The inaugural The World’s 50 Best Hotels awards took place this week and – as the Michelin Guide and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants do for the international food scene – they will play a crucial role in defining status for the winners.
But what’s it like to actually stay in some of the world’s best hotels?
The Citizen Femme team have travelled far and wide, staying at many of the newly-defined world’s best hotels. From Passalaqua in Lake Como (which took the no.1 spot in this week’s awards) to Hôtel de Crillon in Paris (achieving number 50), read on to find out exactly what it’s like to stay at 10 of the world’s best hotels for 2023.
Hôtel de Crillon, Paris. (No. 50)
As a core member of the Rosewood luxury hotel group and with its prestigious Place de la Concorde address, Hôtel de Crillon is bound to boast the highest-quality stay in a city that is no stranger to extravagance. Originally commissioned by King Louis XV, the hotel has stood proud in its original Rococo-facade decadence for almost three centuries. On the inside, thanks to its 2017 refurbishment by top Parisian interior designers which saw a contemporary reworking of the decor, palatial suites are now graced by a pastel decadence rather than traditionally rich tones, brightening the space. Underneath Baccarat chandeliers, find Matthieu Carlin’s exclusive pastries at Butterfly Pâtisserie, gourmet restaurant Nonos & Comestible by Paul Pairet and a state-of-the-art spa.
The Savoy, London (No. 47)
Pretentious in all the right ways, The Savoy lies at the heart of London and embodies the city’s traditions and refined sense of glamour. The five-star hotel backs onto London’s unique shopping district, Covent Garden, and neighbours The Royal Opera House. Opened in 1889, The Savoy was created by theatre talent agent Richard D’Oyly Carte, so it’s no coincidence it’s located in London’s west end theatre district. Luxury and excitement weaves its way into every element of The Savoy’s history; The Royal Suite is papered floor to ceiling in Gucci designs as a nod to the late Guccio Gucci who worked at The Savoy as a luggage porter in the early twentieth century. But the entire interior of the hotel offers just as much excitement – with sweeping views of the Thames, rooms are richly dressed with red throws and closely ironed bedsheets. Champagne afternoon teas come as standard and don’t miss Britain’s oldest cocktail bar, American Bar, where suited waiters serve expertly curated classic cocktails.
The Siam Hotel, Bangkok (No. 42)
In Thailand’s capital, a city of staggering golden temples, delicious food markets, and buzzing noise, lies The Siam, a quiet hideout in the bustling city. Fusing Siamese history with contemporary-designer Bill Bensley’s art deco style, The Siam’s exterior is an unmissable sight. The black and white building is artistically drenched in vibrant green plants playing into its positioning as a private wilderness to discover within the capital. Inside, light and airy rooms are photographic from every angle, with a long pool and quiet courtyard providing secluded spaces for catching the Thai sun. On the menu, Wednesday and Saturday nights offer a nine-course Thai tasting menu. And that’s just the start.
Eden Rock St. Barths (No. 41)
The iconic red-tiled roofs are the first sign you’ve arrived at Eden Rock St Baths – and of the kind of experience that awaits. Upmarket, yes, but this hotel also has a certain joie de vivre about it; nothing is taken too seriously, an ethos entirely at ease with its Caribbean island setting. Rooms and suites are laid back and filled with art, their names a secondary clue to the hotel’s playful vibe. Perhaps you’ll opt to stay in the Flamboyant Suite with a private pool, terrace and even a library inside, or maybe Villa Rockstar will better suit your needs – it sleeps 12 people and has a 20-metre private pool, a gym and spa area, and a piano. Oh, an it also comes with a dedicated chef and butler. The rockstar life, indeed. The hotel started life as a 1950s guesthouse that hosted the likes of Howard Hughes and Greta Garbo, and there’s a gorgeous suite overlooking the ocean named after Garbo too, built into the space she loved to use to get away from it all.
Aman, Venice (No. 14)
Moderation is spared in the Aman Venice. Guests become a part of Renaissance Venice when residing here, as the Baroque building, antique chandeliers and original frescoes by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo impress on the senses. Only a working hotel since 2013 and formerly Palazzo Papadopoli, the Aman still boasts a ballroom in all its Renaissance extravagance. The top suite, the Alcova Tiepolo Suite, rivals all kinds of Hollywood glitz. Drink in the hotel bar, the Red Room, a favourite of Lord Byron’s, or in the trimmed private garden with white awnings overlooking the grand canal. In the restaurant, executive chef Dario Ossola sources ingredients from the famous Rialto market serving rich Italian delicacies available on room service 24-hours a day.
