails are made in repurposed fishing boats – is the hippest of hangouts. Read expert review From £258 per night Check availability Rates provided by

rajmahal palace, jaipur, india

SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

8Telegraph expert rating

This former residence of the glamorous Gayatri Devi dates back to 1729. Still owned by Jaipur’s royal family, the décor is a nod to their past, but placed firmly in the modern day – set to the sound of jazz tunes and the clink of pink champagne glasses. Though the city of Jaipur may now be knocking on its pastel pink walls, its 10 acres of manicured grounds remain pristinely serene. Each room is named after a former guest, and even the smallest rooms are palatial. The result is a style straight from the pages of a Fitzgerald novel. Read expert review From £352 per night Check availability Rates provided by

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Claridge's, London, England


Mayfair, London, England

9Telegraph expert rating

Underpinned by continuity and depth of service, Claridge’s is a ribbon-tied gift box of a gorgeous, glamorous hotel. Slip past the celebrity-spotters outside, through the revolving door and into the marble-floored Front Hall, once a turning circle for horse-drawn carriages. Take the wrought-iron lift, complete with sofa and attendant, to your room or suite, perhaps designed by Veere Grenney or Diane von Fürstenberg. In the wonderful art deco bathroom, luxuriate in the sunken tub, which fills in seconds. See and be seen at afternoon tea (an institution) or for champagne in the showy Claridge’s Bar. Read expert review From £600 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Il San Pietro di Positano, Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Il San Pietro di Positano

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

10Telegraph expert rating

Though glamorous and frequented by film stars and royalty, this is a family-run affair and it shows. The hotel started life in the 1970s when Carlo Cinque built a villa for himself into the side of a rocky promontory (the only outward sign of the hotel, still today, is a tiny chapel on road level). Over the years, more rooms were added and he opened the house to guests. His descendants still manage the hotel today. Just about anything you could possibly wish for is on site, from a private boat and sea-level beach club to a Michelin-starred restaurant. Read expert review From £823 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Belmond La Residencia, Majorca, Spain

Belmond La Residencia

Deia, Majorca, Spain

9Telegraph expert rating

The hotel, originally two renovated 16th-century properties, has grown over the years and is now a labyrinth of stone paths and steps that cut through 35 acres of lush gardens of cypresses and olive trees to a peaceful pool. Plush rooms with panoramic views of the mountains and village sit on the hillside. Despite its grandeur and polish, this is a hotel with a homely ambience. Art classes can be organised with reputed artist Alan Hydes, or sculpting lessons with expert Juan Waelder, while weekly walking tours are offered to various artists’ studios. Read expert review From £700 per night Check availability Rates provided by

The Norman, Tel Aviv, Israel

The Norman

Tel Aviv, Israel

8Telegraph expert rating

The Norman sits along an upscale street in the Unesco-listed White City district, surrounded by historical Bauhaus, Modernist and eclectic-style buildings. The hotel is comprised of two listed, beautifully restored buildings from the Twenties — one in pale-yellow; one in powder blue — conjoined by a citrus garden and terrace. It evokes the south of France and old Hollywood — fittingly so, as the hotel was named after Norman Lourie, the owner’s late filmmaker father. A distinguished modern Israeli art collection lends a contemporary flair to the public spaces. Read expert review From £522 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Les Ferme de Marie Megeve

Les Fermes de Marie

Megève, Rhône-Alpes, France

8Telegraph expert rating

As Jean-Louis and Jocelyne Sibuet strolled in the mountains above stylish Megève, they were captivated by the rustic charm of the ancient timber chalets peppering the Alpine pastures. Several years later, in 1989, the duo launched Les Fermes de Marie, made of materials from those very chalets. It’s reminiscent of a rural hamlet, linked by meandering footpaths and burbling streams. In the outdoor hot tub, guests soak ski-tired legs, contemplating the blanket of snow settled over wide timber eaves, the fragrant pine swags and neatly stacked logs cut for the countless open fires that warm the hotel’s restaurants, inviting snugs and chalets. Read expert review From £219 per night Check availability Rates provided by

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Palazzo Margherita, Italy

Palazzo Margherita

Bernalda, Basilicata, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

Francis Coppola discovered the crumbling 19th-century Palazzo Margherita while visiting Bernalda, his grandfather’s hometown. Original floors and furnishings, wisteria-draped walkways, ceiling frescoes and vintage-style fittings give the place an air of timeless glamour, while the six rooms (all designed by a Coppola family member) make it feel like a well-loved home. Indeed, guests are made to feel like honorary members of the family. Private cinema screenings can be arranged, whereby guests choose from a vast collection of classics curated by Francis himself. Read expert review From £503 per night Check availability Rates provided by

