The ancient lava fields and low-lying scrub of the surrounding area make it feel more like Namibia than Hawaii. But as soon as driver pulls off Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway onto a private lane and the landscape shifts from Martian to tropical – lush with palms, canary-yellow hibiscus and musk ferns – and you inhale the plumeria-infused cold towel, bowing to receive the simple kukui nut lei, you know exactly where you are. Creating this distinct sense of place without employing gimmicky tropes (all too easy to do in a place like Hawaii where a little puka shell goes a long way) is what makes Hualalai stand out on an island of upscale hotels. The Hawaii-ana is restrained – hand-woven palm mats, tropical wallpaper in neutral tones – and the buildings are modelled on classic architecture that really pushes the indoor-outdoor living. The soaring lobby opens onto teak lanais overlooking the secluded stretch of coastline, miles from touristy Kona to the south and the resort village of Waikoloa to the north. Authenticity shines through, too, in the way this place interacts with its environment; for example, rather than clearing the hardened lava from various eruptions, Four Seasons used traditional hand-stacking techniques to build walls, stocked the King Pond with injured rescue fish from the ocean, and implemented a commercial fishing ban to allow the depleted waters in front of the property to recover. And the staff emit the characteristically chill aloha spirit while being super-attentive to the overworked tech couple from Silicon Valley and the stylish family of five escaping an endless New York winter. By Rebecca Misner

The Jefferson wins visitors over time and again with its sophisticated and traditionally decorated accommodations, impeccable service and award-winning cuisine. The hotel's location in downtown Washington is a highlight as well; guests are just a short walk from the White House, the National Mall and top-notch bars and eateries. The Jefferson is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. for 2017. (Courtesy of The Jefferson, Washington, DC)
There are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. Sydney. São Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve King
Previous lodgers rave about this North Michigan Avenue hotel's refinement and unbeatable location. Sitting just steps from Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is central to all of the city's best restaurants, shops and nightlife. After you've sufficiently tested the limits of your credit card, retreat to one of the hotel's soundproofed spa treatment rooms to enjoy a relaxing massage or skin renewal treatment. Before you call it a night, previous guests highly recommend sitting down to dinner in the Allium's dining room, where diners are treated to fresh, farm-to-table Midwest cuisine. When it's time to bed down, this Four Seasons hotel's well-appointed accommodations provide a comfortable escape. Previous guests love the elegant decor, which combines contemporary fittings (like flat-screen TVs and iHome stereos) with 20th century-inspired design accents and spacious marble bathrooms. Recent visitors recommend splurging on the lake view accomodations, rather than the rooms with the city skyline vistas.
Sitting on the sand of a Georgia barrier island, this 1928 grande dame is a readers’ favorite for its country-estate aesthetics: Turkish rugs, overstuffed chairs, and marble baths (as well as an old-school Sweet Shop, home of the pecan-covered Gold Brick Sundae). That stately ambience helped secure its No. 4 ranking in the business hotel category: its generous meeting space has hosted a G8 Summit, and offers downtime at three championship golf courses (including Seaside, designed in 1929 by famed architects Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison). It also scored well for multi-generational travelers, thanks to the less formal diversions of bingo nights and low-country boils on the beach.
What do you want from an LA hotel? Something celebrated, glamorous and star-studded, of course. And nowhere fits the bill quite like the Chateau - as its clientele refer to it - a West Hollywood landmark where the star-to-civilian ratio is approximately 1:1. It is probably best known for being the setting for almost every celebrity magazine interview ever printed; the inspiration for books and movies by F Scott Fitzgerald (The Last Tycoon) and Sofia Coppola (Somewhere); or as the infamous crash pad of the hard-partying Lindsay Lohan, who until recently owed the hotel more than $45,000 in unpaid bills. So it's difficult to sip a glass of rosé in the courtyard without craning to see the maybe-VIP at the next table, or eat a posh cheeseburger in the mahogany-panelled Bar Marmont without looking for an A-lister gone wild (Rob Pattinson drank one too many here for his 27th birthday). The 1920s façade is modelled on a royal residence in the Loire, while the interiors resemble film sets from various eras: the lobby is faux-medieval, with arched wooden doors and beamed ceilings; the nine cottages and four bungalows look fit for Ava Gardner and Howard Hughes; and the 63 rooms are a reminder of the 1970s, with shiny wooden banquettes and peach-tiled bathrooms. The Chateau's sweet-but-spicy signature scent is available to buy as a candle at the front desk.
