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The Best High-End Hotel Rooms on the Planet

GQ logo GQ 6/7/2019 Codie Steensma
a pool next to a body of water © Courtesy of Laucala

When the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas collaborated with Damien Hirst on a $100,000 a night “Empathy Suite” earlier this year, heads turned, eyes rolled, and a few 1% bank accounts got infinitesimally smaller. Which begs the question, if you're splurging, why not really splurge and get yourself a sheik-friendly suite? Or a $7,000-a-night birth on a super lux locomotive? If you're going to spend it, here are some of the better pricey hotel offerings out there.

The Mark Hotel's Penthouse Suite, NYC

a dining room table in front of a window © Scott Frances

In a city full of high end hotels, it’s hard to really impress anyone. There are storied institutions like the Plaza, Ritz, St. Regis, and Carlyle, or the more recently opened laps of luxury like The Beekman or 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. But when The Mark Hotel opened their penthouse back in 2015, even unflappable New Yorkers were at least a little gobsmacked. It was designed by the preeminent Jacques Grange. And, taking up roughly 10,000 sq. ft., it’s currently the largest suite in the states, with a quarter of that real estate given over to a rooftop terrace overlooking Central Park and the Met. There are five bedrooms between the two floors, four fireplaces, and the living room can be transformed into a grand ballroom. (Because who wouldn’t host a mock ball with that kind of space?) A stay also includes airport transfers via helicopter, dedicated butler service, and a chauffeured car of your choice. It’s the perfect penthouse for a beautifully deranged city. (Starting $75,000/night)

Ballyfin Demesne’s Sir Christopher Coote Suite, Ireland

a living room filled with furniture and a large window © Courtesy of Ballyfin

The most important aspect of Ballyfin is that it has been restored “to period” and the current owners went around to auctions and bought up furniture, silverware, and anything else they could find that was owned by the family that originally built the house back in the 1820s. So if you are the kind of person who dreams of researching Chinese Chippendale furniture on 1stdibs, or talks about your great-great-great grandparents, this is the place for you. They’ve even got falconry. And with 614 acres of gardens, you should try to get out of the room at least once and have yourself a stroll. With a falcon. (Starting $2,470/night)

Aman's Sveti Stefan Suite, Montenegro

a large pool of water in front of a house © Courtesy of Aman

While Aman properties have become the darlings of a younger jetsetting class, this property is a wonderfully different beast. It’s its own island. There’s a bridge to the mainland, but no one is ever sure whether they want (or need) to cross it. It was once a whole town, so you’ll probably be sleeping in a medieval bakery or church. Lying on Montenegro’s coastline on the Adriatic sea, Sveti Stefan is a boat ride away from ancient towns and UNESCO-protected sites. (Price upon request)

Lanesborough's Buckingham Suite, London

a large red chair in a living room filled with furniture and a window © Jack Hardy

The late Alberto Pinto’s renovation is very English. The hotel incorporates a vast array of made-in-Britain brands. Nestled between Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace in Mayfair, Pinto and his Paris-based firm achieved something artistic and extravagant—but private, calming, even feminine. No two spaces are alike, and more importantly, none are public. Pets are treated like guests, and the hotel has a live in golden retriever and a variety of birds. The Buckingham suite can be your own little monastery, swathed in Roja Parfums. (Starting $5,340/night)

Le Bristol's Suite Paris by Bertrand Lavier

a yellow and blue furniture © Courtesy of Le Bristol Paris

Many of Paris’s grand hotels can be a little uptight. If you want to maintain a bit more levity—while maintaining your top-notch taste—stay at Le Bristol. In the heart of the 8th arrondissement, the palace has been an institution since 1925, and skillfully updated over the past century. The Suite Paris, in particular, is one large live-in masterpiece, like a trip inside pop artist Bertrand Lavier’s mind. It’s both Walt Disney and Louis XVI. We won’t fault you for liking either. Here's how to have both at once. (Starting $12,500/night)

Royal Mansour's Grand Riad, Marrakech

a group of pink flowers in a garden © Courtesy of Royal Mansour

The Royal Mansour is a place to escape. They refer to the four-bedroom Grand Riad as a “hotel within a hotel.” The accommodations are ridiculous enough to fully list: 19,375 sq. ft., a private library, two swimming pools, a cinema, hammam, gym, multiple dining and living rooms, and a glass-enclosed split-level terrace with a retractable roof. It also smells like fresh jasmine everywhere. And if you get lost (or go dizzy by looking at your nightly room charge), you have your own chef, watchman, housekeepers, and butlers to help you out. (Starting $40,000/night)

Belmond Grand Hotel’s Presidential Suite, St. Petersburg

a room with a large mirror © GQ

The Belmond Grand Hotel was the city’s first luxury hotel to open back in 1875. The Presidential Suite was unveiled in 2014. So while the hotel is neo-baroque, the suite itself caters to the more avant-garde. Nevertheless, you’ll get lost in heavy furs, grand pianos, dinner parties with caviar, and secret doors. No joke, there is a secret bookcase door between the library and master bedroom. If you’re going to do Russia, you might as well go all in on imperial grandeur. (Price upon request)

