At first sight, Tetiaroa looks like a trick of the light, almost an aberration: it has a sci-fi glow. A pale blue of such luminosity, the remote, entirely private French Polynesian atoll’s water can be seen from outer space – astronauts orbiting the earth have enquired what it was. You leave from Tahiti (30 miles away, but it might be 3,000) and descend in a private six-seater directly into the Technicolor incandescence: a four-and-a-half-mile lagoon surrounded by a subterranean wall of living coral reef and circled by 12 cute green islands. Just one is used for the hotel’s 35 villas, the others solely occupied by frigate birds and ancient pandanus trees and honey bees. Tahitian royalty once lived here through the summers, prettifying their daughters for marriage, feeding them giant sea snails and sweet potato. All the islands are hemmed by white sand and shallow water rippling with baby fish. In deeper water are coral cathedrals for giant clams with mouths full of an algae in a trippy neon. The one-, two- and three-bedroom villas are decidedly more lustrous than the usual desert-island design in glass and ironwood, slate and silk. Each is set super-secretively in its own grounds, with a stretch of lonely white sand backed by dense trees. Your lazy eyes catch the occasional bright jags of oleander, jasmine, hibiscus and golden trumpet. Some guests stay put; some congregate at Bob’s Bar by the lodge’s restaurants (there are three, including a tiny new Japanese) and talk about the actor Marlon Brando, who bought Tetiaroa in 1967, having sailed past whilst scouting for locations for Mutiny on the Bounty (he even helped to develop the innovative 100 per cent renewable-energy seawater air-conditioning system here). A species of tilapia in the natural pond near the spa likes to gobble mosquito larvae: you won’t be bitten here. Best are the late afternoons, with the lulling sound of the Pacific crashing against the distant reef, waiting for the dusk, when the sky turns through the softest pastels into a stupefying heliconia red. By Antonia Quirke
People talk about old classics, but this one has roots dating back to the 11th century. Shipwrecked en route to Constantinople, a wealthy Italian family built the foundations of the Caruso on a limestone bluff above Ravello, a symbol of their power and good fortune to have escaped unharmed. And here, their high eyrie remained, withstanding the wars of the Middle Ages, neglected, repaired, neglected again, until 1893 when Pantaleone Caruso stepped in and turned it into a hotel. Belmond (then Orient-Express hotels) took over in 2000 and began a serious restoration: art historians were shipped in to unearth the building’s arcadian frescos, archaeologists arrived to uncover the original medieval foundations. Today, Old Masters hang in the marble corridors and the 50 bedrooms have been brought up-to-date, but not charm-crushingly modernised. They retain their original vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces and terracotta tiles, and have bathrooms stashed with bottles of Penhaligon’s. It has just opened Villa Margherita too, a two-bedroom retreat deep in the heady gardens. Guests feast on lunches of lobster, langoustine and truffles, or head down to the water to explore the craggy coastline on the hotel’s pretty wooden boat. It’s a place synonymous with seclusion, with its lemon-scented air and hanging gardens spilling down onto the Tyrrhenian Sea, stony nooks and quiet spots to sit and take in the dizzying views. And romance: it is said to be where Jackie Kennedy and Gianni Agnelli began their affair, where Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo and Virginia Woolf came to hide out. A truly brightening, timeless place. By Martha Ward
Built on the bones of an old temple (hence the name), this 142-room hotel is a haven for the hip and slightly edgy, and reflective of wider development in the Chengdu area. Designed by U.K. architecture firm Make, the hotel comprises two L-shaped halves separated by a verdant courtyard evoking Sichuan’s rice terraces. Rooms are minimalist and incorporate local materials (timber, bamboo, step stones) and architectural elements—ask if you can get one facing the courtyard. And while the hotel offers French bistro-style plates at its Temple Café and regionally inspired Italian fare at Tivano, head for the wood-lined Mi Xun Teahouse, whose design is inspired by Chinese medicine. With its vegan/vegetarian menu, it’s the hottest seat in the house—if you can get one.
