You’ve heard of Destination Weddings, right? How about Destination Hotels? Choosing a destination based solely, or largely, on staying in magnificent lodging. I created this list of Destination Hotels because I traveled quite a bit, extending my stay after cruising with @AzamaraVoyages and a few other tourism organizations on speaking engagements this past year. I want to show my gratitude to the hotels that hosted me.
Making this list wasn’t an easy task. Criteria included location, beauty, and distinctive features. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in these destinations, I highly recommend these hotels.
#1 Althoff Seehotel Uberfahrt
This gem overlooks Lake Tegernsee in Upper Bavaria, the land of Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, mulled cider, and Christmas Markets. And I was here in December! The wonderful people of @GermanyTourism arranged a 2-floor suite for me to enjoy, and the Alpine view was stupendous. The hotel staff takes great pride in keeping up the level of hospitality for which Bavarian is known. Work up an appetite outside in nature and dine in the Michelin 3-Star Restaurant Uberfahrt. If short on time, work up your appetite at the Tegernsee Spa Hotel. A stay at the Althoff Seehotel Uberfahrt will make you believe in Santa Claus again.
It was serendipitous that I had the opportunity to stay at this beauty along the banks of the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, Turkey. I had finished presenting at the #WorldTourismForum and met Neslihan Sen, the hotel’s PR director, who invited me to stay at the Palace that dates back to the 17th Century. When I say “Palace,” I mean “Palace.” The property is rented for single events, such as weddings with 500 guests. As the Çırağan Palace sits on the European side of the Bosphorous, when you’re in the infinity pool you are enjoying the view of the Asian continent. It’s like being on two continents at the same time. The Çırağan’s distinctive architecture puts its beauty on the same level as its excellent service. The Çırağan is the recipient of many international awards, and it’s easy to see why. Make your reservation now; the Palace is always booked.
#3 The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
You know you’re in for an adventure when you take an elevator to the 102nd floor lobby. (Yes, 1-0-2.) The Ritz-Carlton’s 312 guest rooms occupy floors 102 through 118 of the sleek streak of architectural wonder otherwise known as the International Commerce Center. Each room offers a city or harbor view, and, even by Hong Kong’s high standards, the vista is spectacular. Want a 360-degree look-see of one of the world’s most colorful skylines? Head to the spa and infinity pool on the top floor – sunset is best. The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong embodies the best of east-meets-west style, which really shines with the restaurant offerings. From traditional Cantonese noodles to authentic Italian regional of the 2-Star Tosca restaurant, you’ll find exactly the right thing for whatever you are craving. The hotel boasts the highest bar on earth, the appropriately named OZONE. OZONE sits over 1,600 feet in the sky and offers tapas and cocktails. I recommend Tin Lung Heen’s Dim Sum for a bite of traditional Hong Kong fare.
#4 Hotel Bayerischer Hof
Take old world charm, modern amenities, and the utmost in service and mix well. Then, set it in the heart of Munich, Germany and you have the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. [Sigh] The hotel dates back to 1839 when then King Ludwig came up with an idea and has been welcoming guests ever since 1841. It’s said the service keeps getting better and better while the timeless luxury ages ever so gracefully. And, Hotel Bayerischer is only 200 yards from the central Christmas Market. Along with a top floor spa, fitness room, and outdoor terrace, there is a rooftop bar with beautiful views. Restaurants and a nightclub make their home in the basement. Also, I must mention I was able to book this 5-Star hotel in 5 seconds through @TripAdvisor the day before I stayed there. Impressive! Any time of year is perfect for Hotel Bayerischer, though the Christmas season is pretty special here.
#5 Mandarin Oriental, Munich
I had no idea that Munich offered so many top-drawer lodging options. The Mandarin Oriental, Munich is a 5-Star hotel tucked into Old Town on an unassuming street. Hushed tones and timeless elegance decorate the hotel; the excellent service and 73 guest rooms brimming with comfort and style keep it booked. Aah, to wake up to their enchanting views; I can’t wait to return. The Mandarin Oriental, Munich is a perfect blend of the best from the Orient with the best from Germany. The facilities cater to business and non-business travelers alike. Along with offering meeting, event, and banquet services, the hotel is located very close to most of Munich’s major attractions.
