I recently had a conversation with several fellow travellers about what distinguishes a luxury hotel from its peers. We exchanged notes about our stays in hotels and resorts around the world and we quickly concluded that it’s the small touches and the attentiveness of the staff that make the difference. There was a time when calling a guest by his/her name, offering bed linens with a high thread-count or remembering a guest’s preferences (for cocktails or how the guest likes his/her coffee/tea, etc…) was sufficient. These days, many high-end hotels go out of their way to make a guest feel welcome, and there are some which excel in providing those small, personalised touches. The hotel’s location, its interior, quality of service (attentive but not intrusive), and facilities (such as free WIFI) are important factors for most travellers but it’s the little details that can make a stay exceptional, and create wonderful memories that linger for years. I thought of my own travels and the numerous luxury hotel experiences I’ve had. There are some moments I’ll never forget; the small touches that made me smile in wonder and about which I can’t stop talking about. Here are five of them:

Unforgettable luxury hotel experiences

Welcome Home Mr. Jenkins!

Impressed! – Four Seasons Hotel Amman

My first special moment occurred just twenty minutes after my arrival at the Four Seasons Amman. After checking out my room, I decided to go down to the bar for a nightcap. The bartender approached me with a smile and asked “Good evening Mr. Jenkins, would you like to see our drinks menu?”. I looked up at the waiter with an expression of pure amazement. How did he know my name? I experienced another ‘wow’ moment the next day. After a long trip to the north of Jordan, I returned to my room only to find my shirts ironed and hanging in the closet, and my sunglasses (which I’d forgotten) had been polished and left atop the writing table on a fresh cloth. I was impressed! Read about my stay at the Four Seasons Amman.

My polished sunglasses!

A farewell that lingers – Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for several days. Upon my arrival, I was treated to a private tea ceremony in my room – a wonderful welcome! The best touch was yet to come. On my final day, I received a voucher for a gift I could collect at the Shanghai Tang store at the airport. After checking in for my flight and clearing immigrations, I headed straight for the Shanghai Tang store. I handed in the voucher and was given a colourful little box in return. I opened it to find a little perfume bottle. The lady at the counter explained that it was a scent for the home. I sprayed it into the air and my thoughts immediately drifted back to the Mandarin Oriental – it was the same tea scent I’d smelled in the hotel’s corridors. Another amazing touch and a beautiful memento of my stay at this exceptional hotel. Read about things to do in Hong Kong. and the thrilling Ngong Ping cablecar.

luxury hotel experience
The little tea ceremony

Sunset cocktails – Sofitel Motu Bora Bora

I’ll never forget the Sofitel Motu Bora Bora. Situated on a private island in the Bora Bora lagoon, the resort offers breathtaking views of the crystal-clear lagoon and Mount Otemanu. My favourite time of day was just before sunset when the resort’s staff would appear at the doorstep of my overwater bungalow with complimentary cocktails and canapés. They would serve it on the deck and I would sit, legs dangling over the edge of the deck, cocktail in hand and watch hundreds of tropical fish, baby sharks and rays swim past. Unforgettable! Read about my trip to Bora Bora.

The view from the deck of the Sofitel Private Island overwater bungalows

Bedtime – Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur

This is undoubtedly one of my favourite hotels in Kuala Lumpur. At the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, guests are taken care of by their personal butler. My favourite touch was experienced at bedtime. Chocolates and macaroons awaited me on the bedside table. As I was about to lay my head on the pillow, I noticed something very cool on the pillow: my initials embroidered into the pillow case! You bet I took that pillow case home with me – after checking with the staff of course. Read about things to do in Kuala Lumpur.

My initials on the pillow case

Screens – Shangri-La Hotel Toronto

Shangri-La Hotel Toronto has one of the best bathrooms I’ve ever seen. Heated marble floors, mirrors that never steam up and a television screen embedded in the mirror (I could watch the morning news as I brushed my teeth)! I’d never seen anything like it before. Another screen that truly impressed me was that of the iPad (that’s provided in every room). From this screen, I could access all the hotel’s services and more, such as ordering room service, requesting information from the concierge, arranging a spa treatment or checking out the restaurants’ menus. Convenient and oh so elegant! Read about my stay at the Shangri-La Toronto.

The TV screen in the bathroom mirror

Impressed? I sure was. There are many more examples of exceptional service and attention to details. If you’ve experienced great service at any hotel/resort around the world, feel free to share your luxury hotel experiences in the comments section below.

10 Responses

  • When I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in Macau, they brought me personal touches like dragonfruit and chocolates every turn down service. And had my slippers right by my bed each night. Amazing! Love this post, Keith.

  • Great post..
    Thank you for sharing…
    Looking luxury in beautiful..

  • The bathroom at the Shangri-La is really impressive! I love the TV in the bathroom and the mirrors that do not steam up! The iPad is pretty cool, too, but I see a few other luxury hotels are including that amenity.

  • Great post, Keith – I think I’d have stolen the pillowcase, too 😉 I don’t usually stay in luxury places, but like to every now and again to treat myself (I’ll be staying in a luxury hotel in Atlanta next month). I also need one of those tv-screen-not-steaming-up mirrors for my place…

  • Savoy in London–best check in process experience.
    Between the time you leave the cab and get into the hotel, they know your name. You are then taken to your room to complete the check in there. Awesome!!

  • Looks like you stayed at some pretty amazing places!
    For me, the service adds a lot to the luxury. Although I don’t mind a huge bed either:)

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