Guest feedback was taken very seriously when andBeyond rebuilt its flagship camp in early 2018, in the same plum position in the Kichwa Tembo concession (more than 800 private hectares), bordering the Mara Triangle’s National Reserve. Which is likely why the duo who designed the original 20 years ago, Debra Fox and Chris Browne, didn’t make any unnecessary changes in the redo. Nothing was changed for the sake of change: vintage silver, crystal decanters, leather armchairs and extravagantly deep sofas were reused, recycled or reupholstered, while old-world maps and brass fittings were added. Kenyan-grown roses still give a homely touch. New to camp is a family suite, gin bar and safari boutique stocked exclusively with home-grown designer labels. The Mara Triangle is the sharp edge of Masai Mara safaris, and not just during migration season. On any given day, the open plains are thrumming with memorable sightings: a 40-strong herd of elephant, a week-old giraffe galloping clumsily after its mother, hundreds of zebra and antelope, a pair of black-backed jackals trotting through the long grass, and lions snoozing on a little-used track. Being in a private concession means guests can also go out on night drives, have silver-service bush banquets accompanied by deeply resonant Maasai chanting, and the chance to do a walk or trail run with a Maasai guide. Andbeyond is a top safari outfit, known for its highly designed lodges and camps throughout Southern and East Africa and its commitment to the care of the land and local communities. Now its exceptionally located big-hitter property is back, with even more space than ever. By Jane Broughton
At Calistoga Ranch in northern Napa Valley, guests rejoice in the hotel's bevy of amenities, which include complimentary use of a Mercedes-Benz, a private lake, a private wine cave, an on-site vineyard and more. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Napa Valley invites visitors to relax on its 157 acres of land, with offerings such as outdoor spa treatments, an on-site mineral pool and a restaurant dishing out California cuisine with expert wine pairings. (Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort)
There’s a bit of an 'Alice in Wonderland' feel to the Faena, and this carries through into the rooms—particularly with the smaller accents and pieces of furniture you’ll find yourself “discovering” as your stay progresses. Outside, the hotel makes the most of its 100,000 square feet of private white-sand beach, and if you find yourself asking, "Did I just see a golden woolly mammath skeleton in a glass cage?" the answer is yes—you can thank artist Damien Hirst for that one.
This year, 27 of the top 100 hotels in the world are in Asia — the most of any region. They include an atmospheric hotel with a restored Qing dynasty courtyard in the city of Chengdu, China (the Temple House); two honeymooners’ havens in the Maldives (Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru), and an immaculate, palatial resort overlooking the Taj Mahal in Agra, India (Oberoi Amarvilas). “Uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal give this hotel its own iconic status,” said one reader, while another raved: “The stuff of legends.”
The best hotels in Kata Beach are well-placed around one of the favourite destinations in Phuket. Located on Phuket's west coast, it hosts two beaches - Kata Yai and Kata Noi - and a vast choice of restaurants, boutiques, nightlife entertainment venues, and leisure activities' options for the whole family. Kata Beach's accommodation scene is also quite impressive by its eclecticism: from budget guesthouses to mid-range hotels to highly-rated resorts, there is something for every one.
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
With its charming and peaceful streets, chic boutique hotels, and relaxed atmosphere, today’s Quebec City has certainly changed since its original incarnation as a defensive fort during the Revolutionary War. Today’s only invaders are peaceful and excited tourists, visiting what is often considered North America’s most European city. With cobbled streets, delightful architecture and a certain joie de vivre, Quebec City is often associated with French cities and towns.
Rodeo Drive's world-renowned shops are only steps away from the Montage Beverly Hills, making this Preferred Hotels & Resorts outpost an ideal option for shoppers. Aside from its enviable address, former guests praised the hotel's on-site amenities, which range from a rooftop pool to a spa to a barbershop. The rooms are also well-appointed, offering tablets, free Wi-Fi access and separate showers and bathtubs. These features, plus industry awards from AAA, Forbes and Fodor's, helped the Montage Beverly Hills claim the title of No. 4 Best Hotel in Los Angeles for 2018. (Courtesy of Montage Beverly Hills)
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.
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