The world’s most exclusive hotels
(CNN) — There’s a special breed of hotels that cater to the most discerning and tasteful of luxury travelers, so profoundly unforgettable and special you want to keep them all to yourself.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Bali
Private villas have come with their own lily ponds and meditation areas.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Not surprisingly, there’s a huge emphasis on wellness, with a holistic Sacred River spa, on site Balinese healers and hyperlocal, seasonal cuisine.
Even the cultural diversions are next level — think water purification rituals with a Hindu high priestess, river rafting around UNESCO World Heritage sites and traditional Balinese massages on the shores of the Ayung River.
Rooms from $569.
Hotel Bel-Air, the Dorchester Collection, Los Angeles
Tucked high in the canyons of Los Angeles’ ritziest neighborhood and hidden among 12 acres of landscaped gardens, the Hotel Bel-Air is as exclusive as it gets.
The iconic hotel features 103 secluded rooms and suites, many of which have wood-burning fireplaces, patios and heated pools.
Thanks to its discreet location and secluded vibes, the hotel has been a longtime celebrity favorite, hosting legends like Robert Redford, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly (who frequented the hotel so often she had a suite named after her).
Hotel highlights include a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, a cozy lounge with nightly live music, and a real-life Swan Lake — filled with swans, naturally.
Rooms from $545.
Royal Mansour, Marrakech
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI spared no expense when he commissioned the Royal Mansour to be built on the edge of the historic Medina, and it shows.
Each of the hotel’s 53 two-story riads feature stained glass windows and handcrafted mosaic tiles as well as silk carpets, velvet brocade furniture and Venetian crystal statues.
Opulence aside, the hotel practically functions as its own walled city, with four restaurants, three bars, art gallery, library and hammam.
And thanks to a network of subterranean passages accessed only by staff, service is discreet (and flawless).
Rooms from $1,336.
The Brando Resort, Tahiti
When it comes to super exclusive, over-the-top, no expenses spared luxury experiences, The Brando rules supreme.
Built on a private island on the Tetiaroa atoll, the resort (named in honor of actor Marlon Brando, who purchased the island) features 35 upscale but eco-friendly villas, each with their own pool and direct beach access.
All-inclusive offerings include cuisine by a two-starred Michelin chef, spa treatments, and a seemingly unlimited menu of diversions, from scuba diving to cooking classes.
Not surprisingly, recent guests have included top-tier names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen DeGeneres, Beyoncé and Barack Obama.
Rooms from $3,700.
The Peninsula Manila
Opened in 1976, The Peninsula Manila is not just Manila’s oldest and most venerable luxury hotel, but a landmark unto itself.
Its iconic, four-story neoclassical lobby — with its 50-foot-high ceiling, marble staircases, towering palms and sun-shaped chandelier — is the grandest in the city, and its rooms equally elegant and refined.
Hotel highlights include an award-winning spa, five restaurants and two cozy bars, which are perfect for people-watching and celebrity spotting.
The Peninsula regularly hosts the likes of Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, David Hasselhoff, Daniel Craig, Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz, among many others.
Rooms from $205.
Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland
Flanked by lush woodlands and perched on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib, Ashford Castle is straight out of a fairytale.
First built in 1228, the castle is unsurprisingly grandiose, decked out in Connemara marble and adorned with brocade silk, Donegal crystal chandeliers, antiques and original Irish artwork.
And with just 82 guest rooms — individually furnished, many with four-poster beds, fireplaces and clawfoot tubs — it’s easy to feel like you’ve got the entire castle to yourself.
Rooms from $488.
Soho House Istanbul
Though you don’t need to be a member to stay at the Soho House Istanbul, it retains the air of mystery and exclusivity that Soho House properties around the world are known for.
For starters, it’s tucked away from the tourist crowds in the hip and edgy Beyoğlu district, and feels more like a (very stylish) friend’s mansion than a typical luxury hotel.
Its 87 rooms boast an eclectic mix of Eastern and Western decor, with furnishings like bold kilim rugs, patterned throws, and ikat cushions handmade by local artisans.
Hotel highlights include a private cinema, two hammams, a nightclub and a rooftop pool.
Rooms from $290.
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is made up of two hotels — the Grand Hotel Hof Ragaz and the Grand Hotel Quellenho.
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
Built amid the mountains of Eastern Switzerland, this resort is worth visiting for its stunning alpine scenery alone.
It also happens to be one of Europe’s leading health and wellness retreats, with its 140,000-square-foot spa and mineral-rich waters that flow in from nearby Tamina Gorge.
Rooms from $505.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, Abu Dhabi
The ethereal Qasr Al Sarab, Arabic for “mirage palace,” indeed rises from the desert like a mirage — but thankfully, it’s real.
