A tricky business, the restoration of important old stuff. There are people who say that the Mona Lisa ought to be all bright and punchy and Instagram-ready and that 'The Night Watch' was actually The Day Watch. So what do you do about an ageing masterpiece like the Crillon? Nobody rushed to any conclusions. In the end, the refurb took four years and the hotel reopened in 2017 under the Rosewood brand. The Ritz, nearby, underwent the same process around the same time. But the two properties took divergent approaches: the Ritz to maintain the status quo, only more so, as it were; the Crillon to propel itself into the 21st century. In both cases, the results are exemplary. And if it is the Crillon whose name appears in capital letters in this list, it is in recognition of a moral rather than an absolute victory. A prize for bravery. The best of what was best of the Crillon has been thoughtfully preserved, while the best of what is new (the bar, the barbershop, L’Ecrin restaurant and the stupendous suites by Karl Lagerfeld) is gobsmacking in its boldness and daring. The Crillon has long been a sentimental favourite among the French. Something to do with all the beheadings that occurred outside the front door. Imagine what would have happened if Rosewood had, you know, got it wrong. By Steve King
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)
The best hotels in Karon Beach take full advantage of their setting in this beautiful resort town on Phuket’s west coast. This lovely destination has the island’s third-longest beach and first most squeaky sand. There are plenty of activities available on the beach and many shops and restaurants behind it. Shaded by trees, it is one of the more picturesque shores on the island.
The fourth-generation, family-owned Hotel Continental is one of the oldest and most established hotels in Oslo—but it's not just its pedigree that makes it a notable stay. Located on the doorstep of some of the city's main tourist attractions, including the Royal Castle, the parade street Karl Johan, the National Gallery, the waterfront, and the Aker Brygge neighborhood, it's in a veritable hotbed of activity. The five-star spot caters to an accordingly upscale crowd, with plenty of business travelers in the mix, but there are also locals swinging by for pre-dinner cocktails at Bar Boman, the stylish hotel bar—so you won't feel at all sequestered from the scene.
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.
Occupying prime real estate on Chicago's coveted Magnificent Mile, The Peninsula Chicago combines Hong Kong's cosmopolitan flair with the Windy City's Midwestern charm. Travelers describe the guest rooms as comfortable thanks to their creamy color palette and plush furniture, not to mention their modern techie touches, like a bedside remote command station that controls the lights, television and room temperatures. Meanwhile, the renowned Peninsula Spa is in a class by itself: earning The Peninsula Chicago many accolades from health and leisure magazines. Another honorable mention goes to the afternoon tea served in the lobby bar, which visitors say is a nice and welcome touch. During your stay, guests recommend making time for the tasty Cantonese dishes served in the Shanghai Terrace restaurant. However, for many travelers, it was The Peninsula Chicago's friendly service staff that convinced them to stay here again.
The recipient of numerous industry accolades, including Frommer's Exceptional and AAA Four Diamond awards, the No. 1 Best Hotel in New York City sits in the heart of lower Manhattan. Along with its desirable address, travelers also praise The Beekman's superb service, tasty cuisine and trendy vibe. Acclaimed American chefs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally have outposts here, and guest rooms and suites boast modern features like custom leather headboards, aged oak floors, curated artwork and bathrooms with Carrara marble accents. (Courtesy of The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel)
Experience the unique Hôtel de glace “Ice Hotel” just 10 minutes away from downtown. The ephemeral work of art is renewed winter after winter. You’ll be enchanted by the magic of its majestic snow-capped vaults, crystalline ice sculptures and thematic rooms and suites each one more original than the next. If you cannot spend the night over spend at least an unforgettable evening at the ice bar. Many couples are eager to celebrate their wedding in its fairytale chapel built for this purpose. The hotel takes care of your comfort with appropriate bedding; a fireplace or private spa in suites; and an outdoor area with sauna and spa to relax under the stars!
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
The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis offers a romantic experience in old Québec City. The ambiance is cozy and the décor honors the building’s history: this is a former pair of Victorian houses renovated into a small boutique hotel. As the building is historic, ask for a ground floor room if you have mobility issues; there is no elevator. The rooms all come with a tea service set and are also decorated in Victorian-inspired furniture. The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis also specializes in romantic packages for couples, ensuring a true taste of Québec City’s culture.