La Granja, Ibiza

La Granja

Ibiza, Spain

8Telegraph expert rating

La Granja is a 16th-century farmhouse and the perfect hideaway for those who seek a simpler way of life. It has 10 guestrooms decorated in a traditional Ibizan style; an open, communal dining area; and a pool that overlooks acres of terraced farmland. A traditional Bedouin tent on the property hosts parties, meditations and gatherings of like-minded people. You’ll be on a first-name basis with most of the staff within hours of checking in. Fancy a snack? Pop your head into the kitchen and they’ll make something up for you from scratch. Read expert review From £290 per night

Taj Lake Palace

Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

9Telegraph expert rating

The Palace floats like a white ship on the waters of Lake Pichola, with 360-degree views of Udaipur. Built in 1743 as a summer escape by the royal dynasty of Mewar, it was converted into a hotel when the Maharana started accepting paying guests in the 1960s. The transition to hotel has been seamless, with the original fountains and fretwork expanded to include 66 rooms. Clichéd or not, you will be treated like royalty: every room comes with round-the-clock butler service. Facilities include on-tap water taxi to the city pier, a floating spa, and a pool. Read expert review From £226 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Hacienda San Angel, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Hacienda San Angel

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

8Telegraph expert rating

This warren of bedrooms, balconies, dipping pools, courtyards and terraces is more akin to a Baz Luhrmann set than a hotel. It was owned by Richard Burton and many of his antiques still remain. It’s a traditional hacienda set-up with a Gothic meets exotic style: religious effigies hide in corners, heavy wood altars are used as bed heads, corridors are lit with candelabras and statues of angels act as decorative fountains next to hidden swimming pools. Guests’ keys will also grant them access to nearby sister property, Casa Kimberly, the former home of Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Read expert review From £162 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Amangiri, Utah, United States


Utah, United States

9Telegraph expert rating

Amangiri is no ordinary hotel, but rather an enclave of comfort and style in North America’s most dramatic desert landscape. Be warned, its almost-secret location, on the invisible border between Arizona and Utah, is not easy to find: the panoramic drive from the main road is part of the experience. Come here to be and feel remote, surrounded by striking architecture, mind-blowing nature and pampered in true Aman style. Every room has a view over the desert from the bath or the bed. Guests gather in the evening to see the sun setting over the red rocks. Read expert review From £1,766 per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith

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Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli

Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli

Marittima, Puglia, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

The 15th-century Convento is no ordinary hotel. It is run by Lady Athena, the wife of the late Lord McAlpine, who eloquently describes a stayhere as a cross between an English country house party and summer on a Greek island. The place overflows with Moroccan carpets, Nigerian wooden carvings, Aboriginal art, Zulu pottery and 14 tons of books, nearly all of which are first editions. Each of the six rooms is unique, some with a bath, others overlooking the herb garden where more than 80 varieties of mint grow. Guests can walk into the open kitchen and help themselves to wine, Italian birra and freshly made treats. Read expert review From £400 per night

Macakizi hotel, Turkey


Turquoise Coast, Turkey

8Telegraph expert rating

Maçakizi was established in the 1970s as a retreat for artists and writers by Ayla Emiroğlu, maven of Turkish boutique hotels. The hotel moved to its present location in 2000 and is now run by her son. It is arranged over four levels; the wow factor hits when you leave your room, descend the stone stairs, pass the open-air breakfast pavilion and head through magnolia and oleander gardens: in front of you, acres of canopied wooden decking occupied by expensively dressed bodies recline on sun loungers, or prop up the centrepiece bar, while a DJ plays something cool and the hotel’s yacht bobs in the clear Aegean waters. Read expert review From £469 per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith

Raffles Singapore Hotel

Raffles Singapore


9Telegraph expert rating

Raffles is a classic, a bright-white bouquet of colonial-era architecture and palm-painted gardens squeezed between skyscrapers in the heart of Singapore. Named after Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, it has been declared a national monument, immortalised in novels, film and song, with a guest list including everyone from Noël Coward to Nelson Mandela. Don’t miss at least one meal in the terrific Tiffin Room, the longest-serving restaurant in Singapore, with its velvety paneer, gunpowder hot curries and ambience. Suites (there are only suites here) incorporate a bedroom, parlour and balcony. Read expert review From £516 per night Check availability Rates provided by

Contributions by Ariela Bard, Emma Beaumont, Luciana Bellini, Pippa de Bruyn, Lee Cobaj, Jade Conroy, Rachel Cranshaw, Fiona Duncan, Paula Hardy, Juliet Kinsman, Megan Lambert, Travis Levius, Gabriella Le Breton, Trish Lorenz, Mary Lussiana, Jane Mulkerrins, Anna Nicholas, John O’Ceallaigh, Debbie Pappyn, Holly Rubenstein, Chloe Sachdev, Clare Speak, Rebecca Tay, Tom Vater, Tina Walsh, Nicola Williams