Because no-one likes to stay in bland chain hotels when travelling.
Here’s the low-down on five of our favourite regal stays…
The Peninsula Paris, Paris (France)
Enviably situated within walking distance of the Champs Elysees and other Parisian icons, The Peninsula Paris has been awarded the highly coveted “Palace” (an official French government approved list of super star hotels that exceed the five star ranking) status – despite only opening its doors two years ago.
The epitome of Parisian chic, the palatial property offers 200 rooms, including 34 suites – five of which are equipped with private rooftop gardens boasting panoramic views of the most emblematic monuments in Paris – and three first class restaurants. Choose from Le Lobby (the place to indulge in the famous Peninsula afternoon tea), LiLi restaurant for haute Cantonese cuisine and the rooftop restaurant and terrace bar L’Oiseau Blanc. The latter is where you’ll find the best in French food and wine.
However the jewel in The Peninsula Paris’ crown has to be The Peninsula Spa. Voted Best French Hotel Spa in the 2015 World Spa Awards and Best European Spa in the 2015 Villegiature Awards, this oasis of calm is completely dedicated to serenity, beauty and fitness.
In celebration of The Peninsula’s ‘palace’ status, Sybarites can enjoy a bottle of Champagne and 30 additional minutes for every treatment of 60 minutes or more at the Peninsula Spa until the 30 September. Simply quote The ‘Peninsula Palace’ offer when booking.
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi (UAE)
After years in the second rank of destinations, Abu Dhabi is a UAE emirate on the move. And for Sybarites visiting the hottest new destination in the Middle East, there’s only one place to stay: step forward the grandiose Emirates Palace which, at US$3billion, is one of the most expensive hotels ever built. This is the UAE capital’s equivalent of Dubai’s seven star extravaganza, the Burj Al Arab, only with a touch more class. Gone are the mock submarines and headache inducing carpets and in their place are pink marble floors and gold leaf ceilings. On arrival, guests are greeted with a beautiful bouquet of roses before being shown by staff (there are over 1,000 staff for some 300 rooms) to sleeping quarters fit for royalty.
It would be easy to spend all your time holed up in your room owing to the giant plasma screen TV controlled by a space age console, complimentary soft drinks and snacks on offer in the mini bar but don’t. Make time to explore the grounds, which abound with leisure options like a lazy river, two pools, and 1.3km stretch of private beach.
If you can bear to be parted from the palace, the Heritage Village (a great place to get to grips with life in Abu Dhabi pre oil) and the attractive corniche – a popular place for an evening stroll – are all within easy reach.
Udai Bilas Palace, Dungarpur (India)
Flanked by the blue waters of Gaibsagar lake on one side and a cove of private reserve forest on the other, this real life palace in Rajasthan embodies the old world charm of princely India.
The History of Udai Bilas Palace, Dungarpur dates from the mid-19th century, when Maharawal Udai Singhji-II, a great patron of art and architecture, built a wing of bluish grey local stone “Pareva” overlooking the lake and the “Ek Thambia Mahal”, featuring intricate sculptured pillars and panels, ornate balconies, balustrades, bracketed windows, arches and frieze of marble carvings, a veritable marvel of Rajput architecture.
The palace was enlarged in the mid 20th century but remains steeped in 1940s design splendour offering 20 enormous – and The Sybarite means enormous – rooms. Beyond the bedrooms, you’ll find gorgeous gardens with views of the lake – a habitat for over 120 species of bird, while Udaipur (aka the most romantic spot on the continent of India) is within easy day tripping distance.
Bored of beaches and bars and looking for a little more from your annual leave? Allow The Sybarite to suggest the historical treat that is Beijing (note this not the kind of place that Wayne Rooney goes on his holiday). One of the Chinese capital’s most popular attractions is the Summer Palace – once a playground for or emperors seeking to beat Beijing’s stifling summer heat. And just a few steps from the East Gate of the vast Summer Palace grounds, lies Aman at Summer Palace – compromising a series of 100-year old pavilions that were previously reserved for guests of the Empress Dowager.
Accommodation consists of 18 rooms and 33 suites reflecting traditional Chinese architecture with a regal ambience. The amenities at Aman at Summer Palace are also fit for an emperor: a range of first class restaurants serves up traditional Cantonese cuisine, western dishes and Japanese-influenced French kaiseki fare. Elsewhere Aman embraces wellness with a spa, spread across two subterranean levels, a Pilates and yoga studio, a 25-metre pool, large gym and two squash courts.
Hampton Court Palace, England (UK)
As incredible as all of the aforementioned are, don’t forget what’s on your doorstep back in Blighty: say hello to Hampton Court Palace. So why not channel the spirit of the Tudors and spend a night (or two) at Hampton Court’s charming Georgian House apartment?
This imposing building just north of the main palace was originally a kitchen built in 1718 for King George I and used by him and his son George, Prince of Wales (later King George II). Later it was divided into two houses, for the Clerk of Works and the Gardener.
Sybarites can stay in the eastern house, with a private walled garden, handsome rooms and a fine view over the palace roofs. But arguably the icing on the cake is being first in the queue to gawp at Henry VIII’s majestic palace and maze – declared the most famous Maze in the history of the world, and immeasurably the one most visited” by Ernest Law back in 1926.
If the Georgian House is fully booked, panic not for Hampton Court Palace is also giving everyone the chance to eat, drink and sleep (on the floor of the impressive Cartoon Gallery) at of the country’s finest palaces on Saturday 1st October. Expect an exclusive programme of entertainment with live interpretation and tours of the palace, a hearty dinner served in Elizabeth I’s kitchens, hot breakfast and complimentary entry to Hampton Court, to explore the palace at your leisure. Historical costumes are encouraged.