This 32-room hotel may appear traditional thanks to its colonial facade, but guests know that the sleek Hotel Matilda is anything but: there’s a crazy video installation installed behind the front desk, and the hallways are lined with contemporary artwork. Once you get to your room, you’ll discover crisp white beds dressed with Egyptian cotton linens and adorned slate gray accents, and marble-clad bathrooms hstocked with Malin + Goetz products. The infinity pool and the rooftop bar, though, are the true standouts.
For an upscale twist on the classic ranch experience, consider bedding down at the No. 1 Best Hotel in Montana: The Ranch at Rock Creek. This Forbes Five Star-awarded property in Philipsburg, Montana, offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including horseback riding, naturalist classes, ice fishing and archery. All of these experiences are free for guests to partake in, plus room rates also cover nightly entertainment (like bowling and s'more-making) and meals and drinks at two on-site restaurants. Meanwhile, the ranch's rustic accommodations boast stocked minifridges or minibars and Frette linens and custom duvets. (Courtesy of The Ranch at Rock Creek)
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
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This destination retreat is stylish and savvy—and in the mountainous Paro Valley of Bhutan. Intimate, with 29 guest rooms, the design melds Bhutanese craftsmanship with signature COMO amenities—especially centered around wellness. You're in a prime location for hiking and exploring the natural wonders around you, not to mention trekking to visit nearby Buddhist temples. You can arrange a half-day hike to the Instagram famous Tigers Nest monastery, then come back to the spa's bathhouse, where you have the pick of two Bhutanese hot stone bathhouses, steam rooms, a pool, gym and yoga studio, and treatment rooms for a range of spa services.
With a flotilla of boldfaced big-hitters hugging its sunny shores, Dubai isn’t exactly short of luxury digs. But what makes the newly opened Bulgari stand out is its location on its own seahorse-shaped manmade island, and its low-slung layout, a pleasing retort to the city’s ubiquitous canyons of skyscrapers. This is down to the group’s Milan-based architects, who anchored the hotel so it separates two bays: one an oh-so-quiet stretch of beach lined with villas; the other a super-smart marina with a sweep of restaurants and the Bulgari Yacht Club – a first for the brand. Structures are topped with layers of coral-like latticework; other marvellous textures that draw the eye include backlit green onyx, black granite and woollen Beni Ourain rugs from Morocco, picked out with covetable objects from B&B Italia and Flos. The city centre thrums on the other side of a 300-metre bridge, but with six bars and restaurants at the hotel, there really is no reason to cross it. La Spiaggia is a poolside crowd-pleaser that flips out wagyu beef burgers during the day, while in the evening, a Negroni from the oval Bulgari bar is a punchy aperitif for oysters and bottarga risotto at the neighbouring Niko Romito restaurant. The wow factor, though, is provided by the immense spa, with its ice fountains, hammam and an indoor pool – lined with a mosaic of real gold tiles, naturally – that has far-reaching views of the sea and the Dubai cityscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. The sense of contented wellbeing isn’t limited to the spa. In a land of hyperbole, this is understated perfection that thinks big. By Lauren Ho
A short, cobblestoned walk up from Cusco’s central plaza sits an elegant hotel with ancient roots. The story of this Belmond all-suite property—which opened in 2012—is reflected in its décor: Original Inca stone walls from the building’s footprint give way to the colonial-era frescoes and gilded 17th-century décor of its private mansion days, while a small restored chapel and serene arcades reveals its time as a convent. Now, tucked-away terraces and gardens, bubbling fountains, and Cusco’s first heated pool encourage contemplation of another kind to guests of the 55 accommodations. With butler service included for all rooms, checking in and getting acquainted with your suite is a breeze. Despite the historic air, all the technology is up-to-date, so enjoy the in-room iPads, espresso/tea machines, heated bathroom floors, and pumped-in oxygen to help ease any altitude issues.
Fogo Island Inn isn't your average hotel. The inn, which is held up by stilts so as not to damage the rocky topography it sits on, features a contemporary, almost futuristic architectural design that seems at odds with the centuries-old fishing village it occupies. Because of the inn's remote location on Fogo Island (situated off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada), the property cultivates a familial, intimate atmosphere that recent guests loved. You won't find much in the surrounding area, but the inn provides all the unique amenities you could need for a relaxing, secluded getaway. In addition to a fitness center, the Fogo Island Inn offers a rooftop deck with wood-fired saunas and two outdoor hot tubs, a 37-seat theater, a small art gallery, a library, a lounge and bar and a restaurant with vaulted ceilings and dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows. Aside from the amenities, it was the inn's 29 suites that really impressed visitors, who called a stay at the property a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience. Rooms are outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows (perfect for admiring the ocean views), natural wood floors with in-floor heating, heated towel racks and heated toilet seats with a built-in bidet, among other amenities. The only gripe among lodgers? A stay here does not come cheap.
