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
This Design Hotels property features eclectic decor that complements its central SoHo neighborhood. Each room boasts a bold patterned headboard, high ceilings, a vibrant accent wall and unique touches like a window seat and a bone inlay dresser. Standard room amenities at the No. 4 Best Hotel in New York City include walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs and Bose Bluetooth speakers, but upgraded suites also offer extras like minibars and fresh flowers. Outside their digs, guests can take advantage of additional perks, such as a screening room, a rooftop garden and The Crosby Bar, a traveler favorite. (Courtesy of Crosby Street Hotel and Simon Brown)
Rooms at the Mercer are bright, spacious, and impeccably laid out; some have even been built into an original Roman defense tower, translating to walls of gorgeous, centuries-old brickwork. The food here is equally superior, without being stuffy: you’ll find foie gras and caviar, yes, but also patatas bravas and beer. For the full five-star boutique experience, there’s no better bang for your buck in Barcelona.
This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)
Cusco’s architectural heritage of Incan stone walls topped with colonial white stucco is echoed in this 16th-century building on a square steps from the main plaza. With just 11 suites, La Casona has the intimacy of a private home, with a grassy courtyard encircled by rooms on two levels, though the building’s colonial charms come with smart modern touches such as iPods and iPod speakers. Inside, a grassy courtyard is surrounded by rooms on two levels. Owners Denise and Joe Koechlin have fussed over every antique- and craft-strewn square foot of the place, and exquisite pillars, retablos, and benches have been sourced from all over Peru, including Pre-Colombian textiles and murals. The excellent restaurant—don’t leave without trying the quinoa pancakes—delivers a generous helping of Andean hospitality.
Rajasthan isn’t exactly lacking in grand heritage hotels, but there are at least two reasons to visit this property above all others. 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-coloured 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 frescos and a neck-aching, 105-foot-high cupola. There are some pretty spectacular rooms – such as the Maharani Suite with the original bath carved from a single piece of pink Italian marble – but choose a Royal Suite for terrazzo flooring, original palace artwork and grand bathrooms leading to private balconies that frame views of the peacock-speckled gardens. A morning workout in the marble squash courts will justify a lazy afternoon in the subterranean spa, and then dinner of spice-laced Jodhpuri murgh in Risala restaurant. To stay here among the old-world opulence is to really get a flavour of Jodhpur’s gilded glory. By Lauren Ho
For many travelers, a clean, comfortable room is all that's required for a relaxing stay. But for recent visitors to the Loden Hotel, it's the spotless, contemporary-styled bathrooms, complete with thick towels and ample space, that truly hit the mark. However, that's not to say the loos overshadowed the room's other amenities like the floor-to-ceiling windows, flat-screen TVs and plush bedding. Recent guests are also quick to praise the gracious hotel staff, who they describe as especially attentive. When guests aren't relaxing in their rooms, they're at the spa getting pampered with a massage or enjoying a meal at the on-site Tableau Bar Bistro. Visitors say the French-inspired plates and chic atmosphere can't be missed, but many guests are also quick to recommend Coal Harbour's eateries. If you want to explore more of the Vancouver food scene, you'll find plenty of restaurants around Stanley Park, just a mile and a half northwest of the hotel.
The Hay-Adams is steeped in American history. Originally built in the 1920s, the property occupies an enviable location in the nation's capital. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. puts guests just a short walk from the White House, the Washington Monument and the museums and sites along the National Mall. The property's rooms and suites are classic and elegant, with beds dressed in Italian linens, down pillows and duvets. Accommodations are also equipped with Bose music systems and iPads. (Courtesy of The Hay-Adams)
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)
Dunton Town House's location couldn't be better, on a pretty side street just down from Telluride's main drag, and steps from the gondola. Though the facade looks like a classic painted clapboard B&B, the interior whisks you away to the Tyrol, with authentic Austrian fabrics and hand-carved wooden antiques. Only ten people can stay at a time, so the Town House feels ultra-homey, with a mud room and family-style dining table, plus eclectic original art from the owners' collection.
The Italian townhouse hotel redefined. The attention to detail here is painstaking, from the discreetly attentive service to a stylish marine colour scheme that might have appeared on a Thirties racing yacht (Tuscan designer Michele Bonan famously checks each hue under various lighting conditions before approving it). This nautical theme is appropriate for a hotel that rises like the upper decks of a liner above the Mediterranean, with views across to Sorrento, Naples and Vesuvius. Among its competitors, only Punta Tragara enjoys a similar reach-out-and-touch rapport with the sea. Capri Town, and the air-kissing aperitivo joints of its celebrated chicane of a square, La Piazzetta, are just 10 minutes away on the hotel’s shuttle. But you’d be surprised at just how many guests never take up the offer. The satisfyingly large swimming pool is difficult to tear yourself away from, and as evening approaches, signature cocktails such as the JK Spritz (a gingery variation on the Venetian classic) have a way of appearing, accompanied by inventive nibbles that ease guests into dinner on the restaurant terrace. This Capri outpost has more of an unashamedly food focus than its sister hotels in Rome and Florence, and Neapolitan chef Eduardo Estatico’s menu is light, seasonal and also playful – don’t miss his Cucciolone, a popsicle variant on the classic pastiera pie of Estatico’s home town. If the Italian dolce vita is all about living the good life with class, style and confidence, JK Place Capri must be the cult’s high temple. By Lee Marshall
Building a hotel into the face of Santorini’s dramatic sea cliffs lends an immediate advantage: The location alone is enough to make it a showstopper. Happily, the 18-room Mystique lives up to its stunning site, and is well worth the step-filled trip it takes to get there. The free-form rooms, decorated in what might be called cave-art style (driftwood for headboards, a dining table and chairs that appear to be made of egg-shaped boulders), are carved directly into the cliff, and the views—toward the town of Fira—are magnificent.
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