Music producer Chris Blackwell, who introduced the world to Bob Marley back in 1973, also founded this oceanfront island hideaway a few years later, based around the clifftop villa where Ian Fleming wrote all his Bond novels. In the decades since its reach has grown and grown. There’s no sign at the entrance, which is part of the low-key charm. It’s easy to see why many music and film stars make their way here: this is a sweet spot with a very independent flavour, a world away from the oversized all-inclusives, and more honed than Blackwell’s companion hotel, Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains. Couples tend to hole up in the wooden beach huts; families and friends take over the massive villas; industry bigwigs feel right at home in Fleming’s former house, which has three bedrooms and a personable, clued-in staff. There are a few nods to 007 – black-and-white photos of Bond in reception plus novels and films on loan – but GoldenEye is mainly about Jamaica, a sensibility found in the blazingly coloured fabrics, breezy breakfasts on the verandah with cups of Blue Mountain coffee, and heaps of tropical fruit. The sheltered bay for morning swims is just a few paces away across immaculate sands. It says everything that Blackwell still lives here (guests have been known to unwittingly roll up to his villa and ask for a drink, which is always obligingly provided). And why would he leave? He gets to enjoy a highly original hangout that is entirely of his making. This is that rare beast: a hotel that balances heritage and hip and gets away with it. By Nigel Tisdall
Overlooking an untamed strip of Pacific coast on Vancouver Island (about 195 miles northwest of Victoria), the Wickaninnish Inn is a Relais & Châteaux luxury amid the pines. Guests adore this hotel's rugged setting and isolated locale. All guest rooms boast ocean views, and include balconies, fireplaces, soaker tubs and heated flooring in the bathrooms. Guests can dine on fine, locally-sourced fare at The Pointe Restaurant for Brunch and dinner while the Driftwood Cafe features drinks such as coffee and smoothies, snacks and lunch options. For a bit of relaxation, hotel guests suggest heading to Ancient Cedars Spa, which offers treatments like West Coast Sacred Sea body wraps, or grabbing a drink at sundown at the On The Rocks Bar.
This Four Seasons property attracts beach lovers. Positioned along a beautiful stretch of Hulopoe Bay sand overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this resort offers breathtaking ocean views, manicured grounds and top-notch customer service. During their stays, guests can enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as snorkeling, deep sea fishing, hiking, whale watching, scuba diving and more. Visitors use terms like "paradise" and "heaven on earth" to describe the property. Guest rooms all feature private patios, as well as amenities like 75-inch flat-screen TVs with Blu-ray players, Nespresso machines and free internet access. One of the most loved features is the complimentary shuttle, which will cart you to and from Lanai Town. Recent visitors do say you should brace yourself for the high cost of meals at the resort's multiple restaurants and treatments at the in-house spa. Still, most travelers enjoy this Four Seasons resort's piece of shoreline and its world-class golf course.
Past guests find little to complain about at the Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver. Thanks to the convenient downtown location and the personable staff, recent visitors are quick to call this Shangri-La outpost their favorite Vancouver hotel. Accommodations are appointed with floor-to-ceiling windows, deep soaking tubs, free Wi-Fi and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. For total pampering, guests suggest heading to CHI, The Spa or unwinding by the outdoor pool and hot tub. Travelers also recommend grabbing at least one meal at MARKET by Jean-Georges for inventive, locally sourced Michelin-starred seafood dishes. Though the luxurious amenities cost a pretty penny, recent visitors say the experience is worth the splurge. You'll find the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver in central Vancouver, a few blocks south of Coal Harbour.
After a massive renovation in 2009, this boutique reopened, and regained its place among DC's elite hotels. It's not as famous as the Hay-Adams, but its subtle blend of technology (TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic housekeeping buttons) and colonial charms (intimate library, working dumbwaiter) are second to none. All that's missing is T.J. himself. (Oh wait, no.Here he is. ... )
Our Top 10 Hotels in Bangkok Old City list has been handpicked by our experts on the ground. We have tried and tested hundreds of rooms in the Thai capital so you can trust us when we say these are truly great places to base yourself. Staying in this quaint area of Bangkok really means you’re well placed to discover the best of what the city has to offer in terms of attractions, with the famous Grand Palace and Wat Pho both sitting in what is Bangkok’s oldest area.
