A Haute Guide To The Hottest Hotels In Asia

Sky Bar at lebua

Photo Credit: lebua

WE ALL KNOW THAT JAPAN IS ABOUT TO HAVE A MASSIVE MOMENT, SINCE TOKYO IS HOSTING THE 2020 Summer Olympics. Luxury hotels, including the Tokyo Edition Toranomon and a second Four Seasons property in Otemachi—as well as the massive $1 billion renovation of longtime mainstay Hotel Okura—are popping up just in time for the opening ceremony on July 24. While all eyes are on Japan, it would be a mistake to ignore the luxury tourism trend throughout the rest of Asia… because it’s kind of a big place, no? Some of the best five-star hotels in the world are opening with staggering speed. Here are the new hotels, glamorous haunts and experiential retreats in Asia that all luxury enthusiasts must have on their radar.

Breeze at lebua

Lebua checks every box for a luxury traveler, which is likely why it’s always listed on all “Best of Asia” lists—including ours, of course. The world’s first vertical destination—first made famous by “The Hangover 2″—is a one-stop shop for gourmands, oenophiles and hedonists, offering one-of-a-kind culinary experiences in the ultimate glamorous setting. Ten beautiful bars and restaurants fight for dominance at The Dome at lebua, including Sky Bar, which is suspended on a precipice over the city 820 feet in the air, making it one of the highest rooftop bars in the world; Mezzaluna, one of Thailand’s only 2-Michelin star restaurants; the nation’s first interactive French cuisine eatery, Chef’s Table, which just earned its first Michelin star under the skillful guidance of 3-Michelin star Chef Vincent Thierry; the specialty “millennial pink” champagne hot spot Pink Bar, which offers rare and limited editions of the world’s best bubbly; Flûte, A Perrier-Jouët bar; and lebua No. 3, which provides one of the most unique caviar experiences in the world (including cocktails made of “caviar air”). But travelers don’t come to lebua for the food alone—State Tower offers the full package: 136 luxurious suites with spectacular views of the city and Chao Phraya River; an open-air swimming pool; and a sensational spa, which offers indulgences like a synchronized four-hands massage. As a full package, lebua is the one to beat.

State Tower Bangkok, 1055 Si Lom, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

Pink Bar

Bvlgari Shanghai

Photo Credit: Bvlgari Shanghai

Luxury bauble brand Bvlgari has created the ultimate shining jewel in its Shanghai hotel, which, appropriately, is located in the Pearl of the Orient. The centrally located property—which offers views of the Bund and Huangpu River—brings a hefty dose of Italian glamour to this chic Chinese city with its quietly tasteful esthetic, haute cuisine and top-notch spa and fitness center. The 48-floor hotel, which opened its doors just over 18 months ago, features tastefully decorated rooms, the highlight of which is its Bvlgari Suite—a 4,300-square-foot masterpiece with double-height ceilings. Bvlgari brings the best of the best to a city already known for its extravagances here: It has the largest hotel suite in Shanghai full stop, and accessible only via private lift. What makes the hotel so “extra” are its offerings, such as restaurant Bao Li Xuan, which has retained its Michelin star for a second year, as well as its brand-wide culinary concept Il Ristorante, helmed by 3-Michelin-starred Chef Niko Romito. Its 25,000-square-foot Bvlgari Spa is a spatial marvel, featuring bespoke Western and Eastern treatments alike such as La Mer facials and Qi balancing; a massive swimming pool; a beauty salon and barber; and the Workshop Gymnasium, a comprehensive physical training service founded by Lee Mullins (who has been heralded as one of the world’s best personal trainers; we can attest). The Bvlgari Hotel Shanghai also provides a bespoke shopping service with personal art, fashion and lifestyle shopping consultants, and can arrange private viewings of Bvlgari jewels en-suite. We suggest guests pair this stay with a stop at the brand’s Beijing property. Despite a few of the same amenities (including Maserati limousines as house cars), a stay here is a completely different experience. This property manages to offer a true oasis in China’s bustling capital city. With its bamboo walkway, prime location literally on the banks of the Liangma River and lush private gardens—designed by Swiss landscape designer Enzo Enea (Founder of Zurich’s Tree Museum)—guests will feel completely Zen in this quietly lavish environment, which creates a dialogue between Italy and China, effectively and luxuriously fusing the gap between East and West.
33 North Henan Road, Shanghai 200085

