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 short, cobblestoned walk up from Cusco’s central plaza sits an elegant hotel with ancient roots. The story of this Belmond all-suite property—which opened in 2012—is reflected in its décor: Original Inca stone walls from the building’s footprint give way to the colonial-era frescoes and gilded 17th-century décor of its private mansion days, while a small restored chapel and serene arcades reveals its time as a convent. Now, tucked-away terraces and gardens, bubbling fountains, and Cusco’s first heated pool encourage contemplation of another kind to guests of the 55 accommodations. With butler service included for all rooms, checking in and getting acquainted with your suite is a breeze. Despite the historic air, all the technology is up-to-date, so enjoy the in-room iPads, espresso/tea machines, heated bathroom floors, and pumped-in oxygen to help ease any altitude issues.
The No. 2 Best Hotel in Aspen sits in the heart of town, within walking distance of Aspen's boutiques, restaurants and ski slopes. Back at the hotel, travelers can soothe their aching muscles with a Rocky Mountain-inspired treatment at the spa. Additionally, guests have access to three on-site eateries and watering holes, including a modern American bistro, a cozy lounge and the Old West-themed J-Bar (a traveler favorite). Aspen influences are also on display in the property's guest rooms, which blend rustic decor (think: cowhide chairs and contemporary animal busts) with modern perks, such as plasma TVs and work desks. (Courtesy of Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort)
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 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.
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Los Angeles for 2017, The Peninsula Beverly Hills has a reputation for providing first-rate service and stellar amenities to guests. Accommodations are decorated with custom furnishings and marble bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and showers. The Belvedere is a AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant, and afternoon tea is available in the Living Room Lounge. In addition to the delectable on-site cuisine, visitors love the rooftop pool, Jacuzzi and deck thanks to its views of the LA skyline. (Courtesy of The Peninsula Beverly Hills)
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 Napa Valley is filled with high-end properties, one of its most well-regarded resorts is Calistoga Ranch. This Auberge-affiliated resort – the No. 2 Best Hotel in Napa Valley – is home to all sorts of luxurious features, including a wine cave, a mineral pool and a fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that guests can borrow for free. The property also offers a variety of specialized experiences (for a fee), from beekeeping courses to wine blending experiences. Meanwhile, accommodations boast indoor-outdoor living areas with fireplaces, as well as outdoor rain showers, separate soaking tubs and wet bars with gourmet snacks. (Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort)
Old Hollywood glamour is on display throughout Hotel Bel-Air. Ranked as the No. 3 Best Hotel in Los Angeles for 2018, this chic property resides in the exclusive Bel Air Estates neighborhood and is home to a spa, an outdoor pool and a lake with four white swans. In addition to the hotel's quiet atmosphere, guests rave about the property's stunning accommodations, which let in ample natural light and offer high-end features, such as marble bathrooms and private entrances. Many also praise the hotel's attentive staff. (Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air)
DH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von Simson