Departures Studio84 created this story in collaboration with Hilton's Luxury Brands. Departures’ editorial contributors were not involved in its creation.

The Guest Chronicles

Check in to Waldorf Astoria, LXR, and Conrad hotels and resorts with three worldly creatives.

A picturesque sunset captured through the magnificent windows of Conrad Osaka.

“I’m never leaving”

From award-winning spas with magical massages to Michelin-starred dining offering soul-stirring desserts, as well as spellbinding sunset views and the iconic Peacock Alley, the 32 Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts enchant across 15 countries with an elegant sense of place.

Find out what our creatives had to say after venturing to three of these divine properties, including the recently opened oceanside resort in Cancun, Mexico, the centrally located tower in Bangkok, Thailand, and the eclectic hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun


“Let’s start with the good news: I was purged entirely of negative energy. After I walked through a sauna and steam room that filled my lungs and heart with eucalyptus, I was handed a cup of chamomile tea in the type of cute ceramic cup you always want for your home (but can never exactly find). While winding through encroaching Cancunian foliage to my room, I felt every bit of despair depart my body, making space for optimism and gratitude.

“During the Yaxche Journey at the spa, our ritual guide connected us to our ancestors and tree of life, then helped us send love to everyone before we dropped resin into a fire — it blazed. 'The fire’s not usually so big,' she noted. My mental alignment was followed by a massage I’ll think about on my deathbed, probably.

“The bad news: You do eventually have to leave. I know, I couldn’t believe it either.” — Chloe Hall

Waldorf Astoria Bangkok


“The hotel pierces the Bangkok skyline like a designer lipstick kissing the clouds. In the grand lobby, bronze screens melt art deco glamour with curved flourishes, inspired by the arched fingertips in traditional Thai dance.

“The city’s best brunch was right downstairs in The Brasserie with offerings from both the western and Asian sides — yes, two kitchens. I rarely enjoy steamed pork ribs with my morning yogurt but at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok I certainly do. The high tea at Peacock Alley, filled with colorful jewel box sweet and savory delicacies, was almost too delightful a visual feast to consume (my favorites: the Foie Gras Tart and the New York Sundae Choux). The Loft Bar was a divine setting to take in the sunset with a cocktail, while Front Room was home to the most decadent cheesecake, which was served in a coconut — how I will be taking all my desserts moving forward.” — Ivy Elrod

Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre


“At first glance, Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre looks similar to the architecture of the United Nations in New York City: a grand glass block resembling a hardcover on a shelf, with smooth white stone forming the spine and page ends. At the same time, the lobby-level café and bar, Peacock Alley, could be in Milan: low-slung ’70s-style chairs and tables set against book-matched burl wall panels and chrome lights. And you’d be forgiven for thinking yourself to be at a Saint-Tropez seaside resort, eating deconstructed poké bowls by the pool, if not for the miraculous view of downtown Dubai.

“That view stops you in your tracks wherever you are in the hotel, from the gym to the glittering Bull & Bear restaurant and in your room, where the dusty sunrise coming up over the desert gives the cityscape’s monumental buildings a kind of hazy, ethereal feel, provoking some very special reveries.” — Chris Wallace

“Left me breathless”

With 11 properties set in eight countries, the highly curated LXR Hotels & Resorts collection inspires awe at every turn thanks to singular and intuitive service, meaningful moments with a kintsugi master, a charming heart-shaped pool, and so much more.

Get a taste of these remarkable experiences and surrender to serenity with Ivy in Kyoto, Japan; soak up the California sun in the United States with Chloe; then savor classic British flair in London, United Kingdom, with Chris.



“The first thing I noticed stepping into the Zen lobby was the smell: a woody-floral heavenly fragrance that felt simultaneously clean, fresh, yet earthy. Part onsen, part Japanese garden, the scent was the essence of ROKU KYOTO itself.

“This resort offers special opportunities for guests to experience local culture. I participated in the profound, ancient practice of kintsugi, repairing ceramics with lacquer and adorning the fissures with gold dust. Finding beauty in my past cracks, rather than hiding them, is something I’d like to weave into my life. I was also brought to an industrial kitchen to learn how to make yuba — tofu skin used in so very many dishes in Japanese cuisine — which entailed sliding rods beneath thin sheaths of coagulated hot soy. The fun was in the 11-course meal that followed, where I sampled my own yuba and the chef’s. I won’t tell you whose was better.

