Set in 60 acres and within a scrim of fluttering white birches, majestic balsam firs and organic farms, Hidden Pond in southern Maine offers 'rustic' with a difference. Forget soggy tents and mouldy camp shacks, this place has 36 stunning one- and two-bedroom clapboard cottages beautifully orchestrated by some of the state's top designers. The 20 one-bedroom bungalows have vaulted ceilings, gas fireplaces, outdoor rain showers and sleek bathrooms; the 16 two-bedroom options also have proper kitchens. After checking in at the Arts and Crafts-style lodge, head to the pools, trails and beaches for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, biking and hiking. Yummy Continental breakfasts are delivered to the cottages by golf cart, cocktails are served at the Back Porch Bar, and light meals at the family-friendly Sand Bar Grill and Farm Bar. But supper at the main restaurant, Earth, is something special, with fresh handmade pasta and wood-oven pizzas as well as diver scallops, swordfish or crispy duck, served in an outdoorsy setting (there's a nightly bonfire, and the restaurant walls are made from trees that were felled to clear the site). None of which should be an excuse to miss dining in the local seafood shacks and at famous restaurants such as the nearby White Barn Inn, sometimes frequented by George and Laura Bush, who live in the area.
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)
When Indian hotels do opulent, they really do opulent. And every inch of this palatial spot in the calm, tree-lined boulevards of Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave is gilded, mirrored, plumped, embroidered and topped with not-a-petal-out-of-place flower arrangements (14,000 blooms are delivered daily). But while it channels the vibe of the grand residence of a globetrotting Maharaja – huge Murano chandeliers from Venice, hand-woven carpets from Turkey, intricate Rajasthani miniature paintings, sandstone elephant statues carved in Qatar (no wonder if cost hundreds of millions to build) – it was actually all brand spanking new when it opened in 2011, so also has a stealthy undercurrent of techie and green credentials. The 260 gold-hued rooms and suites are some of the largest in the city, treatments at ESPA spa draw on India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions and the whole hotel is stuffed with so much contemporary Indian art that there’s a dedicated guided walk to take it all in, past Seema Kohli’s layered storytelling canvases, Satish Gupta’s lotus murals and Laxma Goud’s bronzes. An army of ultra-attentive staff fall over themselves to open doors, take bags and present garlands. And at the restaurants (there are four, and two bars), the menus are equally extravagant: hand-cut black truffle fettuccine in black truffle sauce at Italian Le Cirque; lobster nerulli curry at Indian Jamavar; sashimi made with cuts direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market at Japanese Megu. A new species of grand hotel, and hugely influential. By Fiona Kerr