This 21-room mansion-turned-hotel was the survey’s No. 1 winner among small city hotels, and it embodies that time-machine charm of the Holy City: fireplaces in every room, hors d’oeuvres and sherry in the lobby, and chocolate truffles on your pillow at bedtime. With so many seductive treats, readers also awarded the Second-Empire-style hotel a high ranking for romance. Meanwhile, with Southern-meets-global dishes like antelope country paté, cast-iron poulet rouge and sweet potato doughnuts, the on-site Circa 1886 restaurant helped the Wentworth win the gold medal for small-city hotel dining.

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The Auberge St-Antoine is a luxury hotel in the heart of Quebec City’s Old Port. In addition to its superb location facing the majestic St. Lawrence River what makes it so unique is its location on one of Quebec City’s richest archaeological sites; the presence of artifacts in the hotel; and its construction made from 3 historic buildings, a dock and a battery of cannon from the 17th century. You will find yourself immersed in the heart of the city’s magic as it is near the old ramparts, museums and the picturesque Petit-Champlain district. The hotel offers 95 luxury rooms and suites equipped for your utmost comfort. It is member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux.

Alpina Phuket Nalina Resort & Spa has a few surprises in store for guests.Number one, its spacious with very generous room sizes that start at 50sqm; number two the accommodation in all four room categories is no less than fabulous, featuring large storage spaces, wooden floors, charming decor, all modern facilities and amenities and Pool Villas have a complete kitchen installed, making them entirely self sufficient.A 700-metre stroll to the beach, the best part of the resort of the resort is its accommodation.With four room types; Nalina Classic (50sqm), Nalina Jaz Pool access (50sqm), the delicious Nalina Grand Suite (100sqm), and Nalina Pool Villas (124sqm interior, 38sqm pool and 80sqm terrace and garden) the options are there for all preferences and tastes. Read More...
The b is one of the best budget hotel chains in Tokyo and their Akasaka location offers incredible value since it’s not in the core tourist areas. The b Tokyo Akasaka-Mitsuke is a 2-minute walk from Akasaka-Mitsuke Station which is connected to 5 different metro lines, so it’s quite convenient to get around the city. As for the rooms, they come with a flat-screen TV, free WiFi, and a surprisingly spacious private bathroom. A portable WiFi hotspot smartphone is also provided so you’ll have free roaming data while you’re in Tokyo.
Dating back to 1745, this cream-and-pink former aristocratic palace is set on 18 acres of landscaped gardens—so, despite its location in the heart of Jaipur, the hotel itself is a sanctuary of sorts. Highlighting Rajasthani decor and miniature paintings, rooms are comfortable (many overlooking the gardens); though, because it's staggered over many levels, guests should be mindful of the stairs they'll likely need to climb and descend. Load up on Indian food at Cinnamon, where diners are treated to a nightly show with local dancers. If you’re not wowed by the Taj Jai Mahal Palace’s commitment to turning this hotel into a living museum, then check your pulse. What you make of it is up to you—whether it’s your launching point for exploring the city, only coming back after a long day on your feet, or if you prefer to spend an afternoon by the pool, followed by a run along the on-property jogging track.
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
Guests rave about Wentworth Mansion, applauding its long-standing commitment to the building's history and its ability to deliver on contemporary luxury. Constructed in the late 1800s, the Wentworth Mansion exudes old-world charm, meaning it's also the perfect Charleston home base for history buffs. Lodgers particularly praise the elegant decor, fantastic customer service, on-site spa, evening brandies and sherries, and complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Rooms include spacious bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, fireplaces or outside porches and, in some suites, sunrooms. Though guests say the rooms and overall atmosphere are relaxing, they note that the luxury doesn't come cheap. However, its location is another feather in its cap; The Battery is nearby, as is the South Carolina Aquarium. Also, keep in mind that this hotel is a part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which means that members of the INVITED rewards program can earn and redeem points here.

The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah is set in a rare and dramatic location in the scenic village of Tengkulak, with uniquely designed one-bedroom suites and pool villas spread out.Three 160sqm one-bedroom spa villas offer more convenience to spa-goers with daily 90-minute complimentary spa treatments in a private treatment room.A unique 550sqm two-bedroom estate named after Tanah Gajah’s founder and owner, Hadiprana, features some of the finest paintings, antiques and artefacts from his vast private collection.A 10-metre long swimming pool sits outside, surrounded by tropical gardens.Each villa features broadband Internet, iPod docking stations, 32-inch flat-screen televisions and Bose home theatre entertainment systems. Read More...
