This elegant Art Deco tower piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner – and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million-dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink in the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. No photographs. No phone calls – it says on the bottom of the menu firmly while maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes. The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favourite; the seared scallops with black leek and truffle sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots – in a city with a strong alfresco game – for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of LA and basking in that brilliant golden sunshine. By Mary Lussiana
The Lowell is conveniently situated near Fifth Avenue and Central Park on the Upper East Side. Offering 74 rooms and suites with cashmere throws, king-sized beds and pantries or kitchenettes stocked with Dean & DeLuca snacks, this boutique property also features an array of drinking and dining venues, including the elegant Majorelle, the oak-paneled Jacques Bar and the cozy Club Room. And no visit to the No. 2 Best Hotel in New York City would be complete without sitting for afternoon tea in the Pembroke Room. (Courtesy of The Lowell Hotel New York)
Year to year, we see our readers’ travel habits shift, as some destinations suddenly explode in popularity (hello, Portugal and Iceland) and others experience a cooling, perhaps due to geopolitical events or an unfavorable exchange rate. And this, of course, trickles down into our World’s Best results, particularly when it comes to ranking the top 100 hotels on the planet. But one thing remains a constant: the properties that make this selective list are all incredible ambassadors for their home countries, delivering intuitive service and luxury experiences that can truly make a vacation.
The romantic 261-room Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay serves the Ritz-Carlton name well, offering stunning rooms, a large spa, and beautiful bay views. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, the hotel has excellent outdoor facilities including fire pits facing the ocean and a manicured 18-hole golf course. Rooms are spacious and elegant, yet simple, with beautiful marble bathrooms and quaint shutters covering the windows. Fire pit rooms come with -- you guessed it -- cozy outdoor fire pits looking out over the rocky coast.
This pioneering, chalet-style hotel was built from scratch in 1989 out of old timbers salvaged from Savoyard farmhouses. It was the brainchild of local couple Jocelyne and Jean-Louis Sibuet, who went on to create a mini-empire of small, interesting properties scattered across the Alps, Lyon, Provence and St Barth’s. Along with all that gorgeous pine – sloping beamed ceilings, slated wood terraces, four-posters and open fireplaces – comes comfort: a cosy mix of textures and muted shades from silvered cow-skin rugs and creamy flannels to soft wool plaids and deep leather sofas, plus the occasional baroque carved antique. ‘The Italian influence is part of the Savoyard heritage,’ says Jocelyne, who handpicks every interior detail. This is not the place for party animals: unlike Courchevel, the bling-free, laid-back attitude here draws a mix of young couples with children and an international crowd of ski enthusiasts who would rather sip local Génépi with friends than gyrate to a thrumming bass. After a stint on the powdery slopes, have lunch on the terrace of Le Restaurant Alpin and order the divine four-cheese fondue – worth every liver-blasting calorie. Dinner is an equally hearty affair: black-truffle pasta with local ham and Beaufort sauce, followed by blueberry pie. Those who aren’t die-hard ski bums can work it off in the heated indoor pool at the Pure Altitude Spa, where signature treatments are packed with Alpine berries, botanical extracts and anti-aging mountain edelweiss. It’s a rustic-glam hotel that has considerably upped the style stakes in Megève. By Lanie Goodman
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.”
Set in the Arashiyama district on the western side of Kyoto (an area frequented by Japanese nobles of years gone by), Suiran sits seamlessly on the jade waters of the Katsura river. The original buildings, which now house the restaurants and lobby, are constructed around beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, and sunlight-dappled pebble-stone pathways lead the way to the more modern low-rise buildings that house the rooms. Yukata-clad staff welcome you warmly with a hot towel and tea whilst discretely whisking your luggage off to your room, leaving you to enjoy the serene surroundings, bathed in light and soothed by the sounds of flowing water. Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose.
This sprawling cream-colored villa is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and the stunning vantage point is one of the hotel's finest features: Hermanus is known for its rugged natural beauty, and Birkenhead House maximizes that in all directions. Hermanus is a lovely add-on to any South Africa trip, and this is the best hotel in the area by far. If you're a serious whale watcher, it's a no brainer: You can't beat these views.
