Music producer Chris Blackwell, who introduced the world to Bob Marley back in 1973, also founded this oceanfront island hideaway a few years later, based around the clifftop villa where Ian Fleming wrote all his Bond novels. In the decades since its reach has grown and grown. There’s no sign at the entrance, which is part of the low-key charm. It’s easy to see why many music and film stars make their way here: this is a sweet spot with a very independent flavour, a world away from the oversized all-inclusives, and more honed than Blackwell’s companion hotel, Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains. Couples tend to hole up in the wooden beach huts; families and friends take over the massive villas; industry bigwigs feel right at home in Fleming’s former house, which has three bedrooms and a personable, clued-in staff. There are a few nods to 007 – black-and-white photos of Bond in reception plus novels and films on loan – but GoldenEye is mainly about Jamaica, a sensibility found in the blazingly coloured fabrics, breezy breakfasts on the verandah with cups of Blue Mountain coffee, and heaps of tropical fruit. The sheltered bay for morning swims is just a few paces away across immaculate sands. It says everything that Blackwell still lives here (guests have been known to unwittingly roll up to his villa and ask for a drink, which is always obligingly provided). And why would he leave? He gets to enjoy a highly original hangout that is entirely of his making. This is that rare beast: a hotel that balances heritage and hip and gets away with it. By Nigel Tisdall
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)
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.
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
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
There are plenty of wellness-focused hotels out there nowadays, but this private island hotel has been around longer and does it better than most. Just ask its fan club, who travel from far and wide for the daily yoga sessions, early morning meditations on the pristine beach, healing massages, and Ayurvedic consultations with Dr Parth, who hails from Goa. Check into one of the whitewashed beachfront villas simply furnished with Indonesian four-poster beds swathed in Italian linens and that’s more or less what your days will consist of – not to mention biking around the island, snorkelling expeditions, kayaking and dawdling over long feasts. The only reason to wear a watch is to make sure you don’t miss yoga. For those who prefer their Caribbean hotels a bit more hedonistic, you can always skip the green juice and slurp a Mojito at the bar, which Keith Richards has been known to frequent when he’s in residence. The Rolling Stone is just one of the island’s famous homeowners. Donna Karan has called her Balinese-inspired villa on Parrot Cay ‘a sanctuary where I go to create awareness’. Bruce Willis and Christie Brinkley own estates nearby, which can be rented should you need more space than COMO’s beachfront villas can provide. This is a wide-open, big-hearted place that puts beach life first. By Laura Itzkowitz
The Peninsula Beverly Hills earns a five-pearl rating, but as one of the best hotels in Beverly Hills, and perhaps in all of Los Angeles, that may be an understatement. Thanks to its attentive staff that discreetly caters to the rich and famous, its status as a luxury Hollywood destination has been steady since its opening in the early '90s. The dining is top-notch, the rooftop pool is an A-list playground, and the spa uses massage oils infused with diamonds. The 194 guest rooms have a floral decor that isn't for everyone, and the management may think it's too pedestrian to have in-room coffeemakers, but at these rates the lack of an Italian espresso machine seems like an oversight. On the plus side, a chauffeur and a Rolls-Royce come included with the rates. 
Bold, crazy, ambitious, foolhardy, visionary – any number of adjectives could have been used to describe Australians Rory and Melita Hunter when they formulated their plan some 12 years ago to create a destination hotel on two tiny islands in the little-known Koh Rong archipelago, 20 miles off the coast of Cambodia. Yet the sublime result was Song Saa – the first opening outside of Siem Reap to rekindle an interest in travel to Cambodia after decades of oppression (their next project is 200-hectare Song Saa Reserve at Siem Reap). Nine of the 27 standalone villas (each with a private pool) are on stilted platforms over aquamarine water, the rest dotting the shoreline or tucked into the jungly interior of the larger island; the smaller island, linked via a wooden walkway, remains an unblemished nature reserve. But it’s Melita’s creative touch that really defines the look and feel of Song Saa: driftwood and bamboo from broken-up fishing boats and abandoned houses have been recycled into walls, floors and furniture. The Song Saa Foundation runs in conjunction with the hotel, championing health, employment and education among local communities, and tackles issues such as waste management and marine protection. So staying at this top-class island hideaway also means supporting social and environmental change. A meaningful blueprint for sustainable travel. By Pamela Goodman
This 21-room mansion-turned-hotel was the survey’s No. 1 winner among small city hotels, and it embodies that time-machine charm of the Holy City: fireplaces in every room, hors d’oeuvres and sherry in the lobby, and chocolate truffles on your pillow at bedtime. With so many seductive treats, readers also awarded the Second-Empire-style hotel a high ranking for romance. Meanwhile, with Southern-meets-global dishes like antelope country paté, cast-iron poulet rouge and sweet potato doughnuts, the on-site Circa 1886 restaurant helped the Wentworth win the gold medal for small-city hotel dining. 

