Luxury Vacations That Are Actually Worth the Money
We all dream of a luxury vacation that caters to our every whim. Most of us can’t afford this type of vacation, but everyone deserves to treat themselves to a high-end trip.
A once-in-lifetime experience can make all those mundane days at work worth it. As long as you choose the right destination. The worst thing you can do is spend your money on a place that isn’t worth it.
To help you make the vacation of your dreams come true, here are 30 luxury destinations that are worth every penny.
30. English Countryside
England is still synonymous with royalty. The English countryside is still dotted with sumptuous manors and estates. And many of them have become luxurious resorts and hotels.
But this isn't the kind of modern luxury that you can expect from other destinations. Don't get us wrong. It's still incredibly flashy, but in the kind of quiet way only old money can pass off.
Expect farm-to-table organic meals, extensive wine cellars, large gardens and even larger walking grounds.
Where to stay: Heckfield Place
29. Santorini, Greece
Santorini has become the luxury Greek isles destination. It's possible to do it on a budget, but if you are able to afford it, you will never regret upgrading to a higher-end vacation.
Stay at a cave house with views of the sea in Oia. You will get the quintessential landscape of white houses and blue domes contrasting with the Aegean sea.
We also encourage you to splurge on high-end meals, preferably fresh seafood, as well as the island's special local wine and volcanic spa treatments.
Where to stay: Andronis Luxury Suites
28. Queenstown, New Zealand
New Zealand's most beautiful city is perfect for upscale adventurers. This isn't the type of vacation where you spend your time lying by the hotel pool. Rather, your good money will be spent in all sorts of thrilling — but usually costly — adventures.
Spend your time skiing in the winter or jet skiing in the summer. Take a cruise through Fiordland to see Milford Sound. And do a helicopter ride over Mount Cook, the country's tallest mountain.
Where to stay: Matakauri Lodge
27. Napa Valley, California (United States)
When it comes to the continental United States, Napa is one of the best destinations for a luxury vacation. People come here to enjoy the wine, of course, but also the experience of the vineyards, which include wine tasting, spas and tours through the rows of green.
Napa Valley is also renowned for its fine dining scene, with numerous restaurants catering to the most delicate of palates. For a truly unique experience, do a sunrise or sunset hot air balloon ride above the valley.
Where to stay: Auberge du Soleil
26. The Swiss Alps
Any vacation in Switzerland will cost a pretty penny, so you might as well go all out and enjoy the wonders the Alps offer. No matter the time of year, the Swiss Alps are a place to relax, connect with nature and treat yourself to all the massages possible.
The region is known for its minimalist yet upscale hotels. Its comprehensive spa treatments have brought Hollywood A-listers and the very wealthy here for years.
The fresh mountain air and the postcard-perfect views will soothe your soul enough to make you forget about the money you're spending.
Where to stay: Au Club Alpin
25. Bali, Indonesia
A darling of the digital nomad community seeking inexpensive destinations, Bali is becoming more and more upscale.
What we love about the island's particular brand of luxury, however, is that it has not meant large concrete resorts that take ocean views away from everyone else.
Here, luxury is surrounded by the lush tropical forest and the sounds of nature. Rooms are built and decorated with locally sourced materials, and the island's traditional architecture is celebrated.
Where to stay: Capella Ubud
24. Singapore, Republic of Singapore
If you're more of a city person, Singapore is one of the best places to go to enjoy urban luxury. The city feels both deeply steeped in history and decades in the future. Every neighborhood has its own distinctive architecture, culture and food, which translates to numerous surprisingly affordable Michelin-star restaurants.
At the Marina Bay Sands hotel, you'll find the world's largest rooftop infinity pool, with panoramic views of the city-state's most upscale neighborhood. Don't skip visiting the futuristic Gardens by the Bay and do some shopping.