Enter one of the property's 62 rooms or 15 luxury suites and you'll experience what previous guests praise most about the Hazelton: ample space. Rooms here start off at 575 square feet and feature amenities such as Nespresso makers, Juliet or walkout balconies and 47-inch flat-screen TVs. The expansive bathrooms also come complete with TVs as well as L'Occitane bath products and separate soaking tubs and rain showers. The amenities outside of the rooms are also top notch. The hotel houses its own private screening theater with leather chair seating for 25 guests. Or pamper yourself with rejuvenating treatments at the spa. When you get hungry, try the hotel's ONE Restaurant that features dishes from celebrity chef Mark McEwan. ONE serves French and Italian cuisine that recent diners described as well priced for the quality. Plus, Yorkville's shopping and high-end dining options sit just outside the Hazelton's doors. Part of The Leading Hotels of the World, the property participates in the Leaders Club loyalty program.
Constructed in the late 1800s, the Wentworth Mansion exudes old-world charm, meaning it's also the perfect home base for history buffs visiting Charleston, South Carolina. Lodgers particularly praise the property's elegant decor, fantastic customer service, on-site spa, evening wine and complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Wentworth Mansion wins the honor of the No. 1 Best Hotel in Charleston for 2017. (Courtesy of Wentworth Mansion)
For travelers who put a premium on luxury, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia delivers. Recent visitors said the staff's attention to detail makes guests feel like royalty. And the 156 rooms and suites aren't too shabby either: Accommodations feature views of the hotel's inner courtyard or the Vancouver cityscape, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee makers and complimentary Wi-Fi. The bathrooms are just as impressive with rainforest shower fixtures and heated floors. For extra pampering, treat yourself to a visit at Sense, A Rosewood Spa. When hunger sets in, the swanky Reflections: The Garden Terrace (open during the warmer months), serves cocktails and small plates. Meanwhile, Hawksworth Restaurant features a formal atmosphere and a menu with locally inspired cuisine. But when just drinks will do, kick back at the 1927 Lobby Lounge, which borrows its name from the building's original construction in 1927. You'll find this Rosewood outpost in downtown Vancouver at the corner of Howe and West Georgia streets (around the corner from the Vancouver Art Gallery).
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Overlooking an untamed strip of Pacific coast on Vancouver Island (about 195 miles northwest of Victoria), the Wickaninnish Inn is a Relais & Châteaux luxury amid the pines. Guests adore this hotel's rugged setting and isolated locale. All guest rooms boast ocean views, and include balconies, fireplaces, soaker tubs and heated flooring in the bathrooms. Guests can dine on fine, locally-sourced fare at The Pointe Restaurant for Brunch and dinner while the Driftwood Cafe features drinks such as coffee and smoothies, snacks and lunch options. For a bit of relaxation, hotel guests suggest heading to Ancient Cedars Spa, which offers treatments like West Coast Sacred Sea body wraps, or grabbing a drink at sundown at the On The Rocks Bar.
This hotel is the most talked-about hideout on the planet. Out here in the remote lands of southern Utah, where shark-tooth fossils, arrowheads and dinosaur bones poke through the crusty earth, Amangiri materialises out of the wobbling desert air. Seen from a distance, it has a phantasmic appearance, like a train of earth-toned cubes amongst the boulders. Inside, it’s a sleek homage to nature, with 34 airy, minimalistic suites and common areas that blend into the landscape. This is where retired rock stars, exhausted A-listers seeking tune-ups and athletes with deep pockets gather for creative South-western-style cooking and stargazing on the decks at night. Scramble up the hilly splendour that goes on as far as the eye can see – about 600 uninhabited acres. Or hike to the Via Ferratas, triumphantly executing the breathtaking, high-altitude treks and hearing all about the hoodoos, promontories, pinnacles, caves and iron-flat mesas of this untrammelled place from the on-site guide and geologist. Then there’s the pool, which wraps around an immense boulder in the heart of the grounds, or the spa, where Native American-influenced treatments rule the day. Amangiri, just a four-hour drive from Las Vegas, is a low-rise outpost in the dusty desert that goes beyond satisfying creature comforts: it’s an invitation to live deeper. By Becca Hensley
The St.Regis Bali has a gorgeous beachfront extending from Geger Beach, just south of the Nusa Dua peninsula.Its collection of suites, villas, and excellent restaurants, as well as its ballrooms and state-of-the art meeting spaces make it a resort apt for both business and leisure.Well-trained butlers are ready to assist you with virtually all your needs during your stay and offer that touch of genuine opulence that you get at St.Regis.An expansive blue lagoon serves as a centrepiece surrounded by lagoon villas, each boasting a wealth of Balinese art and inspired designs.These villas are romantic and perfectly suit honeymooners, who find a specially prepared flower bath upon arrival plus sweet fruit, dipped in chocolate fondue. Read More...