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If you’re looking for a hotel near Ginza, then consider the Hotel Sunroute Shimbashi which is just a 7-minute walk away. Rooms come with free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, an electric kettle and an en suite bathroom with free toiletries. The front desk is open 24-hours, there’s free luggage storage, coin laundry, and some free drinks in the common area. The Shimbashi area has lots of great restaurants including izakayas which are open late. JR Shimbashi station is a 5-minute walk away while Haneda airport takes just 30-minutes to get to via the monorail.
Whether you're searching for the great outdoors or urban pleasures, Canada has it covered, with a huge variety of landscapes perfect for an active holiday and cosmopolitan cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Hike or bike your way across the Canadian Rockies and be awed by the might of Niagara Falls. Take the family to attractions like Marineland and Canada's Wonderland. Enjoy world-class art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Also, take some time to indulge in some retail therapy.
Survey voters clearly don’t want to have to take a shuttle to the slopes. This 100-room hotel made the top 20 for location, since it’s just a few steps from Vail’s Gondola One. While the lobby has classic-ski-lodge stone and timber, rooms lean toward the contemporary, rather than the log-cabin vibe, with polished wood headboards and reserved earth tones. The après-ski scene is similarly elegant, with the signature scotch collection at Frost, the hotel bar. For another kind of après-ski, readers loved the hotel’s spa, which utilizes the Vail Valley’s indigenous pine, flowers, and herbs. They may have also felt relaxed by the prices. Despite its high-end setting, the Sebastian was the top U.S. ski resort in the survey’s value category.

A good place to get one’s bearings when visiting Quebec City is the Citadelle of Quebec. It is only a short walk from most of the Old City hotels. Originally conceived by French colonists, and constructed by British forces, the fort has the perfect, and near impenetrable, defensive position atop the plateau. It has served to restrict entry to the important St. Lawrence River and formed the centrepiece of the town’s defensive structures. These include a circling stone wall which survives to this day, making Quebec City the only remaining walled city in the US or Canada. Despite being an active military installation, and an official residence of both the governor general of Canada, and the Canadian monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II), tours of the site are available throughout the year. The citadel, along with the historic district of Old Quebec, is a designated World Heritage Site.


Just minutes walk from the pier at Pra Athit, Riva Surya is a visual delight, with as much consideration put into the hotels public spaces as the rooms.French windows open on to a large courtyard behind the hotel, with a swimming pool and plenty of room to lounge, either on the daybeds that fringe the river or under the shaded veranda.Babble and Rum restaurant and bar is the ideal location for a riverside evening drink or a hearty plate of high-quality Thai or Western fare.There are also plenty of decent restaurants and bars in this area, and famous backpacker street Khao San Road is only five minutes walk away. Read More...
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
It’s a desert conundrum. You visit the driest, emptiest place on the planet to ogle the Martian landscapes, squint at the shimmering salt lake, gawp at the cosmos – this is world-renowned stargazing territory, home to the ALMA radio telescope. But at this hotel just outside the hip hiker-hub of San Pedro, part of you just wants to stay put. Inspired by pre-Inca ruins, this Awasi – the first of the tiny rootsy Chilean chain, open since 2007 – is all pale wood and tan adobe walls, with shade-giving trees pressing in on all sides. There are plenty of alpaca blankets and books in the public spaces, and a fire-pit and candlelight encourage intelligent idling after dark. The 10 suites have bathtubs, chaise-longues, more blankets. The restaurant serves up sublime octopus causas. It would be too easy to indulge in all of this and then join fellow wanderers at the bar and talk about expeditions to undertake, maybe tomorrow, over a glass of Maule Valley Merlot. Fortunately, Awasi insists all guests have a private guide – invariably an expert on Andean geology or geyser physics – and their own four-wheel-drive, so spending a little time away from the retreat is pretty straightforward too. This is a place made for hedonistic hermits, part of a new breed of superior and polished wilderness hotels. By Chris Moss

Travel + Leisure readers felt the same way, ranking the Rhode Island manse among the top 10 of all U.S. hotels. As part of the magazine’s annual World’s Best survey, readers ranked airlines, spas, hotels, and even islands around the globe. Within the hotel category, readers ranked properties for such features as their service, dining, family-friendliness, spas, and location. Indeed, some of the top 20 hotel winners could get away with being ho-hum on the inside, given their fabulous settings—like, along Newport’s Cliff Walk, in the shade of the Golden Gate Bridge, or on a private island overlooking Key West.
