At this palatial 32-acre hilltop estate, there's an art to the first impression: Because cars aren’t permitted beyond the front gate, visitors arrive at reception in a golf cart or, for VIPs, a horse-drawn carriage. In lieu of a formal check-in desk, a standard bearer greets guests by militarily clicking his heels before leading them under a shower of rose petals and into the former ruler of Hyderabad’s neo-Palladian palace. The rest of the experience is no less impressive, with museum-quality reception rooms furnished in late-Victorian style, gleaming with burnished wood and leather, and a gracious garden courtyard with trees and fountains is flanked by two wings housing most of the 60 rooms. (Just beyond one of the wings, the suites faithfully decorated in a grand Edwardian manner surround a smaller, star-shaped courtyard.)
The top Fairmont property in the country and the No. 1 Best Hotel in San Diego is the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Nestled within Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve on 400 acres, this tranquil property charms guests with its Mediterranean-style architecture, friendly employees and award-winning cuisine. Each room and suite overlooks the surrounding canyon or the on-site golf course and is outfitted with dark wood furniture, a Nespresso coffee maker and a bathroom with marble accents. Outside the rooms, travelers can stay active at the Equestrian Center, in the fitness center or on one of two tennis courts. Meanwhile, R&R-seekers can visit the spa or lounge by the adults-only pool. (Courtesy of Fairmont Grand Del Mar)
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
We’ve got a serious soft spot for any hotel that wears its eco-consciousness on its sleeve, and 1 Hotel South Beach does just that, from the organic bedding and reclaimed furniture to its sea-to-table Habitat restaurant. In addition to the five-star amenities and 600 feet of private beach, regular events—like sunset meditation and terrarium-building workshops—keep guests coming back.
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.
This was founded in 2001 by siblings Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, whose great-grandfather migrated from Italy and acquired a ranch and vineyards, building the house where Catherine still lives today. She and Joe are a constant presence, checking in with regulars at the restaurant and joining in afternoon wine tastings (including a knockout red-field blend from their own Lost & Found label). Their deep Sonoma roots translate into perks for guests at local wineries, restaurants and shops, whose owners invariably light up at their mention. And the pair’s enthusiasm percolates through to the easygoing attitude of the longtime staff. You’re as likely to get a great oyster shack or hiking trail tip from the parking attendant as you are from the concierge desk. Of the bedrooms, the newer ones at the quieter, wooded end of the hotel are best, with porches that feel suspended among the trees. Inside you’ll find a conga drum refashioned as a cocktail stand, a vintage ladder propped against one wall under the vaulted wooden ceiling. A double-sided fireplace faces both the bedroom and the Adirondack chairs outside on the porch. The inn’s restaurant has become a destination in itself: chef Steve Litke has a light touch with his Mediterranean-inflected menu, including a delicate Hokkaido scallop with Moroccan spices, and a thyme-scented trio of rabbit (applewood-smoked loin, confit of leg, roasted rack with mustard cream). But you can take the electric car out and head westward to the coast and have lunch at the inimitable Marshall Store, where Sonoma’s best oysters (raw and wood-fire-grilled) are served on wooden barrels along the shore of Tomales Bay. Family-owned and run hotels are now a rarity in California’s wine country, which makes this switched-on place so exceptional. By Peter Lindberg
Located in the charming Georgetown neighborhood, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC welcomes guests with ample luxury amenities and services. The No. 4 Best Hotel in the District of Columbia houses an indoor saltwater lap pool, a spa, a health club and the highly praised Bourbon Steak restaurant. Travelers also compliment the staff members, who they describe as professional, warm and accommodating. (Michael Kleinberg/Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC)

With hilltop breezes, easy access to Kata Beach and its shopping, nightlife, and dining, Avista Phuket Resort & Spa is in a convenient spot for those who love combining a beach holiday with the better things in life.En Vogue, the signature all-day dining restaurant, puts on several buffets a week with varied and quality entertainment features (theres even a kids clown) and bakes its own bread and patisserie items.Amenities include a branded spa & wellness centre, an interchangeable meeting room that caters for up to 100 people, a compact fitness room, a swim-up and pool bar, a well-stocked library and communications centre, games room, a kidsclub, good wheelchair access, and more. Read More...
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