Oliver Brann

Top 10 Most Insanely Luxurious Hotels On Planet Earth

This is one of a series of pieces I wrote for a hotel website, Top10.com. They were the best performing of a wide array of guest travel-blogger articles for the site. Unfortunately they weren’t quite successful enough to stop the company from folding before I had a chance to screenshot them. I was pleased with the articles and their success, so have reproduced a few here.

1. One Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, UAE

emirates-palace top ten luxury hotels

When ancient man first fell into a natural oil swamp and then chased the other guys around covered in that thick black gloop, for a laugh, I bet they never imagined that the stuff could one day be turned into things like the Emirates Palace.

This place is about bling. Industrial scale bling. Let’s just take a look at its depraved luxury bling stats;

  • It’s got 1001 crystal chandeliers
  • It houses 114 eighteen metre high domes
  • It’s got a gold bar vending machine
  • It’s slathered in marble and gold – from wing to 1km distance away wing
  • It  has the most expensive gem laden Christmas tree on planet earth – with a value of $11m
  • You can order edible gold desserts
  • It has a private 1.3km beach
  • It has a private marina
  • It has a private bay
  • It has 85 hectares of landscaped gardens

This place is a glistening, mountainous slab of luxury, a bling behemoth and a deserved entry point to our rundown of this feverish panoply of wealth.

2. Al Bustan Palace, Muscat, Oman


As you stretch your head back to take in the 124-foot-high octagonal lobby, done up with rosewood, mother of pearl, gold leaf inlays, and a colossal three-tonne, 59-foot-high Bohemian crystal chandelier – there’s a serious risk that you might explode to death from sheer Palatial Opulence Overload (POO). This is some heavy POO and demands to be treated with the utmost respect.

Sultan Qaboos, whose name clearly reveals he’s straight out of an Indiana Jones/Game of Thrones Christmas special mashup (Game of Indiana Thrones?), reportedly retains an entire floor for his personal opulence needs.

Oh God! Please someone make that show…

3. Copacabana Palace hotel, Rio de Janeiro

top 10 luxury hotels copacabana-palace

Yes, neighbouring Ipanema further up the beach may be posher than the Copacabana district these days. But there’s something about the word ‘Copacabana’ which still evokes a magical, old-school sense of glamour. And the Copacabana Palace Hotel keeps that spirit burning bright.

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner used to fly in and gamble all night in the gold leaf ballrooms. The impeccable service and the three world-class restaurants are still worthy of hosting icons and living legends.

Music and passion and unimpeachable customer service were always in fashion at the Copa – and they still are. But remember! Don’t fall in love….

4. Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Top 10 luxury hotel Mandarin Palace Hong Kong

You know what’s shit? You spend loads of money on a luxury paradise, but you find you still can’t get away from that vision of those displaced tribes dancing around the numbers of that juicy profit margin. Or the screaming of the orphans as the heavy machinery moved in.

What’s also shit, is when you spend your hard-earned lovely cash-money on a luxury paradise and you forget to bring along Butler Mummy. Which is why we love the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.

In the cloakroom, the water is run for you. As soon as you step out of the pool you are met with slippers and a warm luxurious towel. And in the glamorous M Bar, overlooking the dazzling Hong Kong skyline, they remember just how you like your favouritist yummiest 24-carat gold, elderflower, crème de violette and Champagne cocktail (their signature), MMMM!! No need for Butler Mummy here! You’re sacked Bummy Bummy Butler Mummy!!!!

Not really, I love you Bummy.

5. Minaret Station, New Zealand

Top 10 Luxury Hotels Minaret Station New Zealand

It may seem odd having tent accommodation in a luxury hotel rundown, but hear this out, they ain’t no kendal-mintcake-don’t-touch-the-sides-or-the-water’ll-come-in affair.

Situated in New Zealand’s spectacular this-is-where-they-filmed-the-snowy-bits-in-Lord-of-the-Rings Southern Alps (sorry, I keep-doing-this-with-the-hyphens, I’ll stop now), high above Lake Wanaka, Minaret station is a tented lodge from which you can heli-ski (that’s a necessary hyphen), trek and fish in the pure Tasman Sea.

Which is nice.

But I know you’re wondering about the tents, and that’s perfectly understandable. Let me put your mind at ease.

These are insulated safari tents. Ahhhh you see? They’re fitted with wall-to-wall (those too) local sheepskin carpets, meltingly soft possum throws, and underfloor heating. The wooden decks have glowing braziers, spilling warmth, and hot tubs for those free of light pollution glittering, starry nights. Crastor’s Hut this is not. It’s more as if the Wildlings had found lucrative oil reserves and John Snow had led the design concept.

I keep referencing Game of Thrones, sorry if you haven’t seen it, read it, or hate it.