There are few cities in which space is at such a premium as Tokyo. Which is why, when Aman opened its first urban resort in the city’s Otemachi business district, it delivered this sensational architectural masterpiece by Kerry Hill with acres of room at its heart. From the moment you step out into the 33rd-floor reception, there’s an overwhelming sense of calmness and light. Above a cavernous atrium walled in white washi rice paper rises like a giant shoji lantern; in front of it is a soothing Zen rock garden; and beyond floor-to-ceiling glass walls are views over twinkling buildings, the treetops of the Imperial Palace garden and – a rarity in Tokyo – big stretches of sky. The 84 bedrooms, built using a soothing combination of pale camphor woods, dark stone and white washi paper, all deliver minimal fuss and maximum comfort. Hi-tech touches are discreetly hidden so Japanese details can take centre stage: a deep furo soaking tub; a solitary work of calligraphy; a table decorated with a traditional teapot and a home-made dessert adorned with an exquisite edible flower. Within the two-storey, stone-clad spa is a 100ft pool to do laps in while looking out over the skyline, yoga and Pilates rooms, and therapists delivering tailor-made spa journeys (a soothing remedy to jetlag). The food tastes like it’s been made with ingredients just delivered to the kitchen – whether that’s rustic spaghetti alla puttanesca at Arva Italian restaurant, delicate Japanese egg-rolls served in lacquered bento boxes or made-to-order sushi with a shot of fine sake at the long Hinoki bar. Private excursions – in a sparkling black Mercedes with a white-gloved chauffeur – couldn’t be more polished, perhaps to Mount Fuji or going for a lesson with a master calligrapher. The ultimate Japanese cocooning urban retreat for those who want space to soak it all in. By Lisa Grainger
Often referred to as the USA's best small hotel, this 20-suite Relais & Châteaux property - with cottages and outbuildings anchored by a 1795 New England farmhouse - sits in 300 acres of breathtaking wildflower meadows, pine forests, lakes and orchards. Its sophisticated style is the result of a long and fruitful relationship with the cream of NYC's interior-design world. In the 1990s, the original owner, Hawaiian newspaperman Thurston Twigg-Smith, commissioned designer and one-time Warhol apostle Jed Johnson to work his magic on the first 15 rooms. Cue chinoiserie toile pelmets, hand-carved ravens atop barley-twist bedposts and a trompe-l'oeil tented ceiling. Johnson's rooms are still marvellous, but when Twin Farms added another five bedrooms in 2005, plus spa treatment rooms, architect Peter Bohlin (known for his Apple stores) and interior designer Thad Hayes were called in. Their suites - such as The Aviary, with its Douglas-fir panelling, shag rug and buttoned-leather headboard, all in orange - are as luxurious as Johnson's, though less zesty. As delightful as the rooms are, the farm-raised, seasonal food (veal with butternut-squash purée in winter, grilled halibut and prawn gnocchi in summer) from chef Ted Ask and pastry honcho Christopher Wilson possibly tops it all. There's also access to deserted hiking trails, private ski slopes, fly-fishing, the Out of the Woods Spa and a 20,000-bottle wine cellar.
We’ve got a serious soft spot for any hotel that wears its eco-consciousness on its sleeve, and 1 Hotel South Beach does just that, from the organic bedding and reclaimed furniture to its sea-to-table Habitat restaurant. In addition to the five-star amenities and 600 feet of private beach, regular events—like sunset meditation and terrarium-building workshops—keep guests coming back.
Shimbashi is not nearly as popular as Shinjuku and Shibuya which is why you’ll find plenty of cheap hotels in Tokyo around this area. The b Tokyo Shimbashi opened in late 2017, so it’s relatively new. All rooms have a France bed mattress, private bathroom with free toiletries, free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, slippers, and a mini-fridge. The 24-hour front desk offers luggage storage service and there’s coin laundry available if needed. You could even argue that Shimbashi is the best place to stay in Tokyo since there aren’t as many crowds. The hotel is a 6-minute walk from JR Shimbashi Station while Uchisaiwaicho Subway Station is 4-minutes by foot.