Top 5 Asian city hotel retreats
Cities provide a landscape where it often feels like the world converges: a place that brings together people from all over the state, region, country or even the world, in a unique environment, resulting in a buzzing atmosphere that is bursting at its seams with creativity and a constant stream of new ideas: from culture and customs, to food to language.
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This also means that cities, as the epicentre of all that, are a hectic affair, and that’s precisely why many people love them: the energy is unmatched – anyone that has been to New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Shanghai has, in one way or another, been affected by the city’s constant buzz. But at the end of a long day of touring a metropolis as the archetypal tourist, you want to return to a peaceful, quiet enclave.
The luxury hotels below offer just that: a haven of tranquility in a sea of chaotic city mess, without ever compromising on location.
Despite being the smallest ‘city’ on this list, with a population under 600,000, anyone who has been to the “Sin City of the Far East” knows that this population packed into a tiny space, and added to with a mass of tourists (30 million plus a year) who have come to gamble away, results in a hectic affair. Macau is known for its ostentatious and often garish architecture. The Banyan Tree Macau pares it all back, with expansive suites with a relatively muted colour tone, replete with a private plunge pool. The Sky Villas offer proper oversized pools, while the higher level suites offer extra amenities including in-room spa facilities and more.
Read our review of Banyan Tree Macau here
Formerly serviced apartments run by Swire Properties within the upscale Pacific Place shopping mall complex, The Upper House is one of Swire Hotels’ signature hotels, and its style still reflects the welcoming atmosphere to be expected of a pseudo-hotel that will serve as your home for the next few weeks/months. The Andre Fu-designed hotel offers some of the city’s largest rooms and entry-level suites (730 square feet and 1230 square feet respectively), and also some of the city’s most stunning bathrooms – the latter featuring a 400-square-foot spa-inspired bathroom, with a freestanding soaking tub (with a handy television) and a view of the urban jungle ahead, and Victoria Harbour beyond. Although this boutique hotel of 110 rooms and suites does not have a pool or a spa to luxuriate in, the calming atmosphere is an extension of the beautiful design, best exemplifed in its beautiful ‘The Lawn’ on the mezzanine floor, a garden in the air in the midst of the city.
Read our review of The Upper House here
Aman Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Designed like an austere Japanese ryokan but set within Otemachi Tower in Tokyo’s financial district, Amanresorts’ first urban property opened to rave reviews in December 2014. The resort mixes ancient Japanese traditions, with the interiors utilising timber, washi paper and stone, with the technological advances that Japan is well known for, with subtly-hidden televisions and modern comforts. The five room types, starting at a generous 760-square-feet, each offers views of the bustling metropolis of Tokyo and beyond, from the city’s finance centre to the Imperial Palace Gardens to majestic Mount Fuji. In typical Aman style, the interiors are reflective of the local culture, and depict understated elegance, even in the more lavish bathrooms and spa.
Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok might be where the city congregates come dusk, but for those seeking a little solitude in this Thai city riddled with restaurants and bars, shopping centres and night markets, then the slew of hotels that populate the snaking banks of the Chao Praya River is the place to be, chief among them The Siam Hotel, Bangkok, a Bill Bensley designed masterpiece thatenjoys a legendary reputation among luxury travellers for being one of Asia’s best city hotels. The hotel, almost a pseduo resort with oversized rooms (starting at 80 square metres), and some villas with private pools and its stunning riverside pool, enjoys a location on the river further away from the madness of town, but within relative easy access thanks to their frequent shuttle boat pick-up and drop-off from Bangkok’s central Sathorn pier.
The hard, monolithic architecture and design of the iconic hotel is imposing at first as you drive through Delhi’s most prestigious address to get to the hotel. But once past the gates, the lawns open up to reveal a tennis court here, a pool there, a spa here, a gym there, and lots of artwork in between. More importantly, the rooms not only break the ‘norm’ for what is considered luxe in a city hotel, but shatter the mold completely. With only 40 rooms and suites, there is plenty of space to play with, and at The Lodhi Hotel, with its soft tones, it shows: the Lodhi Room starts at 1,350 square feet, and each room comes with a private terrace-balcony and an outdoor private plunge pool (The Lodhi has since added smaller rooms, but still large by any city standard). Set in an upscale area of Delhi with lush gardens in the vicinity, this is a true escape from the pollution and traffic chaos that Delhi is famous for.