Four Seasons Firenze, Florence (No. 9)
Located within the former palazzo of a counselman, the Four Seasons Firenze is lavish and OTT, in all the best ways. Ideal for an art-fuelled Italian getaway, not only is it within striking distance of some of the best galleries in Florence – such as the Uffizi and Accademia – it’s also filled with historic and contemporary sculptures itself. Frescos line the walls of the suites and statues dot the large, 11-acre private garden, the largest in the city and an ideal place to retreat to after a day of sightseeing. The Renaissance-era building has been carefully renovated to retain original architectural features such as the stucco in the lobby, and bedrooms are fit for royalty boasting elegant and plush wallpapers and antique furniture. To top it all off, the property is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, Il Palagio, as well as a private dining experience overlooking the city’s iconic Duomo, held in the former home of Leonardo da Vinci.
One&Only Mandarina, Mexico (No. 8)Mara Hoffman’s words, “you really get to immerse yourself into the culture and nature which is why we are always drawn to this hotel.” A stay at One&Only Mandarina truly is a stay within nature: accommodation is in the treetops or on the cliffside; facilities such as the wellness centre, adults-only pool and equestrian centre are scattered throughout the surrounding rainforests; there are miles upon miles of hiking trails, and a traditional healer on hand, who uses indigenous herbs and plants to alleviate and rebuild heart, mind, body and soul. But don’t let the au natural setting fool you, this property is as design-focussed as it is eco-conscious and a stay here is a stylish one, from the contemporary design of the property featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outdoors in, to the trendy, design-first furniture sourced from local craftspeople. Add in the personal butler, wellness centre under a canopy of Higuera trees, excellent kids’ club, and evenings of fine dining and it’s no wonder this hotel has fared so well in this year’s awards.
Soneva Fushi, Maldives (No. 7)
Just a 30-minute, and very scenic sea plane from Malé, Soneva Fushi is a ‘no news, no shoes’ kind of resort. Think thatched-roof accommodation tucked away off winding paths lined with palm trees, large and impressive outdoor bathrooms with equally-impressive views to match, private pools in most categories of room – some even with slides leading directly into the ocean. Room sizes range from the one-bedroom Sunrise and Sunset Villas to the nine-bedroom private reserve complete with a sauna and spa, a saltwater pool, a gym, a children’s room and even a nanny’s room for when you’re traveling with entourage. Zip line to dinner at Flying Sauces restaurant (yes, really), which is hosting a chef-in-residence experience with Tim Raue of the eponymous two-starred Michelin restaurant in Berlin until 24 January 2024. Elsewhere, snorkel with manta rays, cruise with dolphins at sunset and grab a racket for a game of tennis on the picturesque courts. Or, simply lie back and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
The Upper House, Hong Kong, is an unsuspecting gem in the sky high city of modernity. Andre Fu’s Japanese minimalist, rhythmically clean-cut, wood-panelled architecture almost tricks the eye into expecting a modest inside, one that is not met. Lavish grey velvets, tall glass windows and an interesting play of light as it streams from between the wall panel fixtures instead define the interior. Both food and wellness are taken as seriously as design by The Upper House. The spa-like bathrooms tease the hotel’s own spa where treatments using winning organic Bamford products can be booked, while complementary yoga mats and professional yoga residencies are also available. In the dining realm, the boutique hotel provides a tea room, secret garden, a Mediterranean restaurant (Salisterra), The Continental (a European inspired café) and the exclusive Greek pop-up Artemis & Apollo.
Passalacqua, Lake Como (No. 1)
Number one on The World’s 50 Best Hotels of 2023, Passalacqua is a worthy winner. Poised as a private, Italian Renaissance villa (which it once was, namely the home of Count Andrea Lucini Passalacqua) now at 24-suites, it’s still a relatively intimate affair for Lake Como. Its history of cultural creativity and romantic melodrama is clear in the ceiling carvings and Baroque frescoes, delicately preserved during the hotel’s €20 million renovation. Sunshine yellow and white striped parasols pepper the lush green lawns, set amongst cypress trees which themselves sweep into a swimming terrace perched on the deep blues of Lake Como. Barbara Sturm treatment rooms can be found at the resident spa while at the restaurant, head chef and sommelier Mauro Verza maintains an impeccable Italian menu.
Lead image: One&Only Mandarina, Mexico
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