The landmark Alvear Palace opened in 1932 as a luxury hotel for European visitors and continues to exude Belle Époque splendor. Located in the exclusive Recoleta neighborhood, which comprises elegant boulevards and leafy parks, the hotel has grand French-inspired public areas, with crystal chandeliers, velvet fauteuils and gilded-wood-paneled walls. Guest rooms, in Empire, Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, have butler service, fresh flowers and Hermès bath amenities. High tea, served in L’Orangerie, draws an elegant crowd. Upping the luxury quotient is the 8,600-square-foot Alvear Spa, a serene, light-filled space offering a range of wellness and beauty treatments, including the Radiant Treatment, designed by La Prairie especially for Alvear.
Spectacular, contemporary and stylish, the Faena Hotel Buenos Aires is extraordinary. The utilitarian façade of the seven-story brick building, a turn-of-the-20th-century grain warehouse, belies the imaginative interiors created by Philippe Starck. Flourishes include unicorn heads on the walls, velvet curtains, crimson-upholstered chairs and crystal chandeliers. There is no reception desk; new arrivals are greeted by an “experience manager” who serves as a personal concierge throughout their stay. The rooms, many with city and Río de la Plata views, have lapacho-wood floors and arabasceto marble bathrooms. The outdoor pool is one of BA’s prime see-and-beseen spots. A sexy vibe imbues the sultry Library Lounge and El Cabaret, which host nightly tango performances.
The famous gold-domed roof of St. Isaac’s Cathedral is visible throughout the city, but as its next door neighbor, the Hotel Astoria claims the best view of all. The Lidval-designed hotel is a monument to St. Peterburg’s great Art Nouveau movement at the start of the 20th-century, and became a byword for luxury when it opened in 1912. There is a sense of this today from the white-marble lobby, Olga Polizzi-designed Ambassador Suites and the dark-wood Kandinsky Bar. Davidov Restaurant serves contemporary Russian cuisine and also features caviar and speciality vodkas. The Rotonda Lounge offers a relaxing place, serving afternoon tea daily complete with a chocolate fountain. The Hotel Astoria has a contemporary glamour in a perfect location.
Created as China’s first urban resort, this stylish hotel is centrally located in Shanghai’s Jing’An district, making it a perfect enclave for travelers who want to be in midst of the action but based in a serene setting. The striking interiors—all polished tile floors, sumptuous silk wall coverings and contemporary furniture—are accented by reproductions of ancient Chinese household items. The Anantara Spa, which offers a series of tea-based treatments using green, white, rose and chrysanthemum teas that were developed especially for the hotel. The ambience of Zen prevails in the guest rooms as well; many overlook leafy Jing’An Park, a green oasis in midst of Shanghai, the fascinating metropolis that beautifully balances Europe and Asia, history and cutting-edge.
The only hotel in St. Petersburg to be housed in a former palace, the Taleon Imperial Hotel, at the corner of Nevsky Prospect and the Moika Embankment, is within walking distance of the Hermitage, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Church of Our Savior of the Spilt Blood. It has been expanded and renovated to preserve the historic heritage of the building, which has hosted noted figures including Catherine the Great and Napoleon’s notorious lover, Marguerite-Josephine Wiemer. Today, the hotel bridges past and present, blending Russian opulence with state-of-the-art amenities. The rooftop spa features a swimming pool and breathtaking views. The signature restaurant serves formal Russian cuisine, including several types of caviar and an extensive vodka menu.