Anyone who knows me knows that I am definitely a Princess. Yes, I can feel that pea under any number of mattresses. I like sheets with high-thread counts, indulgent pampering products in the bathroom and I particularly enjoy a nice turn down service – preferably with chocolates on the pillow and the following day’s weather forecast included.
Here then, in no particular order, are my top 10 luxury hotels of the world. One thing I should point out is that this list does not contain any London hotels. I have of course eaten at, drank at and visited all sorts of luxury hotels in London, but as a Londoner, I never really need to stay in any of them, more’s the pity. Do feel free to add your own favourite hotels.
What I love about The Merrion – apart from the wonderful rooms and garden, and the best scrambled eggs I think I’ve ever eaten – is that it feels very much as though you’re staying in someone’s home (albeit a very large home, where you could bump into the likes of Bono at any minute). It’s a very discreet hotel, the kind of place you’d stay if you wanted to be incognito, and the service is impeccable.
From the fleet of Rolls Royces that greet you on arrival to Felix, the Philippe Starck-designed bar and restaurant at the top (where we watched an actual typhoon coming in – all very Blade Runner-esque), this is luxury on a very grand scale. There’s even a helipad on the roof (probably the most nerve-wracking experience of my life, getting into a helicopter on the top of a skyscraper. Never again).
The Adlon, Berlin
The first time I visited the Adlon was to interview Russell Crowe, who was staying there, so getting the chance to sleep there myself, albeit for only one night, was a huge treat. This is of course the hotel where MJ dangled his baby out of the window; it’s also the hotel featured in the Liam Neeson film Unknown. But don’t let that put you off, because the rooms are incredibly cool. Its proximity to the Brandenberg Gate, the Ku’damm and the Tiergarten makes it perfect for a luxury Berlin break.
Featured in Home Alone and scores of other movies, The Plaza is as much a fixture of New York as Central Park, which it faces onto. It’s glamorous without being stuffy (the staff are excellent with kids), and although much of it is now apartments, it’s still a wonderful hotel.
The Fairmont, Washington DC
Often, of course, it’s the experiences you have in a hotel that make them so special – and particularly, the staff. This is where we stayed for my *cough cough* birthday, and what impressed me the most was how much fuss was made not only of me, but of No 1 Son. They even gave him his own business cards, with ‘Sir’ before his name, which he’s kept, and they also arranged for us to have a limo tour of the Washington monuments at night. As a birthday treat, that’s pretty hard to beat.
This is probably one of the most James Bondesque-hotels I’ve ever stayed at, not least because three of its terraces are below sea level. It’s not far from the main shopping area of chichi Taormina, but what makes this hotel really special (and very romantic) is the view from the private bay. Breathtaking doesn’t come close.
Grand Hotel Beau Rivage, Interlaken
What makes this hotel in Switzerland so memorable, apart from its castle-like appearance, is the magnificent views of the Alps from its balconies. Just stunning.
Hotel Nikko, San Francisco
I’ve stayed at a few hotels in San Francisco with very mixed experiences. What we liked about this one, apart from the fact that our room had probably one of the comfiest beds EVER, is that the location is really central – easy to reach Union Square and get the trolley, plus it’s very stylish.
A boutique hotel and an absolute gem – located behind an unassuming door in a scruffy side street, all the rooms are individually decorated (ours had an enormous bath), and it’s all achingly cool without being remotely unfriendly.
You can practically run to the Opera House from here, the rooms are wonderful (particularly if you have a Harbour view) and it serves an excellent afternoon tea. I didn’t want to leave.