There are rooms with views. There are hotels with views. And then there are the best hotels with views in the world. Since we at Smith don’t like to do things by halves (we’re all about romantic escapes with you other half, after all), we’ve rounded up our pick of the globe’s most scenic stays, where you can spy postcard-perfect vistas without budging from your balcony, beach or bathtub.
If you’re looking for a hotel with views – the perfect look-outs, luxury eyries and soul-stirring stays – we’ve got it covered… Happy viewing!
01 HACIENDA DE SAN ANTONIO Colima, Mexico
Style Exclusive organic enclave
Setting Volcanic valleys of Colima
What’s so good about it? You don’t get many hotels with direct views of a volcano to the dozen… and this one beats the other contenders for ‘best hotel view’ into submission: a coral pink hacienda in Mexico’s highland state, it raises the boutique-hotel bar to lofty new heights. Built more than 120 years ago and decorated with style and passion by the Goldsmith family, its elegant arched buildings sit serenely in a jaw-dropping landscape of coffee plants, avenues of bamboo and the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Colima volcano.
Best room with a view? For a vista of Colima’s smoke-haloed volcano, you can’t beat the El Quetzal Junior Suite, which has a lovely little terrace from which to admire the panorama, as well as a luxurious living room.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? Thanks to its Goldsmith patronage, the hacienda is big on sustainability and runs its own organic ranch, el Jabali, producing fruit, vegetables, coffee, and other foods. A stream flows down the immaculately manicured lawn to an enormous swimming pool, where you can laze away the day on cushioned loungers, in full view of the gorgeous gardens and the smoking volcano.
02 THE STANDARD NY
New York, US
Style A fine Balazs
Setting Hip Hudson riverside
What’s so good about it? The latest creation of super-hotelier Andre Balazs, the fearsomely impressive Standard NY takes our top city-view slot. It’s a glorious glassy high-rise lording it up over the city’s groovy Meatpacking District, with witty minimalist interiors, sexy exhibitionist bathrooms, and gob-smacking views.
Best room with a view? The views get better the higher you go, so plump for 8th floor and above if you can. The Standard Room 11.20, for example, has fabulous views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty, but if you prefer looking out of the Manhattan skyline, any room ending in .25 looks out to the north and .24s have corner windows. The Standard Suites are far and away the most glam, with three walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, so you can gawp at three-way sunset views from the free-standing bath tub. All The Standard NY’s rooms feature either deep-set bath tubs open to the living area or exposed glass-walled showers, so this is not a hotel for bashful bathers.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? The Standard’s 18th floor bar, Top of The Standard, has full-circle views of Manhattan and its favourite river through floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests (and vertigo victims) can also test out the barmen’s mixology skills in the Living Room attached to the lobby – a futuristic space filled with Eames-like furniture and suffused with soft red light.
03 CHIAWA CAMP
Lower Zambezi, Zambia
Style Luxe safari lodge
Setting Banks of the Zambezi
What’s so good about it? It’s not every day you look out of your hotel window to see an elephant striding past – unless you’re staying at Chiawa Camp! This luxurious lodge is set in an area that abounds with savannah wildlife, as well as hippos and crocodiles.
The best room with a view? Each of Chiawa Camp’s tented suites has a private game-viewing deck, indoor and outdoor shower, and a roll-top bath from which you can watch the magnificent natural spectacle; the Honeymoon Classic tent has a double roll-top bath. Superior Safari Tent I is the most private; its bathroom, on a raised timber deck with thatched roof, has a very outdoors feel.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? Over lunch, your evening preferences are taken: ‘What would you like for dinner, sir? Game drive or canoe down the river?’ You could spend a magical evening watching the sun set while elephants swim across the fiery red river; as darkness falls, the Land Cruiser might collect you downstream for a night drive and a magical leopard-spotting mission.
