John Steinbeck certainly chose a beautiful spot to hole up while writing his famous piece on Positano for Harper’s Bazaar in 1953. Positano was just a quiet fishing village then and he described the Sirenuse as ‘an old family house converted into a first-class hotel, spotless and cool’. While still spotless and cool, the summer villa is a lot more upscale these days, immaculately run with huge charm and a maniacal eye for detail by Antonio Sersale and his wife Carla. The handsome ox-blood red building is crammed with precious antiques (starting with a rare 18th-century palanquin in the reception hall), many of them collected by Antonio’s late father Franco, and the white bedrooms have tiled floors from Vietri and balconies with grandstand views. But it’s the small details – the cloth-bound copies of Steinbeck’s article and the pretty beach baskets in the bedrooms, the crisp Frette linens and Eau d’Italie bath goodies – that kick things to another level. Positano is a bit of a madhouse nowadays, but you can avoid it altogether, dreaming away the hours on the pool terrace, booking a massage at the Gae Aulenti-designed Aveda spa or hopping on the hotel’s boat for a spin. In the evening, guests gather in the Champagne & Oyster bar before moving on to La Sponda restaurant to tuck into tonnarelli pasta with lobster and saddle of lamb with artichokes to the sound of guitar and mandolin duo Franco and Andrea. By Nicky Swallow
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.
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The No. 1 Best Hotel in Boston, XV Beacon is a shining example of luxury accommodations. The boutique hotel wins favor with travelers and experts for its variety of amenities, which include a 24-hour fitness center, courtesy car service and concierge assistance with all types of requests, from Red Sox tickets to in-room massages. Accommodations blend modern and classic decor and come equipped with fireplaces, canopy or four-poster beds, cashmere blankets and marble bathrooms. (Courtesy of XV Beacon)
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
Situated on the banks of the Chicago River and less than a mile from the shopping on The Magnificent Mile, The Langham, Chicago is a hit with recent travelers. Opened in 2013, the hotel impresses guests with its attentive service, quiet location and riverfront views. Occupying the first 13 floors of a 52-story landmark skyscraper, The Langham, Chicago boasts 316 guest rooms and suites. Accommodations are outfitted with soaking tubs and rain showers, 55-inch LCD TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. Past lodgers compliment the comfy beds and relaxing bathrooms and recommend booking a room with a river view to make the most of the hotel's location. When you're not relaxing in your room, you'll find plenty of other amenities at your fingertips. In addition to the Chuan Spa, the hotel also touts a health club and 67-foot-long indoor pool. Though many of downtown Chicago's top restaurants are within reach, previous visitors suggest giving the on-site restaurant, Travelle Kitchen + Bar, a try. As is the case throughout the property, guests say the service staff members at the restaurant are both attentive and friendly.
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.
Occupying prime real estate on Chicago's coveted Magnificent Mile, The Peninsula Chicago combines Hong Kong's cosmopolitan flair with the Windy City's Midwestern charm. Travelers describe the guest rooms as comfortable thanks to their creamy color palette and plush furniture, not to mention their modern techie touches, like a bedside remote command station that controls the lights, television and room temperatures. Meanwhile, the renowned Peninsula Spa is in a class by itself: earning The Peninsula Chicago many accolades from health and leisure magazines. Another honorable mention goes to the afternoon tea served in the lobby bar, which visitors say is a nice and welcome touch. During your stay, guests recommend making time for the tasty Cantonese dishes served in the Shanghai Terrace restaurant. However, for many travelers, it was The Peninsula Chicago's friendly service staff that convinced them to stay here again.
If you are travelling for vacation, figure out which attractions or landmarks you want to see and book a hotel that is within close proximity. Although hotels near attractions might cost a little more, you may find that spending those extra few dollars is worth the convenience. You can even find hotels that align with your interests. For example, if you are looking for a relaxing vacation, a spa hotel may be the perfect choice for you.
After undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai reopened in 2016, offering travelers a new pool complex and upgraded guest rooms overlooking Hulopoe Bay. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Lanai and No. 3 Best Hotel in Hawaii encourages lodgers to experience Lanai. The hotel's employees can arrange activities such as snorkeling, horseback riding and four-wheeling. On the property grounds, travelers can indulge in a treatment at the spa, play a round of golf and enjoy tasty American or Japanese fare at on-site restaurants. (Barbara Kraft/Four Seasons Resort Lanai)
The recipient of numerous industry accolades, including Frommer's Exceptional and AAA Four Diamond awards, the No. 1 Best Hotel in New York City sits in the heart of lower Manhattan. Along with its desirable address, travelers also praise The Beekman's superb service, tasty cuisine and trendy vibe. Acclaimed American chefs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally have outposts here, and guest rooms and suites boast modern features like custom leather headboards, aged oak floors, curated artwork and bathrooms with Carrara marble accents. (Courtesy of The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel)
Three championship golf courses, a spa, a tennis club and three pools (including a zero-entry pool with waterslides) are just a few ways guests can entertain themselves while staying at the No. 1 Best Hotel in Colorado Springs. Perched next to Cheyenne Lake, this Preferred Hotels & Resorts outpost serves as a great jumping-off point for adventurous travelers eager to hike, fly-fish and more in the surrounding area. Along with its enviable location, visitors are also impressed with The Broadmoor's restaurant, La Taverne, and its large accommodations. All rooms and suites offer dark wood furnishings, floral-designed fabrics and patterned carpets, as well as flat-panel TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. (Courtesy of The Broadmoor)
‘Coûte que coûte’ goes the punning family motto of Sir Charles Coote, for whom the opulent Ballyfin estate was conceived in the early 19th century. ‘No matter the cost’ is how this loosely translates, proving as apt an adage in the 21st century as it was then. Many millions of euros may have been lavished on this stately pile in County Laois, both in its original construction and, more recently, its painstaking restoration. For the architectural historian, the house is a head turner – the culmination of Regency craftsmanship brought together in lusciously modelled plasterwork, scagliola in varying colours, stained glass and staggeringly intricate parquetry. For the sybarite, the house is a place of comfort and grandeur, not least in the Gold Drawing Room where walls are hung with lustrous silk and vast windows frame views of the 28-acre lake. Bedrooms are also decorated with rich fabrics and wallpaper, fine antiques, fresh flowers from the garden, art and books – a fabulous amalgamation of Anglo-Irish panache. New this year is Ballyfin’s 21st room and first standalone property: the tiny Gardener’s Cottage overlooking, to the rear, the walled gardens, which supply Ballyfin’s kitchen with organic fruit and vegetables. The grounds are made for strolling in the complimentary wellies, with grottoes and rockeries, a folly and a fernery, a rose garden and an aviary. There is no finer Irish-country house experience. By Pamela Goodman
Half an hour’s drive from Mérida, the state capital of Yucatán, Chablé began life as an 18th-century sisal hacienda, and many of its original buildings endure. The arcaded Casa Principal, its faded stucco the blue of a Madonna’s cloak, contains the bar and an enfilade of sitting rooms; the former machine house has been incorporated into the most ambitious of its four restaurants, which is under the auspices of Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil in Mexico City, ranked 11th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants; and a smaller building contains an immense library of tequilas. In case you feel the urge to atone for a surfeit of high living, the chapel of San Antonio, after whom the San Antonio Chablé estate was named, remains a house of God. Forty contemporary white-limestone-and-glass casitas are strung across the densely wooded 300-hectare estate, each with its own terrace, pool and hammock, and guests fall broadly into two categories: those who have come to explore the ruins of ancient abandoned Maya cities – Chablé is well placed for visiting Uxmal, arguably the greatest example of these on the Yucatán peninsula – and those who are here for the spectacular forest spa, where the pools are lined in tiles of petrified wood. Surrounded by jungle, a dozen treatment cabins are arranged around a cenote, a water-filled sinkhole which the Maya believed to be a portal to the underworld but guests are told is a fountain of wellness. It’s a place of such beauty and charm that even non-converts to traditional Maya healing rituals will succumb to the overall spirit and peace. By Claire Wrathall
Back when this hotel opened in 1995, there were few places in the Maldives to rival it. Landing here by seaplane felt like arriving at an escape cast out at the edge of the world. These days, neighbouring lights are aplenty, but this pristine paradise still feels wild enough to instil excitement. The groundbreaking barefoot ethos created by husband-and-wife owners Sonu and Eva Shivdasani ensures immediate surrender. Explore the island by bike, stopping to bob, chat, and giggle in the warm ocean for hours. Seventy rustic, thatched-roof villas, each hidden in the jungle shade (no stilts over water here) are designed with pared-back simplicity: natural tones, soft textures, lots of driftwood. Each comes with the softest organic sheets, huge daybeds, private pools, hammocks, and a sound system on which to blare out Nat King Cole. There’s snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing trips, and treatments in the spa (tension-soothing massages with lemongrass oil, rose-crystal lymphatic facials, a touch of Ayurveda). At the forward-thinking art studio, wine bottles are upcycled into sculptures. Food is central, with enough sushi to sink a ship, epic make-your-own salad bars, addictive egg appam, an ice cream parlour, a cheese room, and the new Out of the Blue restaurant, with slides straight into the sea. No wonder everybody here is beaming. One of the first luxe–but–laid-back hotels to open in the Indian Ocean, Fushi still delivers on fresh, cool charisma. By Daisy Finer
The chic accommodations at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto reflect the charm of its Yorkville backdrop. The property's rooms and suites – designed with elegant decor and modern amenities like an in-room iPad to access Four Seasons services and bathrooms equipped with deep soaking tubs and TVs – hold views of the downtown neighborhood's surrounding shops and cafes. Despite the abundance of nearby restaurants, guests suggest enjoying a meal on premises; both Café Boulud and d|bar lounge offer French-inspired menus from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. Serenity-seekers rave about the spacious, sleek setting in the spa, which comes outfitted with an indoor pool, a steam room, a salon and a long list of treatment options.