Its 154 guestrooms are grand and spacious, decorated with Bedouin artifacts and Arabian-style furnishings. There are also 52 villas, which feature private plunge pools and sundecks.
Other highlights include a palm tree-flanked, oasis-like pool and a sumptuous Anantara Spa.
But the resort’s standout feature is its location, perched on the edge of the Empty Quarter, the world’s largest uninterrupted sand desert.
Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada
Warm hospitality and windswept landscapes stick with visitors to Fogo Island, Newfoundland’s largest offshore island.
Built on a cliff on a remote island off the coast of Newfoundland, this boutique hotel feels like it’s sitting on the edge of the world.
Made up of 29 suites, getting here takes two flights (three if you’re coming from outside of Canada), a drive and a ferry ride, which drops you off seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but it’s worth the trek.
Upon arrival, you’re rewarded with a fireplace, hot tub and — best of all — floor-to-ceiling views of the iceberg-studded Northern Atlantic.
Rooms from $1,329.
The Silo, Cape Town
Cape Town’s The Silo Hotel — named after the former grain silo complex in which it is housed — opened its doors in March as an instant Cape Town landmark.
This new South African hotel impresses from the outset with its striking geodesic windows, which “billow” three feet out from the building’s industrial chic facade.
Inside, you’ll find 28 luxurious guest rooms, all individually decorated with Persian carpets, Egyptian crystal chandeliers and original African art.
But it’s the pool, located on the rooftop, overlooking Table Mountain, the Victoria & Albert Waterfront and the Atlantic Ocean, that’s the real show stopper.
Rooms from $1,127.
Scarabeo Stone Desert Camp, Marrakech
It may look like a basic tented camp from the outside, but don’t be fooled, Scarabeo is one of the world’s most glamorous and stylish desert hotels.
Its 15 tents are surprisingly plush and decorated beautifully with leather chairs, vintage lanterns, thick Berber carpets and Moroccan art.
There’s even a communal lounge area strewn luxuriously with pillows and handwoven rugs, as well as a dining tent lit by candelabras.
Added bonus: though it feels impossibly remote, Scarabeo is conveniently located just 45 minutes’ drive from Marrakech.
The Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
This dreamy Baja Peninsula resort is so exclusive that, to get there, you have to pass through enormous security gates before driving through a long chandelier-lit private tunnel that’s carved into the base of a towering mountain.
Once you finally emerge from the darkness, you’ll find yourself in a true hidden oasis, seemingly a million miles from Cabo — or anywhere, really.
Adding to the secret hideaway feel are the ultra-private casitas, many of which have their own private plunge pools and open directly out onto the ocean.
One of the hotel’s highlights is its signature restaurant, El Farallón, which is easily the prettiest restaurant in Cabo thanks to its dramatic clifftop perch and divine sunset views.
Rooms from $799.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Oman
Pools overlook rugged mountains at the Antara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar
If you’re looking for luxury paired with some serious middle of nowhere vibes, the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar is the place for you.
Perched on the very edge of the Saiq Plateau of Jabal Akhdar (Green Mountain), this resort’s backdrop is nothing short of show-stopping.
Villas are equally impressive, outfitted with sprawling outdoor decks and pools overlooking the rugged Hajar Mountains. There’s also a sensational spa — typical of all Anantara properties — with a luxurious hammam, thermal suites and a Himalayan salt room.
Rooms from $635.
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi
It might be nestled within 140 acres of bushland, but this isn’t your typical safari lodge.
This 12-room manor feels more like a country house with its grand fireplaces, sunny terraces, antique furnishings (and, quite refreshingly, not a single infinity pool in sight).
What you’re here for, of course, are the giraffes, which not only graze outside the manor, but swoop their heads right inside the dining room to steal a bite of your breakfast — an experience you might call priceless, if rooms weren’t $600 per night.
Rooms from $565.
Mashpi Lodge, Mashpi Rainforest, Ecuador
Nature meets luxury at this stunningly futuristic, steel and glass hotel hidden deep within in the 3,200-acre Mashpi rainforest in northwest Ecuador.
Its 22 guest rooms are sleek and ultra modern, outfitted with deep soak Philippe Starck bathtubs and expansive windows that overlook the dense jungle below.
Beauty aside, Mashpi is also a leader in sustainable ecotourism, running on hydroelectricity, sourcing its water from local rivers, and implementing numerous green practices to keep the property’s carbon footprint low.
Rooms from $1,098.
Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand
Wedged between the jungle and the ocean on the lush island of Koh Kood, Soneva Kiri is one of Thailand’s most exclusive beachfront escapes.
Accessed by a 70-minute private flight from Bangkok, the resort features just 36 thatched villas made out of sustainably sourced wood and recycled materials, that are outfitted with an infinity pool, sundeck and a lavish indoor and outdoor bathroom.
