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This is Why We Love Urban Resorts

Fascinating city trip or relaxed resort vacation? One doesn't have to exclude the other. If you can't decide between stimulation and relaxation, simply combine the two. These hotels offer vacation feeling in the middle of the metropolis.

September 6, 2023


A white palace in a green garden: The exclusive Raffles Udaipur is located on its own island. © Lens Films

Museums, architecture, glittering shopping malls, lively cafés, tempting restaurants, concerts, theaters and all the buzz you could possibly want: A city break condenses more experiences and impressions into a few action-packed days than you could probably notch up in an ordinary month. City trips are inspirational and stimulating – which is what also makes them exhausting.


The pool at the "Royal Mansour" in Marrakech. © provided

So, after a full day spent exploring the dizzying delights of a city, the thought of returning to a hotel that offers all the amenities of an exclusive resort is very enticing. The dust, the heat, the noise of traffic and honking horns, the flood of colorful impressions will all fade into the background as you step into the cool lobby of the "Raffles Udaipur". Scented flannels and a refreshing drink are proffered; you kick off your shoes the moment you enter your room and soak up the serene view of Lake Udai Sagar outside your window. Situated on a private island, the hotel has a magical opulence: The smallest bedroom is 62 square meters, and all rooms are furnished with luxurious carpets and mother-of-pearl inlay furniture. A total of 101 bedrooms and suites, a deluxe spa, five gardens and the tranquil silence away from the bustle of the historic city of Udaipur make it a real haven.



A few steps from the Djemaa el Fna market is the Royal Mansour, one of the world’s most beautiful hotels. © provided

Marrakech with its medina – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and culture is an intoxicating feast for the senses. The city’s glittering spirit is perfectly reflected in the design of the imperial "Royal Mansour", a hotel that combines elaborate traditional Moroccan details with art deco elements in an architectural masterpiece. The hotel celebrates its centenary this year, and its illustrious guests have included Winston Churchill, who after a busy day’s statesmanship would put his feet up in the luxurious palace or stroll around the Andalusian garden planted with olive, orange and lemon trees. The Churchill Bar is a nod to the politician and Nobel laureate. Even after all these years, this legendary hotel with its four exquisite restaurants, unrivalled spa and enchanting spirit is one of those places that you never forget. Its 53 individually furnished riads with private rooftop terraces – perfect for indulging in some serious daydreaming – create the ideal backdrop for an unforgettable vacation. Marrakech, a city that celebrates hospitality, even has a second dream resort, the exclusive "La Mamounia", a magical retreat that is also close to the attractions of the center.


The luxurious riads at the "Royal Mansour" offer serious relaxation. © provided



The terrace of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is the most romantic place to watch life drift by on the river. © provided

One of the all-time icons in the hospitality universe is the "Mandarin Oriental Bangkok" , the flagship of this hotel group. Established in the 19th century, it became famous as the ultimate embodiment of bespoke luxury and was renowned for being the haven of choice for titans of literature. Exploring the enthralling capital of Thailand is certainly enriching, but it requires energy, partly because of the climate. Once the haunt of writers such as Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene and John le Carré, the Author’s Lounge on the ground floor of the original hotel building is the ideal spot to recharge – ideally while sitting in a snowy white wicker chair savoring a refreshing cup of jasmine tea. The 300+ bedrooms and 35 suites are decorated in an elegant Thai style, while the sensational views are almost as restorative as a session in the hotel’s spa, one of the best in the country. A dozen restaurants, including "Le Normandie by Alain Roux", which has two Michelin stars, provide choice culinary experiences. Spend the day in the delightful garden with multiple pools and tall palm trees on the banks of the river and you’d be forgiven for imagining yourself in a beachside retreat.


Fountains, pools, pagodas and centuries-old trees make the largest private garden in Florence a veritable oasis. © provided

Trees that were saplings centuries ago, gently murmuring fountains and decorative statues make the largest private garden in Florence a real treat. The garden is part of the "Four Seasons Hotel Firenze", a jewel at the heart of one of Europe’s loveliest cities. Its green oasis makes the luxury hotel the perfect place to relax after a busy day spent in the galleries and shops. Spread out over two Renaissance palaces, the hotel features astonishing architecture and is filled with opulent works of art. Expect to find chandeliers in the bathrooms, paneled ceilings, antiques and original wall and ceiling frescoes in the bedrooms and suites, transporting you deep into history. Former owners of the palaces include a pope, an Egyptian viceroy and Florentine aristocrats from five centuries. A heritage like this demands sumptuous style and service, which is more than met in the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant and the fabulous spa. If you want even more tranquility, head to La Villa, the “hotel within a hotel” with 37 rooms and suites that sits in the garden overlooking the Duomo.

Frescoes, antiques, and glimpses of the gardens of the adjacent palaces are just a few of the trumps of the Four Seasons Firenze. © provided

Read more: Are These the Best Urban Resorts for a Quick Getaway?

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Summer 2023.

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