For style-savvy weekend holidaymakers, these city hotels are ideal for urban breaks. Head to capital cities for culture and cuisine, and smaller town hubs for trips off the regular tourist’s itinerary. Skyscrapers beat suncastles at these luxury B&Bs, townhouses and street-side stays… all with a typical dose of Smith cool.
From the blog
Tales from our travels
Start in spick-and-span Singapore, a city known as much for its designer shops and scintillating street food as its superlative airport (yes, Changi really does have a rooftop pool, giant slide and butterfly garden). Hop across the Straits to Malacca, a little gem of shaded alleys, Portuguese ruins and inspired Nonya cuisine. The Petronas Towers dominate Kuala Lumpur (or KL as it’s affectionately known), a pulsing but laid-back metropolis with a pleasing café culture and serious shopping habit. Stock up on tea stops and cool air in the undulating Cameron Highlands, lose yourself in foodie-heaven Penang or relax in sultry Sabah, where you can climb majestic mountains, dive Sipadan’s turtle-rich waters or play with orang-utans.
Vietnam’s hinterland cradles ruins of old empires, captivating Unesco-listed sites and fertile terraces of verdant paddy-fields. River-straddling Hoi An charms with an intoxicating mix of 19th-century merchant houses, ancient temples and alluring stretches of sand. Ho Chi Min City is the South’s pulsing metropolis, replete with labyrinthine streets, boutique-lined boulevards and unbeatable eats. Slow the pace down on serene white sands – untouched and authentic Phan Thiet gets our vote – or commune with nature on out-of-the-way Con Dao; secluded beaches, lush green mountains and rare wildlife make this archipelago one of the country’s best kept secrets.
You can almost taste the air of old-world Miami-glam as you float up the steps through the grand art deco entrance of King & Grove Tides – it’s the kind of boutique hotel you’d expect to find Marilyn Monroe resting her perfectly coiffed tresses while the Rat Pack slug martinis in the lobby bar. All suites have ocean views, but floors five and up offer less ocean drive action and more ocean. Our top pick is room 601, a corner suite that has north- and east-facing windows overlooking palm trees and twinkling ocean.
Don’t miss…Modern Cantonese cuisine at the award-winning, apple-green Majestic Restaurant. Chef Yong Bing Ngen’s rack of lamb served with carrot cake has set many taste buds a-tingle.
Arrive by 1930s speedboat at Aman Canal Grande in Venice, the supremely decadent waterside honeymoon hideaway chosen by George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin.
Seducing art-admirers and luxury-lovers faster than you can wiggle a paintbrush, boutique hotel Macalister Mansion in Penang boasts gallery-inspired design without skimping on cosy touches. This handsome heritage hideaway also has eight contemporary rooms, a sociable Cellar bar and two tempting restaurants.
Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. Its home airline is Cathay Pacific, which flies non-stop to HK from London Heathrow five times a day, and four times a week from Manchester, making Hong Kong more accessible than ever before.
Cathay Pacific flew home with the ‘World’s Best Airline’ award from air-travel quality monitor Skytrax in 2014 – the fourth time it has done so. It was likely helped by its spacious, extra recline-y Premium Economy Class seats (Smith approves, largely because we’re suckers for a champagne welcome and an in-seat ‘cocktail table’).
Style Celestial sleek
Setting Admiralty eyrie
Best for Sticklers for service
Our reviewer says ‘It feels more like staying at your best friend’s sleek-and-chic, Asian-style pad in Los Angeles, complete with jars of ‘help yourself’ cookies and sweeties, an iPod Touch, palatial (for Hong Kong) spa-style bathroom and – nice detail – complimentary drinks.’
Born in Orviedo, Patricia Urquiola is one of the most versatile and prolific designers in Europe today, with a roster of clients that many of her contemporaries would kill for: Dior, Louis Vuitton, B&B Italia, Salvatore Ferragamo, BMW and dozens more. Over her career, her unconventional eye and warm aesthetic approach has turned from furniture to interiors to architecture, and have won her so many ‘Designer of the Year’ awards, it’s very possible she has had to design a cabinet to keep them in. Smith hotel aficionados will spot her hand in the innovative and colourful look of Das Stue in Berlin, and Urquiola’s credentials as an architectural designer are on resplendent display in the lacework- and origami-inspired interiors of the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona.
Beachfront Fusion Maia Resort has stylish lodgings and smart dining down pat. Set within tropical gardens, its day spa is the largest in Hoi An and, irresistibly, all pampering sessions are included in the rate.
An Lam Saigon River is a quiet sanctuary of leafy gardens, river-watching rooms and zingy Vietnamese food. Make your lantern-lit entrance at dusk; the boat can whoosh you back to central Ho Chi Minh City in just 15 minutes.
Rustic but undeniably luxurious, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay’s boulder-perched villas are set in a secluded crescent-shaped bay; dive, spa or simply laze at this dreamy eco-friendly Nha Trang getaway.
Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa spawls across three heavenly seafront hectares; expect angelic masseuses, vanilla-infused cocktails and endless white sands at beachy, off the radar Mui Ne.