For many travelers, hotels are a necessary evil, an expense that adds little and costs a lot. Next time you travel, why not make your hotel a destination in and of itself? We’ve assembled a list of the world’s 10 best hotels guaranteed to provide a memorable experience. What qualifies a hotel as one of the world’s best is unique to everyone, so we’ve selected 10 distinct categories and picked our favorite for each.
For Luxury: Hotel President Wilson
For the ultimate in luxury, head to the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva. Nestled in the heart of Switzerland’s second most populous city, the ultra-modern hotel overlooks the stunning Lake Geneva and offers a clear view of Mont Blanc–the highest peak in the Alps. There are a handful of room options, each of them elegant, refined and contemporary with spa and pool access. CNN reported the hotel’s Royal Penthouse Suite as the most expensive hotel suite in the world. For $65,000 a night, you get 12 rooms that include a billiard room, a library, a grand piano and a private fitness center. The room has its own private elevator, a private terrace and bullet-proof doors and windows.
For Families: Beaches Negril Resort & Spa
Got kids? You won’t find a more family-friendly establishment than the Beaches Negril Resort & Spa in Jamaica. Located on the paradisaical Seven Mile Beach, the resort includes just about every leisure activity imaginable. In addition to activities like snorkeling, scuba diving and windsurfing, the resort offers a number of options crafted specifically for kids. The 18,000-square-foot Pirates Island water park has two enormous water slides, a lazy river, water cannons and more. Beaches Negril harbors a colorful colony of Sesame Street characters, and children can bake cookies with Cookie Monster or go birding with Big Bird. For teens, the none-over-21 nightclub provides an opportunity to take a much-needed break from the parental units.
For Pets: Ritz-Carlton at Bachelor Gulch
For those of you who can’t bear the thought of leaving your pooch under the care of a sitter or kennel (or for those of you who just need a travel buddy), the Ritz-Carlton at Bachelor Gulch provides the ultimate canine accommodations. Colorado’s mountainous terrain provides plenty of hiking options for the adventurous pup, and the Ritz-Carlton adds a dimension of luxury for your furry friend. You can order from an elaborate doggy room service menu and request an in-room massage for your four-legged companion. At the end of each fun-filled day, a big, comfy doggy bed awaits.
For Nature: EcoCamp Patagonia
Love nature? EcoCamp Patagonia puts you in the middle of what is perhaps the most dramatic and devastatingly beautiful natural landscape in the southern hemisphere. And as the world’s first geodesic sustainable hotel, you can trust your stay will leave a minimum impact on the region’s natural beauty. Each room is an individual lightweight dome designed for sustainability with special vinyl insulation, and the Suite Domes also include a wood-burning stove. There are also three larger central domes with a bar and restaurant for unwinding after a long day of trekking through the awe-inspiring Torres del Paine National Park.
For Scuba Divers: Jules’ Undersea Lodge
An underwater hotel? That’s just unfair. You can’t compete with that. The Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida started as an underwater research lab in the 1970s. The lab, located at the bottom of the Emerald Lagoon, was converted to hotel in 1986. A stay at Jules’ can be an awesome experience for anyone, but we’d recommend it primarily to those with an interest in scuba diving. Just to enter the lodge, you have to dive 21 feet. And when you’re down below, your best option for entertainment is to float about with the mangrove lagoon’s diverse citizenry of reef fish, anemones, sponges and feather duster worms. But you don’t have to get all suited up to commune with the sea life. Each room is equipped with a big 42-inch round window through which you can watch the comings and goings of parrotfish and barracuda.
For Geeks: Hobbit Motel at Woodlyn Park
Okay, maybe the gimmickry is a little crass, but the Hobbit Motel at Woodlyn Park is a must for Middle Earthlings–regardless of stature or foot-size. The motel is built in the style of a traditional hobbit hole with circular doors and windows and simple, rustic furnishings. Woodlyn’s Park bucolic backdrop is strongly reminiscent of Hobbiton and its quaint country lifestyle–you’ll even find livestock grazing in the backyard. The Hobbit Motel is the perfect way to kick off a tour of the magnificent landscapes used in the filming of the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Begin your adventure to Middle Earth as it was meant to begin–in a hole in the ground.
For Scares: The Stanley Hotel
Got a penchant for the paranormal? Estes Park, Colorado, is a small, quiet town at the eastern entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Amid the tranquil isolation is a building some believe is one of the most haunted in the nation. The Stanley Hotel, built in 1909, housed such greats as Theodore Roosevelt, John Philip Sousa and the Emperor and Empress of Japan. But it wasn’t until the release of Stephen King’s novel The Shining and its subsequent film adaptation that the Stanley gained national recognition as America’s most haunted hotel. When King stayed in the hotel with his wife Tabitha, they were the hotel’s only two guest. The writer’s experiences that night provided the grisly inspiration necessary to write The Shining. The Stanley has since been featured on multiple ghost-hunting reality shows, including Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.
For a Unique Experience: Gamirasu Cave Hotel
Winner of TripAdvisor’s 2012 Travelers’ Choice Award, the Gamirasu Cave Hotel in Ayvali Village near Urgup, Turkey provides a hotel experience like no other. The troglodyte cave house contains 30 elegantly furnished underground rooms. The caves once served as a Christian monastery and were only recently repurposed for hotel use. The walls are carved from a volcanic rock called “tufa,” which provides insulation to keep the complex cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Lodging options range from simple double-bed rooms with vaulted ceilings to the Eagle Nest Deluxe Suite, which contains a fireplace, sauna, Jacuzzi and private terrace.
Whistler /Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada is consistently ranked one of the world’s top ski resorts–and for good reason. The two mountains (Whistler and Blackcomb) are a perfect pair for winter sport enthusiasts. With glaciers, wide alpine bowls, expert terrain and a 5,280-foot vertical drop, the 7,000 acres of ski-worthy land are ample room for the resort’s 16,000 daily visitors. While staying at Whistler / Blackcomb, visitors have abundant lodging choices. Luxury properties include the Westin Resort & Spa, Evolution and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler among others.
For Rock ‘n’ Rollers: Hotel Pelirocco
This ain’t your grandpa’s summer cottage. If you’re looking for a gaudy, shameless, rip-roaring good time, stay a night in one of the wild themed rooms at the Hotel Pelirocco. Located in Brighton, England, the hotel pays homage to rock ‘n’ roll and all its tantalizing vices. A series of kitschy themed rooms provide a fun home base from which to explore Brighton’s many sites and attractions. The hotel’s “flagship room” is the Play Room, a.k.a. the “ultimate dirty weekend room.” You can guess what goes on there. Other rooms include the rockabilly-themed Peliroccobilly, the pop-art-themed Modrophenia and the Sex Pistols / Punk Rock room, Pretty Vacant.
What’s your coolest hotel experience? Let us know in the comments below!