Casa Tua isn't the most obvious choice for a hotel in Miami - it's not beachfront and it lacks the city's signature Art Deco style - but that's pretty much the point. There's something wonderfully idiosyncratic about this red-roofed, Mediterranean-style villa, an appeal that draws the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson. While the rest of South Beach is all splash factor and excitable Kardashian clones, this place remains as peaceful and detached as a Tuscan hideaway. With their big marble bathrooms, overstuffed sofas and canopy beds, the five all-white suites manage to feel both homely and luxurious. But there can be little doubt that the downstairs restaurant is the biggest draw, with a fabulous courtyard lit by dozens of antique lanterns and a living room-like interior filled with framed black-and-white photos. The food fits in perfectly with this smart but homespun vibe: seared seabass with olives, tomatoes, artichokes and asparagus; tiramisu for pudding. Casa Tua doesn't have a pool, but it's possible to book a spot at the Delano hotel's beach, a block and a half away.
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
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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
Surrounded by the stark beauty of the southern Utah desert, this thrilling nexus of design and location has yet to be outshone by any other hotel in the USA. From a distance, it looks like a nuclear bunker; inside, it's all austere grandeur, concrete and glass, iron and wood, soaring space and dancing sunlight. In the main building, floor-to-ceiling windows give CinemaScope views of the desert and very cool pool; loungers are shaded by flowering cherry trees, of all unexpected things. The open kitchen with its wood-burning stove is here, and an indoor-outdoor restaurant and library. Insane prices rather squelch the appeal of the splendid spa, but the 34 rooms could make anyone grin: softest Beltrami linen, spotlit art in the loo, a free minibar (non-alcoholic drinks only, but addictive salted caramel popcorn) plus those devastating desert views from the bed, bath, twin showers and terrace. Most amazing, though, are the huge pool suites. The (mostly Mormon) staff will make up a daybed on the sky terrace for guests to sleep out beneath the stars. Excellent guides include geologists, archaeologists and an ex-Marine naturalist, and there are two daily hikes for spotting coyote, cougar, jackrabbits and deer mice. Food could be simpler and arrive sooner, but the bison steaks are perfect. And from November to March, meals are included in the room rate.
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This legendary hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side has a highly developed sense of noblesse oblige. The Carlyle opened inauspiciously in 1930, the year after the Wall Street Crash, and its lobby retains the original black-and-white tiled floor designed by Dorothy Draper. The lift operator knows each guest's name and room number, handy should you return late and a little squiffy. And each room has a proper key: no troublesome cards or spooky 'iris recognition' here. The bedrooms themselves are generously sized - at least for New York - while the tower suites are positively vast and very beautiful, with pale beechwood parquet floors, Chinese cabinets, onyx lamps and silk-cushioned fauteuils, as well as heart-stopping views of Central Park. Refreshment is never far away: tea is served in the Ottoman-styled Gallery, cocktails in the Bemelmans Bar (the bar of the Upper East Side) and lunch or dinner in the Carlyle Restaurant, which is decorous without being sedate. And music is inherent at the Carlyle, whose first tenant was composer Richard Rodgers. In its public rooms and suites there are 14 baby grand pianos, and Woody Allen still plays jazz clarinet every Monday night, six months of the year, at the ground-floor Café Carlyle. But in the end, the Carlyle's brilliance lies in its understatement. The fire instructions say, 'Remain relaxed'. Here, at what is still New York's grandest hotel, it's hard to do anything else.
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

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 fourth-generation, family-owned Hotel Continental is one of the oldest and most established hotels in Oslo—but it's not just its pedigree that makes it a notable stay. Located on the doorstep of some of the city's main tourist attractions, including the Royal Castle, the parade street Karl Johan, the National Gallery, the waterfront, and the Aker Brygge neighborhood, it's in a veritable hotbed of activity. The five-star spot caters to an accordingly upscale crowd, with plenty of business travelers in the mix, but there are also locals swinging by for pre-dinner cocktails at Bar Boman, the stylish hotel bar—so you won't feel at all sequestered from the scene.