Foodies who are eager to enjoy Napa Valley's award-winning wineries and restaurants will love staying at Auberge du Soleil. This upscale property features a 15,000-bottle cellar and two eateries, both of which are helmed by Michelin-starred chef Robert Curry. After filling up on gourmet fare, travelers can enjoy complimentary yoga classes at the Japanese-style pavilion, go for a walk through the sculpture garden, unwind with a treatment at the spa or sip cocktails by the outdoor pool. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Napa Valley also boasts relaxation-focused extras, such as fireplaces and soaking tubs, inside its guest rooms. (Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil, An Auberge Resort)
The Sebastian is a charming, upscale ski lodge set at the base of Vail Mountain in Colorado. The property's well-maintained common areas, including the outdoor fire pit and the library, and its cozy rooms are traveler favorites, and key attributes that helped the resort earn the No. 1 Best Hotel in Vail distinction for 2017. Visitors say the staff members go out of their way to make stays special, citing extras such as hot chocolate and cookies and complimentary transportation around town as standout services. (Courtesy of The Sebastian – Vail)
*Offer is subject to availability at time of reservation. A 7 day advance purchase. A minimum 2 night stay and a  full deposit will be taken 1 day prior to arrival. Offer includes a daily credit per room, per night which will be applied to the room folio in currency of the host hotel. Daily credit may be used at select food & beverage outlets, spas and golf courses as outlined in the complete terms and conditions. Reservations at participating outlets are highly recommended and should be made prior to arrival to ensure availability. Credit has no cash value and will only be applied to applicable charges on the room folio at time of check-out; unused credit will be forfeited. Credit cannot be applied towards daily room rate, taxes or gratuities. Any charges applied to the room folio that exceed the total credit amount or at non-participating outlets must be paid in full at time of check-out. This offer is subject to change without notice and cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion. Blackout dates apply.
This Ritz-Carlton outpost in northern Virginia underwent extensive renovations during the summer of 2016, updating its guest rooms, suites and Club Lounge – and its investment paid off, according to guests and experts. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Virginia, The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner attracts business and leisure travelers alike. The hotel is home to an indoor pool and an expansive spa, plus it's connected to the upscale Tysons Galleria shopping center. What's more, travelers can hop on the metro's Silver line for a short ride into the District of Columbia. (Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner)
The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah is set in a rare and dramatic location in the scenic village of Tengkulak, with uniquely designed one-bedroom suites and pool villas spread out.Three 160sqm one-bedroom spa villas offer more convenience to spa-goers with daily 90-minute complimentary spa treatments in a private treatment room.A unique 550sqm two-bedroom estate named after Tanah Gajah’s founder and owner, Hadiprana, features some of the finest paintings, antiques and artefacts from his vast private collection.A 10-metre long swimming pool sits outside, surrounded by tropical gardens.Each villa features broadband Internet, iPod docking stations, 32-inch flat-screen televisions and Bose home theatre entertainment systems. Read More...
The Auberge Saint-Antoine is set right on the Old Port in Québec City on the St. Lawrence River and has earned several accolades for its excellent service. The hotel blends contemporary décor with artifacts from Québec City’s French and English regimes, many of which were found on the property. Guests checking in are treated to music playing and personalized welcome cards in their rooms. The lobby bar and lounge often features jazz musicians playing in the evenings.
If you’re looking for a hotel near Ginza, then consider the Hotel Sunroute Shimbashi which is just a 7-minute walk away. Rooms come with free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, an electric kettle and an en suite bathroom with free toiletries. The front desk is open 24-hours, there’s free luggage storage, coin laundry, and some free drinks in the common area. The Shimbashi area has lots of great restaurants including izakayas which are open late. JR Shimbashi station is a 5-minute walk away while Haneda airport takes just 30-minutes to get to via the monorail.