At the far reaches of the Punakha Valley, on the Mo Chu River in central Bhutan, is this COMO retreat. The 11-room hideaway gives harried guests views of terraced rice fields, the temple of Khamsum Yuley Namgay, and snowcapped Himalayan peaks. The restaurant Bukhari, so named for the traditional Bhutanese fireplace, might be the best place to savor these vistas. Park yourself on the outdoor terrace, preferably by a smoking, standing fireplace, for a seasonally driven dinner made with local organic ingredients—red rice, hand-ground buckwheat flour, apple cider vinegar, and hand-moulded farm cheese.
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Choose between lakeside cabins, which date back to the 1920s and ’30s, or the recently renovated main lodge: both channel a rich arts-and-crafts ambience, which helped the resort score well in the survey for its rooms. Readers were also coddled by the high level of service, like having griddle cakes and house-made preserves delivered in a basket to your cottage door each morning. No matter what kind of room you choose, the chances for carefree play abound: snowshoes and cross-country skis are available for guest use, and trails start right outside the lodge.
With its charming and peaceful streets, chic boutique hotels, and relaxed atmosphere, today’s Quebec City has certainly changed since its original incarnation as a defensive fort during the Revolutionary War. Today’s only invaders are peaceful and excited tourists, visiting what is often considered North America’s most European city. With cobbled streets, delightful architecture and a certain joie de vivre, Quebec City is often associated with French cities and towns.
The people of Quebec City are hardy and quite used to the harsh weather that is typical in the long winter months. Rather than mope and complain they tend to turn lemons into lemonade, or rather snow and ice into sculptures and other works of art. The city holds a winter carnival every year, officially known as Le Carnaval de Quebéc. Despite the brisk temperatures that are experienced at this time, this carnival is as popular among travellers as events held in the summer months. In fact it is the largest carnival of its kind in the world, with more than one million people drawn to view the ice sculptures, take part in winter sports and attend parades and masquerade balls. Bonhomme, a stylised giant snowman, is the delightful official mascot. Those looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay in the deep winter months should head a few miles to the north of the city where the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, is open from January to March each year. The spectacular suites are carved out of the ice by artists and have to be seen to be believed.
Nestled in the heart of the Strip, this member of the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas doesn't feature a casino on the property. And with only 389 guest rooms and suites, this hotel is practically a boutique compared to the Strip's monumental towers. But guests love the Waldorf Astoria's quiet and classy atmosphere and they don't mind leaving the hotel to hit the slots. The spacious rooms are particularly popular, filled with features like flat-screen TVs, soaking tubs and separate showers, and the design aesthetic highlights sleek and subtle touches. Another traveler favorite is the critically acclaimed spa, which guests say has some of the best masseuses on the Strip. You'll find the Waldorf Astoria LasVegas tucked between the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino and the Shops at Crystals shopping complex, smack dab in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.
Felicité, the fifth-biggest island in the Seychelles, is widely considered to be one of its most beautiful. Giant granite boulders lie scattered atop curvaceous hills like remnants of a gods’ pétanque match. Blue pigeons coo and roost in jungly vegetation. The sand is so powdery and pristine that it squeaks as you scuttle into the clear aquamarine shallows. And within all this almost-otherworldly natural splendour is a man-made retreat that is almost as pretty – and equally as green (how many other islands have solar-power panels, a reverse-osmosis plant and a patch of land for an organic kitchen garden?). The 30 glass-fronted rooms are set among boulders and trees, with wide decks and plunge pools outside, and polished wooden floors and furnishings in the hues of the sea inside. At the beach bar, giant hammocks are strung over the ocean from which to sip passionfruit Mojitos and mango ice-lollies. At breakfast, there are green smoothies, rainbow-coloured fruit platters and oysters; at night it’s French Champagne and fire-cooked lobster, followed by rum tastings in a cosy bar. In between all this taste-bud tantalising, there are hills to hike, reefs to dive around and palm trees to lie under and contemplate the delightful symmetry of a crab’s tracks or the puffiness of a cloud. There’s a spa amid boulders by the sea, and a yoga platform where an instructor leads daily sun salutations as dawn breaks. A private-island game-changer. By Lisa Grainger
Enjoying a prime location in midtown Manhattan, The St. Regis New York puts guests close to the Big Apple's top sights, such as the Museum of Modern Art and Central Park. The No. 4 Best Hotel in New York City prides itself on its sophisticated setting and high level of customer service: Lodgers note the elegant interior throughout the property and the friendly staff members as highlights of their stays. (Courtesy of The St. Regis New York)
Situated on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana offers elegant, adults only getaways along stunning golden-sandy shores. During your stay, savour gourmet cuisines, artfully-prepared cocktails and stunning oceanviews while doing as much or as little as you’d wish. Delight in thrilling water sports or escape to the spa offering pampering treatments for a small fee. Afterwards, luxuriate on a comfortable beach lounger or delight in afternoon hors d’oeuvres served poolside with fresh towels and wait service. When it comes time to grab a bite to eat, choose from a variety of dining options including Dorado, Hideaway’s main restaurant serving à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of the most notable features of this boutique-style resort are the lavish accommodations, with preferential suites featuring Royalton premium DreamBeds™ with high thread count sheets. Guests can also upgrade to Diamond Club to enjoy added amenities such as butler service, a selection of in-suite liquors, upgraded room service and exclusive reservations at the resort’s esteemed à la carte restaurants.
