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
This was always destined to be the Ferrari of farm holidays, coming as it does from Soho House, which specialises in hotels top-loaded with glamorous naughtiness. Even so founder Nick Jones must be surprised at how enthusiastically his tribe has taken to tractor life. In December 2018, it adds 40 Piglets, dinky billets shaped like pig arcs, and 10 proper rooms built into the walled kitchen garden, to the original 40 clapperboard cabins, set along a river engineered to sashay through the place like a supermodel. The Waltons meets Will.i.am moodboard certainly inspires guests to feel as carefree as Huckleberry Finn: rough-wood finishes, homespun fabrics, woodburners and (this is Soho House after all) bath tubs on the balcony, with modesty curtains. This farmyard has fire pits and fancy sofas, the Main Barn is cavernous, with vast steel-framed windows, a statement bar, low-slung Chesterfields and an atmosphere other hoteliers wish they could bottle. There’s a 25-metre beauty of an infinity pool cantilevered over a lake, fabulous Japanese cooking at Pen Yen as well as Soho House’s winning comfort food, and the chance to witness grown-ups giggling like kids as they wobble about on Foffa bikes, the preferred mode of transport. Of course, it’s all about the little touches: the barman in the roaming milk float who fixes doorstep G&Ts; the vase of wildflowers from the room carefully stowed in the boot of your car with your cases as a goodbye keepsake. A game-changing, ground-shaking hotel that’s now become rooted in the British countryside. By Susan d'Arcy
According to recent guests, the best part about staying in the downtown Wedgewood Hotel & Spa –which is just steps away from Robson Street's high-end shops – is the impeccable service. Travelers describe the staff at this Relais & Châteaux property as especially attentive, gracious and personable. Visitors also gush over the well-appointed rooms, which are outfitted with complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee machines and more. The spacious bathrooms, which boast Frette towels, marble accents deep-soaking tubs and L'Occitane toiletries, also receive a nod of approval from guests. For a little extra pampering, head to the on-site spa or the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge. Guests describe the restaurant's ambiance as elegant and serene, and the seafood as delicious.
This 13-acre property, enviably sited in the centro, is without peer in a town that has its share of swank hotels. Portals and stone paths lead to tiered swimming pools, two-person cabanas, covered patios, and a tequila bar, and the 67 rooms are grand and outfitted with regionally sourced hardwood floors and Spanish colonial furnishings. Even a standard king, at an already-generous 535 square feet, comes with special treatment: A bubble bath lit by candles is drawn at turndown upon request.
Year to year, we see our readers’ travel habits shift, as some destinations suddenly explode in popularity (hello, Portugal and Iceland) and others experience a cooling, perhaps due to geopolitical events or an unfavorable exchange rate. And this, of course, trickles down into our World’s Best results, particularly when it comes to ranking the top 100 hotels on the planet. But one thing remains a constant: the properties that make this selective list are all incredible ambassadors for their home countries, delivering intuitive service and luxury experiences that can truly make a vacation.
This sprawling cream-colored villa is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and the stunning vantage point is one of the hotel's finest features: Hermanus is known for its rugged natural beauty, and Birkenhead House maximizes that in all directions. Hermanus is a lovely add-on to any South Africa trip, and this is the best hotel in the area by far. If you're a serious whale watcher, it's a no brainer: You can't beat these views.
The 39-room Post Ranch Inn is one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States -- if not the entire world -- and offers a romantic, intimate stay amid gorgeous natural surroundings. The hotel is built into the cliffs of Big Sur, and the organicarchitecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow out of the ground beside the hotel's surrounding redwoods. The spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views (that are sometimes obstructed by the pervasive fog that the area is known for) and many feature floor-to-ceiling windows to better show them off. Rooms also have wood-burning fireplaces, radiant floor heating, outdoor showers or hot tubs, private decks, and organic bath products and linens -- but no televisions or alarm clocks as the hotel strives for a peaceful environment. The award-winning spa focuses on rejuvenating services and even has a shaman on-site; the restaurant, Sierra Mar, is one of the best in Big Sur; the hotel's cliff-top pools are stunning; and free amenities (such as yoga and stargazing) are abundant.