Il Bar at Bvlgari Shanghai

Photo Credit: Bvlgari Shanghai

Joali Spa

Photo Credit: Joali

Joali Maldives might seem like it’s at the ends of the Earth, but trust us when we say the journey is worth it. There’s a special brand of magic at this gorgeous Maldivian resort, which is surrounded by tranquil lagoons, pristine white-sand beaches, a lush landscape of coconut palms and translucent turquoise waters, which guests can experience from one of 73 private beaches or over-water villas. Each villa features a private infinity pool, butler service, buggy and personal driver, bicycle, curated in-villa libraries and handpicked art. It’s hard to know where to look or what to do first—everything is not only blindingly beautiful, but also exquisitely executed, chock full of Instagrammable moments that only nature can truly provide. Do you gaze at the multicolored fish that swim underneath your over-water hammock? Nosh on perfectly prepared fare from one of six dining outlets, such as the standout Saoke, the first restaurant in the Maldives to be designed by renowned Japanese restaurant architect Noriyoshi Muramatsu? Do you play with the interactive and experiential art pieces from the likes of Misha Kahn and Nacho Carbonell? Or do you go embrace Joali’s “joie de vivre” philosophy by hitting the open sea with the resort’s dedicated marine biologist, snorkel with sea turtles, grab a glass of champagne at sunset in South African artist Porky Hefer’s Manta Ray Tree House (designed as such to actually resemble a manta ray) or join a lively discussion with fellow guests over a specially curated menu at the Table of Joy? Whatever you’re looking for, we assure you, it’s here. The resort, which just celebrated its first birthday, is an unqualified success for those who want both luxury and experience. Joie de Joali indeed.
Muravandhoo Island Raa Atoll, Maldives

Arrival jetty

Photo Credit: Joali


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Laos is still off the beaten path for most travelers, which may be how this onetime Buddhist hub has managed to retain its mystery. And though Rosewood has come to the jungles of UNESCO World Heritage site Luang Prabang to open its 23-key property, instead of making the area more commercial, the hotel actually embraces its surroundings, and as such, only enhances the landscape. Accommodations include four deluxe rooms, four specialty suites, three riverside villas and six pool villas, all of which have their own private dining areas and wraparound decks. The most unique stays are six luxury tents, which not only preserve the area’s flora and fauna, but also seamlessly blend with the environment to bring guests closer to nature via balconies with mountain and river vista views, rain showers and earthy décor that pays tribute to the Laotian hills tribes—each tent indicative of a different tribe—that still inhabit the surrounding sites. Yet, the spirit of Laos is amplified in other ways here. The hotel’s chef visits with local farmers and fishermen every day to determine the day’s farm-to-table menu, which is served at the Great House; the Elephant Bridge Bar mixologists utilize local herbs and spices from the on-site garden in their hand-crafted cocktails; and its peaceful Sense Spa provides indigenous treatments—including the Hmong Experience, a “Lost Remedy” provided by a native villager who employs ancient techniques and herbs sourced from the forests of Luang Prabang. Make sure to take advantage of the hotel’s plethora of bespoke itineraries, like a magical Mekong River cruise at sunset on its house boat, a visit to the majestic Kouang Si Waterfall or receiving a blessing from local monks at dawn.
Nauea Village, Laos

Waterfall Pool Villa

Photo Credit: Rosewood Luang Prabang

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With an idyllic location on Vietnam’s rich central coast, The Nam Hai, a Four Seasons property, offers a portal to three UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as access to the country’s most celebrated beach, making it a prime destination for travelers looking for something a little different, yet still supremely luxurious. Hoi An has shown a tremendous amount of growth in recent years, and, in our opinion, is on the cusp of becoming the next big travel destination—as much for its dedication to well-being and mindfulness as its respect of the local culture. Views and sounds of the ocean, relaxing private villa pools and bide eggshell lacquer bathtubs are all the elements necessary for a peaceful vacation, but the aim of this particular resort is to provide a 360-degree mindfulness experience. It achieves this through treatments grounded in stability, creativity and nonjudgment at its award-winning Heart of the Earth Spa; with “interbeing” in-villa wellness kits that include a bell of mindfulness (a small singing bowl used by Vietnamese monks); mindful meditation tracks loaded on in-room iPods; bespoke bathing rituals for a sensory soak; a rotation of visiting well-being experts; AntiGravity Yoga; and, of course, through prerequisite mindfulness and meditation classes. If this type of mindfulness isn’t the kind you’re seeking, you can always find a little something something at The Bar, which serves up craft cocktails that embrace the Vietnamese spirit, which include a Grey Goose-based confection served in an actual bird’s nest, a pho cocktail with a beef jerky garnish and a Vietnamese tea cocktail.
Block Ha My Dong B, Điện Bàn, Vietnam

