A tricky business, the restoration of important old stuff. There are people who say that the Mona Lisa ought to be all bright and punchy and Instagram-ready and that 'The Night Watch' was actually The Day Watch. So what do you do about an ageing masterpiece like the Crillon? Nobody rushed to any conclusions. In the end, the refurb took four years and the hotel reopened in 2017 under the Rosewood brand. The Ritz, nearby, underwent the same process around the same time. But the two properties took divergent approaches: the Ritz to maintain the status quo, only more so, as it were; the Crillon to propel itself into the 21st century. In both cases, the results are exemplary. And if it is the Crillon whose name appears in capital letters in this list, it is in recognition of a moral rather than an absolute victory. A prize for bravery. The best of what was best of the Crillon has been thoughtfully preserved, while the best of what is new (the bar, the barbershop, L’Ecrin restaurant and the stupendous suites by Karl Lagerfeld) is gobsmacking in its boldness and daring. The Crillon has long been a sentimental favourite among the French. Something to do with all the beheadings that occurred outside the front door. Imagine what would have happened if Rosewood had, you know, got it wrong. By Steve King
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
Rajasthan isn’t exactly lacking in grand heritage hotels, but there are at least two reasons to visit this property. First, a section of it is still home to the former Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family (one of the largest private residences in the world); and second, for the extraordinary scale of the imposing architecture and the 26 acres of precisely manicured grounds. High on Chittar Hill, overlooking the Blue City, this golden-colored sandstone pile has operated as a hotel since 1971, but it was the arrival of Taj Hotels in 2005 that elevated the service to match its royal setting. Art Deco interiors unfold over ornamental latticed stonework, artfully lit carved pillars, a sweeping marble staircase, exotic frescoes, and a neck-craning 105-foot-high cupola. And while there are some pretty spectacular rooms—such as the Maharani Suite, with its original bath carved from a single piece of pink Italian marble—choose a Royal Suite, where terrazzo flooring, original palace artwork, and lavish bathrooms lead to private balconies that frame views of the peacock-speckled gardens. A morning workout at the marble squash courts will justify a lazy afternoon at the subterranean spa, and then a dinner of spice-laced Jodhpuri murgh in Risala restaurant. To stay here amid all the incredible old-world opulence is to really get a taste of Jodhpur’s gilded glory.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is an icon in Los Angeles. The Pink Palace sits on 12 acres along a secluded section of Sunset Boulevard. Travelers say the customer service is just as legendary as the property itself, praising the hotel staff for being warm and welcoming upon arrival and the wait staff for being attentive through meal services. At the No. 3 Best Hotel in Los Angeles, guests can lounge around the palm tree-lined pool, book a massage at the spa or sample the cuisine (and keep an eye out for celebrities) at the infamous Polo Lounge. (Courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel)