Best Travel Guides for Luxury / 5-Star Vacations
There are so many travel guide books out there, but I haven't yet found a great source for authentic, cultural travel experiences. Or guides that really speak to upscale luxury experience I want my vacation to be. Most travel guides I've found are general-purpose, and they don't give any local knowledge, just generic overviews. Maybe because local trends change so quickly and it's hard to publish and update on a frequent schedule, but most guides just aren't written to uncover local experiences at all. They're for generic tourists, which I'm not.
When I travel, I want to be immersed in local culture, find the best local food and wine (and beer), talk to locals and not tour guides, and just not feel like a tourist. I've realized that these authentic experiences are somewhat serendipitous - you can't plan everything - but I wish there were some sort of guidebook series that would give me a head start.
Additionally, I don't need to know about the best hostels or the best cheap restaurants. I want the best places to stay that are in the best spots in the city to get immersed in the local culture. Most guides talk about the whole range of options for restaurants, accomodations, shopping, etc. I'd like to know what the selection is on the best / most authentic places - just the real deal. When I'm in London, for instance, I want to stay a place that makes the trip special - like the Savoy London, a historic, iconic luxury hotel in a great location to explore the city, with superb service and a superb concierge who can make even more great recommendations.
The few guide books that I've seen that are better than the generic Frommers and Fodors are:
Lonely Planet - a bit more local flavor
Indigare (paid subscription)
Andrew Harper (paid subscription)
Anyone else feel the same way, or have good suggestions on travel guides that they like?
Let me know!
8/4/11 - update - I'm going on a luxury vacation to New Zealand in the fall, and just found this Guide to Auckland's Big/Little City. It's looks quite good (won't know until I use it, of course), it's free, and it's filled with 'insider' info on Auckland. And, there's a downloadable iPhone / iPod / Android app. I wish I could get this level of info for every city!