Hit the heights like George Clooney, see Baja like Eva Longoria and make a great getaway with Sarah Jessica Parker.
By Mark A. Thompson
It’s not often that one receives a transfer by Rolls Royce, but there it was (complete with uniformed chauffeur) to transport me to my destination. I couldn’t help but think: So this is how it is for the rich. The beautiful. The powerful. This is life for the people who stay in the penthouses, on the private islands and at the most luxurious suites in five-star hotels. To give you a taste of their high life, we’ve assembled an assortment of some of the world’s most celebrity-seductive accommodations and the famous names on their guest lists.
St. Moritz with George
Located in the glacier-topped Swiss Alps, St. Moritz has attracted the well connected and well bred since its inception as an Alpine winter resort in 1864. A two-time host of the Winter Olympics, St. Moritz became the pinnacle of VIP nightlife in the 1960s and 1970s, when all-night parties there were frequented by Andy Warhol, Brigitte Bardot and a swarm of jet-setters. No wonder that George Clooney celebrates winter at BADRUTT’S PALACE HOTEL (pictured, above, badruttspalace.com)
Opened in 1896, Badrutt’s occupies four acres in the center of town — complete with its own luxury complex of designer boutiques and jewelers. An architectural mélange of Gothic façades and Tudor arches, the hotel rises like a castle above Lake St. Moritz. Its 157 guest rooms and suites are furnished with period antiques; each chamber is unique. Balconies face the lake for panoramic views of the Eastern Alps.
For more than a century, Badrutt’s has hosted royals (including Prince Charles) and luminaries from around the world. Their guest registers read like a vintage Hollywood call sheet: Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn. The hotel’s landmark penthouse tower once belonged to the legendary European playboy Gunter Sachs.
Often known as “the living room of St. Moritz,” Badrutt’s Le Grand Hall is an eye-popping repository of art and fanciful memorabilia, with many pieces left to the hotel by guests who once spent entire seasons in residence. Coffered ceilings and neo-baroque paintings evoke a Renaissance palace, which made a fitting backdrop for one of Boris Becker’s weddings.
In addition to the endless revels at its infamous King’s club, events at Badrutt include an “In Concert” series featuring performers such as burlesque icon Dita von Teese and songstress Ute Lemper. Badrutt’s also sponsors signature St. Moritz events such as the Snow Polo World Cup and White Turf, a horse race conducted on a frozen lake, and a short hike away, you can sink your teeth into some cool jazz at the Dracula Club.
Glenmere with Justin
Few couples were more celebrated during the 1920s than F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, who created fashionable scenes from the South of France to the “West Egg” of New York’s Long Island. The Fitzgeralds would have been equally at home at GLENMERE MANSION (pictured, above, glenmeremansion.com) in the lower Hudson Valley, where celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, and Tyra Banks have toasted the good life
Glenmere was designed by Carrère and Hastings, the architects behind Manhattan’s beautiful beaux-arts New York Public Library. The mansion was built in 1911 for Robert Goelet, who hosted numerous Gatsby-esque parties there — with guests such as Babe Ruth and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The 3,000-acre estate is crowned by a 35-room hilltop Tuscan villa overlooking Glenmere Lake.
Glenmere’s 21st-century renaissance commenced in 2005 when proprietors Dan DeSimone and Alan Stenberg bought the mansion and reopened it as a luxury hotel and spa with 18 guest accommodations and two restaurants. Some guests at Glenmere — such as Hillary and Bill Clinton — choose to swoop in via personal helicopter to the estate’s front lawn, where Glenmere’s butlers await their arrival.
The expansive grounds of the estate include lush meadows, fountains, a pool pavilion, and formal Italian gardens originally designed by notable landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. Within the Gilded Age mansion, you’ll find marble staircases and columned porticoes, a mahogany paneled library and a spa complete with a bathhouse and a hammam. Guest accommodations feature working fireplaces, terraces, curated antiques and fine art. And the spirit of Scott and Zelda is celebrated in perpetuity by Glenmere’s signature Gatsby martini.
Baja with Eva
Situated at the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, Los Cabos remained remote and rural for much of the 20th century. That’s one reason why Hollywood stars like Lucille Ball and Ava Gardner and politicos including former president Dwight Eisenhower began traveling there via yacht and private jet.
Originally built in 1956 as a 15-room hideaway, ONE&ONLY PALMILLA (pictured, above, oneandonlyresorts.com) opened in 2004, and celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Cindy Crawford began clustering at the resort — particularly at the its 10,000-square-foot Villa Cortez. Modeled on a Mexican hacienda and surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the villa offers four bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, a private screening room, infinity pool, whirlpool, fire pits, personal spa and gym. A retractable living room wall allows for open-air access to the expansive beachfront veranda.
Perched on a hilltop, the resort’s new Villa One is even bigger at 14,000 private square feet, resembling a sleek glass house with panoramic views of the Sea of Cortez and Los Cabos. Celebs appreciate its separate Butler Suite and a dedicated household staff, including a fitness trainer and spa therapist. Plus, the Villa One pantry is stocked according to guests’ personal tastes, complete with private wine cellar — for $12,500 a night.
Restaurants at the resort include Michelin-starred Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Seared and his sushi-and-ceviche amalgam Suviche. There’s also a 95-foot, four-cabin luxury Catari Yacht — for those guests who seem to have accidentally left theirs at home.
Washington with Obama
President Barack Obama has spent so much time at The Jefferson (pictured, above jeffersondc.com) that the elegant hotel became known as Washington’s second-most prestigious address. The President has entertained at Plume, the Jefferson‘s acclaimed restaurant, and also hosted a private dinner in its Parlor Boardroom. Dignitaries and VIP guests make use of an unmarked door in the hotel’s private wine cellar, whimsically renamed over the last eight years as the “BaRack entrance.”
Befitting its namesake (our nation’s third President), the 96-room luxury hotel is a bastion of refined design. A library off the lobby is modeled on Thomas Jefferson’s own book room. Located a few blocks north of the White House, it opened as a luxury residential building in 1923 before conversion to a hotel in 1955. Guest rooms and suites feature Italian stonework and concealed mirror LCDs in bathroom vanities. Walk-in showers offer bespoke toiletries formulated with herbs and botanicals once grown at President Jefferson’s home, Monticello.
Stockholm with SJP
Designed by the architect of Stockholm’s Royal Palace in 1699, the HOTEL SKEPPSHOLMEN (pictured, above, hotelskeppsholmen.se) was once home to the city’s contingent of Royal Marines. The long, serene property is located on a sylvan isle near the middle of the city — where the King of Sweden used to sip hot chocolate in a small castle known as the Skating Pavilion before heading out for a spin on the ice.
If it’s good enough for royalty, no wonder Skeppsholmen’s understated glamor draws the queen of Sex and the City (and the new show Divorce), Sarah Jessica Parker. Much like Carrie’s apartment, the design hotel showcases its maritime roots in a Gustavian palette of grays and pastels. Stone staircases and wooden shutters are complemented by modern furnishings from local design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune.
A nearby sculpture garden features works by French sculptress Niki de Saint Phalle and Swiss artist Jean Tinguely. A tennis court flanks the waterfront. And guests seeking a private arrivals and getaways may utilize the island’s helicopter pad or make speedy, James Bond-style getaways over the water in vehicles known as RIBS — rigid inflatable boats. Bon voyage!
Last modified: August 22, 2017