Hotel Martinez
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updated 5/18/2006 1:15:07 PM ET 2006-05-18T17:15:07

It's an expensive time to be wealthy.

Luxury goods are available everywhere, at both lower and higher price points than ever. You can spend $215,000 on a bottle of perfume from perfumer Clive Christian or $120 on a hamburger at DB Bistro Moderne in New York City.

Not to be outdone, hoteliers are keeping pace.

In our list of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, five of the top ten rooms ring in at $25,000 per night or more. The most outrageous one, the Penthouse Suite at Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France, has a nightly rate of $37,200. For that, you get four bedrooms, a private terrace with a Jacuzzi and sweeping views of the Mediterranean--plus the comfort of knowing you're getting the most expensive night's sleep money can buy, although we don't know whether it's the best.

Even the cheapest suite on our list is nothing to sniff at. It's located in the Burj Al Arab, an imposing hotel on the coast of Dubai, built to resemble a billowing sail. Parts of the hotel lobby are plated in 24-karat gold, and the building is tall enough to swallow the Eiffel Tower. As befits such a grand property, the Royal Suite features an enormous rotating bed, a private cinema and an indoor Jacuzzi. Guests arrive via private elevator. The cost per night? A very royal $10,900.

In 2003, the last time we compiled a list of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, our top suites fell into one of two categories: European resort towns or major U.S. cities like New York and Las Vegas. This year, when reviewing the rooms available, we were spoiled for choice. We could have filled one list with New York suites alone and another with private island hideaways. As a result, we did split the list into two segments, the U.S. (see Forbes.com's " Most Expensive Hotel Rooms in the U.S.") and the world.

The explosion of super-suites has us wondering: How did a garden variety, $5,000-per-night suite become déclassé? And will super-suites one day outnumber regular old hotel rooms?

"Expectations are at an all-time high," says Bjorn Hanson, who heads hospitality industry research at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "The quality of suites, their furnishing and amenities, is at an all-time level of extravagance, because the expectations of guests staying in regular rooms increased with flat-screen TVs, better bedding, in-room technology and wireless Internet access."

And according to industry analysts, international travelers can now finance those grand expectations like never before.

"The increasing wealth of the world's population is one of the drivers of increased demand for these facilities," says Mark Woodworth, executive vice president at PKF Consulting, a hotel consultancy with offices throughout the U.S. "Those people in the upper one-tenth of 1 percent, who are truly insensitive to price and want the best of what's available wherever they are going--that pool continues to get bigger."

Because of their relatively high cost to develop, super-suites will never be as prevalent as budget hotel rooms, he says. Even so, for the resorts that build them, there are some very practical benefits.

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"Hoteliers are finding this is one way to distinguish themselves relative to their competition," Woodworth says. Introducing a super-suite "can be a marquis branding initiative, one that will increase their overall competitive profile."

For the consumer, booking an ostentatious suite can be practical as well--or even a downright good deal. "Commercial demand has increased for special-strategy corporate meetings," Hanson says. "Many of these meetings are held in suites, where there is a private area for the meeting and an area for the person running the meeting to stay overnight." That way, the corporation doesn't have to shell out extra money for a boardroom in addition to a pricey suite for the CEO.

Even better, sometimes the corporation doesn't have to shell out at all. "Often these suites are comped in return for a convention blocking a large number of rooms, something the public isn't always aware of." Sleeping in a $37,200-a-night suite for free? Now that's priceless.

To compile our list of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, we chose the most expensive suite in several large international resort communities, plus a few metropolises including Hong Kong, Dubai and Paris. To keep our overview comprehensive, we limited ourselves to a maximum of one suite per country; France and Greece, whose resorts seem to have reinvented decadence, got two apiece.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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