Where to stay: Marina Bay Sands
23. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Though it isn't the Golden Age Hollywood getaway that it once was, Rio is still one of the most exciting cities in the Americas. Its large limestone formations rise from the sea as if to greet the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Book yourself a luxury resort by the beach to enjoy the beauty of Rio as well as its fun and flashy nightlife.
Where to stay: Copacabana Palace
22. Paris, France
We don't need to introduce the City of Lights or explain why there's a certain allure to enjoying it in style. Luxury in Paris is definitely understated. You won't find anything overtly opulent or flashy. Here, it's all about the small details.
Upscale hotels pamper their guests with rooms that keep them away from the city, as well as some of the finest meals in the world. Of course, wine will be the best you've ever had, with sommeliers to guide you through successful pairings and tastings.
Shopping is also a way in which wealthy Parisians like to pamper themselves. Just remember that the more subtle, the better.
Where to stay: Le Bistrol Paris
21. The Riviera Maya, Mexico
As one of Mexico's most sought-after destinations, the Riviera Maya is dotted with upscale hotels and restaurants. But those who stay comfortably in their resorts miss out on the wonders of the region, where Mayan culture and language still predominate and where the jungle hasn't yet given out to overdevelopment completely.
The beaches offer opportunities to relax and snorkel, the jungle holds many treasures of the height of the Mayan Empire, including Chichen Itza, another of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Then there are spa treatments rooted in the indigenous traditions of the area.
And, of course, the food, which alone is worth the trip.
Where to stay: Palmaia - the House of AiA
20. The Nile, Africa
Cruising through the Nile River has been an experience romanticized for centuries. Let us assure you that it's definitely worth the hype.
Although there are more budget-friendly Nile cruises, this is a vacation where you don't want to cut corners. After all, you'll probably have the experience of passing through ancient cities like Luxor by boat only once in your life.
Where to stay: Nour el Nil Agatha Boat
19. Mauritius, Africa
Like the Seychelles, this island nation in the southern Indian Ocean is an often-missed luxury vacation. Its location keeps it somewhat hidden while its status as the wealthiest African nation gives rise to multiple five-star accommodations.
Seemingly infinite beaches, waterfalls hidden in tropical forests and crystalline water make this the island getaway of dreams. The country's Hindu culture, Indian architecture and food add to its already extensive assets.
Where to stay: LUX* Belle Mare
18. St. Barts, Caribbean
Saint Barthelemy has long been the playground of the rich, glamorous and famous. The French territory was developed as a getaway destination after it was colonized by Europeans and is today one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean.
You'll see its harbors decorated by numerous yachts, whose lucky owners spend the day playing in the warm waters, enjoying fresh seafood at upscale restaurants and resting in their private villas.
If you are able to afford it, the private villa route is definitely the way to go.
Where to stay: Hotel Barriere Le Carl Gustaf St Barth
17. The French Riviera, France
There are many ways to enjoy the French Riviera in luxury. You can stay in high-end hotels in a beautiful city like Nice, or you can rent a grand villa outside of one of the small towns. Either way, prepare to be astonished by the gorgeous views of the sea and the colorful buildings of this French region.
In the summer, you'll smell lavender products all over the streets and see boats line up on the shores along the coast. No matter when you go, you can expect famously delicious French cuisine and wine, as well as spa treatments.
If you want to do something a bit different, Monaco is a stone's throw away and will welcome you to its Casino Montecarlo.
Where to stay: Villa Belrose Hotel
16. Jordan, Asia
Yes, there are more famously luxurious destinations in the Middle East like Dubai. But the truth is, we don't actually think many of them are worth the money. Jordan, on the other hand, provides so much more than you imagine.
A luxury vacation here will give you access to the country's best restaurants as well as to high-end spas and hammams (steam baths). But it is also the opportunity to do a glamping trip to the desert, where you will see the stars as never before, or a private tour of the astonishing pink city of Petra. Yes, that's yet another of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
A visit to the Dead Sea will rejuvenate your skin and help you get that post-vacation glow.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Jordan - Dead Sea Resort & Spa
15. Seychelles, Africa
Because of its relative isolation, Seychelles has largely been ignored as a destination — but not by those with the money to enjoy it.
