When individuals commence exploration of the next luxury spring, summer, romantic, winter, or holiday vacation experience, they begin by seeking the most elegant accommodations in the world.  Their desires and preferences are quite diverse.  Their all-encompassing interests include visits to captivating resorts on small and large islands, enthralling hotels on every continent on the globe, unparalleled historical and contemporary inns, and fun, fascinating locales in both small, quaint towns and large, fast-paced metropolises. As such, Upscale Living Magazine has researched numerous elite properties around the world and has selected hotels in each of these categories. Listed in alphabetical order, we are pleased to unveil our 2019 Top 25 Five-Star Hotels and Resorts in the World EXCLUSIVE. Each place, in its own distinct space, offers wondrous retreats to remember.

Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo
photo courtesy of Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo

Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo

Atop a hill facing Culebra Bay, the Andaz Costa Rica Resort, situated on 1,400 acres of picturesque, lush landscape, has 132 airy guestrooms and 21 bright, luxurious suites.  The tropical forest becomes a part of your blissful experience as you enjoy the view through floor-to-ceiling glass windows and folding glass doors. Farm-to-table, theme restaurants, including Rio Bhongo, Ostra, Chao Pescao Small Plates & Bar, and Andaz Beach House, wholly impress onsite guests. At this pet-friendly property, enjoy distinct amenities, including an engaging kids program, family pool, adults-only pool, and nine treatment rooms at the relaxing Onda Spa.

Beaches Turks and Caicos                                                                             photos courtesy of Beaches Turks and Caicos

Beaches Turks & Caicos, Providenciales Turks & Caicos Islands

For guests of the striking Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort, strolling through its gardens and five villages is simply heavenly. Whether selecting the Caribbean, Seaside, Italian, French, or Key West Village, visitors will delight in the all-inclusive property along a 12-mile beach of tranquil, turquoise water. All guests can enjoy 21 onsite restaurants including the newest addition of the Bombay, its first Italian restaurant as well as Mr. Mac and Curls n’ Swirls food trucks.  Fully family-oriented, the young and young-at-heart can splash about in the 45,000 square-foot Pirates Island WaterPark. Exclusive amenities that are also included are scuba diving, water sports, Sesame Street characters, Club Liquid for teens and tweens, Xbox Play Lounge, kids programs, and Voila – a live presentation of art, theatre, acrobatics, and other special surprises. The fabulous, three-floor villas, directly on the beach, offer a full kitchen, living room, dining room, spacious bedrooms, and private balconies for a wonderful, luxury experience.

Carmelo Resort & Spa                                                                                 photo courtesy of Carmelo Resort & Spa

Carmelo Resort and Spa, Carmelo, Uruguay

The Carmelo Resort and Spa Resort feature splendid décor both indoors and outdoors. From the wondrous banks of the Rio de la Plata encompassing pine forests and eucalyptus, visitors can reside in one of 20 bungalows or 24 bi-level suites overlooking a vineyard, forest, or the river. The luxurious guestrooms with private terraces, offer unparalleled relaxation. In addition to vacations for couples and families, this is a great pet-friendly destination for weddings and corporate retreats. Exceptional amenities include a pool open 24 hours a day, complimentary breakfast, palm-roofed canopies, tennis courts, and Chandra Spa. Guests can revel in the premium dining experience of South American cuisine at Pura, Mandara Bar, or Rio Bar.  A delectably special indulgence includes making one’s dessert at Clase de Pasteleria Bakery with the executive chef. 

