Guests may be surprised to hear that this exquisitely restored 1835 palace, with all its courtyards and pageantry, wasn’t built for a queen—but rather, for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. Later on, it was used as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, though it’s since comfortably taken its place as one of Rajasthan’s most luxurious hotels. Enjoy an evening of Champagne, moonlight, and candles in a private dining tent illuminated by flaming torches and pitched on the palace greens, and make sure you get to the Steam bar, which occupies a restored train.
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)
This Four Seasons property attracts beach lovers. Positioned along a beautiful stretch of Hulopoe Bay sand overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this resort offers breathtaking ocean views, manicured grounds and top-notch customer service. During their stays, guests can enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as snorkeling, deep sea fishing, hiking, whale watching, scuba diving and more. Visitors use terms like "paradise" and "heaven on earth" to describe the property. Guest rooms all feature private patios, as well as amenities like 75-inch flat-screen TVs with Blu-ray players, Nespresso machines and free internet access. One of the most loved features is the complimentary shuttle, which will cart you to and from Lanai Town. Recent visitors do say you should brace yourself for the high cost of meals at the resort's multiple restaurants and treatments at the in-house spa. Still, most travelers enjoy this Four Seasons resort's piece of shoreline and its world-class golf course.
The Covent Garden Hotel might sit in the heart of theatre-land, but it’s no drama queen. It lets other divas in town take the curtain calls. Instead, this place goes for the slow burn, revealing itself subtly and demurely. But when it does, you realise it’s a beauty. Take the first-floor Drawing Room, lined in maple wood, shiny as toffee, which originally came from the now demolished League of Nations building near Trafalgar Square. Here too are delicately limbed parlour chairs with 18th-century needlepoint embroidery and a grand old writing desk, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and holding numerous little drawers that surely concealed secret notes over the years. The honesty bar just off the nook of a library is as well stocked as a house party, meaning that nightcaps can be as late as you like. Settle into the yellow and red sofa in front of the log fire, kick off your shoes (it’s not frowned upon) and soak up the elegant yet cosy surroundings. Just as lovely is the fourth-floor Terrace Suite, up among the rooftops and chimneys of London like a Mary Poppins eyrie. Parrots peck at blousy dusty-pink flowers on the linen upholstery of the sofa and over-sized headboard and purple and teal ikat-print curtains frame the windows. In the morning, watch the sunrise over the Shard from the little wooden deck. There’s a deep bathtub for soaking in, and lavender-and-eucalyptus bathroom lotions by RikRak (a bespoke Firmdale range) that smell so good you’ll be sniffing your arm for the rest of the day. Many new names have landed in London recently, but this trouper still holds its head up high. By Grainne McBride
The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis offers a romantic experience in old Québec City. The ambiance is cozy and the décor honors the building’s history: this is a former pair of Victorian houses renovated into a small boutique hotel. As the building is historic, ask for a ground floor room if you have mobility issues; there is no elevator. The rooms all come with a tea service set and are also decorated in Victorian-inspired furniture. The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis also specializes in romantic packages for couples, ensuring a true taste of Québec City’s culture.
This go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie Goodwin
The USA is as varied as it is vast. You could bask in the bright lights of one of the world’s great cities or stargaze in the great outdoors. Embark on a road trip through wine country or find yourself in a private spa retreat. It’s a country with enough A-list sights to fill the biggest Hollywood blockbuster, but still has a down-to-earth charm that you can’t help but fall for. And, when it comes to luxury hotels, America remains one of the world’s big hitters.
Flanking the northern base of Blackcomb Mountain, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler prides itself on its picturesque surroundings, upscale lodging and first-rate service. Previous visitors recommend booking a mountain-facing room. Although they're pricier than other accommodations, these rooms come with cozy comforts such as designer bath products, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. You'll also find an abundance of activities to choose from: Wintertime yields skiing and sleigh rides, while summer offers opportunities to hike and whitewater raft. And at any time of year, you can lounge along the heated outdoor pool, rejuvenate with a Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar scrub or enjoy wine tastings. In the evening, sip a cocktail at the on-site bar or sample prime slices of tenderloin at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar (recent visitors mention that meals here are pricey, but worth every penny). Recent guests were thrilled with the exceptional service at this Four Seasons property, but thought the parking fees were a tad high.
Amidst the noise and bluster of so many new British hotel openings, with their sushi chefs and foraging sessions, shiny sit-up-and-beg bicycles to borrow and pristine racks of Hunter wellies, it is worth remembering the enduring classics that are well-loved for a reason. Lucknam Park has serious pedigree. It is deliciously, reassuringly old fashioned. The deeply pretty Georgian manor house, all honeyed Bath stone, sits at the end of an avenue of sky-high beech and lime trees, surrounded by exquisite gardens like a Jane Austen film set. In the grounds there’s a personable cottage for weekending families, a world-class equestrian centre and a serious cooking school. But you don’t have to whip up your own supper. Chef Hywel Jones (who has retained his Michelin star for a 14th year) plates up exquisite food in his eponymous restaurant. That in itself is a reason to stay. As are the roaring fires, the panelled libraries, the swagged four-poster beds and the moody oil paintings. Yet it's not stuffy. A purposeful drive in recent years to make the place feel less formal has resulted in a cheery bounce in the staff's step, a raising of chatter levels to almost a hum in the evenings and a relaxed atmosphere where you can wear your robe down to the ESPA spa and back again without feeling like a terrible slob. Eagle-eyed guests will spot the curious Greek elements dotted around – the urns in the bathroom, the Acropolis paintings in the dining room, the Hellenic motif on the plates. The owners also have Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens in their stable but this country retreat feels resonant and rooted, delightfully British to the core. By Issy von Simson
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
Many of the winners also have a summer camp vibe, suggesting a collective recognition of (and nostalgia for) the benefits of a simpler experience. Ranch-style resorts, offering horse stables, wide-open spaces, and a rustic-luxe design, ranked highly — in particular, the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado and the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming. Both are popular with multigenerational groups. “C Lazy U is perhaps the best family vacation we’ve ever had,” one fan said. “We’ve been seven times and are going back again!”
For a home-like feel, consider staying in an Airbnb. One furnished bedroom for two goes for $49 per night and includes everything you need to make yourself feel right at home. Additionally, it’s close to cafes and shopping. Limelight Tower next to Square One at $94 per night provides a more upscale feel. Moreover, you’ll be pleased with the extra amenities like the gym and spa that allow you to unwind on your stay.
The Jefferson, Washington, DC has been catering to Washington's most elite visitors since 1923, providing a taste of European luxury in the heart of the United States capital. The Beaux-Arts era reigns supreme here, with early 20th century paintings and sculptures lining the checkered floors. The Jefferson's elegant accommodations are appointed with Bose sound systems, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. (For a little more space, upgrade to a suite, which will come equipped with a coffee maker and, in some suites, balconies overlooking the Washington Monument.) Recent guests highly recommend making good use of the intimate on-site spa during your stay, and the in-house gourmet restaurants, Plume and The Greenhouse, earn particularly high praise, along with the on-site bar, Quill. Visitors also give props for The Jefferson's location, which is just a short walk from the National Mall.
'If we want things to stay as they are,' Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, 'things will have to change.' Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve King