For travellers who seek the finest that the world has to offer

32 of the world’s best luxury design hotels

This collection of 32 design-led hotels has been compiled, in no particular order, as a curated selection of some of the most stylish in the world.

Design is present in every aspect of our lives, whether we realise it or not. Good design not only enhances functionality but also adds beauty and aesthetics. And it’s particularly poignant in the travel industry. Think about checking in to an extraordinary hotel that cuts no corners in the style stakes. Good design can take your experience from mediocre to truly memorable.

If you, like me, are a fan of checking in somewhere that raises the design bar, you will pour over this list of the best design-led hotels that are making the ordinary extraordinary. Read this feature and you may want to hang chandeliers in your pool room, too.

Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

Floating in the centre of Udaipur’s Pichola Lake, Taj Lake Palace was once the royal residence of the Maharaja of Mewar. Globally recognised for its striking Rajasthani architecture, this 18th-century hewn-marble structure is a spectacular arrangement of turrets, cupolas, domes, bastions and balconies. The interior design is rich with frescoes, plaster-relief friezes and intricate mouldings, complemented by bold colours and patterns. To ensure visual balance, the furniture selection across the 83 guest rooms and suites is simple and elegant, an approach that extends to the spa and four restaurants.

Solar de Vila Meã, Silveiros, Portugal

Nestled in the vineyards of Northern Portugal just 30 minutes from Porto is a new boutique property designed by Joana Aranha Studio. The 19th-century manor house has been transformed into a colourful 29-suite hotel with a design concept that celebrates the cultural heritage of the Minho region. Wicker, clay and embroidered textiles reflect the region’s arts, while wood, velvet, linen and wool impart warmth throughout the concept. Blending tradition with today’s contemporary luxuries, Solar de Vila Meã is the ultimate wine country escape with indoor and outdoor pools, manicured gardens, a spa and wellness centre, restaurant and bar.

Solar de Vila Meã, Silveiros, Portugal
Solar de Vila Meã botique hotel

The Langham, Gold Coast

This five-star, sustainable and sleek resort showcases sensational sea-to-spoon dining and starry seaside attractions that will captivate you on arrival. The Langham, Gold Coast and Jewel Residences is on absolute beachfront at the southern end of Surfers Paradise. With a distinctive glass curtain walling system, its three structures are an eye-catching asset to the Gold Coast’s skyline, with Towers 1, 2 and 3 standing a lofty 41, 51 and 34 storeys high. The impressive structures are designed to mimic three crystals emerging from the ground, with the brown façade representing the soil. More than 400 lightbulbs traverse each tower, illuminating the build that can be showcased by colour or sequence. The shimmering exteriors are visible for kilometres – from the Nerang River to the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Inspired by gemstone shards discovered in the region thousands of years ago, the towers’ crystalline forms are the mastermind of architects DBI Design, who worked with US-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design. The coastal location and Hinterland also informed the interior design by Sydney-based Studio Aria. From deluxe rooms to the Presidential Suite, the 169 hotel rooms and 170 residences are dressed in a palette of white, light grey and touches of blue, with floor-to-ceiling windows optimising the dazzling sea views.

Jewel Residences apartments range from one to four bedrooms, with the ultimate Four Bedroom Ocean Penthouse being a grand affair with 180-degree vistas of both the Hinterland and Pacific Ocean. It comes with an elegant dining room and top-of-the-line Gaggenau-fitted kitchen. Venture beyond your accommodation, for award-winning culinary expertise across six dining options, including the refined plates at Akoya and fine-dining Cantonese cuisine at T’ang Court, the sister restaurant to the Hong Kong eatery that boasts three Michelin stars. Stunning on-site artworks, an indoor magnesium pool, state-of-theart gym, and outdoor lagoon-style pool with swim-up bar complete the offering.

Read: The Langham, Gold Coast has 180-degree views and a swim-up bar

Gundari, Folegandros, Greece

Gundari is the first luxury resort on the Greek island of Folegandros. The 27 bio-climatic suites and villas are the work of Athens-based Block722. Curvaceous architecture, stone, timber and marble feature prominently, with woven details and linen used for furnishings. While the pool with swim-up bar, gym and spa are enough to lure any traveller to Gundari, it’s Orizon by Greece’s first Michelin-starred chef, Lefteris Lazarou, that’s the star attraction here.

Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore

Designed by award-winning WOHA Architects, Pan Pacific Orchard is enveloped in the lush foliage of almost 100 plant species and has four interconnected sky terraces offering an open-air tropical oasis. The design-led hotel boasts a free-form lagoon pool that connects to a 25-metre lap pool with a sunken bar. Take in the city lights while mingling on the Garden Terrace Lawn, an elegant space ideal for cocktail functions nestled within the verdant Garden Terrace on Level 11, then let the good times roll at the hotel’s champagne and oyster bar, Florette.

Relax in luxury in your room or suite, each an exercise in refined design. The 23-storey hotel showcases 347 residential-style guestrooms – many with balconies – offering a tranquil sanctuary with sweeping views across either the garden terraces or buzzing Orchard cityscape. The 347 keys are distributed across the Beach, Garden and Cloud Terraces, which all enjoy the same clever layout, yet variations in colour schemes and finishes to reflect the character of each environment. This ambitious design project, completed in June 2023, has now taken its place as a stunning and sustainable addition to the glittering Singaporean skyline.

Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles

Showcasing innovative architecture that embraces the terrain of Félicité Island, Six Senses Zil Pasyon’s 33 villas are nestled among gargantuan granite boulders that line the coast of the Seychelles. Designed by the Six Senses architecture and design team together with London’s Studio RHE, the contemporary villas are laden with timber, jute, marble and white-washed furnishings. The tropical escape has a central pool area, Six Senses Spa, fitness centre and five restaurants.

Read: 6 luxury resorts in the Seychelles you need to know

Raffles Doha, Qatar

Located in Katara Towers on Lusail Marina, Raffles Doha takes inspiration from fine art. A creative design scheme presents unique furniture designs, a maximalist style concept and visually arresting architectural symmetry. Even staff uniforms are artistic, adorned with patterns reminiscent of ancient Qatari attire. A butler service, the rare book collection, two pools, spa, gym, garden, and five restaurants and lounge bars keep guests entertained. And the 132 suites are planned according to a non-traditional interpretation of feng shui to enhance wellbeing.

Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach pays homage to traditional Balinese design and you’ll see it from the moment you arrive. One of the island’s most sacred trees, a Pohon Pule tree from Sanur, is the centrepiece of the lobby, and traditional wood carvings are everywhere. Multi-coloured chairs evoke a traditional village feel, while the lighting is inspired by the region’s floating lanterns that are released come nightfall. Even the bathrooms nod to the history of the region, with golden basins reflecting the thousand-year-old Pura Dalem Camplung Tanduk temple.

There are 289 rooms, suites and pool villas to choose from, but those seeking a quiet retreat should opt for a spa villa. Each has a whirlpool, outdoor pool and marble bathroom with a bathtub. The luxury resort in Bali has 4.7 hectares of lush grounds spilling onto absolute beachfront for you to explore and is home to eight eateries, including beachfront SugarSand and Southeast Asian restaurant Makase.

Read: This Seminyak hotel has a secret garden pool

ESPACIO, Hawai‘i

With palatial suites offering picture-perfect views of the ocean, ESPACIO has earned its crown as the number one hotel in Hawai‘i. Since its grand opening in 2019, ESPACIO The Jewel of Waikiki has become Hawaii’s most exclusive five-star hotel and dining offering. The hotel redefines luxury with only nine suites – each spread across an entire floor – offering unrivalled privacy and panoramic sea views. ESPACIO is the only hotel in Hawai‘i to be awarded Forbes’ five-star ratings for both the hotel and its fine dining restaurant, Mugen, as well as earning a prestigious AAA five-diamond classification. Here, you can luxuriate in a multi-room suite replete with Italian marble bathrooms, a dry sauna and private jacuzzi on your oceanfront balcony. Located just steps from Kuhio Beach, ESPACIO’s three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom villas have impeccable design.

Pelorus Private Island, Queensland, Australia

Pelorus Private Island is a palm-fringed, sprawling property with just five exclusive-use suites. It’s undoubtedly the most indulgent and secluded island residence on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Priced from AU$20,000 a night, you’ll have a butler and chef, plus your own reef to snorkel the azure waters, literally steps from the white sandy shores you share with no one.

