To some readers, a great hotel room is merely the place where you rest up between memorable meals. This plush country-style inn has an English country home vibe—it was decorated by a London set designer— but many guests initially came for the menu, created by inn founder and James Beard Award-winner Patrick O’Connell. Indeed, the inn won the survey for the best hotel dining in America: it has a 14,000-bottle wine cellar and a French-influenced menu featuring “munchies” like foie gras with pear butter, or a Tin of Sin with American Osetra caviar and peekytoe crab. The hotel also tied at No. 1 in the U.S. for service, with such attentive amenities as afternoon tea, kitchen tours, and three housekeeping visits for your room per day.
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.

Big Sur is all about big views, and the Post Ranch Inn has become synonymous with the wild, dramatic beauty that is the Pacific Coast along California's Highway 1. The region's natural charms are reflected in the names of its 39 rooms - including Cliff House, Pacific Suite, Ocean House, Tree House, Mountain House and the Butterfly Rooms - and the spectacularly constructed recycled-redwood lodgings are designed to inspire awe. The Cliff Houses have glass-walled bedrooms and decks suspended over a 1,200ft precipice, with private, stainless-steel outdoor hot tubs from which to absorb that vast oceanic expanse. Surrounded by regal redwoods and oaks, the triangular Tree Houses are raised on nine-foot stilts, with dreamy views through the foliage to the Santa Lucia Mountains. Activities for energetic types include everything from morning yoga, meditation and guided nature hikes to the use of two clifftop spa tubs, an infinity pool and a private telescope. For foodies, the inn's Sierra Mar restaurant serves gorgeous dishes bursting with seasonal flavours, such as freshly picked strawberries with wild-mint blossoms, goat's cheese and pistachio purée. But the essence of any stay here is just whiling away the hours with someone you really like, letting time unspool in truly spectacular surroundings.


The building’s textile-clad façade and verdant latticework by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma creates a palpable sense of calm – ideal for meditating on the deeper cultural meaning behind contemporary Chinese artworks in the atrium, such as Beijing Memory No. 1 and No. 2, Li Xiaofeng’s wearable cheongsam and military breastplate covered in Ming and Qing-dynasty porcelain shards, and ceramicist Fiona Wong’s ghostly, lace-like White Wings. There’s also a 20ft-high Chinese apothecary chest of 6,000 drawers in the lobby, and the multilingual staff shuffling around in all-black outfits further add to the art-gallery vibe. More straightforward are the 99 open-plan guestrooms finished in oak wood and Turkish sandstone, with Japanese-style furo soaking tubs and powerful overhead rain showers. The complimentary ‘maxi-bar’ features craft brews from the nearby Arrow Factory and bottles of orange-flavoured Arctic Ocean soda, the nectar of any Beijing childhood. A decade after the hotel opened, the Sanlitun area surrounding the House has blossomed. Cross the street to Dover Street Market, where you’re likely to spy staff nipping out to pick up niche items at pop-up events. Follow the scent of date wood back to the hotel’s Jing Yaa Tang restaurant: cumin-laced lamb skewer and fiery kung pao chicken from a cage-free farm south of Beijing deliver just the right amount of anticipation while the master roaster glazes your duck with his secret combination of osmanthus, honey, vinegar, molasses and crushed dates. Order an Old Peking as nightcap, made with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, Mancino Vecchio vermouth and finished in a cloud of date wood smoke – the only type used by serious Beijing duck roasters. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
The Waldorf-Astoria offers top-of-the-line luxury in Chicago. With an intimate, boutique feel -- but all the amenities of a large hotel -- the 188-room Waldorf caters to leisure and business travelers. Sleek rooms feature neutral tones, contemporary furnishings, and gorgeous marble bathrooms that offer separate showers and soaking tubs, as well as TVs inset in the mirrors. Highlights include the upscale restaurant Balsan, a top-notch spa, and health club with extensive services and an indoor lap pool. Plus, the hotel's location in the swanky Gold Coast neighborhood puts it within walking distance of upscale shops, restaurants, and attractions
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The chic accommodations at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto reflect the charm of its Yorkville backdrop. The property's rooms and suites – designed with elegant decor and modern amenities like an in-room iPad to access Four Seasons services and bathrooms equipped with deep soaking tubs and TVs – hold views of the downtown neighborhood's surrounding shops and cafes. Despite the abundance of nearby restaurants, guests suggest enjoying a meal on premises; both Café Boulud and d|bar lounge offer French-inspired menus from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. Serenity-seekers rave about the spacious, sleek setting in the spa, which comes outfitted with an indoor pool, a steam room, a salon and a long list of treatment options.
The story of this legendary escape began in 1965 when a British pilot and his American socialite wife built a large house above the sea near Porto Ercole and opened it up to guests. After it was bought by present owner Roberto Sciò in the 1970s, it became a magnet for a steady stream of international A-listers, as seen in the evocative, monochrome Slim Aarons images that hang in the bar. Fifty-plus years on, Il Pellicano is as alluring as ever, with a timeless quality that recalls those heady days – and it has a fiercely loyal following. Sciò’s designer daughter Marie-Louise has cleverly revamped the hotel without sacrificing its sense of history. The 50 airy bedrooms, divided between the main villa and six cottages hidden among olives and cypresses, have polished terracotta floors and a colour palette reflecting the surrounding land and seascapes. The retro yellow-and-white-striped beach towels are still laid out around the heated saltwater pool and along the famous bathing platform over the sea, but there’s a fresh feel to the place, too, with Fornasetti-inspired wallpaper, jazzy fabrics, a great spa and a boutique selling super-chic Eres swimwear. Lazy lunches of octopus salad and chilled local Ansonica roll on into pre-dinner Pelican Martinis whipped up by master mixologist Federico Morosi and suppers of risotto with pears and summer truffles on the candlelit terrace of the Michelin-starred restaurant. This is Tuscany’s most exceptional seaside retreat by miles. By Nicky Swallow
The 92-room mainstay scored well for its location—with ski-in, ski-out access to Aspen Mountain—but some might argue that the ski trails are lucky to be situated near this charismatic hotel. Not surprisingly, readers also ranked the Little Nell in the top 5 for its excellent nightlife scene: it’s home to the elegant lounge Element 47 and the more traditional Ajax Tavern, known for its beloved cheeseburger and truffle fries. The hotel also scored well for its high level of service: You can take advantage of the Ski Concierges, who can set up your lessons and warm your boots, while your dog can get butler-level services, too, from dog-walking to a Puppy Jet Lag kit.
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Boston, XV Beacon is a shining example of luxury accommodations. The boutique hotel wins favor with travelers and experts for its variety of amenities, which include a 24-hour fitness center, courtesy car service and concierge assistance with all types of requests, from Red Sox tickets to in-room massages. Accommodations blend modern and classic decor and come equipped with fireplaces, canopy or four-poster beds, cashmere blankets and marble bathrooms. (Courtesy of XV Beacon)
White Elephant Village's close proximity to Nantucket's Children's Beach and ample complimentary kids amenities (think: video games, boogie boards and coloring books) make this a popular option for families. However, visitors of all ages enjoy staying at the No. 1 Best Hotel in Nantucket, citing the property's superb service and spacious accommodations as highlights. Rooms, suites and residences offer island-inspired decor, minifridges and high-definition TVs, among other perks. Plus, all guests have access to an outdoor pool, free loaner bicycles, a spa and daily treats in the lobby. (Courtesy of White Elephant Village)
A top-to-bottom refit of the Lambs Club, the historic thespian hangout in the heart of Midtown’s Theater District, has turned this actors’ den into a sleek 76-room hotel with Art Deco lines and ocean liner-inspired fittings that hark back to travel’s bygone era. Rooms are fitted with gorgeous steamer trunk–like wardrobes and desk-vanity combos in chocolate leather, while bathrooms come with wall-to-wall mirrors and rain showers stocked with custom Asprey amenities. Guests can find a break at the cozy Lambs Club Bar, hidden away above the lobby, and at the underground spa, with a clever "endless" lap pool and small gym—probably the only place on the property where you can let them see you sweat.

