The Taj Mahal Palace is a 1903, grey-and-white stone, red-domed wedding cake of a building that stands sentry over Mumbai’s harbor. When your taxi pulls up through the throngs of families and tourists who choke the roads near the Gateway to India arch and you’re ceremoniously welcomed by doormen in traditional silk kurtas, you have that pinch-me feeling of Wow, I’m really staying here? You’re in good company, as everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Barack Obama has spent the night here too. Because the Taj is such a landmark, there are tourists and locals who come and go from the hotel’s restaurants, shops, and bars, as well as the daily Heritage Walks around the property. But some parts of the hotel are off-limits to non-guests, so you quickly leave the bustle of the lobby behind. The Taj has the best pool in Mumbai, and a dozen restaurants, bars, and cafés, including Wasabi by Morimoto, Souk for Tagines, and Kraft Masala for Indian.
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
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
After a massive renovation in 2009, this boutique reopened, and regained its place among DC's elite hotels. It's not as famous as the Hay-Adams, but its subtle blend of technology (TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic housekeeping buttons) and colonial charms (intimate library, working dumbwaiter) are second to none. All that's missing is T.J. himself. (Oh wait, no.Here he is. ... )
There are few cities in which space is at such a premium as Tokyo. Which is why, when Aman opened its first urban resort in the city’s Otemachi business district, it delivered this sensational architectural masterpiece by Kerry Hill with acres of room at its heart. From the moment you step out into the 33rd-floor reception, there’s an overwhelming sense of calmness and light. Above a cavernous atrium walled in white washi rice paper rises like a giant shoji lantern; in front of it is a soothing Zen rock garden; and beyond floor-to-ceiling glass walls are views over twinkling buildings, the treetops of the Imperial Palace garden and – a rarity in Tokyo – big stretches of sky. The 84 bedrooms, built using a soothing combination of pale camphor woods, dark stone and white washi paper, all deliver minimal fuss and maximum comfort. Hi-tech touches are discreetly hidden so Japanese details can take centre stage: a deep furo soaking tub; a solitary work of calligraphy; a table decorated with a traditional teapot and a home-made dessert adorned with an exquisite edible flower. Within the two-storey, stone-clad spa is a 100ft pool to do laps in while looking out over the skyline, yoga and Pilates rooms, and therapists delivering tailor-made spa journeys (a soothing remedy to jetlag). The food tastes like it’s been made with ingredients just delivered to the kitchen – whether that’s rustic spaghetti alla puttanesca at Arva Italian restaurant, delicate Japanese egg-rolls served in lacquered bento boxes or made-to-order sushi with a shot of fine sake at the long Hinoki bar. Private excursions – in a sparkling black Mercedes with a white-gloved chauffeur – couldn’t be more polished, perhaps to Mount Fuji or going for a lesson with a master calligrapher. The ultimate Japanese cocooning urban retreat for those who want space to soak it all in. By Lisa Grainger
Closer to home, we saw familiar, boutique favorites, such as Vermont’s culinary mecca Twin Farms; Montana’s rustic-luxe Triple Creek Ranch; and Big Sur, California’s adults-only Post Ranch Inn — accessible again now that Highway 1 has recovered from last year’s mudslides — all make the list this year. C Lazy U Ranch, a family-friendly dude ranch in the Colorado Rockies, is making its World’s Best debut — and it managed to crack the top 100. “As someone who has been fortunate enough to travel to 86 countries, I can say that C Lazy U ranks at the very top of the list,” said one devoted fan. “The accommodations and activities are excellent.”
Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Brazil Canada China Denmark Finland flagChile flagColombia flagCostaRica flagEgypt flagEuroCatch-All flagPeru flagSaudiArabia flagUAE France Germany Hong Kong India Indonesia Ireland Italy Japan Korea Malaysia Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Norway Philippines Singapore Spain Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand United Kingdom United States Vietnam
Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.