One of the greatest pleasures of travel is taking in gorgeous scenery not normally encountered in daily life. The icing on this cake: Staying at a hotel that lets you savor these views even longer.
There are a number of properties around the world universally considered to have drop-dead, beautiful vistas, whether in top urban destinations like Paris or Hong Kong, or in island or mountain getaways like St. Lucia or the Canadian Rockies.
We searched the globe for hotels with more stunning views than the rest, drawing on expert insights from Jack Ezon, president of luxury travel company Ovation Vacations and veteran connoisseur of hotels worldwide.
In Pictures: Hotels With The Most Beautiful Views
Urban hotels with spectacular views can be found all over the world, but two new properties in particular have upped the ante. One, the Shangri-La in Paris, in the City of Light’s 16tharrondissement, opened in late 2010 and offers breathtaking panoramas of legendary landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Montmartre. The other, Hong Kong’s Ritz-Carlton, opened in March as the world’s tallest hotel, and offers unrivaled views of this city’s famous Victoria Harbor.
For those in search of mountain scenery—majestic peaks, stretches of horizon and towering forests— there’s a wide variety of properties to choose from. Among these is the Chateau Lake Louise, the grande dame property in the majestic Rockies of Alberta, Canada. It overlooks the spectacular, emerald-green glacial lake after which it was named, in the heart of pristine Banff National Park.
If the best hotel room with the finest view is what you seek, two new web sites can help. Room77.com, launched earlier this year, allows users to pinpoint individual rooms in a database of hundreds of thousands of hotels—ranked three stars and higher—in 32 cities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Users search for the perfect room using preferences like proximity to elevators or floor number, and get a Google Earth-enabled preview of the vista from each room. Another site, TheMostPerfectView.com, lets users search and book specific rooms at luxury urban and resort hotels around the world; company founder Paulo Palha says rates are provided directly by the hotels themselves and are best-available at time of booking.
Regardless of how you identify the world’s most scenic hotels, get ready for a treat: As Palha notes, “A great view is something you are going to stare at, that might sometimes catch you by surprise. You’ll take a deep breath, look around and be amazed. A great view is all about contemplation.”