Five hotels at nearly $5,000 a night combined – all able to be booked with points. These five are the best hotel experiences I've had traveling in nearly 50 countries, and all of them stand out in very unique ways.
With private gardens, sweeping ocean views and even a former bank vault, it will be hard to top these properties – even by paying. Here are my five, ranked from top to bottom.
Palacio Duhau - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Earlier this year, Andrea and I flew to Buenos Aires for her 25th birthday. Spending five nights at the Park Hyatt property gave us ample time to review the space, serviced by the best hotel staff I have been around. It wasn’t the biggest nor most expensive – just perfect in every way.
The original building was a 1930’s French Mansion in the famous Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, neighboring the Vatican Embassy. It was then expanded to include a modern wing opposite the old palace and, in between, they furnished an incredible garden. The garden has daily themes – from a DJ to tango – and a reasonably priced tea menu.
Conrad - Koh Samui, Thailand
If the Palacio Duhau "wows" with elegance and service, the Conrad Koh Samui just…wows. Long known by savvy points travelers as a holy grail of redemption nights, two nights in private villas overlooking the ocean are easy to obtain.
By the way, private villa is an understatement – we are talking about completely secluded, spacious one and two-bedroom villas with private pools ranging from 30 to 80 feet. Unobstructed 180-degree views over the fabled “Five Islands” of Thailand add to the beach vibes. And when we stayed, we were upgraded to the two-story Royal Suite.
Points Tip: Apply for the Citibank Reserve for two free weekend nights, including automatic Gold status with free breakfast and upgrades when available.
InterContinental - Amsterdam, Netherlands
My recent stay at the InterContinental Amsterdam prompted this post, which is impressive given the others on the list. This hotel absolutely oozes luxury and class, from the initial check-in to watching the sunset on the riverfront.
Probably the most unique property I’ve been in, the InterContinental was originally opened as a hotel in 1867. Each of the 79 rooms and 25 suites is individually decorated with a timeless design. More than anywhere else, you wake up feeling faraway here.
Points Tip: Apply for the Chase IHG card for enough points for two nights and limited blackout dates. Immediately activate your Spire Elite status, which includes 25,000 more points.
Fairmont - Singapore
The Fairmont Singapore inclusion here is slightly biased, if only because we used a trick to book five nights in a Junior Suite and not a regular room. So it’s the biggest non-villa on the list. It also had a unique view, looking directly at the famous Marina Sands in Singapore.
Even without the suite it would be knocking on the door of this list. Directly across the street from the Raffles Hotel, the Fairmont is ideally located. But oh…my…goodness – the suite! This was the nicest bathroom I’ve ever seen in a hotel room, by far. You could see across the Singapore marina from the bath tub.
Points Tip: Apply for the Chase Fairmont card for two free nights in a suite (!) if available. Also read the linked post to see how to book five nights at a deeply discounted rate.
Park Hyatt - Vienna, Austria
Unique experiences are highlights for luxury travelers and the Park Hyatt Vienna delivers. We spent two nights and particularly loved the location and design, with dark wood finishes across white walls. Not to mention the exclusively-brewed-for-the-Hyatt unfiltered wheat beer.
Originally a bank, it is one of the newest Park Hyatt’s in the world. Located in the heart of the city and within walking distance to major gardens and attractions, the chic surrounding area bustles from dawn to dusk. Taking the old vault elevator down to a large, indoor pool was particularly enchanting.
What a bad idea to write this post – all I want to do is go back! Whether you visit all five of these properties, one of them or none at all, utilizing hotel rewards cards is a great way to enable an unforgettable experience.
I always list the best hotel rewards cards on my credit cards page, updated every day with the latest and best offers on the market.