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Exclusive | The height of luxury: Hotels with altitude

Exclusive | The height of luxury: Hotels with altitude

If you're looking for accommodation with altitude, the sky is no longer the limit. More and more hotels are striving to reach new heights, literally. Look up and you'll find hotel rooms in the clouds, in trees, on cliffs, on mountaintops and over-the-top in almost every way imaginable. Read on for 10 upstanding hotels in Shanghai, Dubai, the Amazon, Yelapa, Mexico, Osaka, Japan, Denver, Colo., Miami, Acoma, New Mexico, Lhasa, Tibet and Las Vegas.

1. The dizziest heights
Grand Hyatt Shanghai
Jin Mao Tower, 88 Century Boulevard, Pudong, Shanghai, China
+86-21-5049-1234;; from CNY1850
For travelers craving the high life, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai is the top choice. Occupying the 53rd to 87th floors of the sky scraping Jin Mao Tower, the highest hotel in the world is in the center of Pudong, Shanghai's financial and business district. Rooms on the 87th floor measure up at around 1150 feet.

2. Top hotel
Burj al-Arab
Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+9714-301-7777;; from $1154
Resembling a billowing sail, the outstanding all-suite Burj al-Arab is considered the world's best hotel. Standing on an artificial island, 919 feet out from Jumeirah Beach, a private bridge curves from the hotel to the shore. Burj al-Arab stands 1053 feet high, but its position as the world's tallest hotel will be toppled late 2007 when the Rose Tower, also in Dubai, will tower above it from 1091 feet. For a dramatic arrival, touch down on Burj al-Arab's cantilever-supported helipad. Also cantilevered off the building is the restaurant Al Muntaha, which means "highest" or "ultimate" in Arabic. It hangs over the Persian Gulf at 656 feet.

3. Natural high
Ariau Amazon Towers
Rio Negro, Manaus, Brazil
888/GO-ARIAU;; from $280
35 miles from Manaus and 70 to 100 feet off the ground is the intriguing Ariau Amazon Towers. It's interconnected by miles of sturdy catwalks, and its position at the level of the canopy puts you up close and personal with the wildlife and smack in the middle of one of the planet's richest ecosystems. Opt for the Honeymoon Suite, 110 feet up a mahogany tree. Flotillas of monkeys, sloths, parrots and macaws scamper feet away from the aerie-height bar.

4. High end
The Spa at Verana
Calle Cuauhtemoc, Yelapa Beach, Yelapa, Jalisco, Mexico
800-530-7176;; $380
Carved into the cliffs above Yelapa Bay, Verana is a holistic tropical sanctuary, reached by a 20-minute boat ride from Boca de Tomatlan beach and then a short jungle hike or mule ride. Perched mid-air above the Pacific, its eight elegant guesthouses have their own spacious terraces with out-of-this-world views. Kayaking, whale watching, lounging in hammocks, having massages or splashing in the springwater swimming pool are a few activities.

5. High and mighty
Righa Grand
5-3-68 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
+81-6-6448-1121;; from Y28,000
Rising imposingly above the waterways of Nakanoshima, this 1,000-room option offers a two-story presidential suite, originally built for Bill Clinton's visi, and subsequently enjoyed by the Japanese imperial family on their trips west. The hotel lobby, with waterfall backdrop, trickling stream and kimono-clad attendants is a fine place to take tea (Y900-1,400). Twenty-two restaurants and bars and an entire floor of swimming pools ensure that you need never actually leave the building.

6. Mile high
Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th St., Denver, Colo.
800-321-2599 or 303-297-3111;; from $249
Mexican onyx walls, a white marble floor, six tiers of elaborately adorned balconies and a stained-glass ceiling welcome guests to the finest address on the Front Range. This grand dame has been the height of sophistication in the Mile High City since 1892.

7. The height of indulgence
The Setai
2001 Collins Ave., Miami, Fla.
305-520-6000;; $25,000
The Setai's landmark Art Deco building and its adjoining gleaming 40-story glass tower are Miami's most stylish addresses. As you ascend the tower, the prices rise. The price tag on the penthouse at the Setai is a discreet $25,000 a night. If you think that a private rooftop pool, Steinway grand piano, 24-hour butler service and wrap around ocean views are just the tickets to take your vacation up a notch, book up and sink into 10,000 square feet of the utmost elegance.

8. The sky's the limit
Sky City Hotel
I-40, Exit 102, Acoma, New Mexico 888-759-2489;; from $59
Acoma Pueblo, or Sky City, is the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. In the high desert, an hour's drive along the old Route 66 west from Albuquerque, the pueblo built atop a sheer 350-foot sandstone bluff welcomes gay and lesbian visitors. Guided tours (800-747-0181) take visitors from Sky City Cultural Center and Haak'u Museum at the foot of the mesa to the old pueblo up top. Eighteen miles from the mesa, the 133-room Sky City Hotel offers extremely comfortable rooms, the Huwak'a Restaurant and fast-paced Las Vegas-style gaming. It's a fantastic base to explore El Malpais National Monument's ice caves and Bandera Crater, ghost town La Ventana, cliff dwellings of Chaco Canyon, to hike or bike 11,300-foot Mount Taylor or to cruise the highway, taking in classic Route 66 signage.

9. Mountain high
Lhasa Hotel
1 Minzu Road, Lhasa, Tibet
+86-891-6832221;; from $105
Before the Chinese dominated Tibet, Lhasa was the world's highest capital city at 12,087 feet above sea level. This four-star government hotel in the Holy City is situated above 11,800 feet, next to the Summer Palace. More than 450 rooms are on offer, but heating is often not. Even the check-in staff wears winter gear. Make sure to book a room with extra piped-in oxygen or order extra bags of oxygen from room service or you'll not be able to fully enjoy the Yak Cafe's "world famous yak burgers." Other onsite attractions include a Tibetan herbal clinic and a karaoke bar.

10. Height of bad taste
Hugh Hefner Sky Villa
Palms Casino Resort, 4321 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, Nev.
866-725-6773;; $40,000
It doesn't get more over-the-top than Hugh Hefner's Sky Villa at the Palms. For a cool 40 grand, those with more money than taste can check in to this two-story, 10,000-square-foot indulgence with its $700,000 cantilevered Jacuzzi high above the Strip, glass elevator, mirrored ceiling and round revolving bed.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Christopher Harrity