When you’re not out on a paddleboard, seabob, kayak, water-bike or jet-ski, head out to the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) at John Brewer Reef, or don your hiking boots and visit Hinchinbrook Island. Return to a personalised foodie experience where you can opt for anything from a formal dining with wine pairings to casual meals with your feet in the sand. Then sip a cocktail and watch the sky turn a pretty shade of pink, celebrating another day in picture-perfect paradise to the sound of nothing but lapping waves.

© Pelorus Private Island

Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Reopened in 2023 following a refurbishment, Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental showcases an aesthetic informed by Abu Dhabi’s landscape and history. Champalimaud Design created an interior concept that balances opulent modernity with traditional splendour. Each of the 394 rooms has rich materiality with marble, gilded ceilings, dark stone, leather, metal and Arabian patterns appearing throughout, anchored by contemporary furnishings. The design precision extends to the spa, meeting rooms, the EP Club room and world-class dining venues.

Keep reading:

Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, France

Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle is a charming 13-suite hotel that opened in June 2021 after a four-year renovation. The three buildings date back to 1681 and were designed by King Louis XIV’s architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Paris designer Christophe Tollemer worked his magic, dressing it in a magnificent decor with stunning Pierre Frey fabrics, wallpapers and carpets – some replicas of originals. Polished antique furniture, shimmering chandeliers and gleaming silver and glassware reflect 18th-century opulent splendour. Dinner is a theatrical affair at the Alain Ducasse Michelin-starred restaurant, bathed in soft candlelight and showcasing a menu fit for a king and queen.

Ashford Castle, Ireland

Dating back to the 13th century, Ashford Castle has undergone renovations and extensions to become an example of Neo-Gothic and medieval architecture outfitted with modern opulence. Green, red, gold and cream feature heavily in the 82-room property, with wall panelling, carpets and elaborate lighting upholding the old-world elegance. A mix of Queen Anne and Victorian furnishings creates a sense of regality, especially in the billiards room, restaurant and cigar terrace. Sprawling gardens and lakefront views together with a spa, golf course and curated outdoor experiences, mean Ashford Castle embodies the aristocratic Irish lifestyle.

Iniala Beach House, Phuket, Thailand

Founded by philanthropist Mark Weingard, a stay at Iniala Beach House is filled with art, design and adventurous gastronomy. Each of the three villas, two pool suites and the penthouse are designed by different creatives, showcasing a diverse collection of interior styles across the property. Expect gravity-defying furniture, a curated art collection and progressive design concepts. Replete with pools, a spa and a gym, plus access to a driver, butler and chef, Iniala Beach House is an all-inclusive Thai escape.

The Dolder Grand, Zurich, Switzerland

Designed by Jacques Gros in 1899 with recent renovations undertaken by Foster + Partners, Dolder Grand is a confluence of architectural styles. Yet, of the eight bars and restaurants, gym and art gallery, it’s the spa that’s most impressive. Sylvia Sepielli, the maestro of spa design, was brought in to develop the 4,000-squaremetre Japanese-inspired facility and its 18 treatment rooms.

Read: 12 best luxury hotels in Switzerland

The Dolder hotel in Switzerland in winter
The Dolder Grand © David Biedert

Le Grand Mazarin, Paris, France

Internationally acclaimed interior architect Martin Brudnizki took inspiration from Parisian literary salons of yesteryear when crafting Le Grand Mazarin in Le Marais. Outlandish yet perfectly curated, the 50 guestrooms, 11 suites, restaurant, bar and pool use colour and pattern in abundance. The maximalist approach is underscored with quintessential British flair, the velvet tassels, eccentric homewares and statement hues balanced with timeless furniture, classic lighting and functional floorplans. Of particular note is the pool that has a ceiling fresco and striped green tiling.

Le Grand Mazarin © Vincent Leroux

Patina Maldives, Fari Islands

Created for environmentally conscious travellers with an appreciation for beautiful design, Patina Maldives is a place where nature and architecture coexist in peace. Designed by renowned Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, the hotel’s eco concept is echoed in the interiors. Timber, linen, rattan, stone and natural fibres in varying shades of neutrals are used throughout the 110 rooms and suites and spa, and the hotel is single-useplastic-free. Presenting seamless indoor-outdoor connection, a soothing tactility and tranquil energy, Patina Maldives is a wellness sanctuary complete with a gym, pools and 12 different dining venues.