04 IL SALVIATINO Florence, Italy
Style Hip historic villa
Setting Film set-fabulous Fiesole
What’s so good about it? This ravishingly updated 15th-century villa perches high in the hills over Florence – it has a museum’s stash of 19th-century frescoes, sarcophagus bath tubs and antique artworks. The beautiful boudoirs are graced with oak floors, silver candelabra and fresh orchids, and there are two restaurants, a bar and a spa to explore.
The best room with a view? The Ojetti Suite has a dramatic sun room with a stained glass floor above the tremendous main staircase, and a private terrace on the roof with an alfresco Jacuzzi – the views are amazing.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? Inspired by a heavenly garden described in ancient Thai literature, the Deverana Spa is set in the hotel’s rolling Italian gardens. There are five treatment rooms, expert Thai therapists, and an array of massages, scrubs and body treatments. Stay in the Salviati Suite, and a Ferrari will be yours for a day.
05 JADE MOUNTAIN
St Lucia, Caribbean
Style Supervillain’s island lair
Setting Balmy bayside heights
What’s so good about it? Architecturally astonishing and blessed with breath-snatching views of the Caribbean Sea, Jade Mountain is a curvy spider web of zigzagging stone walkways, sculpture-topped stone pillars and cascading koi pools. Suites have one wall completely open to the mind-blowing Piton panorama, and most boasting private infinity pools to admire it from: this hilltop hotel is the ultimate honeymooner’s hideaway.
The best room with a view? Any suite in this hotel is enough to bowl you over – every one of its colossal rooms is reached by a private stone walkway and has its fourth wall missing, so you can’t escape that flabbergasting view of the bay and St Lucia’s landmark Piton Mountains.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? The terrace bar occupies highest point of the hotel and the most magnificent views. By day, it’s a lofty suntrap, by night it’s jazzed up with live music. The world-ranging wine cellar would take weeks to explore, and the local rum selection will see you through many a languid evening.
06 HÔTEL CRILLON LE BRAVE
Style Trad turreted eyrie
Setting Seven-house hamlet
What’s so good about it? Inside, there’s not a shred of nostalgia for the trappings of modern life – just gentle, traditional furnishings. They perfectly suit rooms that essentially act as one giant window seat from which to admire the pale terracotta roof tiles and rocky ramparts. Fluffy oak and cherry trees, neatly coiffed vineyards and bedheady fields give way to gently sloping limestone-topped hills.
The best room with a view? Pretty chalky-blue shutters flung open to the panorama indicate which boudoirs are best among the hotel’s 32 bedrooms. Room 33 is a vast suite on two levels, containing a pair of roll-top baths, separated by a ‘champagne table’, so you can sip as you soak. Room 32 has an open-plan living area, bedroom and bathroom, and a huge shower room built into the wall of the old citadel.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? The glass-walled all-day Grange Bar is inspired by the stone stables that once stood in its location, and offers incredible views of the surrounding countryside, with Mont Ventoux in the distance; the bar gives this stylish retreat a view-enhanced guest hub, perfect for breakfast or cocktails.
07 BIRKENHEAD HOUSE Hermanus, South Africa
Style Breezy boutique beach house
Setting Private Hermanus peninsula
What’s so good about it? Set on a cliff’s edge in the Western Cape, with stunning views over two sandy beaches, Birkenhead House is a special place to watch the waves and surfers come in. Between June and November, the view also includes Southern Right whales, which swim right in front of the hotel. White wicker loungers, ostrich-feather lampshades and fresh roses contribute to creating the most tasteful of holiday terrains, especially when teamed with a plunge pool that runs down the centre of the house , and an infinity version out front, looking out towards the sea.
The best room with a view? Rooms 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9 have balconies with sea views (6 has a wraparound balcony, giving you views of the mountains too; 9 has three).