Thanks to its privacy and castaway-chic vibes, the resort is a favorite amongst many A-list celebrities (including a pre-split Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.)
Rooms from $970.
ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Situated remotely in a tiny village in Northern Sweden, the ICEHOTEL is one of the world’s most extraordinary and exclusive hotels.
As its name suggests, it’s built from scratch every winter out of snow and ice, and features around 100 rooms — sculpted entirely out of blocks of ice — which melt completely in the spring.
Even with the 2016 opening of ICEHOTEL 365, which offers cold and warm suites all year round, the hotel is so in-demand that it’s often booked out a year in advance.
Rooms from $180.
Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Set on a clifftop 1,000 feet above the ocean, Monastero Santa Rosa feels more like your dream Italian holiday house than an Amalfi Coast hotel.
The former 17th century monastery has just 20 luxurious suites, which feature soaring vaulted ceilings and huge bay windows offering spellbinding views over the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Monastero Santa Rosa’s piece de resistance, however, is its infinity pool. Tucked at the base of cascading gardens, it sits at the edge of a cliff and boasts one of the most Instagram-worthy views of the entire Amalfi coast.
Rooms from $480.
Jack’s Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
Jack’s Camp offers luxurious safari tents on the fringe of the Makgadikgadi salt pans in Botswana.
Built in the 1960s on the edge of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi salt pans, Jack’s Camp remains one of the most legendary safari camps in Southern Africa.
Its 10 Bedouin-style tents — decorated with plush Persian rugs, vintage lithographs and exquisite antiques — are old-world safari glamor at its finest.
And though you’re here for the wildlife and ethereal landscapes, you might it difficult to leave: at camp, you’ll find a swimming pool, a tea tent and a luxurious mess tent that doubles as a library, museum, games room and self-serve bar.
Rooms from $1,290.
Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley
Las Alcobas boasts 68 guest rooms and suites, many of which offer vineyard views.
Jason Dewey/Las Alcobas Napa Valley
Though it’s only been open since 2017, Las Alcobas has already secured its spot as one of the best luxury hotels in Napa Valley.
The only hotel to claim a place amongst them vines themselves — it sits literally within the historic Beringer vineyards — Las Alcobas’ 68 rooms boast Instagram-worthy wine country views like no other.
Many suites boast private terraces outfitted with fire pits, some feature large outdoor tubs perfect for soaking in after a long day of wine tasting. Other highlights include the 3,500-square-foot Atrio spa — where your own unique blend of essential oils are used for treatments — and a seasonal restaurant run by Top Chef winner Chris Cosentino.
Rooms from $695.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Reportedly the most expensive standalone resort ever built — it cost $5.5 billion to construct — Marina Bay Sands is one for the bucket list.
It boasts a whopping 2,561 rooms, nine celebrity chef restaurants, 270 retail stores, a sprawling SkyPark and a $10,000-a-night, 6,000-square-foot Chairman’s Suite (which can be booked by invitation only.)
But what the resort is arguably most famous for is its 490-foot-long infinity swimming pool, from which you can soak in (quite literally) unparalleled views of the Singapore city skyline.
Rooms from $343.
Helena Bay Lodge, North Island, New Zealand
Helena Bay Lodge features three kilometers of pristine coastline as well as four private beaches.
With no more than 10 guests allowed on the property at a time, this North Island hotel is the definition of exclusivity.
Its five villas — set upon three kilometers of private, windswept coastline — are cozy but lavish, outfitted with real log-burning fireplaces and terraces overlooking tranquil Helena Bay.
Property highlights include a fine dining Italian restaurant with a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and a spa inspired by a traditional Russian banya (bath house.)
Villas from $3,950.
The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice
Built in 1475, this stunning palazzo remains one of Le Serenissima’s grandest and most iconic hotels (and a one-time favorite of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Ernest Hemingway.)
Not surprisingly, rooms are downright decadent, furnished with priceless Venetian antiques, exquisite original artwork and rich brocade silks.
Best of all, they boast sublime Grand Canal views, looking out directly onto the magnificent Santa Maria della Salute church.
Rooms from $726.
Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort in Brazil’s Santa Catarina.
Courtesy Ponta dos Ganchos
As its name suggests, this adults-only hideaway on Brazil’s Emerald Coast is incredibly exclusive: so exclusive, in fact, that many guests arrive by private helicopter.
Its 25 bungalows, tucked between the rainforest and the ocean, are blissfully private and feature deep-soaking hot tubs, private saunas and infinity pools with panoramic sea views.
Even its dining is next level. In addition to the five-star seafood restaurant, guests can opt to dine alone on a torch-lit private island, connected to the resort by a sandbar.
Krisanne Fordham has written for Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s Travel, Departures and Travel + Leisure. She grew up in Sydney and now splits time between Umbria, Italy and New York.
News credit : Cnn