I believe that everyone has a bucket list - a mental or digital checklist of important boxes that need to be ticked while you still have the ability to do so. My bucket list is very experiential and includes professional goals I want to accomplish, far-flung destinations I want to visit, restaurants I want to try and a list of hotels that I'm desperate to stay in. I'm a hotel snob, I'll admit it, but thankfully in 2019, you can be a hotel snob without breaking the bank. From a rash of affordable boutique hotels to leveraging a credit card with great travel rewards (Helloooo Chase Sapphire Preferred), you can stay at great hotels without Beyonce's bank balance.
That said, some hotels and resorts are so beautiful and so special that they become a destination in themselves. These ten showstoppers below are on my bucket list and you had better believe that I plan to check each of them off of my list.
Amangiri, Canyon Point, UT
There are rooms with a view, and then there are rooms. with. a. view. Located in a 600-acre plot of private land situated in the desert landscape of Utah, each of the Amangiri’s Desert View and Mesa View suites peer out onto the impressive rocky landscape. I've read that watching the sunrise from bed here is simply astounding — something that takes this Aman property beyond the realm of just a hotel and into that of a life experience. Constructed from concrete, the property is all angular, a brash set of shapes against the natural rock of its surrounding landscape. The neutral color palette is so at one with the landscape it is almost invisible, a playful juxtaposition that was likely the architect’s dream concept.
Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy
Situated high on the cliff with the most picturesque view in Positano, Le Sirenuse is magnificent and legendary. John Steinbeck wrote about it back in 1953 when he stated, “We went to the Sirenuse, an old family house converted into a first class hotel, spotless and cool, with grape arbors over its outside dining rooms. Every room has its little balcony and looks out over the blue sea to the islands of the sirens from which those ladies sang so sweetly." Built into the steep southwest-facing side of Positano, the hotel’s oxblood facade is high enough to ensure excellent sea views, while only a 10-minute walk (down lots of steps) from resort’s beach and ferry port. A collection of antique furniture and art helps the hotel retain its atmosphere of the private home it originally was, though over time it has conjoined with neighboring houses to become an eclectic warren of rooms over several floors.
Inkaterra La Casona, Cusco, Peru
If you’re looking for a serene spot to acclimate before climbing Machu Picchu or if you just want a fabulous home base when exploring historic Cusco, Inkaterra La Casona is where you need to stay, To start, this 16th century mansion is built on ancient Inca training grounds and is the first Relais & Châteaux hotel in Peru. It's got five-star amenities for days with heated floors, an eco-conscious spa and eleven guest rooms that overlook a private courtyard, done up in traditional Peruvian style. The house restaurant serves up traditional delicacies but for breakfast, word on the street is that the Eggs Benedict are made to order and the staff will happily pack a to-go picnic if a day of sightseeing is on the agenda.
Carneros Resort & Spa, Napa, CA
Sitting just a few miles southwest of Napa, California, Carneros Resort and Spa is surrounded by 28 acres of grapevines, fruit trees and picturesque farmland. The resort has cottages, suites and luxurious private homes clustered throughout the property. Inspired by Napa’s working countryside with farm-style architecture and an indoor-outdoor feel, the individual cottages are set up in small 'neighborhoods.' The cottages have fireplaces, indoor-outdoor showers, individual hot tubs and French doors leading to landscaped gardens. The property is home to three restaurants, a market, a high-end exclusive boutique, two pools and The Spa at The Carneros Resort and Spa.
Hotel Le Toiny, Gustavia, St. Barths
Tucked into the hills above St Barths’ best surfing beach, Hotel Le Toiny specializes in blissful seaside seclusion. Each of the fifteen suites is a private Villa with a terrace, infinity pool and classic Caribbean decor. It can be tempting never to leave the generous, private spaces, but hiding out would mean missing the top-tier restaurant, hiking trails and Serenity Spa. The newest addition to Le Toiny is the beach club, which the owners modeled after Le Club 55 in St Tropez. Last year, it was a windswept scrap of scrub; now guests are shuttled down by Jeep Wrangler to a slip of sand with lunch tables set between sea grape, chalkboard menus, hammocks strung up in the palm grove and plumped-up sunbeds on the shore. This is boho-beautiful, toes-in-the-sand, long-lunches, another-bottle-of-rosé St Barth's.
La Mamounia, Marrakesh, Morocco
You know the hype isn't overrated when a hotel continuously wins all of the awards. “Best Hotel In The World," “Top Hotel For Honeymoons,” “Best Spa In The World," etc, etc. La Mamounia does not play. I work with travel writers from around the world and their unified consensus is that it's an out-of-this-world experience, one that cannot be missed. Recently renovated, the hotel is more luxurious than ever with plush décor, Moorish opulence and some of the best dining options Marrakesh has to offer. However, beyond the rich fabrics, Instagrammable-tiled courtyards and pristine swimming pools, it’s also an oasis of calm. When you wander through La Mamounia Hotel’s 20-acre park with its fruit trees, tall palms and brightly colored flowers, it is easy to forget you’re standing in the center of one of the world’s most hectic cities.
Jade Mountain, St. Lucia, West Indies
Rising above the beach front resort, Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain Resort on St. Lucia’s south-western Caribbean coastline features organic architecture celebrating the island's stunning scenic beauty. Each room has only three walls and a private infinity pool with stunning panoramic views of the beautiful Caribbean making Jade Mountain's rooms settings to embrace St. Lucia’s Pitons World Heritage Site, and of course, the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea. The architectural design – individual bridges leading to infinity pools and rugged stoned-faced columns reaching towards the sky – creates a feel where the bedroom, living area and private infinity pool glide into one another our onto an extraordinary platforms floating out into nature.
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai's iconic sail-shaped hotel features a fleet of Rolls Royce, Hermès toiletries, a pillow menu for your king-size bed and 18k gold-plated iPad found in every suite. It's extra AF. Built in 1999, this self-proclaimed 7-star hotel attracts many wealthy British and Asian tourists as well as business travelers, all hoping to get the perfect Instagram shot. Burj Al Arab is a collection of 202 duplex suites, each as ornate and opulent as you'd expect.
The Princeville Resort, Hanalei, Hawaii
Located in the 9,000 acre resort community of Princeville at Hanalei, the Princeville Resort rightfully claims to sit on Hawaii’s most stunning location – a cliff overlooking dramatic Hanalei Bay on the northern shore of Kauai, the “Garden Island”. The spectacular views rank among the most beautiful in the world and are framed by lush tropical hills, clear blue skies, puffs of clouds, and mist. The resort – which used to be a St Regis property until November 2018 – has 252 rooms and suites which are located in three separate buildings that terrace down from the top plateau of Princeville to the semi-private beach at Hanalei Bay. Calming and seductive, these contemporary Hawaiian designed accommodations reflects the color palette of the sky, sea and earth.
Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, France
Set in the 16th Arrondisement in Paris, the Shangri-La Hotel has both an enviable location and historic charm. Originally the private mansion of Roland Bonaparte, eccentric botanist and great-nephew of Napoleon, these suites and bedrooms evoke a grand classical lifestyle, some with balconies from which you can almost touch the Eiffel Tower across the river. Take in a light, leisurely meal on your balcony and behold the Seine River in all its glory. Afterward, exercise in the fitness center, take advantage of the hospitality lounge or gaze at the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower.
All images are courtesy of the respective properties.