Coco Prive Maldives                                                                           photo courtesy of Coco Prive Maldives

Coco Prive, Kuda Hithi Island, Maldives

The ultra-exclusive, Coco Prive located in the secluded island of Kuda Hithi, has but one spectacular resort on it.  When guests arrive in the Maldives, a private, luxury yacht will sail them to their private isle. One large master residence, surrounded by five guest villas, features incomparable amenities. A dedicated, personal staff is available both day and night. Private chefs will prepare delectable cuisine as the cocktails and beverages flow perpetually.  Excursions include unlimited diving and watersports such as canoeing, windsurfing, and catamaran sailing.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel
photo courtesy of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel

 Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle, Washington

In a striking backdrop of magnificent architecture equivalent of the Italian Renaissance period, the majestic Fairmont Olympic Hotel, founded in 1924, is in the heart of downtown Seattle. The 450 hotel rooms also boast executive suites and other specialty suites, including two presidential suites.  The Georgian Restaurant, a AAA Four Diamond eatery, is home to the legendary Afternoon Tea. Guests regularly dine at Shucker’s Oyster Bar, The Terrace Lounge, and the 4th Avenue Espresso Bar.  Pet-friendly and within walking distance of the waterfront pier, the Fairmont encourages its visitors to enjoy the wonders of the Health Club, indoor pool, and Penelope & The Beauty Bar specializing in massages, sugaring, nail services, and mink as well as silk lashes.

Four Seasons Orlando Resort at Walt Disney
photo courtesy of Four Seasons Orlando Resort at Walt Disney

Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Orland, Florida

The magnificent Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort anticipates every need, desire, and dream of its guests. From the moment visitors grace the grand entrance to be greeted by the friendliest attendants to the moment they leave and everything in between, it is an awe-inspiring, exhilarating, charming experience of what a truly perfect vacation should be. The lush landscape boasts 114 various plant species, 49 live oaks, 927 palm trees, and 72,000 shrubs. The guestrooms and suites have amazing, charming features such as in-mirror TVs in the bathroom vanity, iPads for making in-room dining requests, and such fabulous balconies that allow for great views of the magical fireworks taking place nightly in different theme parks. An innovative amenity just introduced for select suites is the Plum wine on-demand, one-touch button system. Holding two bottles of wine, with the touch of a finger, guests can pour a glass of wine and lounge on their terrace. The renowned Four Seasons Spa is all that one imagines it would be. Delightful on-site restaurants and lounges are Capa, Ravello, PB & G, Plancha, The Lobby Bar, and Lickety-Split. There are numerous programs and amenities for children.  A highlight of the visit is the Good Morning with Goofy & His Pals Character Breakfast.  Having a full, all you can eat a spectacular bar, youth can feast on everything they desire and get photos taken with every character they love.

Grand Fiesta Americana
photo courtesy of Grand Fiesta Americana

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa, Cancun, Mexico

The ultimate luxury beach getaway, Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa, offers its guests a remarkable opportunity to bask in the fun and sun. Its 600 ocean view standard and premium suites are outstanding. A particularly special offering is the Grand Club Experience.  Its benefits include a 12th Floor VIP Penthouse Lounge with panoramic views, daily snacks and small bites, premium beverage service, a special concierge, nightly turn-down service, jacuzzi baths, and private check-in and check-out. All guests can engage in Sunrise Yoga, activities at the Coral Kidz Club, hydrotherapy rituals at the Gem Spa, drinking under Tiki Table Bars, lounging on beach beds, and myriad services. Great eateries are La Joya, the Le Basilic AAA Five Diamond Restaurant, Vina del Mar, specializing in the celebrated Champagne Breakfast. A must-make reservation is the Table Video Mapping Experience. This splendid, eight-course dinner with a narrated, 3-D presentation is incredible.

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort
photo courtesy of Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Guests can bask in the wondrous offerings of the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort, cited in the heart of Riviera Maya. The stunning, Mayan-inspired contemporary décor of the property is simply breathtaking. Unparalleled features include a sacred Mangrove jungle, lush gardens, infinity pools, open-air architecture, and the eminently renowned 6,000-square foot Cenote Spa. This distinctively designed, celestial haven has hydrotherapy stations, a eucalyptus steam room, fiber optic chromotherapy showers, among numerous features. Guests can select accommodations, with an exceptional staff, among the 314 guestrooms or suites, including the magnificently designed air suites and two royal presidential suites. Select suites, with private plunge-pools, allow for the exclusive amenities of The Grand Club, including a sequestered lounge, continental breakfast, evening cocktails, and daily hors d’oeuvres. Onsite restaurants include La Cocina, The Grill 1 -26,  El Paseo, and Sushi n’ Raw.

Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik
photo courtesy of Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik

 Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik, Croatia

An escape to the astoundingly magnificent and stately Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik Resort overlooking the Adriatic Sea as well as Old Town is worth the visit.  Just over a century old, the property, having its private beach, has 158 grand rooms, including its suites. Alluring panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea can be enjoyed by at least three of the restaurants, including Sensus Fine Dining, Prora Beach, Abakus Piano Bar, Palm Terrace, and Restaurant Salin. A tranquil  Sisley’s Phyto-aromatic treatment combining global massage techniques with spiritually connected techniques of the region will add so much to the relaxing vacation.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji
photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji Islands

Lovers of the environment who wish to escape the fast pace of work and technology to wind down, slow down, calm down, and everything in between will find the ultimate vacation in the gorgeous Jean-Michel Cousteau tropical paradise resort. The resort overlooks tranquil Savu Savu Bay on 17 acres of the Vanua Levu Island – one of 330 islands in the country of Fiji. No telephones or televisions are in the bures (bungalows) so that guests may relax and release while delighting in the surrounding white sandy beaches, pristine mountain scenery, coral reefs, and lovely amenities of this picturesque resort. The 25 charming, luxurious bures comprise of private patios, sitting areas, comfortable deluxe king beds, and oversized bathrooms.  All meals, specialty coffees and teas, bottled non-alcoholic beverages, most activities, and the Bula Children’s Club are included in the stay. Pleasing additions include the spa, morning yoga, the restaurant featuring cuisine from Fiji, Europe, and Asia as well as excursions of snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, tennis, and volleyball. With the island’s pristine eco-system, visitors enjoy the benefit of an organic garden, edible vegetation, fresh fish from the sea, and coconut trees.

Le Blanc Spa and Resort
photo courtesy of Le Blanc Spa and Resort

Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos, San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico

For the finest extravagant and lavish vacation experience, guests commence their stay at the Le Blanc Spa Resorts Los Cabos, by entering the grand vaulted lobby with floor-to-ceiling marble and are welcomed by the accommodating staff of this all-inclusive, adults-only oasis.  Chambers boast in-room pedestal tubs, Bvlgari toiletries, hand-painted chocolate creations each evening, and the gift of a full bottle of wine as well as tequila. Retreat to paradise while enjoying moments of massage and meditation, at the BlancSpa with signature treatments like a Pericu Massage, Pitaya Wrap, Diamond Facial, or Passion Couple’s Package.

Le Bristol Paris
photo courtesy of Le Bristol Paris

Le Bristol Paris, Paris, France

Le Bristol Paris is a classy and elegant hotel, on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, has been the talk of guests worldwide since 1925. Choices of stylish suites such as Saint Honore, Prestige, Elysee, Terrace, Penthouse, Presidential, Panoramic, Paris, Royal Two-Bedroom Honeymoon, Imperial, and Suite 1925, are in 18th-century French-style. Paris is internationally renowned for its delectable cuisine. The property does not disappoint with restaurants 114 Faubourg, Café Antonia, Le Bar du Bristol, and Epicure – a 3-Michelin star eatery overlooking the “Jardin Français.”  Depending upon the day, in addition to world-class fare served daily, restaurants host Afternoon Tea, Fashion Saturdays, Speakeasy Nights, and DJ Sets. While lounging by the swimming pool, guests can take in panoramic views of Paris’ rooftops and famous monuments. The Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie is must-visit as it offers Caviar Massages, Caviar Lift Facials, Liquid Gold Body Massages, Signature rituals, including Swiss Bliss, Body and Soul, Pure Perfection, and Radiance Revitalized as well as Sophrology, Meditation, and Reiki Wellness Sessions.   

