At least once a week there’s a debate in a Facebook travel group over whether staying in hotels is worth the money. And just as often there is someone that standing firm in their belief that they don’t need a “fancy bed and room” on vacation since they don’t plan to be chained to the property.

*Cue my side-eye*

While I’m clearly biased, the notion that luxury hotels and resorts only provide fancy rooms and somehow prevent you from having an “authentic” (The most overused term ever) travel experience couldn’t be more wrong.  Just like with anything else in life, there are levels to travel, especially luxury travel.  All those viral videos and photos people share and drool over, guess where they’re from?

Gone are the days where staying at luxury hotels meant you simply received a chocolate on your pillow. These days top hospitality brands have upped the ante and redefined experiential travel with exclusive experiences for luxury lovers that go beyond eating at local markets and touring temples.

While the aforementioned is essential, luxury travel is on another level. So grab a “fancy room,” put a diamond in your champagne and prepare for some serious #travelgoals with a few of the most jaw-dropping, over-the-top experiences from around the world that you won’t find in a hostel or an Airbnb.

Dive for Diamonds in South Africa


They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so what better way to say I love you to your favorite girl than with a once-in-a-lifetime diamond experience. The first of its kind in South Africa, guests staying at the Ellerman House in Cape Town, in partnership with Benguela Diamonds, can drop a cool $18K+ to participate in an exclusive Diamond Safari.

Guests are flown by private charter to South Africa’s mineral-rich west coast, where those with a PADI Open Water 1 certificate can choose to join divers beneath the waves, or watch the action from the boat. Seabed gravel is then “jigged” to separate out the heavier gemstones—garnets, diamonds, olivines. Once the treasure has been found, you’ll enjoy a private lunch on a nearby villa terrace before meeting with a sorting expert to select your gemstone, to be finished at the design studio. Finally fly back to Ellerman House to pop a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon with dinner and toast to your new best friend…or friends.

Say Goodbye to Customs Lines in France


Hell on earth has to be airport customs and immigration lines.  No matter how luxe your vacation is, you have to fight through long lines at the airport to get to it first. Unless you’re staying in the Presidential Suite at Le Meurice in Paris, France that is.

One of the perks of paying the whopping $7,500 per night price tag is includes being greeted by a Le Meurice representative when deplaning. They’ll escort you through the airport and customs, retrieve your luggage and then whisk you off to your Parisian suite in a Mercedes E-Class. As if that wasn’t enough, you also get access to Spa Valmont and a complimentary bottle of Krug champagne. Talk about arriving in style.

Make Music with a Legend in St. Barths


Going to concerts is great, but for true music lovers, the chance to record in the same studio as one of music’s greatest legends, and touch a piece of musical history is even better.

At Eden Rock Hotel in St. Barth’s guests can book the incredible beachside Villa Rockstar, which includes a private pool, cinema, butler service and a Mini Cooper, for $20,359. But this isn’t another ridiculously expensive villa.  What makes the villa worth the price is the chance to record your very own vacation soundtrack in a private recording studio, including instruments, production equipment and a screening room. The cherry on the sundae is the 8088 Neve console—the very same console used by John Lennon to record “Imagine.” Rock on.

Make Your Foodie Dreams Come True in Las Vegas


If you’re a true foodie then you’ve definitely heard of him.  Chef José Andrés is known as a pioneer of Spanish tapas in the United States, as well as his groundbreaking avant-garde cuisine.  And while Chef Andrés has restaurants across the globe for you to indulge in, there’s only one that provides you with a unique culinary experience you will never forget.

Tucked away in a small private room adjacent to Cosmopolitan Hotel restaurant Jaleo’s bustling bar and paella grill, é by José Andrés offers a clever and creative tasting menu of Spanish avant-garde dishes. Only 16 diners per night, eight diners per sitting during two dinner seatings, are allowed into this elusive world. Guests apply online for spaces, with lucky recipients receiving a Golden Ticket in the mail. For $600 per person including wine, diners enjoy a 23-course molecular gastronomy tasting menu in a mind-bending and flavorful wonderland, designed to mimic the experience of being inside Chef Jose Andres’ head.

Go For a Submarine Ride in Fiji


How many times have you been on vacation and longed to see the stunning underwater world beyond snorkel level? As awesome as diving is, it’s not for everyone, and the inability to go deep can leave you feeling left out.  Not anymore.

Guests at Laucala Island Resort in Fiji, a 3,500-acre private island Pacific resort featuring volcanic mountains, beaches, 25 luxury villas, 5 restaurants, a spa and an 18-hole golf course, can now explore the world below without needing a diving certificate. For $2000 per person, you can take a 30-minute ride in a custom 2 million dollar, an electricity-powered submarine called the DeepFlight Super Falcon. The two-person sub goes up to 60 feet below the surface allowing riders to see the areas gorgeous Fijian coral and marine life. Bonus? You stay dry the entire time. #winning

Get Your Vibes Right in New York City


The hustle and bustle of New York City can wear on even the most die-hard locals, let alone visitors. That’s why every now and then you need to find a way to recalibrate and this concrete jungle hotel has the coolest amenity ever to do just that.

Dream Downtown’s new GuestHouse Presidential Suite, which includes a 900-square-foot garden terrace, a glass-bottom Jacuzzi, a Champagne Bar vanity, a private barista and a personal security guard, is set up to give you the time of your life.  Not sure where to begin with that? No problem! The $5000 per night suite comes with a Vibes Curator (butler who?!) that can do everything from arranging art installations, customizing bedding and pillows, building bespoke music playlists, personalizing the in-room coffee, setting up personal consultation with a sneaker stylist (yes this is a thing) and even securing the hottest DJs and mixologists in the city for the most epic suite bash ever.

Soak in Champagne in Italy


Regular baths are so yesterday and the normal bath salts and bubbles just don’t do it, travelers, like they used to.  When you’re in one of the world’s most heavenly cities, it’s only natural that you want to bath yourself in the luxury of it…literally.

At Il Salviatino in Florence, Italy indulges in the Ultimate Bubble Bath as one of the hotel’s discreet Service Ambassadors fills your private bath with your favorite “bubbles” aka champagne. Starting at $10,000, you can choose from Prosecco, Spumante or French Champagne. They’ll also light scented candles to set the mood and provide a chilled bottle to drink will you soak your cares away.

Yacht Week For Adults in London


Sailing the Mediterranean for Yacht Week on a catamaran is great if you’re a semi-broke 20-something.  But adults with discerning tastes like to play with grown-up toys and one London hotel provides guests with a toy they won’t want to share.

MY The Wellesley is the 56-meter superyacht owned by The Wellesley London.  This ultimate luxury party yacht boasts three decks, a sundeck and a Jacuzzi, diving equipment, jet skis, an outdoor cinema, 6 cabin suites with en-suite bathrooms full of Hermès products, a club lounge with cigars fit for a true connoisseur and a private chef. So how much will all this awesomeness cost? Just a mere $275,000 per week.

For more exciting hotel reviews and luxury travel recommendations, follow The Hotel Whisperer, Daniel Pointdujour, at her site: www.hotelwhisperer.com


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