Big Sur is all about big views, and the Post Ranch Inn has become synonymous with the wild, dramatic beauty that is the Pacific Coast along California's Highway 1. The region's natural charms are reflected in the names of its 39 rooms - including Cliff House, Pacific Suite, Ocean House, Tree House, Mountain House and the Butterfly Rooms - and the spectacularly constructed recycled-redwood lodgings are designed to inspire awe. The Cliff Houses have glass-walled bedrooms and decks suspended over a 1,200ft precipice, with private, stainless-steel outdoor hot tubs from which to absorb that vast oceanic expanse. Surrounded by regal redwoods and oaks, the triangular Tree Houses are raised on nine-foot stilts, with dreamy views through the foliage to the Santa Lucia Mountains. Activities for energetic types include everything from morning yoga, meditation and guided nature hikes to the use of two clifftop spa tubs, an infinity pool and a private telescope. For foodies, the inn's Sierra Mar restaurant serves gorgeous dishes bursting with seasonal flavours, such as freshly picked strawberries with wild-mint blossoms, goat's cheese and pistachio purée. But the essence of any stay here is just whiling away the hours with someone you really like, letting time unspool in truly spectacular surroundings.
The Hay-Adams is steeped in American history. Originally built in the 1920s, the property occupies an enviable location in the nation's capital. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. puts guests just a short walk from the White House, the Washington Monument and the museums and sites along the National Mall. The property's rooms and suites are classic and elegant, with beds dressed in Italian linens, down pillows and duvets. Accommodations are also equipped with Bose music systems and iPads. (Courtesy of The Hay-Adams)
The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician – the No. 1 Best Hotel in Phoenix – occupies a prime piece of real estate at the base of Scottsdale's Camelback Mountain, meaning guests are never too far from the region's scenic hiking trails. But visitors don't have to stray off the property grounds to take in picturesque desert vistas. At the on-site infinity pool, travelers can enjoy their surroundings as they swim or sip a cocktail. Or, retreat to one of 60 contemporary rooms. Many of the resort's accommodations offer desert views from private terraces. (Courtesy of The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician)
You’ll notice that this list has a lot of hotels in Shinjuku because it’s honestly the best place to stay in Tokyo. The IBIS Tokyo Shinjuku is located steps from JR Shinjuku and offers rooms with free WiFi, an LCD Screen TV, and a private bathroom. Furnishings are simple, but you’ll still get a desk, mini-fridge, kettle, toiletries, and slippers. All front desk staff is fluent in English and will be able to assist you with your needs. There’s a checked luggage service as well as coin laundry. There’s a breakfast buffet available for an additional charge that serves western and Japanese items. The IBIS Tokyo Shinjuku is one of the cheapest hotels in Tokyo.
The Taj Mahal Palace is a 1903, grey-and-white stone, red-domed wedding cake of a building that stands sentry over Mumbai’s harbor. When your taxi pulls up through the throngs of families and tourists who choke the roads near the Gateway to India arch and you’re ceremoniously welcomed by doormen in traditional silk kurtas, you have that pinch-me feeling of Wow, I’m really staying here? You’re in good company, as everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Barack Obama has spent the night here too. Because the Taj is such a landmark, there are tourists and locals who come and go from the hotel’s restaurants, shops, and bars, as well as the daily Heritage Walks around the property. But some parts of the hotel are off-limits to non-guests, so you quickly leave the bustle of the lobby behind. The Taj has the best pool in Mumbai, and a dozen restaurants, bars, and cafés, including Wasabi by Morimoto, Souk for Tagines, and Kraft Masala for Indian.
That’s why Sharon Cantor loves The Chanler, a sprawling, former summer home in Newport, R.I. “It’s a journey back to the Golden Age of mansions—architectural beauty, timeless elegance, and impeccable service,” says the Miami resident. During one recent stay, Cantor and her husband Steve were invited to a 1930s-themed gala, and Chanler staffers helped them hunt down last-minute costumes. “We have stayed at many five-star hotels,” says the Cantor, “but none of them compares to the personal attention and genuine warmth shown to us by the staff of the Chanler.”
While the Fairmont Pacific Rim features a long list of luxurious amenities, its downtown Vancouver location is what helps it stand apart from competitors. Set on the Coal Harbour waterfront, the hotel sits across the street from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal. Thanks to the hotel's location, recent guests say the views from the rooms and rooftop are spectacular. When you're not gazing out across the harbor, relax poolside in one of the private cabanas or by one of the cozy outdoor fire pits. For even more serenity, visitors recommend booking a treatment at the Willow Stream Spa. Continue the pampering at Botanist, which serves regionally sourced dishes. Craving a pick-me-up? Venture to giovane cafe + wine bar, which offers house-made pastries for breakfast and Italian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once you've refueled, retreat to your digs where you'll find a Stearns & Foster bed, an iPod docking station and an iPad2, which you can use to order room service and operate various controls in the guest room. Although this Fairmont's high-tech amenities are an added perk, according to recent visitors, it's the hotel's exceptional service that makes a stay here memorable.