Park Hyatt St. Kitts Suite
photo courtesy of Park Hyatt St. Kitts Suite

Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, St. Kitts & Nevis

Presenting an alluring waterside or ocean view at every turn, Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour boutique property promises a retreat beyond compare with its beautiful guestrooms, suites, and villas.  Spacious two to six-bedroom villas such as The Windward House, The Reef House, and Villa Mila, have private balconies, full gourmet kitchens, beautiful living rooms and dining rooms, relaxing outdoor furniture, and private pools. Lovers can have the concierge arrange a romantic, candlelit dinner on Donovan’s Beach.  Delectable dining commences at One Shoe Beach Bar & Grill, Cardamom & Co., and Donovan’s Reef. The Ixora Spa offers exotic relaxation and rejuvenation services, including Ayurvedic, acupuncture, massages, and body scrubs.  The marina is an ultra-exclusive, extraordinary comfort enjoyed by guests having or arriving on yachts and boats. 

Scrub Island Resort Spa and Marina
photo courtesy of Scrub Island Resort Spa and Marina

Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, The British Virgin Islands

Presenting an alluring waterside or ocean view at every turn, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina boutique property promises a retreat beyond compare with its beautiful guestrooms, suites, and villas.  Spacious two to six-bedroom villas such as The Windward House, The Reef House, and Villa Mila, have private balconies, full gourmet kitchens, decorative living rooms and dining rooms, relaxing outdoor furniture, and private pools. Lovers can have the concierge arrange a romantic, candlelit dinner on Donovan’s Beach.  Delectable dining commences at One Shoe Beach Bar & Grill, Cardamom & Co., and Donovan’s Reef. The Ixora Spa offers exotic relaxation and rejuvenation services, including Ayurvedic, acupuncture, massages, and body scrubs.  The marina is an ultra-exclusive, extraordinary comfort enjoyed by guests having or arriving on yachts and boats.

Shangri-La Hotel Abu Dhabi exterior
photo courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel Abu Dhabi exterior

Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Behold the spectacular and majestic beauty of the Shangri-La Hotel, middle eastern property. The 213 rooms and suites, as well as 161 apartments, for extended stays, are incredible. Select amenities include walk-in rain showers, double washbasins, bathrobes, slippers, ladies’ pouches, washers and dryers, refrigerators. Flawlessly designed restaurants serving cuisine from around the world include Shang Palace, Sofra bld, Bord Eau, Hoi An, and Al Hanah Bar. Guests can bask in luxury at the five beaches, four swimming pools, Health Club, and authentic Arabian Hamman Rituals, including Moroccan and Emirates.

Taj Campton Place
photo courtesy of Taj Campton Place

Taj Campton Place, San Francisco, California

Built more than a century ago in one of America’s most famed cities, the award-winning landmark, Taj Campton Place, features stately architecture with elegant, contemporary décor. Guests can enjoy breathtaking views of prominent buildings from one of 110 guestrooms or suites. In the heart of the city, art galleries, museums, and hot nightspots are within walking distance of the hotel. Visitors can delight in tantalizing Cal-Indian cuisine like Spice Pot, Artisan Foie Gras, Chickpea Sundal, and Liberty Duck Breast at the Michelin-starred Campton Place Restaurant.

The Lanesborough
photo courtesy of The Lanesborough

The Lanesborough London, United Kingdom

The Lanesborough is one of the most impressive hotels in London. Each visitor, whether in a room or suite, is afforded dedicated butler service to perpetually cater to his or her every need throughout their stay.  Cited between Mayfair, Knightsbridge, and Hyde Park, the pet-friendly hotel offers unparalleled amenities, including its Library Bar, Withdrawing Room, Celeste Restaurant, which is known for fine dining and legendary Afternoon Tea, and The Garden Room boasting premier cigars and cognac. Elegant specialty suites and signature suites provide great comfort. The lavish, palatial Royal Suite, accommodating up to 18 guests, has seven bedrooms, two living rooms, amazing views of Buckingham Palace, and offers complimentary water, fresh fruit, teas, coffee, UK and international publications, on-demand movies, clothing pressings, and use of the chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Phantom.

