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Luxury hotels: The best and the worst

Written by editor

Twelve experienced and discerning researchers brought this year’s inside track on global luxury hotel openings.

Twelve experienced and discerning researchers brought this year’s inside track on global luxury hotel openings.

After thoroughly researching every property, of the 42 new hotels that were visited this year, discovered 15 exceptional properties were discovered, with only two that disappointed and ended up on the worst list.

So here is the Best and Worst of 2018 (announced in reverse order) based on that research.


15. Hotel Gloria de Sant Jaume, Mallorca
A magnificent 16th century mansion in the heart of Palma, this has been lovingly restored by passionate hoteliers Heidi Wolf and Jordi Cabau. The cosy subterranean spa with its long pool is a particular plus point.

14. Six Senses, Fiji
Six Senses has seen a very busy year, with the launch of several new and impressive properties. This Fiji resort though is the real standout – for pure barefoot luxury. We are particularly impressed with the beachfront pool villas.

13. Nobu Hotel, Marbella
This iconic brand may have taken a few wrong turns over the past few years, but we are excited about this Marbella property – a hotel within a hotel that reflects the true style and exclusivity of Nobu. It has a stylish maturity that has been lacking on occasion with some of the brand’s other properties.

12. The Murray, Hong Kong
It’s no secret that Hong Kong is filled with iconic luxury hotels, but the Murray has delivered something extra special to earn its place on the global scene. The Calcutta marble bathrooms are truly impressive, as are the four floors of suites and the five in house dining venues.

11. Solaz, Los Cabos
In an enviable location, right on the beach, this 128-room luxury resort is set in 34 acres. The five swimming pools and the impressive Thalasso therapy wellness spa contribute to earn Solaz a deserved place on this year’s Best list.

10. COMO Uma Canggu, Bali
COMO delivers yet another uber cool and relaxed Bali resort, this time in the quieter hipster area of Canggu. The three-bedroom duplex penthouses – each with its own rooftop swimming pool and large deck – are among the most impressive new suites we have seen anywhere in the world this year.

9. Royal Champagne, Champagne Region
LTI has been won over by the extra special location of the Royal Champagne – which has just 49 rooms, an excellent restaurant and an exceptional spa that overlooks the vines. It’s worth noting that the four corner rooms give panoramic views and extra privacy.

8. Capella Ubud, Bali
In demand hotel designer Bill Bensley has scored another home run with this 22-tented retreat. Each tent is accessed by its own mini suspension bridge, as well as its own salt-water pool and private deck. The décor is both intriguing and extraordinary.

7. Rosewood Luang Prabang, Laos
All praise to the Rosewood for undertaking a passionate project with just 23 rooms – yet again linked to Bill Bensley. He has created spacious and individual spaces, including four deluxe rooms, four specialty suites, three riverside villas, six pool villas and six luxury tents.

6. Chable Maroma, Mexico
The ultimate escapist resort, this is a dream property that comprises 70 private pool villas, a 17,000 square foot spa with eight treatment rooms, a beautiful beach and some world class dining options.

5. Zuri, Zanzibar
This exciting and surprisingly affordable luxe resort set on a beautiful beach has 55 thatched roof villas, and a second to none wellness facilities. A real find.

4. Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia
Prolific hotel designer Bill Bensley features on our list yet again – this time with his very own property, Shinta Mani Wild. It’s a remote and radical new concept for a luxury camp experience, set in a wildlife reserve in the Cardamom Mountains.

3. Amanyangyun, Shanghai
This stunning, light-filled resort on the outskirts of Shanghai has the look of a centuries-old forested village, but in fact the ancient camphor trees and Ming and Qing dynasty buildings originally sat 400 miles away in Jiangxi province until they were relocated by Aman to escape destruction due to the construction of a new dam. The buildings have been reassembled, brick by ancient brick, to create peaceful, refined spaces.

2. Joali, Maldives
The epitome of sustainable glamour, this ultra-luxe resort has been designed with families in mind. There are 70 elegant one to four-bedroom villas and residences, four exceptional restaurants, a beach side bar and a magnificent spa. And all the while, ever-present GM Steven Phillips makes sure every guest is taken care of.

And our Best New Luxury Hotel for 2018 is…

Kudadoo Private Island, Maldives
Kudadoo is a truly special and intimate private island resort, with just 15 expansive overwater ocean residences. Everything is included, from fine dining to in, on and above the water adventures, as well as luxury spa treatments. And the real bonus? Sister property Hurwalhi is just as spectacular and is only a short boat hop away.


NoMad, Las Vegas
Having conquered New York City with the original and still exceptional NoMad hotel, the brand moved on to Los Angeles – and created a reasonable replica of their already iconic NYC property. But a poor renovation of the old Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas has left the brand with real problems. But there are some smart minds behind this venture and the many issues we found with this ‘hotel within a hotel’ (The Nomad has the top four floors of the Park MGM) could well be resolved over time.

The Setai, Tel Aviv
We have been long time admirers of The Setai in Miami Beach and it remains one of our top choices in our Miami Report. However, the new Setai in Tel Aviv is a very different story. While the building itself is attractive, following a well-executed renovation, the location is poor, and the service is most definitely lacking. There is lots to do before this property can be considered a worthy option for the luxury traveler.

Luxury Travel Intelligence (LTI), which conducted this research, is a global members-only organization, providing digital, up-to-the-minute reporting for high-net-worth individuals who wish to make informed travel decisions, based on honest and highly-detailed intelligence. LTI covers hotels, restaurants, spas, and nightlife in granular detail. They do not sell travel, have a booking engine, or carry advertising.