Originally the Royal Danish Embassy, designed in the late 1930s by the same architect as the city's famed KaDeWe department store, Das Stue opened its doors as a hotel in early 2013. Spanish-born interior designer Patricia Urquiola has created a playful mix of old-meets-new, which has attracted a chic clientele. Das Stue occupies prime real estate in more ways than one: sitting on the edge of the Tiergarten, it’s a mere 1.6 miles from the famed Brandenburg Gate. Decor is modern but peaceful, with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows—many rooms have views of the park. When you need to relax after a day out sightseeing, head to the 260-square meter spa, which has a 14-meter long indoor pool and a Finnish glass sauna.
Nestled in Québec City's Old Port, the Auberge Saint-Antoine complements the quaint Petit-Champlain district with elegant decor featuring European artifacts and modern accents. Additional touches, such as minibars, coffee machines, and bathrooms equipped with heated floors and no-fog mirrors earn an extra nod of approval, but recent guests particularly applaud this Relais & Châteaux property's warm and courteous hotel staff. After strolling along Québec City's cobbled streets, you can cozy up at Chez Muffy, an intimate dining room that stuns with gorgeous St. Lawrence River views and an eclectic assortment of seasonal French-Canadian dishes. For lighter fare, grab a table at Bar Artefact, which dishes up small dishes like poutine and grilled cheese. You can also take advantage of the hotel's unique amenities, such as the private movie screening room and LeGYM fitness center and private spa treatment rooms, which all receive high marks from previous visitors.
The contemporary-chic Viceroy has a retro Chicago façade and mid-century furnishings within. Textures and patterns grab the eye, including an abstract headboard wall, carpet that looks like a sand-hued topographic map, and—yes—quotes from Marcel Proust, reproduced on the lobby's 30-foot-wall. The ground level restaurant Somerset, from chef Lee Wolen, is a serious asset for the Viceroy; his creative American fare (don't miss the beet tartare and sausage-stuffed whole roasted chicken) matches the vaguely nautical, club-like setting. But don't skip the 18th floor, where he also does cocktails and bites at the swanky rooftop lounge Devereaux.
**Le Club AccorHotels members who register and book the Fairmont Moments offer by February 28, 2019,  and stay between January 1 and March 31, 2019,  will receive triple the Rewards points for their stay. Guests must register before making their reservation to be eligible to receive the discount. Offer only applicable in Canada, USA, Mexico and Panama. For more details click here.
Karon Phunaka Resort & Spa straddles the hillside above Karon Temple and this 86-room resort enjoys gentle breezes all year round, a tranquility conducive to peaceful reflection, well-kept grounds that border real jungle, an elevator and an air-conditioned funicular to help you up and down the steep hillside, a spectacular infinity pool with a wide sweep of views and a separate childrens pool, Thai cooking classes, a great air-conditioned free-of-charge fitness room with those views again, an air-conditioned squash court and a Thai and international restaurant with live music.Karon Phunaka Resort and Spas accommodation is made up of 36sqm Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms with the same dimensions, 38.5sqm interconnecting Family Rooms, and one 108sqm Suite. Read More...
The 5-pearl, 65-room Encantado sits in a secluded spot a few miles north of Santa Fe with great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Big, luxurious rooms are decorated in a modern Southwestern style, featuring concrete and wood floors, Native American-style rugs, and a color scheme of warm browns and oranges, as well as high-end extras such as radiant floor heating, wood-burning fireplaces, and private patios. The fine dining at Terra restaurant is rated highly, and the resort also features an outdoor seasonal pool, whirlpool, luxury spa, and even free rentals of a Mercedes Benz for the day.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
This 1940s hacienda-style classic, recently the subject of a Hollywood boycott, is almost as well known as the guests it has harboured. Marilyn Monroe lived here on and off during her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and it was here she posed for her final photo shoot; Liz Taylor and Grace Kelly also used it as a place to crash. These days it's Brad and Angelina, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig who drink and dine in its swish environs, revamped recently with a snazzy La Prairie spa and Wolfgang Puck restaurant serving a Mediterranean-inflected Californian menu. But its true essence remains in the maze of jasmine-scented gardens and lily ponds with resident swans, the courtyards where lizards slither across the tiles, shimmering in the sunlight like jewels. At night, cocooned in one of the alfresco alcoves, you can feast on sweet-pea tortellini and white asparagus with crispy polenta. You'd never know, but there are 100 rooms and suites, all with vintage furniture and spa-like bathrooms; three new hillside villas have huge terraces and infinity pools. At times it can feel like a grand country retreat, but a glance out of a window at the famous vista of sunset and soaring palms provides an instant reminder of its LA setting.
DH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von Simson
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