“The onsen thermal bath both in my room and outdoors was truly an awakener and restorer. And I discovered that the scent I first detected was captured in a bottle of body lotion in our bathroom, so I brought a glimmer of the magic all the way home.” — I.E.

Oceana Santa Monica


“This hidden gem hosts great big, tasteful suites befitting their as-close-to-the-beach-as-possible status and gets every detail right. I’ve never felt carpet so plush. The sloping tub looks like it single-tubbedly inspired the invention of the bath bomb. An icicle of lights trickles down from the bathroom ceiling (and if I were redoing my home right now I’d direct the designer to do that right now, please). Outside of the room, for those particularly wistful vacation moments, is your very own swing!

“You don’t even have to leave your private sanctuary for a (blissful) massage. When you do, the heart-shaped pool encompasses you with all the love you need, and yoga on the Sunset Terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean is the ideal way to begin your day.” — C.H.

The Biltmore Mayfair


“Around the elevator bank in the hotel lobby, there is a wonderful vignette that recalls Golden Age Hollywood glamour: the pink ground of the walls offset by crimson details and green onyx marble, beneath a brass dial and cascading crystal chandelier. But the location, right on Grosvenor square, catty-corner to the former American embassy, and a block from the great restaurants of Mount Street and shops on Audley, put me in a different sort of cinematic mindset: that of a top hat and brolly-carrying gentleman of leisure, perhaps in town for some diversion.

“The recently redesigned gym, outfitted with a very modern set of stations and equipment, compelled me to do my best travel workouts, while the Londoner cocktail at Pine Bar and champagne at afternoon tea took me to far more decadent places.” — C.W.

“Beautiful and energizing”

Sprinkled across 21 countries, locally inspired interiors and striking artwork combine with heavenly regional menus, ancient healing rituals, and sustainability initiatives to reward all of your senses in the 44 Conrad Hotels & Resorts.

Hear from inside three of these transportive havens, starting with the cosmopolitan London location from Chris, followed by Osaka grandeur with Ivy and the dreamy Tulum landscape with Chloe.

Conrad London St. James


“When I arrived around midnight on a Wednesday, The Hedgerow, the plush pastel bar, was popping full of very stylish Londoners. And, if the nifty cocktail program and cozy décor make it a comfy place for the cool kids to gather, the location, a block from Queen Anne’s Gate makes the hotel a convenient watering hole for the mandarins of Whitehall — a point made clear by the old-fashioned division bell in Blue Boar Pub, which in pre-smartphone days gave notice to Members of Parliament to return to the House to vote. Speaking of the pub, chef Sally Abé proves bar fare can be an art form, or indeed fine dining, with the Scotch egg. At The Pem, the hotel’s slinky crimson restaurant that Chef Abé also leads, the venison (for which she is rightly famous) was sublime, and the Knife and Fork Bacon was the best I’ve had.” — C.W.

Conrad Osaka


“I feel like I’m on the set of a special agent thriller. The verticality and massive double-height glass windows are dramatic to begin with, but it’s the interplay of light and darkness that brings the cinematic flair. The lighting design is shadowy and moody, particularly in transitional spaces, yet the soaring windows in the lobby and pool areas invite the sun inside in an almost theatrical way.

“The hotel is filled with nearly 400 pieces of art, the most remarkable of which flanks guests coming and going with imposing bubble-like creatures that represent the gods of thunder and wind — an apt summoning from 650 feet in the air.

“The sleekness of the hotel design is juxtaposed with the warmth of the staff. I was armed with tips for the best okonomiyaki in Dotonbori, and scored my new favorite jacket in Namba Parks; both areas very close to Conrad Osaka.” — I.E.

Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya


“Once you soak private — on a patio overlooking the Gulf of Mexico — every future tub will leave you cold. I also determined during my stay that the correct order is ‘pool, beach, pool, hot tub,’ which is easy to puzzle out when they’re all tucked so closely together. I realized that there’s nothing quite like a massage that feels like it’s in the middle of a jungle, and there is no lullaby quite like the crash of ocean waves — a welcome soundtrack after discovering that adorably chunky iguanas can squeeze into small cracks. I found out that Mexican and Japanese flavors are unlikely lovers with great chemistry. I answered the question, ‘Do I need a special selfie halo ring hanging in my bathroom?’ (yes, yes, absolutely). I even learned that the staff at other hotels yearn to be at Conrad — and that it’s hard to blame them.” — C.H.

Our Contributors

Departures Studio84

Departures Studio84 is the creative, strategy, and media team at Departures dedicated to bringing merchant partnerships to life.


Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.