Before Buenos Aires surrendered to the motor car – and every Argentine male modelled his ego on that of Formula One legend Juan Manuel Fangio – Avenida Alvear was one of the city’s main thoroughfares, with horse-drawn carriages and trams rolling by en route to Palermo’s lush gardens and shady parks. Something of this Belle Epoque spirit still endures and nowhere more so than at the Palacio Duhau, completed in 1934 as the city mansion of a landed family. Its grand neoclassical façade is right on the avenue, and the lobby is a stately, serene space where light pours in from the terrace onto the fluted marble columns, intricately carved wooden doors and low-slung white leather sofas. The tiered gardens on the terrace are worthy of a scene in The Great Gatsby. Rooms range from spacious and functional to sumptuous and palatial; the boudoir suite has butler service, an enormous marble bathroom and, perhaps more impressive, two private terraces overlooking the avenue below. The Duhau restaurant and public spaces channel the property’s storied glamour, with local couples having lunch and out-of-towners sipping rum-laced Arnaud’s milk-punch cocktails. The surrounding barrio of Recoleta is known for its old-world architecture, and this hotel, modelled on the Château du Marais near Paris, is the maximum expression of Argentine Francophilia. Its only rival on this stately strip is the Alvear Palace – but where the latter flaunts its ostentation, the Hyatt’s grandest South American property rather keeps itself to itself. By Chris Moss
The Langham, Chicago earns ample compliments from former guests. Everything from the property's attentive service to its quiet downtown location to the delectable cuisine plated at Travelle Kitchen + Bar earns rave reviews from visitors. Plus, rooms at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Chicago boast spacious layouts (each measures at least 516 square feet) with elegant white, black and purple color schemes, rain showers, deep-soaking tubs, liquor cabinets and free Wi-Fi access. Additional amenities, such as a health club, a 67-foot pool and a spa, are available outside the rooms. (Courtesy of The Langham, Chicago)
With a flotilla of boldfaced big-hitters hugging its sunny shores, Dubai isn’t exactly short of luxury digs. But what makes the newly opened Bulgari stand out is its location on its own seahorse-shaped manmade island, and its low-slung layout, a pleasing retort to the city’s ubiquitous canyons of skyscrapers. This is down to the group’s Milan-based architects, who anchored the hotel so it separates two bays: one an oh-so-quiet stretch of beach lined with villas; the other a super-smart marina with a sweep of restaurants and the Bulgari Yacht Club – a first for the brand. Structures are topped with layers of coral-like latticework; other marvellous textures that draw the eye include backlit green onyx, black granite and woollen Beni Ourain rugs from Morocco, picked out with covetable objects from B&B Italia and Flos. The city centre thrums on the other side of a 300-metre bridge, but with six bars and restaurants at the hotel, there really is no reason to cross it. La Spiaggia is a poolside crowd-pleaser that flips out wagyu beef burgers during the day, while in the evening, a Negroni from the oval Bulgari bar is a punchy aperitif for oysters and bottarga risotto at the neighbouring Niko Romito restaurant. The wow factor, though, is provided by the immense spa, with its ice fountains, hammam and an indoor pool – lined with a mosaic of real gold tiles, naturally – that has far-reaching views of the sea and the Dubai cityscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. The sense of contented wellbeing isn’t limited to the spa. In a land of hyperbole, this is understated perfection that thinks big. By Lauren Ho
Karon is an especially family-friendly part of Phuket, as well as being quiet and relaxing. Our list of the best places to stay in Karon Beach reflects that. Many of the hotels and resorts below have excellent facilities. These include big swimming pools, great restaurants, first-class spas and modern, spacious rooms. If you're looking at Karon Beach as your next Phuket holiday destination, these are the places which will almost guarantee you have a fantastic time.