Awasi Patagonia's Master Villa, Chile

a field with a mountain in the background © Courtesy of Awasi

We all dream of dropping off the map. Here’s a place you can actually do that: the wonderfully isolated region of Patagonia. Awasi is the southernmost Relais & Chateaux in the world. The main attraction is the setting itself, and the 14 private villas are located between the Torres del Paine Mountain Range, the Patagonian Steppe, and Lake Sarmiento (all littered with guanacos, puma, and condors). The minimal footprint of the hotel on the grounds makes it all the more epic. Take your own private guide and 4WD vehicle for some serious exploration. Then head back for a raging fire and hot tub. (Starting $4,400/night)

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’s Grand Suites, UK-France-Italy

a bedroom with a bed and a chair in a room © Courtesy of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

If the New York City subway is a janky, dystopian train doing loops around the 7th circle of hell, then the Simplon-Orient-Express is precisely the opposite. You can travel between London, Paris, and Venice (with a once annual trip between Paris and Istanbul) in splendor. Your champagne glass will always be full. There’s art deco design like you wouldn’t believe. And you can take the bathrobe home. That latter perk is probably the most important. And as of this spring, there are three Grand Suites on the train, each with full, private bathrooms, double beds, and large sitting rooms. (Starting $7,288/person)

Hilltop Estate, Laucala Island, Fiji

a group of lawn chairs sitting on top of a lush green field © Jason Busch

Sitting at the very top of a jungle clad mountain is the Hilltop Estate on Laucala. It has its own guest residences, private cook, chauffeur, and infinity pool. If you’re an activity junkie, the island offers anything from windsurfing, to horseback riding, to golfing, all surrounded by that famous azure sea. (Price upon request)

The Silo Hotel's Penthouse, South Africa

a bedroom with a large window © Courtesy of The Silo

Cape Town is equally mountain and sea, and most mornings the clouds will pour over the top of Table Mountain like steam from a pan, settling in the basin of the city, and eventually evaporating off toward the Cape of Good Hope. Down by the city's waterfront, the former grain silo turned modernist hotel is like living in a birdcage. It sits atop the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), the first major museum dedicated to contemporary African art in the world. The hotelier, Liz Biden, who is the founder and CEO of The Royal Portfolio which manages The Silo Hotel, is also a famously fierce bridge player. (Starting $4,869/night)

Soneva Fushi’s Villa 37, The Maldives

a chair sitting in front of a body of water © Courtesy of Soneva Fushi

Let’s start with Villa 37’s dining area, dubbed the “Moonlight Table,” which stands 36 feet tall and is the highest point on the Maldivian island where the Soneva Fushi resort lives. There’s also a private waterslide into a freshwater pool, pillars made from upside down trees, complimentary homemade ice cream, an open-air cinema, and very fluffy daybeds. A good place to overturn the maxim that afternoon naps are just for alcoholics and Jack Dorsey. (Starting price $15,864/night)

Bvlgari Hotel’s Bvlgari Suite, Beijing

a large red chair in a room © Courtesy of Bvlgari Hotel

The Italian architecture firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel is and has always been committed to this version of cool, porcelain and glass refinement, and their Bvlgari Hotel portfolio is no different. With floor to ceiling windows, a bed made of woven bamboo, a private sauna, and views of Beijing’s Liangma River, you’ll feel like a statesman on top of the world. And for 1,300 sq. ft. at this price, you probably already are. (Starting $20,099/night)

Heckfield Place’s Long Room, England

a bedroom with a large bed in a room © Courtesy of Heckfield Place

Opening in September 2018, Heckfield Place is just an hour outside London and very much in keeping with traditional English manors. The gardens, the lakes, the tea times, the butlers (or “personal guest keepers,” as they’re called), all of it. The modern wing of this property is called “The Corridors.” The Long Room, which is more of a loft, has the best views (of the gardens, and also a private art collection). Don’t miss the portrait of Virginia Woolf.

Time + Tide Miavana's Villa 1, Madagascar

a close up of a street © Courtesy of Time + Tide Miavana

Time + Tide spent roughly 6 years, along with tour operating veteran Roar Africa, to develop this private island property off the northernmost tip of Madagascar. The conservation-based company is part foundation, and this property in particular has led a lemur translocation in order to stave off the excessive poaching and sales on the main island. They also lead ecological education programs, seaweed farming, and healthcare education for local communities. So, all you need to ask yourself is whether you want to save lemur pups and also enjoy a truly fantastic 3-bedroom villa on the Indian Ocean. At the same time. (Starting $13,000/night)

Six Senses Thimphu’s One-Bedroom Villa, Bhutan

a body of water with a mountain in the background © Courtesy of Six Senses

Amongst the collection of five lodges in the Himalayas, the Thimphu property is already known as a “palace in the sky.” Google images can easily show you why. With two other locations open in Punakha and Paro, the remaining two are scheduled for later this year. With a private terrace overlooking blue pine forests and apple orchards, the one-bedroom villa is a very natural kind of lush. (Starting $1,370/night)

Singita’s Hillside Suite, Tanzania

a living room filled with furniture and a window © Courtesy of Singita

With various accolades over the years, Singita’s collection of safari camps in the Serengeti are a permanent bucket list ticket. They define opulence, legacy, and even conservation. In other words, they’re not f*****g around. As of June 1st, the Hillside Suite alongside Sasakwa Lodge, featuring two wooden outdoor decks and a private rim-flow pool, is available for booking. (Starting $4,500/night)

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