Platinum List 2018: Best City Hotels
Faena, Hotel Café Royal, Hotel Emma, The Peninsula, The Upper House
These establishments consistently provide five-star excellence in the world’s great cities.
Miami Beach, Florida, United States
As the first hotel designed by Baz Luhrmann, the Faena lives up to the extravagance of the Australian director’s films, featuring a fantastical kaleidoscope of elaborate prints and novel sensations. Peppermint-striped umbrellas dot the pool deck, a gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth by arist Damien Hirst occupies a beachfront lookout, and, in the feline-themed Living Room, a chandelier flickers whenever lightning strikes the Argentine Pampas. In the three years since it opened, Alan Faena’s brainchild has easily become one of the city’s buzziest spots.
Since it opened in 1863, the Café Royal has attracted luminaries of the time, from Oscar Wilde to Winston Churchill, Brigitte Bardot to David Bowie. Early in its history, owner Daniel Nicols enlisted his cousin from Burgundy to stock its wine cellar, which was once considered the greatest in the world and today boasts an extensive list with a focus on French regions. In 2012, British architect Sir David Chipperfield unveiled a sweeping restoration that transformed the former restaurant into a luxury hotel, ushering in sleek, modern touches to rooms and suites while adapting this Grade II-listed building to the 21st century. Naturally, architectural details such as gilded boiseries and carved stone moldings reflect its 150-year history.
San Antonio, Texas, United States
Long before the Hotel Emma was awarded AAA’s Five Diamond designation, the 146-room hotel was the site of the Pearl Brewery, which hotel namesake Emma Koehler successfully ran after her husband’s death in 1914 and, through her ingenuity, survived Prohibition. It finally closed in 2001, and the next year interior designers Roman and Williams were tasked with preserving the 1894 buidling. An enormous bottle capper transformed into a chandelier and brew tanks converted into seating areas at the bar are some of the quirky touches that allude to its past. Books from San Antonio writer and historian Sherry Kafka Wagner can be found in the wood-paneled library. Reserve the grand Emma Koehler Suite for its double-height floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of the San Antonio River.
Soaring over the Huangpu River with sweeping skyline views, The Peninsula is the newest building in the historic Bund district in more than 70 years. Though this 235-room hotel opened in 2009, its opulent, art deco interiors, soaring pillars and gilded chandeliers evoke the glamour of the city’s storied past—even the indoor pool area features a deco fireplace. The only hotel on mainland China with two Michelin-star-rated restaurants, The Peninsula also incorporates an upside-down room at the clandestine Salon de Ning, where a portrait, bookcases and other decor are whimsically anchored to the ceiling.
Hong Kong, China
The Upper House, which occupies the top 13 floors of a 50-story tower in Hong Kong’s gleaming Admiralty financial district, enacts its brand of “relaxed luxury.” With 117 studios and suites, The Upper House also offer that most premium of Hong Kong luxuries: space. At 730 square feet, the hotel’s Studio 70 is the biggest standard room available in Hong Kong, with the two largest penthouse suites measuring a palatial 1,960 square feet.