Halekulani, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Honolulu – Oahu, wins favor with guests for its luxe accommodations and impressive views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Guest rooms are outfitted in a sleek "seven shades of white" theme and the property offers several on-site amenities, including a spa, multiple restaurants and a unique outdoor pool that features an orchid mosaic on its floor. (Courtesy of Halekulani)
Just northeast of Kekaha Kai State Park, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is one of the most luxurious resorts on the Big Island. Recent visitors suggested indulging in the Hualalai Spa, which features spa treatments with island twists, like a Polynesian Niu (Coconut) Scrub or a Sun Relief Ti Leaf Wrap. Meanwhile, the resort's seven unique swimming spots – from a saltwater pond with a few friendly manta rays to an oceanfront infinity pool – earn high marks across the board. Should you be interested in learning more about Hawaiian life, the Ka'upulehu Cultural Center offers interactive programs that give insight into the island's history, traditions and even music. After a long day of learning (or relaxing), enjoy a fresh seafood meal at one of three restaurants or two lounges before retiring to your room. Accommodations at this Four Seasons resort feature nature-inspired hues and Hawaiian art, as well as balconies, granite bathrooms and plasma TVs. Although recent guests won't deny that room rates and dining costs here are high, they say that the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai's facilities and customer service are worth the price.
Acqualina Resort & Spa's top-notch customer service was the highlight for many past guests. This oceanfront property in Miami Beach offers concierges to assist with every want and need, and a drink is always within reach at the resort's four pools. For health-focused guests, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Florida offers wellness coaching, personal training sessions and yoga classes, as well as a fitness center and a 20,000-square-foot spa. What's more, guest rooms and suites are outfitted with high-definition TVs, glass-enclosed showers and private terraces. (Courtesy of Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach)
Just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, this 16th-century colonial-style mansion has been thoughtfully updated with intelligent oxygen enrichment systems, heated floors, and hot tubs in 43 suites. Wellbeing and cuisine are among the standouts here, but it's not just about how you feel—it's what you see, too. The hotel houses more than 300 pieces of art, including paintings from the Cuzco school, carvings, and sculptures, so make time to take a lap (or three).
Twenty-six years on, Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road, one of many overlooking the sea in the wind-protected suburb of Bantry Bay. And that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. The bar, restaurant and spa are exclusive to invited and resident guests, which means it’s very private and secure. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country – his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s answer to Kew) in the one-and-a-half acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery and an excellent little spa. Checking into one of the individually decorated rooms in the house – many with local African design elements, some on the small size – feels both comfortable and comforting. As does the open-access kitchen. Walk right in, tell the chefs what you’re craving and it is whipped up in minutes. Better yet, take a snack back to your room. The post-sunset vista from the balcony has to be one of the best views of the Atlantic found anywhere on earth. By Jane Broughton
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.