The 5-pearl, 65-room Encantado sits in a secluded spot a few miles north of Santa Fe with great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Big, luxurious rooms are decorated in a modern Southwestern style, featuring concrete and wood floors, Native American-style rugs, and a color scheme of warm browns and oranges, as well as high-end extras such as radiant floor heating, wood-burning fireplaces, and private patios. The fine dining at Terra restaurant is rated highly, and the resort also features an outdoor seasonal pool, whirlpool, luxury spa, and even free rentals of a Mercedes Benz for the day.
Perhaps you want to sway to the jazz in the Deep South, or see the iconic highlights of Washington DC? The USA promise experiences as diverse as the country itself. From theme parks to national parks and dazzling futuristic cities to A-list haunts, American holidays are designed to be as unique as you. To ensure you can perfectly personalise the trip of your dreams, we have an exclusive collection of outstanding boutique hotels, luxury spas and five-star accommodation to suit your USA holiday plans. Browse our stunning selection today and let your American dream begin.
The Mandarin Oriental is set in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Travelers appreciate the classy and laid-back atmosphere of this property – the No. 2 Best Hotel in Las Vegas – citing elegant decor, a relaxing spa and the elevated customer service as particular highlights. The hotel also has multiple pools and several restaurants, and sits within walking distance of other top Sin City sights such as the Bellagio Fountains and casinos. (Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas)
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
With seven swimming pools, a 28,000-square-foot spa and an epic beachfront location on the Kohala Coast, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Hawaii. Accommodations embrace the locale, with bright colors and Hawaiian art. Plus, many rooms include furnished terraces and outdoor lava rock showers. This Four Seasons outpost also organizes special experiences for guests, ranging from private luaus to mixology classes. (Don Riddle/Four Seasons Resort Hualalai)
This isn’t your typical farm. It’s owned by Eleven Experience, the Colorado-based high-end adventure-travel outfit that is one of the most interesting of its kind in the world right now. It has two helipads, an indoor-outdoor, swim-through geo-thermally heated pool, a bar with a pool table and drumkit, and a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows, modern art and sweeping views. In fact, there’s really nothing typical about Deplar, among the mountains on Iceland’s remote Troll Peninsula, a place of severe beauty. It’s got some of the best heli-skiing and fishing right at its doorstep. You can roll out of bed and chopper up to the top of a snow-covered volcano which, in all likelihood, no one has ever skied before, zipping through fields dotted with tiny horses that look like toys and finishing your run on the Arctic beach, where, if you do not mind the chill, you can simply kick off your skis and go fishing (then hightail it to the spa to recuperate in a flotation pod). It’s the sort of trip that confers bragging rights back home, from a company that understands such hyper-adventurous yet modern-luxe impulses perfectly. It has an expanding empire of properties and boats in North America, the Caribbean and Europe devoted to these fast/slow, winter/summer outdoorsy pursuits. But Deplar Farm is a standout. The air is pure, the snow powdery and in the summertime the salmon-rich rivers flow clear, fast and free. By Steve King
The Magnolia Hotel & Spa is a small, boutique property situated in downtown Victoria. Its enviable location in the city's center makes the hotel suitable for both business and leisure travelers; however, some say city noise can seep into the accommodations. Rooms are equipped with free internet access, minibars, marble bathrooms with glass showers, deep soaking tubs and sweeping views of the city or Inner Harbour. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Magnolia's on-site eatery, The Courtney Room, which serves up French dishes. As for customer service, recent guests enjoy the attention to detail – travelers are treated to a welcome gift of fruit and handmade chocolates – and praise the staff for being exceptionally friendly and helpful. The Spa Magnolia is also lauded for coupling a relaxed atmosphere with a versatile array of treatments.
