From Maldivian private-island sanctuaries to Chinese heritage conversions, these standout luxury retreats across the region—listed in no particular order—are worthy candidates for your wish list.
One of Indonesia’s most well-known five-star resorts, and the work of the late and great hotel designer Ed Tuttle, Amanjiwo is tucked away in an idyllic hillside setting within sight of the UNESCO-listed Borobudur temple in Central Java province.
Katamama Suites at Desa Potato Head
Designed by celebrated Indonesian architect Andra Matin, this sophisticated bolt-hole at Potato Head’s beachside “Creative Village” in Bali’s Seminyak area is an ode to local craftsmanship. Walls both inside and out are made of nearly two million hand-pressed red bricks, while suites come furnished with original midcentury-modern furniture and traditional Balinese textiles.
Raffles Hotel Singapore
The Lion City’s iconic grande dame hotel reopened last August after undergoing a complete revamp, which sensitively restored the landmark to its former glory. Interiors maven Alexandra Champalimaud overhauled both the public and private spaces, retaining their timeless appeal and bringing the property into the 21st century with subtle design touches. Today, its 115 suites have never looked better, befitting the Raffles’ longstanding status as the most prestigious address in Singapore.
Alila Fort Bishangarh
The sleek, minimalistic feel so prevalent in Alila hotels across Asia finds a unique expression in this converted hilltop fortress about an hour’s drive from Jaipur. Guest rooms enjoy stupendous views over the surrounding countryside, while the palatial clean-lined interiors, with antiques placed carefully in the corridors, are a welcome change from the overwhelming opulence of most other Rajasthani palace hotels.
The Datai Langkawi
Nature has always been a focus at The Datai, an eco-conscious property cloaked in rain forest and set back from a secluded beach on Langkawi’s north shore. A recent yearlong renovation upgraded its rooms and facilities while respecting the original spirit of the legendary resort, which first opened in 1993.
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
Thai massages at the overwater spa? Check. An underwater fine-dining restaurant? Check. Anantara’s all-villa retreat in the Ba’a Atoll ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a five-star Maldivian stay. More recent additions to the property include SKY, an overwater observatory and lounge where guests can kick back with sundowners and private star-gazing sessions.
Formerly known as Nihiwatu, this remote hideaway evolved from a rustic surf camp (with private access to a famed lefthander break called Occy’s Left) into a dreamy resort that has put the Indonesian island of Sumba on the map for luxury travelers.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
An all-villa resort at the southern end of Bali’s Jimbaran beach, the 14-hectare Four Seasons offers up a five-star take on a traditional Balinese village, with 147 thatched-roof villas built on a verdant hillside descending to the Indian Ocean. Its pool villas—an instant hit and novelty when the resort first opened in 1994—have recently been revamped and expanded. Some guests like to combine an ocean-front escape here with a stay at the Four Seasons in Sayan, just outside Ubud.
Leaf-peppers typically throng the Arashiyama area every autumn, but it’s possible to admire the fall foliage in silence from the privacy of Hoshinoya Kyoto, a luxe ryokan by homegrown Japanese brand Hoshino Resorts. The small-scale property occupies a clutch of remodeled century-old buildings overlooking the Katsura River, and is only accessible by private boat.
Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood
Guests happily go barefoot at Soneva’s 60-hectare eco-conscious retreat on the Thai island of Koh Kood. Here, 63 bamboo- and wood-built pool villas (with up to six bedrooms) are scattered across a headland and a private beach, while a complimentary ice cream parlor—a staple at all Soneva resorts—means you can sample as many as 60 different flavors of the frozen dessert.
Rosewood Luang Prabang
Acclaimed designer and longtime Bangkok resident Bill Bensley was the man behind Rosewood’s Laotian outpost, where guests can bed down in locally inspired suites (which have a discernible French-colonial influence) and glamorous tents farther up the forested hillside.
Six Senses Con Dao
Tucked away in a remote archipelago off the southeast coast of Vietnam, about an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City, Six Senses Con Dao was designed as a rustic-chic version of a Vietnamese fishing village, with wooden pool villas lining a private beach, and—as expected of the brand—a top-notch spa.
The Peninsula, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea in the 1920s cream-colored lobby is a must-do at The Pen, but that’s far from the only reason luxury travelers should check in. Guest rooms here balance the Chinese and British-colonial heritage of the 92-year-old hotel with contemporary style, while Gaddi’s—one of Hong Kong’s first French restaurants when it first opened in 1953—is an institution. Views of Victoria Harbour are perhaps best enjoyed from the indoor pool, the spa, and the 28th-floor restaurant Felix.
Kerry Hill Architects imbued Amanyangyun with a contemporary minimalist style that is the perfect counterpoint to the antique Ming and Qing Dynasty villas at the heart of the resort, located an hour’s drive from downtown Shanghai. Along with 10,000 equally ancient camphor trees, these traditional homes were dismantled brick-by-brick and transported from the owner’s home village in Jiangxi province to save them from the rising waters behind a newly built dam.
137 Pillars House
Heritage-loving travelers bound for Chiang Mai should book one of the 30 colonial-inspired suites at 137 Pillars House on the east bank of the Ping River. The gem-like property is centered on a 19th-century residence that once served as the headquarters of the teak-trading Borneo Company and home of Louis Leonowens, the real-life son of Anna Leonowens, one-time English tutor to the Siamese court and protagonist of the best-selling novel Anna and the King.
Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Without a doubt, one of Bali’s best resorts is Mandapa, an idyllic village-inspired retreat in the Ayung river valley outside Ubud. The sense of place here is apparent at every turn: cue the hand-painted wall murals in Mandapa’s 60 suites and villas, the on-site Hindu temple, and a cascade of rice terraces on the almost 10-hectare grounds. Don’t miss a meal of southern Italian–inspired cuisine in the bamboo pods at the riverside Kubu restaurant.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge
With 28 cocoon-like tents built around water holes frequented by local wildlife, and a bamboo-ceilinged restaurant and bar whose form echoes the boulders found on the coastline, this safari-chic lodge at the entrance to Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is an absolute stunner.
St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
The Maldivian outpost of the St. Regis brand stands out for its playful, retro-futuristic design by Singapore-based WOW Architects. Nodding to the marine life inhabiting the surrounding waters, the resort features 77 timber-framed villas shaped like manta rays, a seashell-shaped library, and a whale shark–inspired overwater bar.
Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li
Shanghai’s development at breakneck speed over the past few decades came at the cost of much of its shikumen architecture, built in an East-meets-West style unique to the Chinese metropolis. Capella Shanghai has breathed new life into a 1930s residential enclave in the former French Concession, updating preserved shikumen terraced houses with chic interiors by Indonesian design maestro Jaya Ibrahim.
The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
No roundup of Asia’s most beautiful hotels would be complete without the Taj Mahal Palace on Mumbai’s Colaba waterfront. When it first opened in 1903, the Saracenic Revival landmark was the first building lit by electricity in the entire city, and it eventually became home to India’s first licensed bar and all-day dining restaurant. The Taj still remains a classic choice for jetsetters thanks to its grandeur and old-world charm.
Rosewood Hong Kong
The high-rise flagship of the Rosewood brand features a winning combination of plush, art-filled interiors by New York–based designer Tony Chi and jaw-dropping views of Victoria Harbour. Unusually for a city where space is at a premium, the entry-level rooms here measure in at a generous 53 square meters.
Banyan Tree Lang Co
Just over an hour’s drive north from Da Nang, Banyan Tree Lang Co lies at the end of a 2.5-kilometer golden-sand beach, with a village-like arrangement of low-slung pool villas set in tropical gardens. This makes it an ideal place from which to escape the frenetic pace of Vietnam’s larger cities. Some villas are even perched on the adjacent headland, offering sublime sunrise views over the East Sea.
Bill Bensley’s signature whimsy comes to the fore at this ultra-luxe encampment, which clings to the side of a jungled ravine in the south-central foothills of Bali. From brass monkeys adorning the roofs the antique bric-a-brac found in each tented suite (determined by a fictional backstory), Capella Ubud offers a glamping experience like none other. All 23 tents feature plunge pools, copper tubs, and four-poster beds whose ornate wooden frames were carved by local artisans.
Six Senses Bhutan
Technically a series of individual lodges in the west and central valleys of the Himalayan kingdom, Six Senses Bhutan stands out for the serene locations of each intimate outpost, their locally inspired designs, and the brand’s focus on sustainability and wellness. Pictured here is Six Senses’ Punakha lodge, whose lounge is styled as a “flying farmhouse” that cantilevers over the pool.
LUX* North Male Atoll
Rather than sticking to the thatched-roof aesthetic one would expect of a Maldivian private-island playground, the Mauritius-based brand’s sophomore resort in the atolls is streamlined, contemporary, and chic. Villas here are inspired by superyachts and undeniably spacious—each one comes equipped with its own plunge pool and rooftop sundeck.
Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake
Set on the shores of one of China’s most celebrated lakes—a UNESCO World Heritage Site, no less—the Four Seasons Hangzhou is an ode to classical Chinese architecture, specifically the graceful Jiangnan style. The hotel’s interconnected buildings feature slate-gray tiled roofs with soaring upswept eaves, white plaster walls and decorative lattice screens, and are set in nearly seven hectares of landscaped gardens. Fancy a swim? For that, there’s a lakefront infinity pool.
Kudadoo Maldives Private Island
This intimate solar-powered resort in the Lhaviyani Atoll, a 40-minute seaplane ride from Male, sports an elegant contemporary design by Japanese architect Yuji Yamazaki. Thanks to the all-inclusive rate, guests here are spoiled for choice when it comes to activities and food and drink: think free-flow premium alcohol, as many gourmet meals as one could wish for, and even unlimited spa treatments.
Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
Designed in a unique blend of Indo-Saracenic and Art Deco style, the enormous Umaid Bhawan Palace is so large it accommodates a museum, one of the world’s largest private residences (it is the principal home of Jodhpur’s former royal family), and a 64-room outpost of Taj Hotels.
Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
A decade ago, this 54-villa resort beside southern Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay became the first of Ritz-Carlton’s high-end Reserve properties to open anywhere in the world. It’s still as enticing as ever. Bangkok-based architect Lek Bunnag gave Phulay Bay its characteristic architectural flourishes and bold color palette; on arrival, guests are led into the striking welcome pavilion, Sala Sri Chan, a peak-roofed open-air structure built entirely out of wood.
Velaa Private Island
Not even the most seasoned travelers would expect to see a snow room in the Maldives, but Velaa Private Island delivers just that (with temperatures set to a cool -13°C) at Asia’s sole My Blend by Clarins Spa. The 43-villa property also boasts shaded tennis courts and a private golf academy to boot.