The building’s textile-clad façade and verdant latticework by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma creates a palpable sense of calm – ideal for meditating on the deeper cultural meaning behind contemporary Chinese artworks in the atrium, such as Beijing Memory No. 1 and No. 2, Li Xiaofeng’s wearable cheongsam and military breastplate covered in Ming and Qing-dynasty porcelain shards, and ceramicist Fiona Wong’s ghostly, lace-like White Wings. There’s also a 20ft-high Chinese apothecary chest of 6,000 drawers in the lobby, and the multilingual staff shuffling around in all-black outfits further add to the art-gallery vibe. More straightforward are the 99 open-plan guestrooms finished in oak wood and Turkish sandstone, with Japanese-style furo soaking tubs and powerful overhead rain showers. The complimentary ‘maxi-bar’ features craft brews from the nearby Arrow Factory and bottles of orange-flavoured Arctic Ocean soda, the nectar of any Beijing childhood. A decade after the hotel opened, the Sanlitun area surrounding the House has blossomed. Cross the street to Dover Street Market, where you’re likely to spy staff nipping out to pick up niche items at pop-up events. Follow the scent of date wood back to the hotel’s Jing Yaa Tang restaurant: cumin-laced lamb skewer and fiery kung pao chicken from a cage-free farm south of Beijing deliver just the right amount of anticipation while the master roaster glazes your duck with his secret combination of osmanthus, honey, vinegar, molasses and crushed dates. Order an Old Peking as nightcap, made with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, Mancino Vecchio vermouth and finished in a cloud of date wood smoke – the only type used by serious Beijing duck roasters. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
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.
Though hardly a secret, it is surprising that more people are not raving about this handsome hotel set in Victorian buildings in elegant South Kensington. It’s quintessentially English, with excellent food and service; the bar, too, is impeccably sleek and takes its cocktails seriously. It has some of the most charming and comfortable public spaces (that sequence of sunlit sitting rooms along the Queen’s Gate side) of any small hotel in the city, and two of the loveliest suites, the Knightsbridge and the Brompton, which can be connected to become a single mega-apartment. Apart from which, what is there to recommend the place? Well, there is the endlessly diverting art on the walls, which displays an eclectic mixture not only of periods and genres but also of seriousness and whimsy. And then there are the camellia-motif carpets, extending in all directions once you ascend above the ground floor. These ought to be frightening but are, on the contrary, delightful, so perpetually spring-like they cannot but put a spring in your step. The Kensington was the first Doyle Collection property to launch in London (followed very closely by the Marylebone; the Bloomsbury, the most recent arrival, was also an instant hit). Yet it is, if not the best, then the warmest and cosiest, the most genial and the most versatile, of the lot. By Steve King
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The friendly and thoughtful staff of the Hotel du Vieux-Québec will make you feel like in the comfort of your own home. This boutique hotel located in the heart of Old Quebec is surrounded by the ramparts. Its friendly staff will be happy to reveal you the many interesting sites nearby. The welcoming hotel rooms have a contemporary decor. You have the possibility of inviting your pet from November to April in the standard rooms. The owner is committed to reducing its environmental impact through many projects that have earned him numerous awards.
The Indian ethos that the guest is god rings true of many grand hotels in the country, yet the Oberoi likes to put its own spin on things. Rising like a great gilded cake from the western shores of Lake Pichola, magnificent Udaivilas is just the spot to wash up after a dusty Rajasthan road trip. This particular pleasure palace is a relatively recent arrival but, like the 18th-century mansions it overlooks, it was built to showcase the craftsmanship of the Rajput era: marble-carved lotus ponds; glittering thikri mosaics; delicate miniatures painted on pale gold walls hand-plastered with lime, crushed marble, egg white and tamarind. The spectacular Candle Room contains a dome set with thousands of pieces of mirrored glass. Udaipur’s busy market streets are only a few miles away, but Udaivilas has the luxury of space: 30 acres of what used to be the Maharana of Mewar’s hunting estate, with bird-filled grounds and views of the pretty lake and its floating mansions. All this grandeur could feel cold and overwhelming if it weren’t for the excellent staff. Guests are greeted off the motor boat by doormen with great twirling moustaches and within minutes everyone knows your name. Small, personal interventions include gifts of a metal-wrought tea light or beaded bag, say, left in your room alongside a handwritten note. In the most romantic city in India, this is the most spectacular place to stay. By Pippa de Bruyn
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