The best hotels in Southeast Asia: One&Only Desaru Coast, Andaz Bali, Capella Hanoi and more

ONE&ONLY desaru

In this eight-part series, we’ve scoured the globe to find 50 of the most stunning hotels to visit once it’s possible to do so. Here are the best in Southeast Asia

One&Only Desaru Coast, Malaysia

Sustained efforts to develop Desaru Coast have yielded quite a few familiar names, but the most exclusive of the lot is undoubtedly One&Only. The all-suite resort is home to 42 junior suites, two grand suites and a spacious four-bedroom villa simply called Villa One. The Kerry Hill-designed resort is also home to Asia’s first Chenot Spa, run by the eponymous Swiss wellness firm that bases its treatments on modern science and traditional Chinese medicine. Golfers, opt for the three-day Chenot Golf Programme (especially if you’ve completed 18 holes at the nearby Els Club), which includes a postural and movement assessment and daily customised massages.

Andaz Bali, Indonesia

While Singapore is home to Andaz’s first hotel in Southeast Asia, Bali flies the flag for the brand’s first resort in this region. Designed to mimic a traditional Balinese village, you’ll find low-rise clusters of rooms, suites and villas built with red bricks and thatched roofs. And here’s where it gets better. Those travelling in larger groups can connect two two-bedroom beach villas to create their own private retreat, while still giving them access to Andaz Bali’s four restaurants – a satisfyingly large number for a 149-key resort – as well as the rest of the usual facilities that luxury resorts offer.

Raffles Bali, Indonesia

Located on Jimbaran Bay, the 15th Raffles property features an all-villa line-up, with just 32 keys to its name. Villa sizes start at a generous 375sqm – each comes with a bathtub, private pool and manicured garden that overlooks the sea – but families are better off booking the 900sqm Raffles Presidential Villa. The two-bedroom residence comes with a 46sqm infinity pool, outdoor gazebo, yoga pavilion and a library filled with Balinese literature. On your last evening there, we recommend Rumari for a cocktail or two – it’s the vantage point for sunsets – before heading for a candlelit dinner in a cave.

Elang Private Residence, Indonesia

The makings of this island retreat has been underway for quite some time, making its opening a lot more relevant in the face of the pandemic. Accessible from Batam airport via seaplane – you can also sail there on your yacht if you’d like – Elang Private Residence is home to just six cliffside lodges, making it ideal for a family buyout. Each lodge is designed with six-metre-high ceilings and hand-cut stone walls and boasts uninterrupted ocean views. The private island comes with a clubhouse, dining room and spa (guests enjoy one complimentary spa treatment each day), plus a saltwater infinity pool carved out from a natural hollow. All meals, non-alcoholic beverages, yoga and Pilates lessons, and private butler service is included in the stay. Cabin fever shouldn’t hit, but if it does, hop on a three-minute boat ride to Bawah Reserve to enjoy the facilities that the main island has to offer.

Capella Hanoi, Vietnam

Following the overwhelming success of its Balinese property, the Capella group has once again tapped the whimsical touch of designer Bill Bensley for its newest property in Hanoi. Perched on a quiet street in the city’s Hoàn Ki m quarter – just steps away from Hanoi Opera House – the intimate 47-room hotel takes its cues from the halcyon days of opera, designed as what would have been the rendezvous spot for the operatic stage team after the final curtain call. Expect Bensley’s fanciful humour to come to life through a blend of memorabilia, photographs, set displays and vibrant portraiture art inspired by ’20s decor.

Four Seasons at Chao Phraya River, Thailand

Taking up 200m of prime waterfront real estate on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this property is Bangkok’s newest landmark with its distinctive stepped architecture. Designer Jean-Michel Gathy is quite the art enthusiast and he has dotted the compound with works from his own collection. There’s also Art Space, which is dedicated to showcasing Thailand’s contemporary artists. Make it a point to visit BKK Social Club at the hotel’s central courtyard to enjoy a drink by Philip Bischoff. He used to man the award-winning Manhattan bar at Regent Hotel Singapore.

Capella Bangkok, Thailand

Designed as a pied-a-terre, Capella Bangkok aims to combine urban sophistication with nature’s calm. Panoramic vistas of the Chao Phraya River, visible from the window of every one of its 101 suites, lure guests into an illusion of tranquillity right in the centre of bustling Bangkok. If a good view isn’t enough to chase the stress away, the Auriga Wellness spa beckons. We also recommend setting aside some time for the hotel’s One Road, Two Wheels Capella Curates experience, which takes guests to the different communities between Charoenkrung and Charoennakorn roads via bicycle and boat.

Words by: Charmaine Tai, Ho Yun Kuan, Lauren Ho and Mark Ellwood

This story first appeared in the June 2021 issue. Purchase it as a hard or digital copy, or have luxury delivered to your door by subscribing here