The island-nation is located in the Indian Ocean and is notorious for its high-end resorts and golf courses. The clear waters that surround this African country contrast the large boulders that dot its shores.
It's perfect for a vacation where you can enjoy nature by snorkeling and diving, but also have access to city life.
Where to stay: Raffles Seychelles
14. Patagonia, Argentina and Chile
Simply one of the most astonishing landscapes on this good Earth, Patagonia extends between Chile and Argentina. It can be traversed by the southernmost Andes Mountains and boasts incredible glaciers like the famous Perito Moreno and Monte Fitzroy.
Though it's close to the Antarctic Circle, the nature is different, with animals like guanacos and pumas. The region also has impressive flora and has an almost infinite amount of hiking trails.
Patagonia calls those who want luxury in a tranquil setting, far from civilization. Guided excursions end in stargazing from hot tubs and meals are usually accompanied by fine Argentine and Chilean wine.
Where to stay: Arakur Ushuaia.
13. The Whitsunday Islands, Australia
There are many places in the world with white sand and turquoise water, but only in the Whitsundays do these two appear to mix together in milky swirls.
To make these Australian islands even more special, they are near the Great Barrier Reef, providing visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime diving opportunity.
Though most of the islands are uninhabited, several have luxury resorts, including an underwater hotel that lets you sleep surrounded by the teeming life of the reef.
Where to stay: Reefsuites from Cruise Whitsundays
12. Tanzania, Africa
Beautiful Tanzania offers a plethora of luxury experiences. Numerous safari experiences have perfected the oxymoron of comfortable ruggedness and offer the opportunity to see wild animals like lions and elephants.
If you want to climb up Africa's tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is also where you'll need to go.
Finally, there's breathtaking Zanzibar, which holds its own as one of the best luxury beach vacations in the world.
Where to stay: Serengeti Bushtops Luxury Camp
11. Maldives, Asia
In the past decade, the Maldives has become the poster child for luxury vacations. Hundreds of private resorts scattered among the country's more than a thousand islands have helped cement this image.
This is where the overwater bungalow reigns supreme. If that bungalow has a slide that leads straight into the ocean, even better. Most resorts operate on all-inclusive luxury vacation packages and offer the opportunity for scuba diving, paddle boarding and stargazing.
There are also several underwater restaurants around the country, for fine dining with a twist.
Where to stay: Soneva Fushi
10. Galapagos, Ecuador
Want to see animals few people will ever get to see? There's no better place for this than the incredible Galapagos, famous for the large number of endemic species. This island archipelago inspired Darwin's theory of evolution and is home to animals like giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas.
Luxury in the Galapagos can be found mostly on numerous excursions by boat and by land to see the wonders of the Ecuadorian territory. It also means paying for accommodations and restaurants that have been certified for sustainability — an important measure in this fragile ecosystem.
Most five-star hotels here reuse water, have solar panels, source food from local fishermen and participate in habitat restoration projects.
Where to stay: Pikaia Lodge
9. Japan, Asia
Sure, you can stay in a pod hotel and survive off the convenience store ramen in Japan. But if you want to experience the finer things in life, this is a place where splurging really pays off.
In terms of accommodation, we recommend going for an upscale ryokan (traditional inn) near an onsen (Japanese hot springs). The best will have in-room tubs that you can fill with natural hot spring water and are usually surrounded by forests or beautiful vistas.
For food, you won't run out of delectable things to try. The country has numerous Michelin-starred restaurants. Go ahead and sample kobe beef, one of the most expensive foods on the entire planet.
Where to stay: Gora Kadan
Though most people think of beaches and warm weather when dreaming of luxury, let us take you to the total opposite of that: a trip to the South Pole.
The world's only uninhabited continent is a wildland with landscapes unlike any other. You won't actually be allowed to spend much time on land (that's an honor reserved for those working on research stations), but you'll be able to cruise through the continent and do land excursions. If you choose the right boat, you might even be able to camp out on the ice for a night.
