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Hot hotels: luxury escapes

Our mission is simple: find the hotels that meet High Life’s exacting standards and tell you all about them. Below, we take a look at some of the most exciting properties from around the world ready to offer you stunning sanctuary

01/09/2020Updated 10/04/2024

Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech

Arriving at this sprawling estate, with its boulevard-width entryway and glossy façade, might just match the drama of an Apprentice-style credits sequence… just swap the patent heels and fierce judgement for Birkenstocks and beaming staff. That's because we're a half-hour’s drive out of town – offering a breather from the commotion of Morocco’s most famed city – where mind-stilling, palm-fringed pools, a 75-hectare golf course and a riad-inspired spa are on hand to restore any Zen lost to the medina. You won’t feel the need to leave for several days (even weeks), but bikes are on hand for jaunts across the grounds, while a varied roster of Lebanese, French Mediterranean and Italian cuisines on site promise to keep things spicy come dinnertime. If you're feeling virtuous, stop by the fitness centre for a downward dog or three, and clay tennis courts and brand-new padel facilities will ensure you keep your summer bod in check. 

Shuteye comes easily here thanks to the fresh desert air, but Le Spa’s 90-minute Deep Tissue Massage will melt away niggling twinges using focused thumb pressure to the areas that need it most.

You’ve had tagine, but you won’t want to miss the tanjia makfoul from Al Ain restaurant – a sensational dish of lamb cooked slowly over smouldering ashes, topped with caramelised onion and a tomato jus. 

Take off to Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech

Villa Dagmar

If you’re in the market for a tour of Europe’s most opulent capitals, Stockholm had better make the list. This clean city marries high-end design with palatial grandeur and Preferred Hotels and Resorts member Villa Dagmar evokes both crowd-pleasing features in spades. Within pitching distance of the Old Town, National Museum and Museum of Modern Art, this elegant boutique’s USP is its Östermalm location – home to the city’s bougiest bars and restaurants, plus an array of fashion-first concept stores. But the hotel interior isn’t far behind. Uber-chic bedrooms confidently combine Scandinavian minimalism with Italian exuberance, with ornate balconies overlooking the city’s spires or the hotel’s buzzing courtyard. Wine lovers, rejoice: the intimate Dagges bar has an outstanding in-house cellar just waiting to be plundered.

It's sacrilege to leave Scandinavia sans sauna and, naturally, you can reserve the spa here for exclusive use. Expect an even more blissful stretch of REM after one of its healing gong sound baths, aptly described as an “internal massage”.

The real ace up Villa Dagmar’s sleeve is a private entrance to the famous Östermalm food hall next-door. This gastronaut’s heaven serves up everything from gravlax to chanterelles under a grand wrought-iron canopy. 

Take off to Villa Dagmar

Coral Reef Club, Barbados

Hidden within 12 acres of lush tropical gardens – just a short stroll from the atmospheric Holetown – this family-run hotel has a special knack for unlocking the glamorous recluse within. Laze in understated Bajan elegance inside its creamy coral-stone rooms, whose spacious balconies (or terrace, if you opt for the plantation suite) promise sparkling sights of the sea. Spot hummingbirds flitting about the pool before gearing up for a luxe yet laid-back feed at the Coral Reef Club’s open-air restaurant (the catch of the day or grilled jumbo prawns are knockout).


Swot jetlag away at the garden-enveloped spa, where the rhythmic Lomi-Juma massage will get you back on an even keel, tapping into techniques indigenous to the Pacific.

While you're here, don’t miss neighbouring sister hotel, The Sandpiper, where Harold’s beach bar serves up flying fish sandwiches and, finally, be sure to experience the Thursday beach barbecue: steel drums, tiki torches and a sunset you won’t soon forget.  

Take off to Coral Reef Club

Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa

Crete’s beauty is undeniable, hence hotel developers have turned Elounda into a busy little coastline. Yet just off the same stretch, Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa feels lofty and separate in that way only swanky hillside properties can. Its palette (from Italian designer Gian Paolo Venier) mirrors Crete’s natural bounty: earthy greens, teddy-bear browns and soothing, slate greys. Wine in the glossy hotel bar has its Dionysian charms, while Pasithea (Greek goddess of relaxation) clearly had a hand or two in the onyx spa. And while all good Greek resorts will have you dine beside a glittering horizon, Cayo throws in a menu curated by legend Lefteris Lazarou, the first Greek chef to gain a Michelin star.

