V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa
Right in the middle of the V&A Waterfront, the One&Only Cape Town overlooks the marina with views of Table Mountain and does urban chic with world-class amenities. The hotel spa has its very own quarter-acre (1,000 m²) private island, and dining options include a Nobu and a chic brasserie. Although all suites are spacious and done up in sleek South African style, luxury travelers may want to look to the Champagne Suite by Dom Pérignon, a carefully curated experience and the first of its kind in Africa.
Vila de Gracia, Barcelona, Spain
El Palauet is a five-story palatial mansion transformed into six two-bedroom, two-bath apartment suites, each with its own personal assistant. It features a rooftop spa and room service with Japanese and Mediterranean menus. A two-night minimum stay is required. On Passeig de Gracia, the city's most exclusive boulevard, it was built as the Casa Bonaventura Ferrer in 1906 in Catalan Modernisme style. Small dogs and children welcomed.
Iena, Paris, France
The elegant Shangri-La - once home to Napoleon's grandnephew Prince Roland Bonaparte - is one of only 16 hotels in the country ranked as "Palace" by the French Ministry of Tourism. Its stunning Pierre-Yves Rochon interior mixes "Empire" and "Luxury minimalist" with eye-catchers like the glass cupola and Murano chandelier in La Bahinia, one of three award-winning restaurants in the hotel. CHI, its spa sanctuary, features Asian holistic treatments, a fitness center and a 52 by 20 foot (16 by 6 meter) pool opening onto a terrace. Noting its silk-threaded wallpaper, marble bathrooms with heated floors and gold leaf mosaics, Forbes call it "the city's most extraordinary luxury hotel."
South Beach, Miami, United States
A top Miami Beach Hotel since 1940, The Raleigh has 105 elegant Art Deco rooms, including a suite named after Esther Williams, the mid-century Olympic champion and movie star who made the hotel's pool famous. With private beach cabanas, it is easy walking distance from Lincoln Road shopping and the Miami Beach Convention Center. Tommy Hilfiger bought the property in 2014 with plans to turn it into an exclusive private club and hotel with a state-of-the-arts spa.
Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Luxurious to the extreme, the legendary Copacabana Palace showcases the best of Rio hospitality. Opened in 1923. it was refurbished in 1989 when it was bought by the Orient-Express international hotel chain and renamed Belmond Copacabana Palace. With 216 rooms, a semi-olympic pool, a VIP penthouse pool, a three storey-spa, a fitness center, three restaurants and a tennis court, it is Rio's and South America's most glamorous hotel. Former guests include Princess Diana, the King and Queen of Norway, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones and Madonna, to name a few.
Nob Hill, San Francisco, United States
Set atop Nob Hill with amazing views of Grace Cathedral and the city skyline, The Scarlet Huntington is a grande dame of a hotel. The rooms inside the ivy-clad building--which used to be luxury apartments--are decorated with four-poster beds and hand carved furniture, and the impressive lobby is scattered with plush red couches and chandeliers. A tri-level spa and excellent New American restaurant are also on-site. Be aware it's on a steep hill from downtown.
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A five-star hotel located in a converted grain warehouse in Puerto Madero, Faena stuns with belle époque elegance featuring empire and Louis XVI furnishings, dreamy beds, leathers and red velvet hues coupled with hardwood floors and marbled baths. Onsite are the popular Library Lounge, sleek El Mercado bistro, a see-and-be-seen pool topped by a huge golden grown, an arts center and El Cabaret - styled as a 1920s tango club and home to the recommended Rojo Tango show.
Jordaan District, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Overlooking Prinsengracht - the Prince's canal - Andaz Amsterdam is a luxury 5 star owned by the Hyatt group in a building which once was a public library. Completely renovated, an intimate library is still part of the amenities available, as well as fitness center, a spa, the Bluespoon Restaurant and bar. Close to Leiden Square, it is within easy reach of Amsterdam's top attractions.
South Strip, Las Vegas, United States
Home to the Shark Reef Aquarium, Cirque du Soleil nightclub Light, and several good restaurants, Mandalay Bay is also one of the most out and proud hotels in the city. Named the best hotel in Vegas by Out Traveler's 2008 travel guide, it's been recently renovated, and both the rooms and the casino floor are light-filled and stylish with an upscale, modern edge. Choose from rooms in either the Delano wing, the Four Seasons building, or the namesake Mandalay Bay tower, each with their own spin on the hotel's luxe personality. The three swimming pools, wave pool, and man-made beach area also make it one of the best pool scenes.
Sant Gervasi, Barcelona, Spain
The Gran Hotel La Florida has a rocky past, begun as a luxurious hotel in 1924, turned into a military hospital during the Spanish Civil War, resurrected as a luxury hotel in the mid-20th century to entertain the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Rock Hudson, shuttered in 1979. But it was relaunched and revamped as a 70-room boutique hotel and spa in 2001, updating without sacrificing the historical charm. High on Mount Tibidabo, it presents sweeping views of city and sea only a 20-minute drive to city center (hotel provides shuttle service). The sanctuary spa by L'Occitane is full service with a water and wellness zone featuring a 37-metre inside/outside stainless steel swimming pool and sun beds on garden terraces.