Hôtel 71 is located in a building with plenty of history: it was formerly the first head office of the National Bank of Canada in Québec City. The outside has a great example of 19th-century Neoclassical architecture, while the inside is decorated in an elegant urban style. An espresso lounge serves coffee throughout the day. The hotel is ideally located for cruises, as it is close to the terminals. It is also close to the funicular. For delightful Italian cuisine, eat at the attached restaurant, Il Matto.
There are plenty of hotels on Santorini with giddying views – the most desirable places to stay teeter on the rim of a 300-metre cliff that plunges into the flooded volcanic caldera. But none have the spare, ethereal bone structure of Perivolas. Rooms are sculpted from brushed concrete, pressed into arched doorways and barrelled ceilings with the builders’ bare hands. Bright hits of pink and purple – a sprig of bougainvillaea, a heap of floor cushions – bring the cool white interiors and black volcanic walls into sharper focus. This fierce purity defines every detail at Perivolas, a family dream that materialised in the early 1980s and is still run with great passion and precision by the Psychas clan. The line-up here is scant but special: a hushed restaurant beside a pool almost indistinguishable from the blue horizon, where the chef cures, smokes and ferments local ingredients into artful yet unfussy dishes; and a small, soulful spa streaming with natural light. It takes confidence to leave so much out of a five-star hotel, but Perivolas defines luxury differently than most hotels on the island – or anywhere else for that matter. One of the things that draws devotees back season after season is the fact that time seems to stand still here. Sure, discreet additions might appear, such as the purpose-built gym, lap pool and yoga studio last year. But while the rest of Santorini is engaged in an unseemly scrum for more tourist dollars, life at Perivolas remains blissfully unhurried, unflashy and yes, unspoiled. By Rachel Howard

The Hôtel Manoir Victoria has a long history, dating back to the 1830s. Despite its age, the hotel has been recently renovated, and the exterior now hides an updated and contemporary interior, with sleek and modern décor. Rooms are spacious. As there are stairs leading up to the lobby, the staff is willing to help with luggage. The newly opened restaurant, Chez Boulay, comes highly recommended with its Nordic-inspired cuisine. Not only is there a spa, specializing in massage therapy, but a sauna is available as well.
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)
Rajasthan isn’t exactly lacking in grand heritage hotels, but there are at least two reasons to visit this property above all others. First, a section of it is still home to the former Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family (one of the largest private residences in the world) and second, for the extraordinary scale of the imposing architecture and the 26 acres of precisely manicured grounds. High on Chittar Hill, overlooking the Blue City, this golden-coloured sandstone pile has operated as a hotel since 1971, but it was the arrival of Taj Hotels in 2005 that elevated the service to match its royal setting. Art Deco interiors unfold over ornamental latticed stonework, artfully lit carved pillars, a sweeping marble staircase, exotic frescos and a neck-aching, 105-foot-high cupola. There are some pretty spectacular rooms – such as the Maharani Suite with the original bath carved from a single piece of pink Italian marble – but choose a Royal Suite for terrazzo flooring, original palace artwork and grand bathrooms leading to private balconies that frame views of the peacock-speckled gardens. A morning workout in the marble squash courts will justify a lazy afternoon in the subterranean spa, and then dinner of spice-laced Jodhpuri murgh in Risala restaurant. To stay here among the old-world opulence is to really get a flavour of Jodhpur’s gilded glory. By Lauren Ho
Highly recommend for a white Christmas! The city is so magical complete with German Christmas markets and carolers (come prepared for the cold!). Old town is beautiful (very European) and there is lots to do. Recommend trying the toboggan ride (great for all ages) and a visit to nearby Jacques-Cartier National Park if you like the outdoors! Tip: make sure you have the right change (in coins) for the buses.
×