1) Caneel Bay Resort, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Spotted: Angelina Jolie, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington
This prestigious playpen for some of the world’s most famous personalities gives superstars a digital detox: the rooms are purposefully Internet and TV-free. Its low-key, Colonial aesthetic is surpassed only by the on-point staff and the likelihood of stumbling upon a hammock slung below two seagrape trees.
Why celebs love it: While the property is blissfully isolated on a sweeping 170-acre peninsula in the Caribbean, the five-room VIP suite is an attraction in its own right. The discreetly named Cottage 7 was once the Rockefeller family’s island home, and boasts a private deck, handcrafted four-poster beds, and the best views on the property.
2) Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland
Spotted: Pierce Brosnan, Ronald Reagan, Brad Pitt, Barbra Streisand, John Travolta
This Anglo-Norman castle began tempting celebrities as early as the 1800’s, when it was purchased by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness of dry stout fame. Its grounds were the backdrop for the Oscar-winning John Ford film, The Quiet Man. More recently, Ireland native Pierce Brosnan wedded wife Keely Shaye Smith at this historic manse. Gossip is circulating that in the next year, Courtney Cox and fiancé John McDaid will also tie the knot here.
Why celebs love it: Waterford crystal chandeliers hang from wood-paneled ceilings, and the castle fronts the shimmering Lough Corrib—Ireland’s second largest lake. A recent redo bestowed upon the property a number of over-the-top features, including a cigar terrace and a 32-seat movie theater, in case you ever tire of flipping through the volumes in the double aspect library or horseback riding across the 350-acre estate.
3) Belmond Hotel Caruso, Ravello, Italy
Spotted: Jackie Kennedy, Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart
For the first half of the 20th-century, this Italian palazzo attracted more than its share of luminaries with a famous infinity pool that blends seamlessly into the Mediterranean and the cloudless sky. Now, the hotel lets you recreate the experience—Jackie O style. Guests can enjoy an aperitif at Ravello’s Pizza Duomo (a frequent haunt of Jackie and her crew) or arrive via Fiat 600 convertible to the first lady’s favorite private beaches of Conca Dei Marini for a day of water-skiing.
Why celebs love it: Today’s glitterati feel like film stars from the Golden Era of Hollywood thanks to doting pool staff equipped with Evian sprays, iPods loaded with favorite songs, and trays full of signature Bellinis. No matter how many celebrities stay at this hotel, the pool’s vistas of the Amalfi Coast always steal the Show.
4) Cape Grace, Cape Town, South Africa
Spotted: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Matt Damon, Oprah Winfre
With Table Mountain’s staggering silhouette in the backdrop and the shimmering, yacht-filled marina on the remaining three sides, Cape Grace is a beautiful property long beloved by locals as well as traveling stars. Here, gracious staffers are committed to calling you by name, and remembering your preference for wine. Signal, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, serves Cape cuisine like bobotie-spiced springbok and pickled yellowtail with apricot chutney and crispy kataifi.
Why celebs love it: In addition to spectacular views, it’s the little details that make this hotel feel so luxurious. Think hand-painted fabrics in the guest rooms, marble baths, and fresh flowers. Follow in Matt Damon’s footsteps and book one of two penthouse suites. It’s even rumored he left his barbecue grill on the rooftop.
5) Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Whistler, BC
Spotted: Heidi Klum, Justin Timberlake, Queen Latifah, Cindy Crawford, Tori Spelling
This fairytale castle is more than just a wintry resort with incredible views of Blackcomb Mountain. Even in the summer, it charms with BMW-branded bikes and an 18-hole golf course. The showpieces amidst the 550 Aspen-inspired rooms are the twin Fairmont Gold Penthouse Suites: spacious lofts with 25-foot windows, a Juliet balcony and semi-private elevator access are perfect for A-listers who’d rather not mingle with the hoi polloi. Whether you’re booking a premier room or a standard single, the Fairmont’s service is faultless from top-to-toe.
Why celebs love it: The Queen herself (Latifah, that is) has been known to cozy up to the chic Mallard Lounge for a handcrafted après ski cocktail, like the steamy Milk & Honey with vanilla vodka, Frangelico, hot almond milk, and honey from the property’s own rooftop bees.
6) Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Alberta
Spotted: Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Alicia Silverstone
Fairmont Banff Springs, affectionately known as the Castle in the Rockies, rises from a UNESCO World Heritage forest with the majesty of a Scottish Baronial castle, adorned with stained glass windows and carved wooden ceilings. Celebrities stay entertained with world-class skiing, a 27-hole golf course, and a rooftop hot tub shadowed by Mount Norquay and towering pines.
Why celebs love it: Star ski-bunnies can take to the slopes as late in the season as May, before soaking in the mineral pools at the Willow Stream Spa or bedding down at the Presidential Suite, complete with all of life’s necessities, such as a grand piano and private glass elevator.
7) Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Punta Mita, Mexico
Spotted: David Duchovny, Jeff Francoeur
What makes a resort perfect for a star-studded wedding between MLB-player Jeff Francoeur and wife Catie McCoy? Set on a gated stretch of Mexican coast, (a comfortable 26-miles from the hustle of Puerto Vallarta) Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita offers guests access to a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and private yacht charters.
Why celebs love it: The Coral Suite has it all: a private drive, personal spa area, even an outdoor shower with Vichy jets. If the five-bedroom space feels crowded, escape to the 2,236-square-foot terrace with wraparound pools and a teak daybed.
8) Halekulani, Oahu, Hawaii
Spotted: Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry, John Travolta, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ben Affleck, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson
For decades, this beachfront Waikiki resort has wowed guests with its orchid mosaic pool (crafted from 1.2 million South African glass pieces) and SpaHalekulani, where traditional Polynesian treatments are the focus. Another selling point? Tranquil “seven shades of white” interiors that allude to both steamy romance novels as well as the island’s pristine, white sand beaches.
Why celebs love it: If they’re missing their sweet rides back home, Halekulani grants suite-stayers access to a Maserati, Bentley, or Lotus. The resort’s namesake suite has exotic wood and stone accents, unobstructed views of Diamond Head beach, and a dedicated butler.
9) Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville, Spain
Spotted: Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Bruce Springsteen, Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna
Is it any surprise that a hotel built for a king (King Alfonso XIII, specifically) would be a magnet for modern royalty? The property boasts traditional Andalusian design features, including hand-painted ceramic tiles, minarets, and swooping arches, and is just a short walk from the city’s main attractions (the Royal Alcázar, the Cathedral of Seville). Enjoy the region’s famed tapas on Michelin-starred Ena’s courtyard patio.
Why celebs love it: Early 20th-century antiques, gilt-framed mirrors, and a Spanish-Renaissance cabinet with mother-of-pearl inlay can be found in the stately Royal Suite. Countless diplomats and celebrities staying at the Hotel Alfonso XIII have requested this palatial space, complete with two bathrooms, an office, a living room, and a bedroom.
10) Hotel Hassler, Rome, Italy
Spotted: Victoria and David Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez
Crowning the Spanish Steps is a Roman palace that enchants even the most discerning guests with views of St. Peter’s Basilica and museum-worthy collection of 16th-century antiques. Louis XV chairs, French silks, Limoges porcelain, and one of the largest terraces in the city (accessed by the Penthouse Suite) give this hotel A-list appeal.
Why celebs love it: The rooftop restaurant, Imàgo, sweet-talks celebs with surprising Asian-Italian cuisine (foie gras with red miso mackerel, risotto with nori and bergamot), a panoramic view of the Eternal City, and a glittering Michelin star.
11) Hotel Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
Spotted: Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz
The most romantic views of the Eiffel Tower made this hotel a star in its own right, when it appeared on the series finale of Sex and the City. Not surprisingly, star Sarah Jessica Parker loves this property as much as her character, Carrie Bradshaw. The hotel celebrated its 100th-birthday on the heels of a considerable renovation, which brought new suites and a chandelier-adorned restaurant by Chef Alain Ducasse.
Why celebs love it: Have we mentioned the view? The Art Nouveau boasts some of the most spectacular views of France’s favorite monument. It’s not the largest, but The Eiffel Tower Suite is the one to book.
12) Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, China
Spotted: Kate Moss, Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren
Strut like a model through the glossy, black marble lobby with its two ton Venetian chandeliers to the John Lobb storefront or Café Causette on the mezzanine. Local ladies have been coming here since the hotel first opened for dim sum and Hainan chicken. The hotel balances old and new seamlessly: iPads can connect to the stereo and laptops to the plasma TV. Meanwhile, rooms boast Chinese writing desks or sunrooms finished in white English burl oak.
Why celebs love it: The Spa of the Orient specializes in Traditional Chinese Medicine, helping celebs to smooth their qi through bone setting, acupuncture, moxibustion, reflexology, and spectacular views of Victoria Harbor. Book the Imperial Jade Ritual for a stimulating mix of herbal compresses, Chinese-style massage, a sesame and ground rice scrub, and a ginseng facemask. Namaste.
13) One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico
Spotted: Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston, Eva Longoria
Since the resort first opened in 1950, it has attracted countless celebrities to its whitewashed villas fringing the Sea of Cortez. After Hurricane Odile, the property reopened with a Jean Georges Vongerichten steakhouse, Seared, and a dazzling spa done in onyx and wood.
Why celebs love it: The 10,000-square-foot Villa Cortez, a hacienda-style space with a private infinity pool, screening theater, personal gym, and four bedrooms, each paired with its own bathroom, is improved only by the 24-hour butler service. They can arrange nighttime arrivals and departures to ensure a paparazzi-free vacation.
14) Rosewood Mayakoba, Play del Carmen, Mexico
Spotted: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Paul McCartney, Jessica Alba
Straddling the margin between tropical jungle and pristine, white beach is an all-suite property perfect for pampered travelers. The Rosewood Mayakobá fronts the world’s second-largest coral reef: perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling, and bragging rights. Even the most humble accommodations have private plunge pools and rooftop terraces.
Why celebs love it: Casa Laguna, the most-requested room on the property, which sits on a private lagoon. The suite, hewn from exotic woods and indigenous Yucatan limestone, is best reached by boat. Upon arrival, lucky visitors are pampered by their dedicated staff of housekeepers, a personal butler, and a culinary team.
15) San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara, California
Spotted: Jennifer Garner, Gwyneth Paltrow
Once a citrus ranch, now a sprawling 500-acre estate between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the white-capped Pacific. Celebrity weddings and honeymoons are commonplace here, thanks to the property’s ultra low-key, private bungalows. There are also 17-miles of bike trails winding between orange groves and flowerbeds.
Why celebs love it: Jackie and John (Kennedy, that is) lend their name to a carved-stone cottage with crackling fireplaces, an outdoor hot tub, Persian rugs, and unmatched ocean views.
16) The Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado
Spotted: Antonio Banderas, Heidi Klum, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Katie Couric, Mariah Carey
The Little Nell is like a snowy haven for celebs seeking fresh powder—it’s the only ski-in, ski-out hotel in Aspen, with an enviable position the base of Ajax Mountain.
Why celebs love it: Views of the Colorado Rockies from the rooms (like the crown jewel Paepcke Suite) could be forgotten while exploring all the amenities: Bose sound system, two stone-clad fireplaces, wool carpets, goose-down pillows, a soaking tub, and heated Crème de Marfil heated marble floors and walls.
17) Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India
Spotted: Kenneth Cole, the Beatles, Barack Obama, Mick Jagger
A little bit Bollywood, a little bit Hollywood: that’s the glamour of this landmark hotel in Mumbai. Just beyond the Arabian Sea and the iconic Gateway of India is this architectural masterpiece, with its Moorish arches and Florentine domes. There’s a 4,000-piece art collection that includes original paintings by Indian contemporaries as well as artifacts like Bastar tribal works and Belgian chandeliers, and Turkish baths.
Why celebs love it: There’s a private jet on standby, and the singular 15-room Tata Suite boasts silk upholstery, makrana marble, gold leaf murals, rosewood and teak panel doors, and a private spa. Thirteen staff members, including a chef and masseurs, leave no need unmet.