The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
In the hotel stratosphere, just about every player clings to a superlative as their claim to fame - the largest rooms, the biggest lounges, the best views, and so on until a traveler's eyes are so glazed over they forget what they were searching for in the first place. So when I learned about what's known more commonly as the "highest hotel" which opened recently, I took it with a grain of salt. Until, that is, I saw that this 17-floor, 5+star property actually does begin at the 102nd floor, and towers above Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor at a staggering 1,588 feet. That's over ¼ mile to you and me, and if it seems unbelievable already, just wait until you hear what's inside (and out).
Arrive at the International Commerce Center in Kowloon, turn left for the elevator and do not exit until you reach the 102nd floor, where the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong experience begins for the next 16 floors. Not only are you at the world's highest hotel, but also the world's highest restaurant when dining at Ozone, sleekly designed and regally perched at the top floor for contemporary Asian fare. Stepping on to the outdoor terrace provides a most curious feeling of floating on top of the world.
Though their other lounges and restaurants provide equally delicious fare, the most interesting stop by far is the Chocolate Library Lounge where an overwhelmingly delectable selection of chocolate-infused pastries and treats await. Super indulgent cuisine, breathtaking surroundings, and overly indulgent views - if it's all too much to take, fear not. There's an ESPA on property, with an array of exceptional treatments and experiences designed to soothe the soul and help you recover from the overload of fabulous.
Pushing yourself to the limit in the fitness arena takes on a whole new meaning here, where fighting off the natural sway of the skyscraper adds resistance to your workout on the 118th floor gym. Swimming in the gorgeous infinity pool at the top floor may require you to summon up all manner of courage and if you cannot resist the urge to look down, you'll be treated to what truly is one of the most spectacular views in the entire world. Victoria Harbor is stunningly beautiful in its bustling daytime state, and hauntingly intriguing while bathed in a kaleidoscope of neon at night. It's a very, very long way down, however; acrophobics beware.
And then there are the rooms, which are equally as hospitable as the discreet yet ultra-personalized service from the staff. Rooms are outfitted with gorgeous marble bathrooms, high-tech gadgets, and even a telescope (naturally). A splurge on the Suites is highly recommended to complete this circle of luxury, with 600 thread count sheets, a 55" flat screen TV, DVD player, living room, dining room, and of course, a butler.
While the Burj Khalifa in Dubai does still hold the claim to the title of World's Highest Building, their signature Armani Hotel ends at floor 39 -- completely off the radar for guests of the World's Highest Hotel.