Top 5 Most Interesting Cities in Asia and Where to Stay
From Bangkok to Delhi, Tokyo to Shanghai, Asia has some incredibly exciting and eclectic cities that offer a blend of history, culture and unique experiences. Below, we explore five of the most interesting cities, along with our top five luxury city hotels:
One of the continent’s diverse cities, India’s capital is an incredibly dynamic metropolis, jam-packed with rich historical sites and varied architecture (ranging from Mughal and British to the present day), great shopping, fabulous bars and restaurants and, more recently, a thriving nightlife.
The city has two distinct personalities: Old Delhi, dating back to the 17th century, with its chaotic atmosphere and medieval winding alleys crammed with cycle rickshaws, tuk-tuks, colourful shops, spice markets, havelis and places of worship; and New Delhi, with spacious, sweeping boulevards built by the British in 1911 and a spectacular array of museums, gardens, temples and mausoleums, including Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar.
With its priceless art collection, perfect green lawns, palm-fringed arrival and cool combination of white art deco, Victorian and colonial architecture, The Imperial is a hotel that exudes style and colonial elegance in the very heart of New Delhi.
The face of modern China, Shanghai is the country’s biggest city and the financial capital - a vibrant high-rise metropolis steeped in a captivating history. Its heart is the historic Bund, a waterfront promenade along the Huangpu river that is lined with grand colonial-era buildings from when the British opened their first concession here in 1842 during the Opium Wars. Other places of interest include the historic French Concession, The Shanghai Museum - which houses one of the world's finest collections of Chinese artifacts - and the classically designed Yu Gardens.
Our number one property in Shanghai, The Peninsula is perfectly located at the top of the city’s iconic Bund for easy exploring by foot. Iconic views of Pudong's skyline can be enjoyed from some of the rooms and Sir Elly's Rooftop Bar. A large and light-filled swimming pool and elegant spa and health club, plus unbeatable service, make this a spoiling and indulgent place to stay in the heart of the city.
Founded in 1782, Bangkok has to be one of the most exciting metropolises in Asia. Known as Krungthep in Thai, meaning ‘The City of Angels’, early European explorers romanticised the city as the ‘Venice of the East’ due to the network of canals (khlongs) throughout the city.
Bangkok is very much a city of contrasts: modern office towers sit next to traditional homes, ornate temples and bustling street markets. You may relax at a rooftop bar with cocktails and fine dining, or enjoy the mouth-watering (and incredibly inexpensive) street food prepared at a mobile street-cart.
There are endless things to see and do, from visiting the magnificent Royal Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, to exploring the back streets of the old city and sifting through Bangkok’s traditional open-air markets.
Overlooking Bangkok's Chao Phraya River, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, originally established as The Oriental in 1876, is a luxurious landmark with over 130 years of rich history. Renowned for its elegance, the hotel has been a preferred choice for luxury travellers, including royalty and celebrities. Known affectionately by locals and regulars simply as "The Oriental," it combines beautifully decorated rooms, two swimming pools, a lavish spa, and multiple top-notch dining options, including a cookery school. Its history, including its transformation from the first luxury hotel in Siam to a modern icon, adds to its allure. Make sure to make use of the hotel’s boat to take you across the river for time at the spa or Thai restaurant.
The heart of Bollywood, Mumbai is a vibrant and bustling port city offering everything from colonial heritage and historic landmarks to bustling markets and a vibrant street food scene.
Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai was originally an island, divided from the mainland by a narrow meandering creek. As well as Bollywood, Mumbai is most famous for its huge population (over 20 million people and counting!), dhobi wallahs (tiffin carriers) and its extremes wealth.
A city that truly never sleeps, there are bars, restaurants, shops, movies, nightclubs, parties and festivals on every corner! Sights include the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Gateway of India, Crawford Market and Chor Bazaar, and Elephanta Island, just a short boat ride away. Marine Drive makes an ideal early evening escape, where you’lll be joined by hundreds of other people strolling by the sea at sunset.
Located in prime position on Mumbai’s waterfront, with views of the iconic Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Palace was the first luxury hotel to welcome local guests. The hotel offers a relaxing outdoor swimming pool, nine on-site restaurants, an array of designer shops and historic rooms and suites.
A fascinatingly unique blend of tradition and innovation, Tokyo is the world’s largest city and is also one of the most exciting; mixing futuristic technology and contemporary urban design alongside historic temples and unspoiled nature.
From the traditional district of Asakusa to the centre of Manga culture in Akihabara, there are many distinctive areas to explore in these seeming endless metropolis. The neon-lit nightlife of Shibuya is home to the iconic ‘scramble zebra crossing’, whilst Ginza is an ideal introduction to the city with a welcoming atmosphere, plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants and 'izakaya' pubs for more casual drinking and dining. Roppongi is not to be missed; a lively entertainment district popular with Westerners, featuring shops, bars and restaurants and most notably, the ‘Art Triangle’ - Mori Art Museum, National Art Centre and Suntory Museum of Art.
Spread over six floors at the top of the Otemachi tower, Aman Tokyo is an 'urban sanctuary' that offers panoramic views over Tokyo’s skyline and across the Imperial Palace Gardens to Mount Fuji. Highlights include the luxury spa with a 30m pool and “onsen” (communal bath), whilst The Restaurant by Aman aims to compete on the world stage for culinary innovation.