Casa Tua isn't the most obvious choice for a hotel in Miami - it's not beachfront and it lacks the city's signature Art Deco style - but that's pretty much the point. There's something wonderfully idiosyncratic about this red-roofed, Mediterranean-style villa, an appeal that draws the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson. While the rest of South Beach is all splash factor and excitable Kardashian clones, this place remains as peaceful and detached as a Tuscan hideaway. With their big marble bathrooms, overstuffed sofas and canopy beds, the five all-white suites manage to feel both homely and luxurious. But there can be little doubt that the downstairs restaurant is the biggest draw, with a fabulous courtyard lit by dozens of antique lanterns and a living room-like interior filled with framed black-and-white photos. The food fits in perfectly with this smart but homespun vibe: seared seabass with olives, tomatoes, artichokes and asparagus; tiramisu for pudding. Casa Tua doesn't have a pool, but it's possible to book a spot at the Delano hotel's beach, a block and a half away.
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
Surrounded by the stark beauty of the southern Utah desert, this thrilling nexus of design and location has yet to be outshone by any other hotel in the USA. From a distance, it looks like a nuclear bunker; inside, it's all austere grandeur, concrete and glass, iron and wood, soaring space and dancing sunlight. In the main building, floor-to-ceiling windows give CinemaScope views of the desert and very cool pool; loungers are shaded by flowering cherry trees, of all unexpected things. The open kitchen with its wood-burning stove is here, and an indoor-outdoor restaurant and library. Insane prices rather squelch the appeal of the splendid spa, but the 34 rooms could make anyone grin: softest Beltrami linen, spotlit art in the loo, a free minibar (non-alcoholic drinks only, but addictive salted caramel popcorn) plus those devastating desert views from the bed, bath, twin showers and terrace. Most amazing, though, are the huge pool suites. The (mostly Mormon) staff will make up a daybed on the sky terrace for guests to sleep out beneath the stars. Excellent guides include geologists, archaeologists and an ex-Marine naturalist, and there are two daily hikes for spotting coyote, cougar, jackrabbits and deer mice. Food could be simpler and arrive sooner, but the bison steaks are perfect. And from November to March, meals are included in the room rate.
This Relais & Châteaux property – which is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Aspen – consistently earns high praise for its prime location near Aspen's world-renowned slopes and the tasty cuisine served at its two restaurants: element 47 and Ajax Tavern. But the hotel lures more than just powder hounds and foodies. Families have access to loaner strollers and video game consoles, while travelers with pets receive treats and jet lag kits for their pooches. What's more, all 92 rooms and suites feature luxurious touches like separate steam showers and Jacuzzis, gas fireplaces and heated marble bathroom floors. (Courtesy of The Little Nell and Shawn O'Connor)
Our winning resort hotel is also our youngest, completed just one year ago in summer 2017. But the new 154-room lodge, with its prime lakeshore location, has already gained some loyal lifetime fans. One respondent said, “They are right on the shores of the gorgeous Lake Tahoe, surrounded by stunning views of snow-covered mountains. There are no other properties in the area that come close to the luxury accommodations and location.” The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe is ideal for a summer lake getaway, but it also garnered praise from ski vacationers: “I loved the cozy fireplaces that are in every room. The heated pool and hot tub was a big plus after long days skiing…I could spend the entire day there if it wasn't for the plethora of activities that awaited outside.”
DH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von Simson
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