Table Bay Hotel
photo courtesy of Table Bay Hotel

The Table Bay Hotel, Capetown, South Africa

Every facet of the internationally renowned property, The Table Bay Hotel, superb and outstanding.  The guest service is exceptional, and the rooms and suites surpass even the highest of standards and expectations. Perfectly positioned on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the hotel was opened in May 1997 by beloved South Africa President Nelson Mandela.  Guests enjoy magnificent, awe-inspiring views of Table Mountain, one of the natural wonders of the beautiful continent of Africa as well as Robben Island, the harbor, and the city. Top-tier restaurants are Atlantic, The Lounge, Camissa Brasserie and Wine Bar, and Union Bar. And when in the mood for shopping at the designer, upscale stores, visitors can ride up the escalator and step into to the adjacent V & A Waterfront Shopping Mall with more than 450 retail outlets.

The Retreat at Heaven in Rwanda
photo courtesy of The Retreat at Heaven in Rwanda

The Retreat by Heaven, Kigali, Rwanda

In a serene, tranquil environment, guests can relish the beauty of nature at Kigali’s first eco-friendly resort, The Retreat by Heaven.  Its eleven inimitable, custom-built rooms have solar energy, locally crafted furniture, peaked ceilings, private patios, and indoor/outdoor rain showers. Additional site amenities include a hot tub, sauna, open-air gym, and heated, saltwater, solar-powered pool.  The eclectic Fusion restaurant serves a perfect blend of Rwandan, African, and global cuisine. The stay can be finalized with a Trigger Point Massage or Relax and Restore Treatment at The Retreat Wellness.

The Rittenhouse
photo courtesy of The Rittenhouse

The Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

At a striking angle directly in the Center City, The Rittenhouse Hotel is a unique luxury hotel frequented by international travelers and the locals alike. Its 116 luxury, oversized guestrooms and suites have notable amenities such as marble bathroom floors, espresso machines, nightly turndown service, and mini-bars. The elite Park Suites, with treetop views of Rittenhouse Square, also include a bedroom, living room, dining space, and kitchen.  Guests have long frequented legendary in-house eateries like LaCroix for Sunday Brunch, Mary Cassat Tea Room & Garden for Afternoon Tea, the Library Bar for craft cocktails, and now Scarpetta for Italian fare.

The Ritz Carton Lake Tahoe
photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carton Lake Tahoe

The Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe, Truckee, California

When individuals plan for a wondrous winter getaway, they get that and more with the picturesque landscape of this mountain retreat. The Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe is a AAA Five Diamond Resort is a ski enthusiast’s dream with slope-side, ski-in, ski-out access. Other exciting excursions facilitated by the concierge are golfing, mountain biking, and hiking. Warm, elegant fire pits and fireplaces are located in the 170 guestrooms, 23 private suites, restaurants, and patios, and courtyards throughout the property. The guestrooms are most striking. That includes the spectacular four-bedroom penthouse, housing up to eight, which has a two-story great room, a formal dining room with a balcony, two master suites, a media room, a wine room, gourmet kitchen, sweeping mountain views and more. Guests can dine at Manzanita, Backyard Bar & BBQ, Café Blue, or take the connecting inter-mountain gondola to nearby Northstar Village for regional food fare.  Guests can revel in a soothing spa experience with the Journey Through the Forest, Tahoe Tree of Life, Sierra Summit Foot Ritual, and Apres Recovery.