Cayo’s luxury spa and bespoke wellness team make more than a few promises to deliver ‘inner-peace’, so drifting off with ease won’t be a problem.   

Cayo is just one of thousands of carefully vetted properties available to book with British Airways Holidays – where 23kg of baggage per person, ATOL protection and a 24-hour support helpline come included.

Take off to Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa


Just as Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo idled around a hotel bedroom in Breathless, so do the beautiful young things of Paris at Chouchou, which opened in the city's Opera district in 2021, a not-so-brilliant year to open a hotel. But if the immediate post-pandemic timing welcomed the return of fun and freedom, it’s safe to say both were resurrected here. This mischievous boutique is peak French. And why not, after all? You’re in Paris to revel in that faire la bise spirit, no? Once checked in, slurp on oysters at The Market, a ground-floor foodie stop that rejoices in la terre and la mer, before nursing a Negroni at Bar Guinguette. There’s a chic bedroom to stumble into once you’re done.  

If you want to drift off to views of the elegant Opera Garnier, you’ll need one of the three rooftop suites.

Unusual for a city-centre bolthole, there are three small pools in the hotel basement that can be rented by the hour.

Take off to Chouchou

Ace Hotel Kyoto

Conjure up a traditional ryokan, and sliding screens, tatami mats and floor-level furniture may come to mind. Ace Hotel Kyoto (above and opening image) is not a traditional ryokan, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have all these things, because it does, and their inclusion into Ace’s crisp, cool aesthetic is exquisite. The brand’s first outpost in Asia had a rather quiet opening in 2020, but it deserved more fanfare. Not least to appreciate the work of Japanese architect on the project, Kengo Kuma, who left his fingerprints (and love of stacked timber structures) across the complex. The restaurants and lobby – Ace has always been particularly great at the latter – bring about the zingy, communal vibe, while ditching your fellow travellers is easy in its Zen Japanese garden. 

The Tatami Suite is the only room type that switches out beds for traditional futons. If you want an authentic Japanese night’s sleep, this is where to get it.  

Love sushi, ramen and gyoza? Then go elsewhere. The hotel’s three restaurants riff on Mexican, Italian and American classics.

Take off to the Ace Hotel

ME Dubai

Dubai’s hotel scene has long teetered on the edge of cliché, a balance of Arabian Nights extravagance and sci-fi spirit, held in place by a club of UAE billionaires. But to ME Dubai’s credit, it makes no bones about its all-out futurism. The legacy project of Zaha Hadid, ME Dubai has both space-age exteriors and interiors from the late British Iraqi architect (marking the first time she’d done both). Spa-seekers will already know that ME’s offering isn’t the only showstopper in this city. For that, head to One&Only The Palm: its Guerlain Spa is pure Moorish magic. 

Did you watch that cheesy sci-fi flick Passengers, only to conclude that the set design of the bedrooms was the best bit? Well ME Dubai is this, but real. 

This city doesn’t have to break the bank. The Always ME guestrooms (with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Downtown) can be bagged for less than £220 a night. 

Take off to ME Dubai

The Lake House on Canandaigua

The American dream isn’t dead, it’s in Upstate New York. The Lake House on Canandaigua had, much like the American dream, a boat load of promise and we can confirm it’s lived up to all initial hype. The estate is all white-shuttered balconies, broad porches and lakeside parasols. Its nautical, East Coast cool holds strong in the guestrooms (all 124 of them) thanks to impeccable taste from brother-sister design duo, The Brooklyn Home Company, who spent their childhood summers on Canandaigua Lake. For post-swim refreshment, Sand Bar is an informal affair serving cocktails and chocolate milk against the marina, while a fancier operation is in place at the Rose Tavern.

All the Lake House beds (four-posters, no less) are hypoallergenic with 350 thread-count linens, but in the suites will you find rolltop bathtubs for a pre-sleep soak.

The Finger Lakes are a bit of a schlep from NYC. Splash out on a chartered seaplane to take you from the East River directly to the hotel marina.

Take off to The Lakehouse on Canandaigua

British Airways Holidays is here to help you find your perfect break. From carefully selected hotels to straightforward car hire, all costs are included in the final price, meaning there are no surprise extras. 

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