Owned by actor Robert De Niro, Tribeca's Greenwich Hotel is best known for offering trendy digs with an international flair. All of the hotel's 88 rooms and suites feature Tibetan silk rugs, English leather settees and Moroccan-tiled or Italian Carrara marble bathrooms – details that impressed previous guests. Facilities found on-site include a spa, an indoor pool and a fitness center. Plus, visitors can savor Italian classics in Locanda Verde's dining room or the Drawing Room's courtyard. The property is the No. 5 Best Hotel in New York City for 2018. (Courtesy of The Greenwich Hotel)
The Inn & Club at Harbour Town, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Hilton Head, sits on 5,000 oceanfront acres within The Sea Pines Resort. Guests heap praise on this elegant property, especially its welcoming staff and well-appointed rooms. All 60 accommodations offer 480 square feet of space, Nespresso coffee makers, walk-in rain showers and blackout curtains. Plus, all room rates cover two hours of daily court time at the on-site tennis club, reduced green fees at the property's three golf courses and preferred reservations at the on-site restaurants, among other perks. (Courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort and Rob Tipton)
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This is a hotel you might've dreamt of when you were little—though we doubt you were this imaginative. The place truly is a palace, though from the front, it's tough to discern its size: You pull into a private, paved drive, with a fairly modest entrance, and a beautiful, if somewhat smallish lobby, and it's not until you make it out to the back of the hotel that you realize its scale. Set on a hill overlooking the aquamarine (yes, actually aquamarine) waters of Lake Geneva, you'll first notice the immaculately manicured gardens, the thin strips of outdoor pools, and the piqued tent tops under which people are taking their lunch al fresco. Hard to believe, but it only gets better from there.
Though Napa Valley is filled with high-end properties, one of its most well-regarded resorts is Calistoga Ranch. This Auberge-affiliated resort – the No. 2 Best Hotel in Napa Valley – is home to all sorts of luxurious features, including a wine cave, a mineral pool and a fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that guests can borrow for free. The property also offers a variety of specialized experiences (for a fee), from beekeeping courses to wine blending experiences. Meanwhile, accommodations boast indoor-outdoor living areas with fireplaces, as well as outdoor rain showers, separate soaking tubs and wet bars with gourmet snacks. (Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort)
Situated on the Walt Disney World Resort grounds, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Orlando-Walt Disney World features classic Four Seasons facilities, including a spa and gourmet restaurants, as well as over-the-top amenities like a lazy river and a championship golf course. Inside every room and suite, travelers will find modern furnishings, a minifridge and an LED television. Plus, all guests have access to the on-site Disney Planning Center, which can assist with theme park restaurant reservations, ticket purchases and more. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort and Don Riddle)
Guests may be surprised to hear that this exquisitely restored 1835 palace, with all its courtyards and pageantry, wasn’t built for a queen—but rather, for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. Later on, it was used as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, though it’s since comfortably taken its place as one of Rajasthan’s most luxurious hotels. Enjoy an evening of Champagne, moonlight, and candles in a private dining tent illuminated by flaming torches and pitched on the palace greens, and make sure you get to the Steam bar, which occupies a restored train.
Located in Quebec City, 200 yards from Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Hotel Manoir Morgan has a terrace and rooms with free WiFi access. We were delighted with Manoir Morgan. It was a quiet oasis right in the heart of the busy historic area. The staff were all helpful and friendly and the rooms were very comfortable - huge beds! Windows opened when required and there was a Nespresso machine in the rooms. Breakfast next door was also excellent.
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
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.
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.
Strolling into this hotel is a rich sensory experience unlike any other in town. The atrium is filled with a dozen ficus trees wrapped in delicate white lights and dotted with lavish ‘Are they real?’ floral arrangements. The answer is, of course. Since opening in 2005, Wynn has remained the high-rolling kingpin of Sin City names, partly because of its money-no-problem approach to design and services, but also because it likes to poach big spenders – as well as newly minted winners on the casino floor. There are nearly 40 designer shops (including two Chanel stores) spread throughout three shopping hubs, the newest of which, Wynn Plaza, just opened this autumn with a Cipriani restaurant and a SoulCycle outpost. Elsewhere, there’s a multiplicity of restaurants, nightclubs, a beach club, pools, spas and bars (our personal tip is the pretty Parasol Down for its fanciful cocktails and waterfall views). Rumour has it the cost to maintain the floral displays at Wynn and its sister tower, Encore, is in the millions. But not everything is gilded fantasy here. Wynn recently opened its own solar field, which offsets up to three-quarters of its energy usage, and every restaurant has a vegan or vegetarian menu. A golf course designed by Tom Fazio will open at the end of the year. The Strip has no shortage of hotels, but despite its size, the Wynn manages to feel intimate and draws a clued-up international crowd who appreciate a player with style. By Juliana Shallcross
The main draw of Las Vegas is its world-renowned Strip, so it's hardly surprising that the No. 1 Best Hotel in Las Vegas is perfectly positioned along this iconic thoroughfare. Featuring brand signatures like impeccable customer service and a Forbes Five Star-awarded spa and restaurant, this Mandarin Oriental outpost lures luxury-seeking travelers. Guest rooms and suites start at 505 square feet and come equipped with dark wood or mother-of-pearl headboards, walk-in closets and large windows that overlook the city. (Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas)
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Spending the night at this place feels a bit like finding yourself in an Agatha Christie novel. Here you are, one of a group of strangers staying in an elegant mansion that’s laced with a sense of history and intrigue. Except there’s no mystery about why it’s so appealing. Every aspect has been meticulously thought through: the courtyard, the orangery, the library stacked with fantastic books and the living room in which to read them. There’s even a hammam in the basement. The name translates as ‘a home’, which is exactly what the 12-bedroom townhouse hotel feels like, though one, admittedly, conceived by one of the world’s great interior designers. Ilse Crawford has created the most exclusive place to hole up in the Swedish capital, precisely by not making it feel too exclusive. Yes, you have to buzz to get into the private garden to enter the hotel, but once inside there’s a wonderful mix of classic Scandi design and modern pieces, including a handsome brass bar cabinet by London craftsman Jack Trench. The atmosphere is relaxed and unfussy; guests are free to wander into the kitchen and chat to the chef. The location is great, in the heart of Ostermalm, the smartest neighbourhood in the city, but set away from the main roads. With incredible taste, warmth and no snootiness whatsoever, this hotel is a fusion of all that’s best about Scandinavia. By Stephen Whitlock
Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.