It could be argued that the most significant thing about this hotel is its quite brilliant location, dominating the eastern border of Marion Square, just north of Calhoun and the line dividing old Charleston from new. But that would be missing the point. John Dewberry’s eight-year quest to turn a drab Sixties-era federal building into a modernist work of art – in a city that trades on Southern colonial quaintness – was nothing short of a smashing success. The Dewberry embraces its mid-century roots with class and charm, drawing on elegant geometries – clean, cool lines broken by intervals of density that allude to deep character without getting fussy – and a muted palette of dark woods, hammered copper, Mediterranean greens and blues. Rooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings and wide-frame views of the skyline (catch them too from the deep cast-iron soaking tub in the bathroom). The common spaces shine, with dark panelled wood and low leather seating and made for Daiquiri sipping. This is a hotel for grown-ups – but, being Southern, one that likes to have fun. The proof is in the Living Room bar, where the mixing is done in white jackets and the decor in dry wit. Anywhere else, The Dewberry might border on stuffy, but here, drowned in light from floor-to-ceiling windows that give through gossamer curtains onto Marion Square, it’s just right. By Brad Rickman
This will stop even island regulars in their tracks: on the way to breakfast when they see baby sharks swimming right there in the shallows; passing the giant, gnarling, Tomb Raider-esque banyan tree near the tucked-away spa; at sunset when the pool becomes a mirror for the sky and the only colours that exist in the world are orange and blue. Amilla is a minimalist and clean-lined version of the Maldives, with low-rise buildings in a white wood the same shade as the flour-fine sand. Nothing pokes above the palm trees, even the treehouses high up in the canopy (for those who prefer to fall asleep to the sound of birdcall rather than waves) cleverly blend into their surroundings. Being in or near the water is what it’s all about: the snorkelling is sensational and the house reef is home to a coral-lined underwater chimney where hawksbill turtles, triggerfish and guitar sharks schmooze. But there’s also a knockout spa where trainers from hit London outfit Bodyism lead guests through a gym session to get hearts racing and then brilliant therapists from Bhutan calm them back down again. All is mellow and fairy-lit when it gets dark and everyone seems to be wearing something floaty. Among the half dozen restaurants, Japanese Feeling Koi, set right out over the ocean, is a highlight: reef-fish ceviche with pomegranate; crispy crab roll with green-tea powder. Amilla has some of the most knockout villas in the archipelago. Any which way, it’s a very fun, very glamorous place to stay. By Grainne McBride
The Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago overlooks the river and provides sweeping views of the city and Lake Michigan. The property, the No. 5 Best Hotel in Chicago, puts travelers close to many of the Windy City's most popular sights, including the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier and Millennium Park. Guests praise the hotel's sleek and well-appointed accommodations, its outstanding employees and the Terrace at Trump's cocktails and panoramic vistas. (Courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago)
It’s not a Rorschach test. Don’t dwell too long on Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake’s uncommon structure sitting on a grassy patch in São Paulo’s refined Jardim Paulista neighbourhood. Is it a watermelon slice? An ocean liner? Step inside the gargantuan belly of a sunlit lobby, then spread out on one of the International Klein blue cushion couches to imbibe a glass of Champagne. More liquid satisfaction is found along The Wall, the lobby bar with its 60ft high stash of spirits (for bibliophiles, 300-plus titles hide alongside). Guests are sent on a sensory adventure, from the unlit lift and barely illuminated corridor to 95 white-on-white cabin-like guestrooms, where an oversized porthole window continues to play with a sense of scale even as an abundance of natural light flows through (highly effective blackout panels close it at the touch of a button). Most fun are those rooms running along the building’s elongated curve, featuring floors that could almost double as a skateboard park. Surround-sound speakers are hidden in headboards, and in the see-through bathroom is a tub with whirlpool jets; less hi-tech but highly coveted are the complimentary Havaiana flip-flops in the closet. Save your appetite for the plump pink salmon sashimi, spicy Amazonian cassoulet and Portuguese arroz de pato (duck rice) at Dijon-born chef Emmanuel Bassoleil’s rooftop Skye restaurant with its 360-degree metropolitan panorama and ruby-red lacquered swimming pool. Commandeer one of the white double daybeds and order Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, colour-coordinated with the pool with fresh strawberries and raspberries. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
The chic accommodations at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto reflect the charm of its Yorkville backdrop. The property's rooms and suites – designed with elegant decor and modern amenities like an in-room iPad to access Four Seasons services and bathrooms equipped with deep soaking tubs and TVs – hold views of the downtown neighborhood's surrounding shops and cafes. Despite the abundance of nearby restaurants, guests suggest enjoying a meal on premises; both Café Boulud and d|bar lounge offer French-inspired menus from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. Serenity-seekers rave about the spacious, sleek setting in the spa, which comes outfitted with an indoor pool, a steam room, a salon and a long list of treatment options.
