“What’s the best hotel you’ve ever stayed at?”
As professional travel writers, we get asked that question a lot. It’s a tough one to answer – because we’ve been fortunate to stay at places where the “wow” factor punches off the charts.
We can tell you that villa resorts with private pool suites tend to be some of the most luxurious.
8 Ultra-gorgeous villa resorts with private pool suites
We’ve splashed out in these 8 villa resorts with private pools. (Who said “work” is no fun?)
They’re so fabulous that it’s worth booking a holiday just to stay in one of them!
1) Baraza Resort & Spa – Zanzibar
As soon as you see the Swahili arches, gauzy gold curtains and beautiful antiques, you get an inkling your stay at Baraza Resort & Spa is going to be pretty special.
Then when you’re sipping the resort’s signature Dawa cocktails (made from vodka, lime and honey) on their pure white beach, you know you’ve checked into one of the best resorts in Zanzibar.
(By the way, the beach, Bwejuu Beach, was ranked among the world’s top 30 beaches by Conde Nast Traveler.)
Others think this Zanzibar beach resort is pretty dreamy too.
Baraza, which has just 30 one- and two-bedroom villas (all villas with private pools, of course), was ranked #4 in the “Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Africa” in the 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards.
Memorable moment: Bathing with clove-scented soap in our egg-shaped stone tub…
2) St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas – Crete
The cure for overdosing on ancient Greek temples and ruins? An escape to St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas on the island of Crete.
Stone-clad suites and villas with organic Coco-Mat mattresses and huge infinity pools, a private beach cove, a spa with a private seawater cave for couples, an authentic Greek taverna, and oh-so-soothing sea views will set you right in no time.
It did for us – though we needed a few days there to make sure we were really better before flying home :-).
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this 5 star Crete hotel is one of the best Greece hotels with private pools.
3) Likuliku Lagoon Resort – Fiji
Sure, it’s nice to snorkel right from your deck of the overwater bungalows at Likuliku Lagoon Resort.
It’s the first resort with overwater bungalows in Fiji – and and dare we say, the best over-the-water Fijian bures?
But a string of 18 other ultra-luxe beachfront bures at this 5 star Fiji resort have private plunge pools, outdoor stone showers and huge shaded day beds.
Also very nice!
Plus, there’s the huge main pool you can use too.
That’s not all…
Likuliku’s breezy restaurant serves up light gourmet fare with locally-grown organic produce. Steamed coral trout with cucumber and coconut cream? Mmmmm…
Sailing and kayaking are complimentary. And its spa offers blissful warm stone massage treatments too.
4) Simbambili Game Lodge – South Africa
You can’t beat the leopard and lion sightings at Simbambili Game Lodge. (It’s located in the wildlife-rich Sabi Sand Game Reserve, part of the world-famous Kruger National Park.)
In fact, you’re pretty certain to see all the “Big Five” animals during a three-night stay here – we did.
Bonus: We also witnessed an impressive lion kill.
Villa resorts with private pools aren’t that common in safari game reserves.
Simbambili, however, has nine honeymoon-deluxe, thatched-roof bungalows with private plunge pools on huge rustic wooden decks.
Your deck faces a water hole in the distance, where you may see a parade of elephants, buffalo, antelope, kudu and other animals coming to drink.
Simbambili Game Lodge also organizes private bush lunches.
5) Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Thailand
There are Ritz-Carltons.
And then there are Ritz-Carlton Reserves – which are even more luxurious.
We were captivated by Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi, Thailand.
Each of the 54 opulent villas has a butler.
Our butler appeared like a genie whenever we needed him. Upon our check-in, he even bathed our trip-weary feet in a bowl of warm oil-scented water, sprinkled with rose petals.
Sinful confession: Overlooking a karst-studded bay, the main swimming pool with its curtained daybeds and complimentary coconut juice service was so alluring that we hardly used our own private pool.
6) Banyan Tree Cabo Marques – Acapulco
Tucked away in a lush gated community, the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques is an elegant hideaway, with beautiful Asian-style villas on stilts.
The views of Acapulco Bay from our plunge pool kept us spellbound. As did the orange and magenta sunsets.
And it was fun to see parrots, vultures and seabirds flying above our heads too.
Indeed, this is one villa resort where we happily spent a lot of time in our private pool.
Mind you, we tore ourselves away to eat at the resort’s Thai-themed Saffron restaurant. Always delicious…
7) Alila Villas Uluwatu – Bali
Bali is blessed with heavenly villa resorts with private pools – we’ve bedded down in many of them. (See our guide to the best luxury hotels in Bali.)
But when it comes to luxury clout, Alila Villas Uluwatu tops our list of most luxurious Bali hotels with private pools.
For one thing, its one-bedroom villas are ginormous – larger than 3,000 square feet in size – with window walls that open up completely.
We loved that we could almost roll from our living room daybed into our pool.
The ocean views from the resort’s cliffside perch are also stupendous.
8) Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort – Santorini
Say what? Back when they were together, Brad and Angie stayed here?
But it doesn’t have those gawk-worthy sea views like other Santorini hotels we’ve stayed at.
Oh, but you say we’ll be away from the tourist crowds, relaxing in a peaceful setting within an authentic Greek village?
And we can have our own private pool overlooking vineyards? And there are complimentary transfers to a private beach club?
Sign us up!
At Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, we stayed in a Dorian Suite – which was lovely even without a private pool.
But the Olympian Villas have private pools.
So there you have it – our round-up of some of the best luxury hotels in the world that we’ve personally stayed at!
Want more luxury hotel ideas?
Photos 10, 11 and 27 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Lead image courtesy St. Nicolas Bay Resort & Villas | Remaining photos courtesy of the respective private pool resorts