The spotless stuccoed Victorian façade; the fretwork shutters and balusters in Cambridge blue; the acres of white marble and wicker within; the emerald lawn with its picturesque little gazebo without... The original part of the Mandarin Oriental looks even more exotic today than it must have done when it first appeared on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River in 1876. Surrounded by the general mayhem of 21st-century Bangkok, the Authors’ Wing, as it is now known, epitomises a certain atmosphere of resolute calm and order. It strikes a particular note – bright and distinct – with which the other elements of the place are beautifully in step. This is all the more remarkable since it is such a big hotel: 400-odd rooms and suites, nine restaurants and bars, spread over several buildings on both sides of the river. It is also stylistically diverse, blending high Victoriana with traditional Thai elements and more hard-edged contemporary accents, particularly in the main modern tower. But its defining spaces pick up and enrich that original sweet note: the shamelessly opulent Michelin-starred restaurant Le Normandie, the much-loved and often-moved Bamboo Bar, the exceptional spa. This is a classic that still rings out loud and clear after all these years. By Steve King
No visit to Canada would be complete without a visit to at least one of its great National Parks. Go polar bear watching in Wapusk from October to March, when you can also see Caribou herds, and with a great chance of viewing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Trek through Jasper, with snow-covered peaks, glaciers, meadows and rapid-flowing rivers. The national park is home to grizzly bears, moose and elk. Ski in Banff which has three resorts, or experience the thrill of a horse-drawn sleigh or a dogsled ride followed by a long relaxing soak in the warm waters of its spring-fed pools, such as Upper Hot Springs.
The pristine Four Seasons, the only five-pearl property on the Big Island, is unlike any other resort on the Kohala Coast. Lush and beautifully landscaped grounds surround private bungalow-style rooms and suites tucked along winding paths throughout the large property. The thoughtfully designed architecture, pools (all seven of them), and public spaces are indulgent without seeming excessive. Dining options on-site are few in number but high in quality, and include what is arguably the best restaurant on the Big Island. The service is excellent and the experience is first-rate down to the last detail.
The Wentworth Mansion – the No. 1 Best Hotel in Charleston – appeals to visitors in search of a boutique atmosphere, complimentary extras and old-world charm. Built in the late 1800s, this 21-room hotel houses unique amenities like a spa inside the mansion's former stables and a restaurant in the original carriage house. Accommodations feature traditional details like fireplaces, ornate light fixtures and gilded mirrors. Plus, all room rates cover daily breakfast, homemade chocolates, an afternoon wine reception and more. (Courtesy of Wentworth Mansion)
Enjoying a prime location in midtown Manhattan, The St. Regis New York puts guests close to the Big Apple's top sights, such as the Museum of Modern Art and Central Park. The No. 4 Best Hotel in New York City prides itself on its sophisticated setting and high level of customer service: Lodgers note the elegant interior throughout the property and the friendly staff members as highlights of their stays. (Courtesy of The St. Regis New York)
This go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie Goodwin
This spa resort doesn't take any of its five stars for granted, particularly when it comes to delivering first-rate customer service. Recent guests can't help but keep the compliments coming: Travelers say that the resort staff took extra care to personalize each experience. One problem you might face, however, is exclusivity. The Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach only has 98 guest rooms and suites, so be sure to book early for an upcoming trip to Sunny Isles Beach. The rooms come with flat-screen TVs and private balconies, as well as double sinks and glass-enclosed showers. Meanwhile, the property also features three in-house eateries, four pools, a spa and beach amenities. What's more, the hotel is part of The Leading Hotels of the World, meaning Leaders Club members have access to perks here. You'll find the Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, about 11 miles north of Miami Beach.