The price tag for going to the end of the world is incredibly high, but the experience is unmatched by anything else.
Where to stay: One Ocean Antarctica Expeditions
7. Fiji, South Pacific
Fiji is the dream of honeymooners and couples celebrating important anniversaries and continues to be one of the best beach vacations in the world.
If you make it all the way to the South Pacific island nation, there is a myriad of high-end resorts. Many of them are made up of individual bungalows that sit right on the water.
Soft sand, diving opportunities and traditional Fijian food add to the experience of the country.
Where to stay: Namale Resort & Spa
6. South Africa, Africa
This large and beautiful country offers many luxury experiences to choose from. There is, of course, the luxury safari experience, which attracts many travelers.
This experience is contrasted by the urban indulgence that Cape Town offers, with its waterfront high-rise hotels, upscale restaurants and yacht-filled ports.
Then there's the vineyard experience, which fills the Cape Town surroundings with boutique B&Bs, wine tasting and spas.
Where to stay: Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, Cape Town
5. Hawaii, United States
Perhaps the most luxurious destination in the U.S., Hawaii is every traveler's dream. But a vacation in this collection of paradisiacal islands rarely comes cheap.
Break the piggy bank and go for the experience of sleeping right by the ocean. As you spend time in one of the best wellness destinations in the world, don't neglect to do local spa treatments or join a yoga class in your hotel.
And remember to actually experience the beautiful islands outside of your hotel and to learn about native Hawaiian culture.
Where to stay: Hotel Wailea
4. The Arctic Circle (Europe, Asia and North America)
Yes, Antarctica already appeared on this list, but the Arctic Circle is completely different. Both places may be frozen, but the North Pole is actually teeming with life.
A trip to the region, whether through Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Scandinavia or Russia, takes you to some of the most remote towns in the world. It also brings you face to face with species like polar bears and narwhals, the only whales that cannot be held in captivity.
But what truly makes the Arctic Circle worth spending multiple five figures on is the northern lights. This natural light show is as evasive as it is magical. There are no guarantees that you will ever get to see it, yet people take the expensive chance for an experience that cannot be explained with words.
Where to stay: Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
3. Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast's beauty made it a darling of Hollywood actors in the mid-20th century. Sofia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable and Grace Kelly all spent time and money vacationing in this astonishing region.
You don't have to be a millionaire to visit, but being willing to pay a bit more will open up the Amalfi Coast of the elite, which is extremely exclusive and fairly difficult to reach. It is even more beautiful than the touristy parts of the region, since you won't be competing for space on the small beaches or worry about crowds blocking the surreal views.
Yachts, the best of Italian food and high-end shopping are also part of the experience.
Where to stay: Villa Magia
2. Saint Lucia, Caribbean
All Caribbean islands are breathtaking, but there's simply something about Saint Lucia that makes it stand out from the rest. Five-star hotels usually offer access to private beaches as well as incredible views of the Pitons, the two peaks that define the island's landscape. Go big and get a room with an outdoor tub that offers this panorama.
Perfectly clear beaches, treks to waterfalls, upscale Caribbean food and the perfect mix of quiet days and lively nights makes Saint Lucia the world's best honeymoon destination. And if it's good enough for a honeymoon, it's more than adequate enough for any other occasion.
Where to stay: Jade Mountain Resort
1. French Polynesia, South Pacific
There is no better luxury than what French Polynesia offers. This French territory is one of the most remote places on Earth and continues to hold strongly to its Polynesian culture (despite France's best colonial efforts).
The two most famous islands are Bora Bora and Tahiti, the preferred destinations for those wanting to view the volcanic mountains covered in tropical forest rising from a deep, impossibly clear ocean.
As with other island locations, overwater bungalows are common, as are lavish dinners that showcase the traditional culture of the islands.
Where to stay: St. Regis Bora Bora Resort