As we begin 2016, we figured why not select a few crazy, high-end, luxury hotels and resorts that are “bucket list” material for us. Properties that we would never normally stay in on our typical holiday, but those we always secretly want to book. So we decided to forget about the price tag, pesky thing that it is, and dream big.
Who knows, maybe some day we will win the lottery!
Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Los Angeles
We have never really properly “done” Los Angeles. There is no excuse really, especially with a newly revamped international terminal at LAX, allowing for more international traffic. In 2012, according to the Los Angeles Tourism Board, 60 million travelers passing through the airport, and airport parking service site, Parking4Less, showed growth of additional 6 million passengers for 2013. We flew into LAX this year, before heading north to Santa Barbara to see friends. We need to soak in some true LA lifestyle!
If we were to do LA properly, we would avoid the trendy downtown properties and head straight to the classic LA hotel, the Beverly Wilshire. There is something about its history (built in 1923, which is unbelievably old by LA standards) and the glamour, that makes it a unique destination. It is a little bit of old Hollywood. We could imagine Marilyn Monroe waltzing through the lobby or Elvis Presley causing a scene. We wouldn’t venture out and do the typically touristy things. We would sit by the pool and sip cocktails while wearing oversized sunglasses in a cabana. At night, we would head downstairs to Wolfgang Puck’s trendy steakhouse, CUT, order martinis, and indulge in some true Japanese Wagyu beef.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
Any image of this hotel makes me want to book a trip to Udaipur instantly. The Oberoi Udaivilas sits on 200 year old hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar, with over 50 acres, including a 20 acre wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar. It has even been the setting of numerous Bollywood movies, so maybe, just maybe, a huge song and dance routine will break out when we stay there!
The lakeside setting, the manicured grounds, and the architecture of the buildings, with their winding halls and corridors, seems like the kind of place we could spend a considerable amount of time pretending that we’re Indian Bollywood royalty.
Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest
We love Budapest and have been a few times over the years. On our first visit, we did a free walking tour that stopped by the Four Seasons Gresham Palace. The setting, right along the Danube, and next to the famous Chain Bridge, was striking. It is grand, without being gaudy. The building was a perfect example of art nouveau architecture done well (hence, the stop on our tour).
What attracts us most to this hotel though are the reviews. The hotel regularly ranks in the Top 10 globally in publications like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure. It gets rave reviews from guests online, enthusiastically extolling its virtues. We want to see what all the fuss is about.
Singita Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa
The idea of staying in a swanky resort, while being able to partake in a safari in Kruger National Park, has been a dream for years. It’s indulgent and over-the-top, but that is what dream hotels are all about. The Singita Sabi Sand sits in the Sabi Reserve, a 45,000 acre private gaming reserve known for the presence of big cats.
The hotel only features 12 suites, each with a plunge pool, which sounds nice after a long day photographing wildlife. Like all high end resorts, once you arrive, everything is taken care of, and you just go along for the glamorous ride. What we especially love is the remoteness. It is not easy to get to, requiring a private jet charter, or if you have the time, a 7 hour drive from Johannesburg.
Ham Yard Hotel, London
Even though we live in London, we like to check out local hotels from time to time. We tell ourselves it’s just for the sake of research, but really, London has some of the best hotels around. Many of the most famous are beautiful and elegant, with storied histories. But given our choice of the place to go all-out, we would pick something newer and funkier in London: The Ham Yard Hotel. Strange name, very cool hotel.
The Ham Yard is part of Firmdale Hotels, which operates unique (or, dare we say, bespoke?) hotels around London and NYC and is one of favorite collections of hotels. The Ham Yard is one of the newer additions to the portfolio and one of the most expensive. It features quirky styling, a bowling alley, a cinema, and a rooftop terrace, perfect for retreating from the hectic streets of SoHo. A true interior design gem from the talented Kit Kemp.