The Langham, Chicago captures the honor of the No. 1 Best Hotel in the United States and the No. 1 Best Hotel in Chicago for 2017. Still a relatively new property to the Windy City's hospitality scene (the hotel opened in 2013), The Langham provides the epitome of a luxury stay, according to recent guests. The hotel overlooks the Chicago River, and its accommodations afford stellar city and water views. The property also houses a spa, a fitness center and an indoor pool. What's more, travelers praise The Langham's exceptional staff members, noting that they helped make their stays special by calling guests by name and offering helpful city tips. (Courtesy of The Langham, Chicago)
Hidden among fisherman’s casas painted cobalt-blue, pink and pistachio bordering Trancoso’s sleepy village square, where the town’s elders gather to shoot the breeze, Uxua is almost imperceptible to the passer-by. The only giveaway is the tables of smart Cariocas and international hipsters sipping passionfruit Caipirinhas while watching the early evening scene unfold on the Quadrado. Golden light catches the locals playing football around the whitewashed 16th-century church. This is just how expansive Dutch owner Wilbert Das (Diesel’s former creative director) likes it. Surrounded by dense rainforest and teetering high on a ridge overlooking the powder-sand fringed Atlantic, Uxua fits right into the post-hippie utopia of Trancoso. Working with local artisans, Das has turned the hotel into a collection of rustic renovated casas, cottages, an intimate treehouse and a tribal-inspired spa. All are cloaked by hummingbird-flecked tropical gardens and centred around a pool lined with green aventurine quartz, which, for those not up on their healing crystals, is said to be very therapeutic. Interiors are haute-boho: roomy indoor-outdoor sitting rooms and airy living spaces with dazzling-white walls and muslin-canopied beds, accented with lots of reclaimed wood, antiques and vintage finds including brightly painted Virgin Mary statuettes. A decked path runs through mangrove forests to the beach, where there are enormous day beds for post-breakfast snoozing and a beach bar fashioned from an old fishing boat – just stay horizontal and another Caipirinha will soon find its way to you. This is the South American coastal retreat that’s on everyone’s radar. By Chris Caldicott
Music producer Chris Blackwell, who introduced the world to Bob Marley back in 1973, also founded this oceanfront island hideaway a few years later, based around the clifftop villa where Ian Fleming wrote all his Bond novels. In the decades since its reach has grown and grown. There’s no sign at the entrance, which is part of the low-key charm. It’s easy to see why many music and film stars make their way here: this is a sweet spot with a very independent flavour, a world away from the oversized all-inclusives, and more honed than Blackwell’s companion hotel, Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains. Couples tend to hole up in the wooden beach huts; families and friends take over the massive villas; industry bigwigs feel right at home in Fleming’s former house, which has three bedrooms and a personable, clued-in staff. There are a few nods to 007 – black-and-white photos of Bond in reception plus novels and films on loan – but GoldenEye is mainly about Jamaica, a sensibility found in the blazingly coloured fabrics, breezy breakfasts on the verandah with cups of Blue Mountain coffee, and heaps of tropical fruit. The sheltered bay for morning swims is just a few paces away across immaculate sands. It says everything that Blackwell still lives here (guests have been known to unwittingly roll up to his villa and ask for a drink, which is always obligingly provided). And why would he leave? He gets to enjoy a highly original hangout that is entirely of his making. This is that rare beast: a hotel that balances heritage and hip and gets away with it. By Nigel Tisdall
You may not need a passport to visit these hotels, but they'll still take you worlds away. From a polished, new harborside hangout in Baltimore to not one, but two fantastical Miami oases, not to mention a seriously musically inclined—and seriously well-located—boutique spot in Austin, they're all on this list. And they all got rave reviews from you for being entirely transporting These getaways—voted the 10 best hotels in the U.S. in the 2018 Readers' Choice Awards survey, all have something to brag about. Read on to see what made the list—and where it ranked on it. (Click to view as a list.)
Beach destinations appear throughout the list, of course — from warm-weather getaways like the Setai, a palatial resort with three pools on Miami Beach, to the Stephanie Inn, a 41-room boutique property on Oregon’s rocky Pacific coast. But mountain resorts also proved to be popular with our readers. Properties like the Swag, in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina; the Little Nell, in the Colorado Rockies, praised as “charming and restful” by one respondent; and Primland, a “hidden gem” in Virginia’s Blue Ridge range, show that travelers value being able to get away from it all by getting above it all. “No words can express the beauty of this hotel and area,” one reader said. “It is a slice of heaven, whether you stay in one of the tree houses or the main lodge,” said another.
Set in the Arashiyama district on the western side of Kyoto (an area frequented by Japanese nobles of years gone by), Suiran sits seamlessly on the jade waters of the Katsura river. The original buildings, which now house the restaurants and lobby, are constructed around beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, and sunlight-dappled pebble-stone pathways lead the way to the more modern low-rise buildings that house the rooms. Yukata-clad staff welcome you warmly with a hot towel and tea whilst discretely whisking your luggage off to your room, leaving you to enjoy the serene surroundings, bathed in light and soothed by the sounds of flowing water. Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose.