10 best luxury holiday destinations around the world for 2024

From Lake Como to the Seychelles, here’s our pick of the world’s most decadent destinations

Chris Wilson
Friday 07 June 2024 22:18 BST
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Anse Source d’Argent beach in the Seychelles
Anse Source d’Argent beach in the Seychelles (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Since most of us can’t afford to jet off to Monaco every weekend or spend a couple of weeks a year lazing in the Maldives, if there is a special occassion or bucket list holiday you’ve been saving for, you’ll want to think carefully about where to go.

Key to luxury breaks tends to be a spectacular location, impeccable service, wonderfully comfortable accommodation and excellent cuisine. For some, the ultimate luxury is overwater villas in Bali, for others it’s glamping out on safari in the Masai Mara. City breakers may be after a five-star stay in New York or Paris, while spa fans could seek out a countryside retreat or Caribbean getaway.

If you’re not yet sure what your perfect luxe break would be, we’ve rounded up some of the best luxury holiday destinations in the world to help get you inspired. And if you have thousands of spare pounds burning a hole in your pocket, you may even be able to book one of them.

Lake Como, Italy

A view of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo (right) and part of Tremezzo village
A view of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo (right) and part of Tremezzo village (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Luxury may be closer to home than you think. Lake Como has gained a reputation for being a favourite destination among celebrities, as well as featuring in popular TV shows such as Succession. One of the three famous Italian lakes (alongside Garda and Maggiore), Como lies close to Milan and the town itself can be reached by train in roughly 45 minutes (although some popular towns, such as Bellagio, are easier to drive to in just over an hour and a half).

The towns on the lake carry just as much glitz and glamour as the fashion capital, with centuries-old mansions and villas lining the banks and pastel-coloured buildings falling behind into the lush green hills. Since their construction, many of these mansions have been turned into chic lakeside hotels, offering impeccable views and classical-style luxury.

Where to stay

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo certainly lives up to its name. Looking out onto Bellagio, this decadent hotel offers indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and even a floating pool sitting on the lake to add to its grand interiors.

Grandhoteltremezzo.com

Mykonos, Greece

An aerial view of Ornos Bay
An aerial view of Ornos Bay (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While famed for its reputation as a party destination, the right parts of Mykonos can offer a welcome retreat away from the crowds (in busier times, this is a luxury in itself). Along with neighbouring Santorini, this Greek island in the Cyclades welcomes millions of tourists per year, but it’s easy to see why. With the same white-washed houses and domed churches that have made its Aegean neighbour so (Instagram) famous, Mykonos provides a similar level of glamour on its own winding streets and pristine beaches.

Mykonos Town and Ornos are the two largest villages on the island and provide enough to do if you do want to leave your idyllic beach retreat. Psarou is perhaps the most well-known beach on the island, with beach clubs such as Nammos and Scorpios just some of the many places to try if you do fancy sampling the boujie nightlife.

Where to stay

The Santa Marina Resort is a Greek-owned, beachside resort in Ornos that provides guests with their very own private stretch of beach. Complete with a waterside sushi restaurant and extensive views over the ocean.

The Seychelles

A seemingly untouched beach on Denis Island
A seemingly untouched beach on Denis Island (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands sits around 1,600km away from the coast of Africa, making it difficult to get to but all the more exclusive (and less disturbed by mass tourism). The capital, Victoria, sits on the main island of Mahe, but the chances are that most visitors will want to go straight to whatever beach-equipped, ocean-view accommodation they’ve booked.

The country will always compete with the Maldives and Mauritius as a popular Indian Ocean destination, but it scored a lot of points when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited for their honeymoon in 2011. It’s easy to see why; this cluster of islands offers warm turquoise waters, tall granite mountains and white-sand beaches galore.

Where to stay

Eden Bleu Hotel sits on Eden Island, just off the coast of Mahe. Rooms carry a view of either the marina or the granite mountains, while the restaurant also has marina views complete with a poolside terrace.

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Kenya

View over a section of the Masai Mara
View over a section of the Masai Mara (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Kenya’s safari offerings make it an excellent option for another type of luxury vacation. The country’s Masai Mara National Reserve provides the chance to see all of the Big Five game animals: lions, elephants, black rhinos, buffalo and leopards.

With such astounding areas of natural beauty and wildlife to match, it’s no wonder that a Kenyan wildlife retreat can make an excellent option for a luxury holiday. A safari is rightly on many people’s bucket lists, and part of the appeal here is how different it is to other ‘stereotypical’ luxury retreats.

Where to stay

The accommodation at Muthu Keekorok Lodge offers traditional interiors, private patios and balconies with views over the reserve. The pool and sundeck also possess scenic views, while the Hippo Bar and Elephant Deck provide an amazing setting for a dinner overlooking the lake or the bush.

Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Turtle Bay, with the hotel itself on the left
Turtle Bay, with the hotel itself on the left (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Almost all of Hawaii has potential luxury for visitors, but Oahu is a good contender for first prize as the best island due to a wider range of activities. While you’ll likely not want to stay there, Honolulu (the state capital) offers an eclectic city experience, with standard US-style grandeur mixed with traditional Polynesian influences and the tropical setting creating a city unlike almost any other in the world.

Add to this the tremendously fresh cuisine, Hawaiian ceremonies and dancing, and tranquil beach areas, and there’s a recipe for an unbeatable luxury break.

Where to stay

Located on The North Shore of the island (famous for its surfing spots), Turtle Bay has been a filming location for films such as The Hunger Games and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. With a five-mile piece of coastline at its side, the hotel offers excellent options for swimming and beach activities and excellent pools too, as well as hiking, horseriding and tennis.

Cote d’Azur, France

An aerial view of Nice
An aerial view of Nice (Getty Images)

Known as the French Riviera to many Brits, this section of southern France has everything from picturesque cities to glamorous beach resorts. Some of France’s most famous tourist destinations sit along this stretch of coastline – including Nice, Saint-Tropez and Cannes – along with Monaco, with visitors flocking to the area every year for sunbathing, sightseeing and a taste of famed French culture. The fact that these towns play host to Film Festivals, F1 races, yachts and past visits from Queen Victoria speaks to the glitz and glamour of this part of the country.

Similar in grandeur and red roof design, Nice and Cannes are the cities on the riviera, with the various attractions – galleries, museums and the famed Promenade des Anglais (Nice) and Boulevard de la Croisette – making them worth a visit. Due to its reputation in decades gone by, Saint-Tropez remains synonymous with the Cote d’Azur’s luxurious spirit, while towns such as Menton provide all the colourful pastel buildings that you’d expect from this section of European coast.

Where to stay

The Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat sits right on the coast just half an hour’s drive from Nice. Each of the villas has a southern-French design (think pastel colours and shuttered windows), while rooms are decidedly minimalist yet stylish. With other rooms offering sea views and private pools, this is a slice of luxury in France’s luxury capital.

The Maldives

A waterside restaurant at Reethi Rah
A waterside restaurant at Reethi Rah (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Another Indian Ocean (and Instagram) favourite, the Maldives has become known for the plethora of overwater villas that have taken over its waters. These islands are what the ‘dream’ beach holiday looks like: bone-white beaches surrounded by palm trees and crystal-clear turquoise waters, with meandering wooden walkways leading out onto dozens of thatched-roof villas, where swimming with tropical fish is only a few steps away.

While one of the ultimate luxury destinations for relaxation, the country’s location and geography lend themselves to water-based activities. Diving and snorkelling are popular, with various spots good for seeing hammerhead sharks, manta rays and whale sharks. There are also numerous opportunities for sailing, fishing and surfing.

Where to stay

A recent refurbishment means that many of the 193 villas at LUX South Ari Atoll (some of which are, of course overwater) are brand new, while the spa has also been revamped. Six restaurant offerings, all focused on the cuisine of a different country, mean guests barely need to leave the resort, unless keen to take one of their organised tours to swim with whale sharks.

St Lucia

St Lucia’s Twin Pitons at sunset
St Lucia’s Twin Pitons at sunset (Getty Images)

You could go to the Caribbean a thousand times and still not have stayed in all the luxury offerings in countries such as the Bahamas, Barbados or the Dominican Republic. However, for something a little more unique – and isolated – head to St Lucia. The country has a natural landscape and idyllic setting that is among some of the most scenic places in the world.

With towering volcanoes hugging the coastline and dense rainforest spanning much of the heart of the island nation, St Lucia has a different landscape to many other popular Caribbean destinations. Add to this a wide selection of pristine beaches – such as Marigot Bay and Sugar Beach – and the accessibility of towns such as Castries and Soufriere, and you have a winning combination for the perfect luxury holiday.

Where to stay

Located on a volcano ridgeline in a Unesco World Heritage Site in Soufriere, Ladera provides stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and St Lucia’s Twin Pitons (two volcanic plugs, created when magma hardens). Each of the hotel’s 37 rooms has its own private plunge pool and views of the Pitons, one of the Caribbean’s most famous natural landmarks.

Los Cabos, Mexico

Aerial view of the shallow water in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Aerial view of the shallow water in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico (Getty Images)

Situated at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos has become a popular destination for American visitors, owing to its proximity to the US border. The municipality consists of the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, which are linked by a 32km corridor of coastline which contains several popular resorts. Despite perhaps having fewer acitivities than other popular Mexican resorts, Los Cabos’ natural beauty and colonial towns set it apart from others.

The rugged landscape and rocky formations on the coastline are a drastically different setting to places like Cancun, although the striking turquoise waters are admittedly present around much of the country’s coast. San Jose del Cabo offers an escape from the nightlife and rowdiness of Cabo San Lucas, with colonial architecture and multicoloured cobbled streets providing a reminder that, despite outside influence, you are indeed in Mexico.

Where to stay

Sitting roughly 10 minutes away from San Jose del Cabo – with easy access for when you want to see the town – One&Only Palmilla houses one of the only swimmable beaches in Cabo. If that wasn’t enough of an attraction already, a 22,000 square feet spa and villas that offer private pools and beach access are part of the deal.

Bali, Indonesia

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A nickname like Land of the Gods certainly suggests that Bali would make an unbeatable holiday destination for any of us mere mortals, and the Indonesian island has become a popular spot for honeymooners and luxury seekers alike. Many of the 390,000 UK visitors that Indonesia welcomes every year will visit the island, now famed for its natural beauty, rice paddies and temples and its sense of tranquility.

While its reputation and the wealth of activities on offer mean that parts of the island are more popular with travelling adults and partygoers, those looking for luxury can pick from plenty of places to enjoy long sandy beaches, crystalline waters, verdant rainforest and volcanic hills.

Where to stay

Nirjhara is a jungle resort found in between the rice fields of Tabanan, not far from Canggu on the southwest of the island. The accommodation options here are far different to those that most of us will ever have experienced, ranging from one-bedroom treehouses with a private rooftop to two-bedroom villas with a jungle terrace and private infinity pool.

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