Legendary travel stories usually come with a heaping serving of blood, sweat and tears: miles traveled, discomforts withstood, challenges endured. Effort is rewarded, expenditure recompensed. For some travelers, however, the experience is emphatically about the destination, not the journey--and the less difficulty, the better. For these dedicated comfort-seekers, who prefer to experience the world's most captivating attractions in concert with unsurpassed amenities, a boutique hotel, air-conditioned bar or sumptuous spa is the ideal.
Tokyo's Palace Hotel, for example, is home to a luxury spa that peeks into the city's Imperial Palace gardens. For a view of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour without the noise and smog, the pool on the top floor of the Ritz-Carlton overlooks the historic body of water in peace and tranquility.
In Vietnam, the stunning limestone karsts of Halong Bay can be observed supine, from a deck chair on the Emeraude, a 19th-century paddle-steamer replica that blends colonial aesthetics with a luxury voyage through the azure waters of the bay. In Chiang Mai, the Chedi has transformed one of Thailand's iconic British consulates into a gourmet restaurant with a shaded veranda and a stellar high tea, successfully remaking a landmark into a place of leisure so visitors can enjoy history without stirring a step.
An enjoyably stress-free mode of travel, this armchair approach needn't mean sacrificing must-sees. Choosing the right hotel means maximum reward for minimum effort, and the more sights one can take in from one's suite, restaurant or bar, the fewer there are to squeeze in while on foot. Keeping in mind that an unhurried vacation is the sweetest kind, here are ten fabulous rooms with a view.
--Nell McShane Wulfhart