#####IMG000000017#####Photo Credit: Four Seasons Hoi An


#####IMG000000018#####Photo Credit: Raffles Hotel Singapore

One of the most exciting new hotel openings of the year is actually a reopening. The iconic Raffles Singapore, a favored haunt of the literary elite, officially reopened its doors in August following an extensive two-year renovation. Though it’s been refreshed and updated, one can still feel the history of this famous spot, which has been receiving guests since 1887. Under the meticulous renovation led by interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, Raffles now features 115 suites with three additional categories—Residence, Promenade and Studio—in addition to the existing Courtyard, Palm Court, State Room, Grand Hotel, Presidential and Personality suites, the latter of which pay tribute to famous guests such as Ava Gardner, Charlie Chaplin and Elizabeth Taylor. The hotel’s quintessential colonial charm—always prominently displayed via charming verandas and polished teakwood floors—now includes bathrooms redesigned with beautiful Victorian details and Peranakan tiles as well as more modernized technology; the entire room—as well as access to your dedicated butler—is controlled via iPad. There is also a slew of new culinary experiences on offer, including Le Dame de Pic, a collaboration with Chef Anne-Sophie Pic of the 3-Michelin star Maison Pic; BBR by Alain Ducasse; and yì by Jereme Leung. Even returning favorites have been updated: New herringbone flooring has been added to the iconic Tiffin Room; the legendary Writer’s Bar—a favored haunt of Somerset Maugham, Noël Coward, Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad—now offers an expanded bar with bespoke craft cocktails that pay tribute to said literary luminaries; and Long Bar, home of the original Singapore Sling, has been given a physical refresh, as well. Our suggestion: Embrace the old and the new as the hotel intends. Try a new restorative treatment at the spa, swim in the rooftop pool and throw peanuts on the floor at Long Bar. Create some new traditions while embracing a few old ones.
1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673

#####IMG000000019#####Raffles arcade courtyard

Photo Credit: Raffles Singapore


#####IMG000000020#####Photo Credit: Capella Ubud

Extravagance and adventure become one at the newly opened Capella Ubud in Bali. Celebrated architect Bill Bensley has created the ultimate upscale sanctuary in this 22-tent retreat, which is nestled in the wilds of the Balinese jungle among rice paddy fields in the artists’ village of Keliki. A stay here is glamping at its finest, albeit with all of the modern amenities that guests could wish for, including a tented gym and an innovative spa with treatments designed around the phases of the moon. Despite all of its modern luxuries, Bensley’s inspiration—the early European settlers of the 1800s—is keenly felt here, from the old-fashioned, copper, stand-alone baths to the plethora of handpicked antique artifacts, books, drawings and furniture that adorn each themed room (which are based on characters and professions of the early explorers). Many of these unique items are from Jakarta-based businessman Suwito Gunawan’s private collection for that extra-personalized, home-away-from-home touch.
Jl. RY Dalem, Keliki, Kec. Tegallalang, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia

Tent bathroom

Photo Credit: Capella Ubud

Kimpton Da An living room

Photo Credit: Kimpton Da An

Taipei’s Kimpton Da An, which opened in March, is a perfect fusion of East meets West, old meets new and calm meets chaotic. The hotel itself is an oasis in the midst of this bustling city, tucked away on a small, leafy side street. Its environment sets its intention quite nicely: Guests can take a break from the energy of the city to relax in one of the 129 rooms that have been designed by Neri Hu, 2015 winner of prestigious design accolade MaisonObjet Asia. Additional tools for relaxation include in-room yoga mats, fitness and wellness classes and use of complimentary bicycles to explore Taipei. The hotel’s restaurant, The Tavernist, embraces Taiwan’s organic, health and wellness movement by offering wholesome fare from local farmers and producers.
No. 25, Lane 27, Section 4, Ren’ai Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Photo Credit: Kimpton Da An