This go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie Goodwin
Visitors can take advantage of all the Holy City has to offer at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Charleston: The Dewberry Charleston. Ideally positioned on downtown's Meeting Street, the hotel puts guests near the city's top things to do, including the Charleston City Market and the Battery. For attractions farther afield, travelers can make use of the hotel's complimentary bicycles or one of its Volvo house cars. Back at the hotel, lodgers have access to yoga classes, a restaurant and a spa, as well as in-room amenities like high-definition televisions. (Courtesy of The Dewberry Charleston)
Originally the Royal Danish Embassy, designed in the late 1930s by the same architect as the city's famed KaDeWe department store, Das Stue opened its doors as a hotel in early 2013. Spanish-born interior designer Patricia Urquiola has created a playful mix of old-meets-new, which has attracted a chic clientele. Das Stue occupies prime real estate in more ways than one: sitting on the edge of the Tiergarten, it’s a mere 1.6 miles from the famed Brandenburg Gate. Decor is modern but peaceful, with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows—many rooms have views of the park. When you need to relax after a day out sightseeing, head to the 260-square meter spa, which has a 14-meter long indoor pool and a Finnish glass sauna.
A top-to-bottom refit of the Lambs Club, the historic thespian hangout in the heart of Midtown’s Theater District, has turned this actors’ den into a sleek 76-room hotel with Art Deco lines and ocean liner-inspired fittings that hark back to travel’s bygone era. Rooms are fitted with gorgeous steamer trunk–like wardrobes and desk-vanity combos in chocolate leather, while bathrooms come with wall-to-wall mirrors and rain showers stocked with custom Asprey amenities. Guests can find a break at the cozy Lambs Club Bar, hidden away above the lobby, and at the underground spa, with a clever "endless" lap pool and small gym—probably the only place on the property where you can let them see you sweat.
Since starting out in 1993 with one lodge, Singita has grown into an outfit that is now responsible for a million acres in five wild regions across three African countries. But what still matters most is the desire to preserve that pristine land and the animals that live on it. Its turbo-smart lodges and camps are scattered across private concessions in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Sasakwa, set in 140,000 hectares on the border of the Serengeti National Park, is the grandest of them all. Built from stone, it’s like a stately Edwardian manor house, with elegant colonial-era style: polished parquet floors, Persian carpets, chandeliers, bookshelf-lined walls, enormous fireplaces and a mix of African collectibles and European antiques. The service is faultless, orchestrated by Frank Louw, who started out as the executive chef many years ago and has dozens of stories to share about Tanzanian staff rising up through the ranks. As well as an entire reserve to explore, there’s tennis, archery, biking, hiking and top-notch treatments in the spa. Diet-defying meals are served wherever you want them, always with a view. Wines are plucked from the best of South Africa’s vineyards. Ten guest cottages each have separate living rooms, enormous bathrooms and private plunge pools. As impressive as all this is, though, the greatest draw is the exclusive game viewing – in the middle of a privately funded reserve that’s as big as the Maasai Mara. It continues to guarantee the survival of the western corridor of the annual migration of a million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle. And year-round, it provides the ultimate luxury to the lodge’s high-flying guests: not having to share wildlife sightings with anyone else. By Jane Broughton
This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)