There are certainly more luxe options scattered around the Ngorongoro crater area. But Gibb’s Farm, with its colonial farmhouse on the wooded slopes of the crater, built by German farmers as a coffee plantation in 1929, wins hands down on history and character. (It’s so beloved that old African hands use it for their personal family holidays.) Its cozy cottages and lush, tropical gardens make the perfect antidote to days spent on a dusty game drive.


The Waldorf-Astoria offers top-of-the-line luxury in Chicago. With an intimate, boutique feel -- but all the amenities of a large hotel -- the 188-room Waldorf caters to leisure and business travelers. Sleek rooms feature neutral tones, contemporary furnishings, and gorgeous marble bathrooms that offer separate showers and soaking tubs, as well as TVs inset in the mirrors. Highlights include the upscale restaurant Balsan, a top-notch spa, and health club with extensive services and an indoor lap pool. Plus, the hotel's location in the swanky Gold Coast neighborhood puts it within walking distance of upscale shops, restaurants, and attractions
The Auberge Saint-Antoine is set right on the Old Port in Québec City on the St. Lawrence River and has earned several accolades for its excellent service. The hotel blends contemporary décor with artifacts from Québec City’s French and English regimes, many of which were found on the property. Guests checking in are treated to music playing and personalized welcome cards in their rooms. The lobby bar and lounge often features jazz musicians playing in the evenings.
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.
Situated on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana offers elegant, adults only getaways along stunning golden-sandy shores. During your stay, savour gourmet cuisines, artfully-prepared cocktails and stunning oceanviews while doing as much or as little as you’d wish. Delight in thrilling water sports or escape to the spa offering pampering treatments for a small fee. Afterwards, luxuriate on a comfortable beach lounger or delight in afternoon hors d’oeuvres served poolside with fresh towels and wait service. When it comes time to grab a bite to eat, choose from a variety of dining options including Dorado, Hideaway’s main restaurant serving à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of the most notable features of this boutique-style resort are the lavish accommodations, with preferential suites featuring Royalton premium DreamBeds™ with high thread count sheets. Guests can also upgrade to Diamond Club to enjoy added amenities such as butler service, a selection of in-suite liquors, upgraded room service and exclusive reservations at the resort’s esteemed à la carte restaurants.
Since opening in 2001, The Peninsula Chicago has wowed visitors with its Magnificent Mile address, friendly staff and modern decor. Each guest room and suite offers cream, black and navy blue hues, as well as a Nespresso coffee maker, Bernardaud china, a tablet and one king-sized or two double beds with custom Pratesi linens. On the hotel's 19th and 20th floors, travelers will find The Peninsula Spa, which offers Asian-inspired treatments, an indoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Chicago also houses four on-site dining venues that serve small bites, European dishes, modern American fare and Asian cuisine. (Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago)
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Viengtai Hotel, located in the old town of Bangkok close to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun across the river, is a classically designed three star property.The popular tourist streets Khao San and Soi Rumbuttri are walking distance from the hotel meaning inexpensive restaurants, shops, massages and tailors are in plentiful supply, and of course the invigorating nightlife for which Khao San is famous.There is no skytrain station in the area, but the nearby ferry pier can transport you along the river and you can interchange at Saphan Taksin Station.The 200 renovated guestrooms are contemporary classic in design with a warm colour scheme of soft yellow and pale wood. Read More...
Tucked in the Virginia countryside amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland attracts travelers looking for a mix of activity and relaxation. There is no shortage of things to do here, from kayaking and golfing to horseback riding and stargazing. The property also has a spa, and hosts yoga and meditation classes. And guests appreciate the variety of accommodation options, too, with a traditional lodge, suites, cottages and even tree houses to choose from. (Courtesy of Primland)
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