When it comes to hotels, great views are always a selling point. A cityscape, a beach sunset, a lush courtyard...pretty much any slice of wonder or beauty can bump up a room's desirability (and price). But then there are those instances when -- by virtue of its proximity to something spectacular -- a hotel's views define the entire lodging experience. At these five prime properties around the globe, looking out your window (or stepping out of the lobby) means seeing not just a few city lights or some nice landscaping, but rather a national monument, an ancient marvel or a natural wonder. This is the pinnacle of "location, location, location."
Abu Dhabi, UAE: Qasr al Sarab Resort by Anantara
Two hours outside of Abu Dhabi, the Qasr al Sarab is a true oasis embedded in one of the largest sand deserts in the world. The hotel exploits its evocative setting with camel rides, dune bashing and even romantic meals amid the sand dunes. All rooms and suites are decorated in lush Middle Eastern fabrics and boast stunning desert views from balconies or terraces, while the roomier villas (one to three bedrooms) offer private plunge pools, kitchenettes and personalized butler service. Feast in one of the many restaurants, immerse in Hammam healing baths in the spa or just simply gaze out at the undulating dunes or clear night stars.
Beijing, China: Commune by the Great Wall
This cluster of bespoke, architecturally significant villas is carefully arranged around a private section of the Great Wall at Shuiguan, two hours outside of Beijing. The amenities here are unparalleled−each one-of-a-kind villa (many with decks for gazing at the vistas) is custom decorated in chic, minimalist décor, and there's a pool plus three restaurants and a bar for staying connected to civilization amid the naturalistic setting. Yet nothing beats the sweeping views of the Wall and the surrounding mountains. Pack your hiking shoes for the trails that lead to an exclusive section of this ancient wonder of the world.
London, UK: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
At this elegant Knightsbridge hotel, Hyde Park is at your doorstep -- literally. You can step directly from the hotel into the expansive greenery or simply take in the views from one of the exquisite, individually designed guestrooms with formal British charm. Formerly the historic Hyde Park Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental has preserved an entrance that was once designated for royal use only. But everyone gets the royal treatment, whether you're dining at Bar Boulud, cocktailing amid moguls at Mandarin Bar or indulging in the heat facilities at the divine Spa at Mandarin Oriental.
New York City, USA: Four Seasons Hotel New York
Ensconced in a 52-story limestone tower by I.M. Pei, this Four Seasons property offers a taste of the high life from every angle. The rooms are among the largest in the city and feature decadent details like Florentine marble baths with soaking tubs. But the hotel's must stunning asset is the views of Central Park from select Upper Tower rooms -- be sure to reserve a suite (some with terraces) on one of the top floors for the choicest panoramas. Service is impeccable, the amenities are first-rate (don't miss the opulent, boutique L.RAPHAEL Beauty Spa and the delectable cuisine at The Garden restaurant) and the ambiance the ultimate in upscale.
Washington DC, USA: W Washington D.C.
The P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge and Terrace at this hip property gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "government watchdog" with striking views of the nearby White House. Peer over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue while rubbing elbows with rising political stars and sipping seasonal cocktails. (Views from the mod rooms are pretty sweet too.) Though the crowd and vibe are fashion forward, the hotel is housed in the former Hotel Washington, a historic Beaux Arts property which dates to 1917, and winks to Washingtonian tradition (like the digital fireplace and lamps hidden in busts of George Washington) lend a distinctive sense of place.
- Jennifer Garcia-Alonso and Rachel B. Levin, www.thepurplepassport.com