Read: The best resorts in the Maldives

Amangiri, Utah, USA

A collaboration between US design firms Marwan Al-Sayed, Studio Rick Joy and Wendell Burnette Architects, Amangiri’s concept references Navajo and Hogan architecture. The interior scheme reflects the sunburnt Colorado Plateau with earthy and tactile furnishings; timber, leather and crisp white linen adorn the 34 suites. The property features a library, gallery, swimming pool and wellness facilities, plus fine dining and off-site experiences at sister property Camp Sarika.

The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles, USA

In 2020, The Beverly Hills Hotel unveiled a vast refurbishment by Champalimaud Design. A modern Californian aesthetic was adapted across the property, with each of the 21 bungalows given a personalised twist inspired by notable guests, from Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe. A sunny palette of pink, green, white and gold runs throughout the hotel, with modern luxuries integrated into the retro-esque schemes of the spa, pool area, garden and dining venues.

Bungalow at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles
Bungalow at The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Ritz, Paris, France

Housed within a former private palace, The Ritz Paris has been the height of luxury since 1898. After a $450 million four-year renovation by architect-designer Thierry Despont in 2016, the property presents an elegant 18th-century aesthetic with gilded wainscoting, brocade curtains and ornate wallpaper. The 142 rooms and suites take inspiration from the hotel’s storied guest list, such as Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Proust and Hemingway.

The Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York

More than 100 years after the original Fifth Avenue Hotel closed its doors, real estate entrepreneur Alex Ohebshalom has revived the opulence of New York’s Gilded Age on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 28th Street. Set within a 24-storey glass tower designed by Perkins Eastman and a landmarked Italian Renaissance mansion dating back to the early 20th century, The Fifth Avenue Hotel celebrates both its heritage and future through considered design.

Internationally acclaimed interior firm Martin Brudnizki Design Studio was tasked with creating an interior scheme that felt luxurious by contemporary standards but acknowledged the history of the site as the once-home of Mrs Charlotte Goodridge, a leading figure of Manhattan’s Gilded Age society renowned for her sensational soirées.

Read: The Fifth Avenue Hotel is New York’s best design-led hotel

Capella Hanoi, Vietnam

Capella Hanoi is located in the French-influenced Old Quarter of the Vietnamese capital, designed to evoke the theatrical glamour of opera singers and composers of a bygone era. Created by Bill Bensley, one of Southeast Asia’s most celebrated interior designers, Capella is an ode to the roaring ’20s with an over-the-top interior scheme that’s loud, lacquered and gilded. The yellow and teal palette is accompanied by polished marble, black wood and oriental murals. Capella Hanoi is the only Michelin-starred hotel in Vietnam and that, as well as the pool, spa, and ‘Capella Curates’ cultural activities, keeps guests coming back for more.

Concepció by Nobis, Mallorca, Spain

Once a soap factory in the 16th century, Concepció by Nobis has columns, vaulted ceilings and a Scandinavian style. Hidden away in the historic Old Town of Palma, the 31-room hotel was restored and designed by architects Wingårdhs. Spaces feature dark timber, brass, black metal and custom Huguet tiles with furniture pieces by Artek and B&B Italia. Green appears in the restaurant, bar, gym, pool terrace and lounge, echoing the flora of the surrounding Tramuntana mountains.

Concepció by Nobis, Mallorca, Spain
Concepció by Nobis, Mallorca, Spain

At Sloane, Chelsea, England

Set within a Victorian mansion by Edwin Thomas Hall, At Sloane is a new boutique hotel in London by hotelier Jean-Louis Costes and the 300-year-old Cadogan Estate. The hotel showcases work by architect François-Joseph Graf, blending British charm with French craftsmanship. With a neo-Greek lobby, stained-glass windows, mosaic flooring and chandeliers, At Sloane has 30 guest rooms furnished with restored antiques, period wallpaper and playful trompe-l’oeil.

JK Place Roma, Italy

Opened in 2013 and housed in Rome’s former school of architecture, JK Place Roma redefines style. You cannot help but be captivated by the subtle allure of JK Place. A modest doorway invites the curious into a world of refined elegance. The interiors by architect Michele Bönan blend classic Roman architecture – think neoclassical sculptures – and mid-century-inspired modern furniture on Berber rugs under the glaze of a glass ceiling. Soft hues and rich textures greet the eye, complemented by modern art pieces – such as a large painting by the Italian mid-century modernist Franco Ferrari in the salon. The ambience whispers of timeless sophistication, evoking a sense of tranquillity amidst the bustling city just metres from the door.