The spotless stuccoed Victorian façade; the fretwork shutters and balusters in Cambridge blue; the acres of white marble and wicker within; the emerald lawn with its picturesque little gazebo without... The original part of the Mandarin Oriental looks even more exotic today than it must have done when it first appeared on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River in 1876. Surrounded by the general mayhem of 21st-century Bangkok, the Authors’ Wing, as it is now known, epitomises a certain atmosphere of resolute calm and order. It strikes a particular note – bright and distinct – with which the other elements of the place are beautifully in step. This is all the more remarkable since it is such a big hotel: 400-odd rooms and suites, nine restaurants and bars, spread over several buildings on both sides of the river. It is also stylistically diverse, blending high Victoriana with traditional Thai elements and more hard-edged contemporary accents, particularly in the main modern tower. But its defining spaces pick up and enrich that original sweet note: the shamelessly opulent Michelin-starred restaurant Le Normandie, the much-loved and often-moved Bamboo Bar, the exceptional spa. This is a classic that still rings out loud and clear after all these years. By Steve King
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Los Angeles for 2017, The Peninsula Beverly Hills has a reputation for providing first-rate service and stellar amenities to guests. Accommodations are decorated with custom furnishings and marble bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and showers. The Belvedere is a AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant, and afternoon tea is available in the Living Room Lounge. In addition to the delectable on-site cuisine, visitors love the rooftop pool, Jacuzzi and deck thanks to its views of the LA skyline. (Courtesy of The Peninsula Beverly Hills)
Three championship golf courses, a spa, a tennis club and three pools (including a zero-entry pool with waterslides) are just a few ways guests can entertain themselves while staying at the No. 1 Best Hotel in Colorado Springs. Perched next to Cheyenne Lake, this Preferred Hotels & Resorts outpost serves as a great jumping-off point for adventurous travelers eager to hike, fly-fish and more in the surrounding area. Along with its enviable location, visitors are also impressed with The Broadmoor's restaurant, La Taverne, and its large accommodations. All rooms and suites offer dark wood furnishings, floral-designed fabrics and patterned carpets, as well as flat-panel TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. (Courtesy of The Broadmoor)
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Montage Laguna Beach occupies a prime swath of real estate along the Southern California coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In addition to enjoying the large beach area, guests can lounge poolside, shop at the in-house boutiques, enjoy spa treatments and eat gourmet meals at one of three on-site restaurants. And with excellent service and rooms with superb views, it's easy to see why the property claims the No. 6 Best Hotel in California honor for 2017. (Courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach)
Situated on the banks of the Chicago River and less than a mile from the shopping on The Magnificent Mile, The Langham, Chicago is a hit with recent travelers. Opened in 2013, the hotel impresses guests with its attentive service, quiet location and riverfront views. Occupying the first 13 floors of a 52-story landmark skyscraper, The Langham, Chicago boasts 316 guest rooms and suites. Accommodations are outfitted with soaking tubs and rain showers, 55-inch LCD TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. Past lodgers compliment the comfy beds and relaxing bathrooms and recommend booking a room with a river view to make the most of the hotel's location. When you're not relaxing in your room, you'll find plenty of other amenities at your fingertips. In addition to the Chuan Spa, the hotel also touts a health club and 67-foot-long indoor pool. Though many of downtown Chicago's top restaurants are within reach, previous visitors suggest giving the on-site restaurant, Travelle Kitchen + Bar, a try. As is the case throughout the property, guests say the service staff members at the restaurant are both attentive and friendly.
Flanking the northern base of Blackcomb Mountain, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler prides itself on its picturesque surroundings, upscale lodging and first-rate service. Previous visitors recommend booking a mountain-facing room. Although they're pricier than other accommodations, these rooms come with cozy comforts such as designer bath products, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. You'll also find an abundance of activities to choose from: Wintertime yields skiing and sleigh rides, while summer offers opportunities to hike and whitewater raft. And at any time of year, you can lounge along the heated outdoor pool, rejuvenate with a Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar scrub or enjoy wine tastings. In the evening, sip a cocktail at the on-site bar or sample prime slices of tenderloin at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar (recent visitors mention that meals here are pricey, but worth every penny). Recent guests were thrilled with the exceptional service at this Four Seasons property, but thought the parking fees were a tad high.
According to recent visitors, the best thing about the Trump International Hotel & Tower New York is the service, from its white-gloved bellhops to its personal 24-hour Trump Attaché service. Along with the attentive hotel staff, the spacious accommodations, the 6,000-square-foot spa and the world-class cuisine served at the on-site restaurants also earn praise from guests. This Trump property earns the No. 6 Best Hotel in New York City title for 2017. (Courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower New York)
On paper it shouldn’t work. An entire Puglian village, built from scratch. A reimagining of townhouses and a square, a colonnade of shops, villas dotted around the grounds, a little farm area with horses and chickens and rabbits. How could it possibly be anything other than pastiche? And yet… at the grand old age of 10, Borgo Egnazia has carved a name for itself as one of the loveliest places to stay in all of Italy. It is dreamily beautiful, the way the harsh Mediterranean sun hits the mellow tufu limestone from which the buildings have been honed, the shock of bougainvillea that has crept up every wall, the softness, the shadows, the dusky lanes between the hotel rooms. It is of course a hotel, but feels far from formulaic. Rooms are soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions and sun-trap terraces. They are retreats in themselves, some with their own little kitchens, others with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops. The restaurants are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls, and food made straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, aubergines, pasta made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. There is the sweetest children’s club you’ll ever stumble across, and a supremely cool beach hangout, and a spa that is mesmerising and magical. At night the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air. Sometimes a bonfire crackles in the central square. A deeply special place. By Issy von Simson