The Thief Hotel
photo courtesy of The Thief Hotel

The Thief, Oslo, Norway

Stolen blissful moments of luxury, relaxation, and enjoyment of their guests is paramount to THE THIEF. As such, the property offers many captivating amenities. At the center of downtown Oslo, the hotel is globally recognized for its thought-provoking art pieces, captivatingly designed furniture, well-appointed guest rooms, and Nordic cuisine. Extraordinary suites such as the Apparatjik, Brit, Broom, THIEF, or Oslo offer different dynamic features, including canal views, private living rooms, spacious bedrooms, private balconies, and entrance to the THIEF SPA. Distinct offerings include THIEF BAR, THIEF FOODBAR, access to Tjuvholmen Beach, and an incredible rooftop terrace featuring a bar and grill overlooking the Oslo Fjord. In summer months, there is a remarkable touch of Unplugged sessions on the roof and pick up boat service to and from the hotel.

The Vine Hotel
photo courtesy of The Vine Hotel

The Vine Hotel, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Inspired by Madeira’s winemaking tradition, the guestrooms of the Vine Hotel offer a spiritual experience. The celestial Panoramic Design Suite, with perfect lighting and décor, has a vine theme and autumn color palate. Included in the suite’s stay is a complimentary minibar, cascading washbasins, cots and foldaway beds for youth, a seating area, shoe shines, and more. Great service is the two-day spa program, which includes Vintage Time, Divine Escape, and Vinepure Detox. Dining options include Uva Restaurant & Bar, Terra Lounge (under spreading vines), 360˚ Sky & Poolside Bar, cooking lessons, culinary adventures, and private dining.

The Watergate Hotel
photo courtesy of The Watergate Hotel

The Watergate Hotel, Washington, District of Columbia

Having a worldwide reputation, the mystique and intrigue of the Watergate Hotel do not disappoint with its top-notch services. In walking distance of the capital’s most popular destinations, it features 336 guestrooms, six diplomat suites, 24 premier suites, and two presidential suites.  Politics meets global business as guests dine at Kingbird Restaurant, Next Whiskey Bar, and Top of the Gate Rooftop Bar.  Seasonal exclusives include hot toddy carts, chocolate making classes, rooftop skating, and the Winter Igloos having curated cocktails, small bites, desserts, and other surprises. Guests should certainly consider reserving The Scandal Room, where the infamous 1972 Watergate break-in took place.

Vdara Hotel
photo courtesy of Vdara Hotel

Vdara Hotel & Spa, Las Vegas, Nevada

In one of the world’s most fabulously forbidden and excitedly alluring cities in the world, the fascinating Vdara Hotel & Spa, an all-suite luxury hotel, is front and center of the Las Vegas strip. To varying degrees, the lavish, pet-friendly suites offer select features such as living rooms, dining rooms, spa-style soaking tubs, special registration, and private entrances. Guests can delight in the special appearances of state-of-the-art robots Fetch and Jett as they accompany staff in delivering snacks, sundries, and spa essentials. Retreat to enthralling ESPA to receive tranquil treatments such as On the Rocks, Desert Rose, and Contour & Firm. Other property offerings are VICE VERSA Patio and Lounge, Market Café, and the Rooftop Pool & Lounge.

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Leslie E. Royal is an international travel writer, author, micro-influencer, and veteran multi-media journalist. She loves to travel with her wonderful husband Tony, grandbaby Kedei Savanna, children Antasha and Jay, and son-in-love Jules! When she's not traveling, she's writing and working on other exciting projects. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicago Tribune, ESSENCE, Black Enterprise, Upscale Living, Medium, The Ashro Blog, AAA Midwest Traveler, Upscale, and AAA Southern Traveler. She is an Ashro Brand Ambassador and the host of their popular video series called Onward and Upward with Leslie E. Royal. The creator of the Leslie’s Lane consumer information blog, she has two books: Leslie Lane The Book!: Your One-Stop Internet Resource Guide to Links for Jobs, Inspiration, Discounts, FREE Stuff, Scholarships, Travel & More ( $14.95) and How to Write and Self-Publish Your Book for FREE with Amazon’s KDP: An Easy Way to Complete Your Manuscript in Seven Stress-Free Steps ($9.95). Follow Leslie on Instagram @LesliesLane and see her Amazon Author Page.