Guest rooms are a testament to JK’s refined style, appointed with plush handmade furnishings, fine linens and Massimo Listri photography integrated into the design. JKMaster Suite, the hotel’s most exclusive, has a stately four-poster rosewood canopy king bed and a lounge area with a small library of books on fashion, art and design centred by a stunning marble fireplace. All rooms come with Carrara marble bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, and some with deep bathtubs.

Raffles London at The OWO, London, England

EPR Architects restored London’s historic Old War Office, an Edwardian Baroque landmark that once served as the centre for British military operations. The 85 private residences and 120 guestrooms and suites by interior designer Thierry Despont have a palatial aesthetic with subtle Victorian leanings. Together with nine restaurants, three bars, a Guerlain Spa and a Pillar Wellbeing health club, Raffles London at The OWO is a destination in itself.

Hotel Terrestre, Mexico

Designed by Alberto Kalach, Hotel Terrestre runs on solar power and has a minimal impact on its local ecology thanks to an eco-conscious design. Crafted from clay, brick, wood and concrete to appear like a pyramidal structure, the 14 villas have a garden, alfresco shower, private rooftop and pool with views of the ocean and the Sierra de Oaxaca mountains. Guests can roam the garden, relax at the beach club pavilion, revive at the spa and wellness area, or sample Mexican fare at the open-air restaurant.

Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Monegasque architect Nicolas Marquet oversaw the six-year build of Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo with assistance from the famous Gustave Eiffel. Completed in 1896, this Belle Époque masterpiece is positioned in the heart of Monaco with views over the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel has an impressive 277 rooms and suites, a spa, pool, private beach and a variety of restaurants and bars, including Yannick Alléno’s Michelin-starred Pavyllon.

The Milestone Hotel & Residences, London

Built as a group of private mansions in the late 19th century, The Milestone Hotel & Residences remains a regal abode in the heart of Kensington. A captivating blend of Victorian grandeur and elaborate interiors, three townhouses were combined to create the hotel in 1922. The exterior showcases classic British architecture, inside you are quickly drawn into a world with an air of aristocratic grace that’s not stuffy. A recent three-year large-scale renovation of the property has seen each of the 55 rooms and suites, and six residences individually designed by Beatrice Tollman. The property is part of Red Carnation Hotels, a collection of four- and five-star luxury properties owned by Beatrice Tollman and her family, a travel business dynasty.

The Comodo, Bad Gastein, Austria

Nestled in the High Tauern mountains south of Salzburg, The Comodo is an alpine retreat housed within a 1960s building that was once a sanatorium. Now owned by architect Barbara Elwardt with interior design by Piotr Wisniewski, The Comodo has a modernist style with notes of ’60s nostalgia. The lobby, scenic restaurant, spa and 70 guest rooms feature boucle, metallics and leather. Catch some rays on the alfresco deck, swim in the pool or hit the slopes in winter.

Our Habitas AlUla, Saudi Arabia

Framed by sandstone cliffs and palm groves within the canyons of Ashar Valley, Our Habitas AlUla is constructed from ethically sourced organic materials. The modular build is low-impact and minimally invasive, with 96 guest rooms, a yoga deck, fitness centre, restaurant and swimming pool. Masterplanned by Aedas with engineering work by AECOM, the resort’s rich colour palette reflects the landscape and the furniture takes style cues from traditional Saudi designs. It’s a paradisiacal desert oasis.

Read: The top five places to visit in Saudi Arabia

La Mamounia, Morocco

Built by French architects Henri Prost and Antoine Marchisio in 1923, then renovated by Jacques Garcia in 2009, and again later by architectural firm Jouin Manku, La Mamounia is built in Moorish style with Art Deco elements and traditional Moroccan decor. The rich colour palette, sumptuous fabrics and intricate tile work define the interiors, but the pièce de résistance is the Centenary Chandelier in the lobby, a monumental sculpture of light inspired by traditional Berber jewellery. With 206 guest rooms and suites, three riads, five restaurants, four bars, a spa, pools, tea rooms, a cinema and a private garden, La Mamounia is the perfect example of luxury without limits.

La Mamounia, Morocco
La Mamounia, Morocco

This article originally appeared in volume 47 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.