PHOTO: Every suite at London's The Milestone is different. (Courtesy of The Milestone Hotel)
Last year, international travelers spent about $192 billion on luxury travel, about 74 percent of which was leisure travel. According to the World Travel Monitor, if you average the growth of every other travel niche combined, their growth is just half the 48 percent that luxury travel grew in the last five years, especially from China and the U.S. The market share of these trips rose from 3.9 percent in 2009 to 4.6 percent in 2014. Americans took 9.2 million foreign luxury trips in 2014. This trend has been noticed by the world's hotel companies and they've been steadily lifting their standards to luxury levels. Every hotel's showcase for the luxury traveler is its top suite. Here are some examples of five-star hotels lifting their standards even higher.
London's Milestone Hotel overlooks Kensington Palace and Gardens, not far from the city's museum district and Knightsbridge. A just completed three-month renovation of the Kensington Gardens Suite, one of its master suites, has left it sleeker and more modern. Much of the new look was achieved in the detailing with new bed linens and a custom-made headboard by Roberto Cavalli, custom-made carpets by Wilton and a custom-made sofa by Zimmer+Rohde. Antique furniture from the 19th century includes a console table, a pair of Regency mahogany bergere chairs and a Georgian-style mahogany wing chair discovered at Christie's. Some of the artwork, chosen at auction houses, includes art by Louis Icart and James Joseph Tissot.
Every suite at The Milestone is different. The Mistinguett Suite is inspired by the French actress/singer; the Safari Suite by a safari camp; and the theater-themed Harlequin Suite features a black-and-white color scheme, plush carpets and unique furnishings. The split-level Club Suite has an antique billiards table; and the Grand Master Tudor Suite draws its inspiration from the Tudor period with two fireplaces, hanging tapestries and a minstrels' gallery.
The Belmond Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg is celebrating its 140th anniversary. Last fall the hotel unveiled six revamped suites including a 3,770 square foot Presidential Suite with views of Nevsky Prospekt and Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa. The new suites were the latest phase in a refurbishment plan, which also saw the restoration of the hotel's neo-baroque façade in 2013. The Presidential Suite features two bedrooms, two marble bathrooms and a hammam sauna. The suite has its own fitness center with treadmill and cycling machine, a game room and a combined study and library with secret bookcase door leading to the bedroom.
Guests can have privately cooked meals in the dining room, which seats up to eight people or a drink in the living room's bar. There is also a full kitchen and a music room with antique Carl Schroeder grand piano.
Last year, Moscow's Swissôtel Krasnye Holmy opened its most luxurious Penthouse Suite, with its palatial 2,927 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space and its sweeping 19th floor views of Sadovoe Ring. The hotel has a capacious foyer, a spacious living room, a bedroom with a king size bed and a walk-in wardrobe, a kitchen and a marbled bathroom with a full-size, egg-shaped bathtub and a separate shower and sauna. The outdoor terrace can host private events, with custom dining and lounging furniture. With the addition of a connecting Executive Club Room, this suite can be converted into a two-bedroom Penthouse Suite.
Designer Sybille de Margerie recently redesigned each of the Mandarin Oriental, Paris'suites. The top suite, the Suite Royale Orientale added an 800-square-foot private terrace in January with views of the Opera, Madeleine and Montmartre.
The terrace has a lounge, outside dining area and elegant pergola which has a removable roof for when the sun shines. Located on the top floor, the 1,174-square-foot Suite Royale Orientale takes up two floors. The interior design of the suite uses a combination of white, beige, black and green shades and lacquer, velvet and ebony along with marble that is etched with illustrations showing the journey from Paris to the Orient.
Motifs relating to nature run throughout the suite, including hand-painted crocodiles on the bar and Asian-inspired floral patterns on the drapes. The staircase is embellished with sculpted flowers and butterflies. Upstairs, the large bedroom is decorated in elegant shades of bronze, while the adjoining bathroom has a steam shower and stand-alone bathtub. The Suite Royale Orientale uses embroidered headboards and furniture by Maison Lesage.
Dublin's Merrion Hotel is a combination of four restored Georgian townhouses, joined with a contemporary Garden Wing. Last August, the hotel unveiled a new look for its Penthouse Suite, designed by Aidan Cavey, one of Ireland's leading interior decorators. The Penthouse Suite spans two floors with a separate rooftop terrace complete with a private cedar wood hot tub.
Cavey combined local suppliers with fine international fabrics to create an environment that stayed "true to its Irish roots, but with an edge, creating a specific identity for the suite, through touches of unusual color in beautiful fabrics and intriguing wallpapers, from start to finish." The wallpaper came from Italy's Piero Fornasetti and upholstered sofas from London-based Sanderson. A hand-woven carpet from West Ireland's leading carpet maker, McMurray, was added to the space.
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