This Relais & Châteaux property – which is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Aspen – consistently earns high praise for its prime location near Aspen's world-renowned slopes and the tasty cuisine served at its two restaurants: element 47 and Ajax Tavern. But the hotel lures more than just powder hounds and foodies. Families have access to loaner strollers and video game consoles, while travelers with pets receive treats and jet lag kits for their pooches. What's more, all 92 rooms and suites feature luxurious touches like separate steam showers and Jacuzzis, gas fireplaces and heated marble bathroom floors. (Courtesy of The Little Nell and Shawn O'Connor)

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.
Two are indisputably better than one at the Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare, a dual-property entity sitting high above Portofino cove. Both halves carry with them a bit of history: the 670-room Hotel Splendido was once a 16th-century monastery known for withstanding attacks from Saracen pirates, while the other, 16-room “Mare” half sits on the piazzetta, a respite from the lively Ligurian harbor. Outside, fragrant bundles of wisteria and straight-backed juniper bushes flank its winding cobblestone walkways, while rooms mostly come with terra-cotta-tiled terraces where you can take your morning cappuccino—some offer up stunning panoramic views of the cove.
When Indian hotels do opulent, they really do opulent. And every inch of this palatial spot in the calm, tree-lined boulevards of Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave is gilded, mirrored, plumped, embroidered and topped with not-a-petal-out-of-place flower arrangements (14,000 blooms are delivered daily). But while it channels the vibe of the grand residence of a globetrotting Maharaja – huge Murano chandeliers from Venice, hand-woven carpets from Turkey, intricate Rajasthani miniature paintings, sandstone elephant statues carved in Qatar (no wonder if cost hundreds of millions to build) – it was actually all brand spanking new when it opened in 2011, so also has a stealthy undercurrent of techie and green credentials. The 260 gold-hued rooms and suites are some of the largest in the city, treatments at ESPA spa draw on India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions and the whole hotel is stuffed with so much contemporary Indian art that there’s a dedicated guided walk to take it all in, past Seema Kohli’s layered storytelling canvases, Satish Gupta’s lotus murals and Laxma Goud’s bronzes. An army of ultra-attentive staff fall over themselves to open doors, take bags and present garlands. And at the restaurants (there are four, and two bars), the menus are equally extravagant: hand-cut black truffle fettuccine in black truffle sauce at Italian Le Cirque; lobster nerulli curry at Indian Jamavar; sashimi made with cuts direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market at Japanese Megu. A new species of grand hotel, and hugely influential. By Fiona Kerr

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.”
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
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