#6 The Conservatorium, Museumplein, Amsterdam
I have been to Amsterdam quite a few times and The Conservatorium is definitely my favorite hotel. On the world’s stage, the Dutch rate very high on the hospitality-o-meter, so you can imagine what a joy The Conservatorium is. Its history dates back to the 19th Century when the building was designed. It was abandoned in 1978 after a series of mergers, then reincarnated as a music institute, and in 2008 The Set Hotels company purchased the property. Determined to return the building to its former glory, the hoteliers created The Conservatorium, which is now considered the heartbeat of Amsterdam’s culture center. You know what else the Dutch are famous for? Being the inventors/founders of gin, that’s what. So it’s no surprise that Gin & Tonics rule the menu at the Tunes Bar. I suggest trying a couple of different styles of sipping.
#7 Hotel Lone, Rovinj
Gorgeous and turquoise are two words I don’t throw around. So, when I say Croatia’s Lone Hotel has a turquoise swimming pool and is gorgeous, I mean it. Literally. The Hotel Lone is family friendly with its “kids club” and playground (and that turquoise swimming pool!). I spent one day on a rented bike discovering the surrounding area of the hotel. Close by is a white rock beach with stone tower-like sculptures scattered across the sand. I’d like to give a shout-out to the Hotel Monte Mulini, the Hotel Lone’s sister hotel, which hosted me to an once-in-a-lifetime dining experience at its Wine Vault Restaurant. The vault refers to more than 550 wine labels from Croatia and around the globe. The menu is French inspired. Reservations are a must. Rovinj is on Croatia’s western coast, along the Adriatic, and well worth the visit even if you can’t stay at Hotel Lone.
#8 Electra Hotel Athens
What is it about a city view that we love? If you’re a view person like I am, then you’ll want to experience Athens from the Electra Hotel’s roof garden. There’s nothing quite like a bird’s eye view of the Acropolis. Staying at the Electra was the perfect way to begin the Mediterranean cruise I took last summer. Part of my preparation was the pampering at the hotel’s Wellness Spa. I really enjoyed the signature Body & Soul Treatments, such as Swedish massage and body scrubs. Athens is a fabulously electric city with so much to see and discover. The Electra Hotel was the perfect place to rejuvenate for another day of excitement and travel.
#9 The Ritz-Carlton Osaka
Japan is famous for its juxtaposition of old world tradition and competitive commerce, and Osaka is the Japanese city that represents. The 5-star Ritz-Carlton Osaka is located downtown in the Nishi-Umeda business and shopping district, making it perfect lodging for all travelers. I stayed here last spring (just missing the cherry blossoms!) on an Asian City cruise. To tell the truth, I was quite ill at this port o’call. If it had not been for Naoko Nishida and the entire Ritz-Carlton team taking care of me, I would not have functioned at all. With their help, I did manage to sightsee in Osaka and visit Kyoto, the culture capital of Japan. I cannot be more thankful for being taken care of during my three days in Osaka. This is the kind of hospitality that can’t be duplicated. No matter how rich, luxurious, and beautifully appointed a hotel may be – and the Ritz-Carlton Osaka is up there – nothing can beat genuine hospitality and care.
#10 The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul
When I was in Istanbul, the hotel had a brilliant promo where I was able to use their Smart Car. On the side of the car it read, “If you are not driving this car, you are probably staying in the wrong hotel.” The thinking that created that kind of “smart” and innovative campaign was evident all over the 5-Star Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul. The dining is creative and bold. For example, at the Bleu Lounge, the signature cocktails are served in laboratory-style glasses and the Atelier Real Food restaurant serves French Rotisserie. The hotel overlooks the Bosphorus and has 243 guest rooms (23 are suites and 57 are Ritz-Carlton Club level rooms). The spa has a Turkish Hammam (sauna) and a couples Hammam suite. The hotel’s central location is a reminder of the Ottoman Empire and reminiscent of the lively bazaars of yore. The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul is a perfect mix of luxury, history, and the allure of travel.
There you have it: My list of 2017 hotel travel destinations. It’s difficult to choose only 10, so I based my picks on hotels that stand out from the pack, i.e. their distinctiveness. I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy at least one of them in the near future. I’ve made it my mission to return to them, so maybe we’ll bump into each other. Let me know when you’re going, and I’ll do the same. Also, I’ll keep you posted on any new hotel discoveries. If you know of anything you think I would enjoy checking out, please share.