6. Frégate Island Private, Seychelles

Fregate private island top 10 luxury hoyels

The first thing to note about Fregate Island Private is it’s an island and it’s private – so that’s those cheeky, irrepressible common folk taken care of. These shores are for Head Honchos only. And what they offer up is the ultimate beach hotel experience.

You could eat lunch on the terrace of your teak villa overlooking your very own private infinity pool (private pool on a private island = doubly private. There’s absolutely no way an oik could sneak in and do a bomb in it).

You could have breakfast 100 meters up a tree (barbecued below and winched up). Or stroll on the white sand beaches where private tortoises roam free. Or ride on your own personalized solar-powered buggy through the blossoming woodland. Or, bath in milk on a mountaintop spa, considered perhaps the finest on the planet.

You can also see the belongings of pirates that used to hideout on this island at probably the most beautiful and fascinating museum in the Seychelles. It’s of course only accessible to the clientele of Fregate Island Private. Which is a relief, because there’s nothing worse than any old Tom, Dick or Harry having looked at the historical treasures you’re planning on looking at. It sullies the experience and makes the recounting of it far less impressive back home at your (private) members club.

7. The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India

Top 10 luxury hotels Taj Mahal palace

The Taj Mahal like India itself is a vast, diverse, evocative world, steeped in Anglo-Indian, European, and Mogul influences. It has over a dozen restaurants, a nightclub, a huge English bookshop, and legendary service.

The horrors of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai when the Taj was infiltrated by gunmen, have not dimmed the unique character of this place.

George Bernard Shaw, Barack Obama, Mick Jagger, and George Harrison (it’s here where Ravi Shankar taught him Sitar) are just a few of the famous names to have stayed here. In fact, The Beatles pictures on the wall are the only downside – raising the risk of having moon-faced, doe-eyed, pouting Paul McCartney gazing down on you as you try to get to sleep.

8. Royal Suite in Hotel Imperial, Vienna

Top 10 luxury hotels Vienna

Richard Burton. Elizabeth Burton. Lady Gaga. Just a few of the glittering guests to have stayed at Hotel Imperial, Vienna. The word for this place is Lavish. And the renowned Royal Suite is Next Level Lavish, which is, incidentally, the name of my new boy/middle-aged man band.
Look at the chandeliers. Look at the curtains. The service as you can imagine is impeccable. If an urchin or a chimney sweep were to infiltrate this place, they have a 4 second max destroy and eject capability (probably).

9. Four Seasons Bora Bora (Leeward Islands, French Polynesia)

Top 10 luxury hotels Four seasons bora bora

Yep, it’s one of those places with the thatched bungalows on stilts rising out of the warm turquoise water. Inside they are pure luxury and outside there are white beaches, endless tropical activities, and incredible food and service.

This is undoubtedly hardcore, grade A, ripe and reeking luxury. But what takes the luxury to stratospheric levels is that you can book the whole island for yourself. That’s the 100 huts, the 250 staff, 4 restaurants, the full-service holistic spa, the incredible beaches, the turquoise waters, all the fish in them, all the snorkels, diving equipment and jet skis, the fully equipped fleet of maritime vessels, the coral reef, the majestic craggy green peaks, the rich history and the fun-filled activity programs for kids and teens. It can all be yours.

Which is nice.

10. Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE

Top 10 luxury hotels Burj al Arab

Have you ever heard of an anti-bucket list? It’s basically all the things you wouldn’t do even if your life depended on them. Top of my anti-bucket list is visiting Dubai. But this doesn’t change the fact that the Burj Al Arab is writhing in thick, gag-makingly pungent luxury.

It’s often referred to as the world’s only 7 star hotel – and the maximum you can get is 5 stars. So it’s basically 40% better than the best you can possibly get. Which is good.

Each of its rooms is a duplex suite the size of a house (the smallest being 1800 square feet). Entry is by helicopter or Rolls Rolls if you feel like slumming it. You can eat in the clouds, 200 meters high, or under the sea surrounding a 10,000-litre seawater aquarium.

The incredible sail-like design of the building which is situated out at sea on a man-made island has made this hotel an icon of luxury. And also borne a remarkable tradition. At midnight, every night, in the bar at the very top of the hotel, they play a set of sailing-related songs. Singing along is pretty much mandatory, and there is much dancing, swaying, toasting, and merriment. It’s, without doubt, the only place in the world where you’ll see Saudi royalty arm in arm with Chinese Communist Party members singing ‘We Are Sailing’ by Rod Stewart, or Donald Trump, Justin Beiber, Prince Andrew, and Silvio Berlusconi, arms round each other in a tight circle, losing their minds to ‘What Should We Do With The Drunken Sailor’.

That last paragraph was, incidentally, just surmised. But it’s the sort of thing that I’m sure happens in places like this. And if it doesn’t, why the hell not??

Sometimes, I feel luxury is wasted on the rich.

Next Level Lavish will be performing Rolling Stones covers at the Chelsea Private Members Club every Tuesday afternoon until the close of the year.