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? Pad through the sumptuous interior, and you’ll find a stylish and inviting bar with huge arrangements of lilies, and an impressive fridge of chilled wines. You can even see the ocean shimmering beyond the restaurant, with a stunning terrace in between. The view from the verandah is spectacular: a pretty little bay is directly beneath, so whether you’re sipping cocktails in the pool or taking breakfast with waves crashing at your feet, you feel as though the beautiful paradise beach out front belongs to you.
08 LA SUITE
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Style Modernism outside, maximalism inside
Setting Brazilian Beverly Hills
What’s so good about it? To one side, there’s the turquoise blue of the Atlantic encircling the Cagarras islands; to the other, a jungle-fringed swathe of Rio’s trademark beaches – Leblon and Ipanema. Sugar Loaf Mountain with Christ the Redeemer is in the distance: Baz Luhrmann couldn’t have created a more magical backdrop.
The best room with a view? The Black Suite has yards of windows, surrounding you with views of ocean, mountain and city, and two bathrooms. The Purple Suite is the most spacious, with an amazing marble bathroom and giant lovers’ shower.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? Chef Pascal Joly, former chef of the Plaza Athénée in Paris and second chef at Joël, is now responsible for the delectations served on the terrace or poolside, or in the dining room with its hip Seventies furniture if you choose. La Suite’s all-new infinity pool is surrounded by pea-green palms and modern sculptures, and looks out over the ocean and neighbouring islets. There’s a private beach in walking distance, too.
09 EAGLES NEST
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Style Modern, minimal, magical
Setting Private peninsula paradise
What’s so good about it? This North Island boutique retreat is the ultimate in exclusivity and beyond-five-star hospitality, encompassing 75-acres of sub-tropical native bush with secluded beaches and more than 144 islands to explore. With private chefs, infinity pools and even a Porsche at your disposal, you can do as much or as little as you please.
The best room with a view? Presidential suite Rahimoana (Maori for ‘Sun God over the Ocean’) is the ultimate in indulgence. It’s super-chic with four spacious, view-tastic ensuite bedrooms and serene, crisply contemporary blue and white interiors enhanced by striking art. Add in a glossy fireplace, home cinema, bar, endless deck and your own 25-metre heated lap pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, state-of-the-art gym and private beach, and you can see the appeal. Rates include a personal concierge to accommodate your every need, as well as a chef-stocked fridge and use of a Porsche Cayenne Turbo (plus chauffeur). Nice.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? Each villa has its own heated infinity-edge lap pool (except First Light which just has a Jacuzzi), surrounded by sleek, white daybeds and romantic lanterns for the evenings.
Style Sand-circled garden pavilions
Setting Sun-kissed limestone peninsula
What’s so good about it? Part of Rayavadee’s allure is its exclusive location; only accessible by boat from Krabi, it’s fantastically private. It’s also breath-stoppingly beautiful: three azure-lapped sugar-white beaches are crowned by vast, jagged limestone cliffs, pocked and riddled with caverns and caves. Say ‘untamed tropical paradise’ and most people would draw something like this on their mental sketchpads. Nature blessed this Krabi boutique hotel with its visual clout, but Rayavadee’s owners also gave it four gorgeous restaurants, lush landscaped gardens and a reputation for all-out tropical indulgence.
The best room with a view? To add lashings of romance to your stay, opt for a garden-endowed spa pavilion and bubble away in the outdoor Jacuzzi. Rayavadee’s mushroom-like pavilions all have two floors, large couple’s bath tubs and snuggly-cushioned wooden swings instead of sofas.
What else makes this hotel with a view so special? There are four eateries: Krua Phranang is the best choice for scrumptious Thai seafood; Raitalay Terrace is for daytime snacking; Raya caters to Western palates, and the Grotto offers fine barbecue dining in a spectacular limestone cavern.
Need more hotel eye-candy? Can’t see what you want? We’ll be rounding up a best-in-category selection of city hotels with a view, beach boltholes with stunning sea views and hilltop havens with amazing scenery over the next few weeks, so check the Smith Travel Blog soon for our round-ups of the best city views, best country views and best sea views…