Just three blocks from the mighty Mekong River, surrounded by gilded Buddhist temples, and in the upscale heart of the city center, Villa Maly has a coveted address in Luang Prabang. The two-story house, awash with white paint and deep wood accents, feels like entering the home of your chicest Laoation friend—that is, if your friend were a grandson of a 19th-century Lao king. (And, actually, it was Prince Khamtan Ounkham who built the house in 1938, and prominent French nouveau details are a nod to the years he spent studying in France.) Belly up to the Maly Bar for cocktails and light snacks, or enjoy a D.I.Y poolside barbecue with marinated meats and vegetables; and don't forget to make use of the hotel's complementary bike rentals while you're at it.

Felicité, the fifth-biggest island in the Seychelles, is widely considered to be one of its most beautiful. Giant granite boulders lie scattered atop curvaceous hills like remnants of a gods’ pétanque match. Blue pigeons coo and roost in jungly vegetation. The sand is so powdery and pristine that it squeaks as you scuttle into the clear aquamarine shallows. And within all this almost-otherworldly natural splendour is a man-made retreat that is almost as pretty – and equally as green (how many other islands have solar-power panels, a reverse-osmosis plant and a patch of land for an organic kitchen garden?). The 30 glass-fronted rooms are set among boulders and trees, with wide decks and plunge pools outside, and polished wooden floors and furnishings in the hues of the sea inside. At the beach bar, giant hammocks are strung over the ocean from which to sip passionfruit Mojitos and mango ice-lollies. At breakfast, there are green smoothies, rainbow-coloured fruit platters and oysters; at night it’s French Champagne and fire-cooked lobster, followed by rum tastings in a cosy bar. In between all this taste-bud tantalising, there are hills to hike, reefs to dive around and palm trees to lie under and contemplate the delightful symmetry of a crab’s tracks or the puffiness of a cloud. There’s a spa amid boulders by the sea, and a yoga platform where an instructor leads daily sun salutations as dawn breaks. A private-island game-changer. By Lisa Grainger
The Beverly Hills Hotel is iconic to La-La Land lore, made famous by The Eagles tune "Hotel California." But the Pink Palace has racked up quite a few fabled stories: Katharine Hepburn is said to have jumped into the pool fully clothed, and Elizabeth Taylor enjoyed six honeymoons here. Today, this Dorchester Collection hotel continues to cater to discerning travelers with stylish guest rooms (equipped with marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, high-speed internet access and gourmet minibars), business amenities and a supreme Sunset Boulevard location. Travelers say the customer service is just as legendary as the hotel itself, praising the hotel staff for its attentiveness. And the on-site Polo Lounge is not only known for its celeb-spotting – it's known for serving up a mean breakfast as well.

At the No. 2 Best Hotel in Maui, guests are greeted with panoramic views of Wailea Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Accommodations are spacious (each room measures at least 600 square feet) and include lanais, locally inspired art, deep-soaking tubs and Nespresso coffee makers. On the resort grounds, travelers will find three saltwater pools, two tennis courts and a spa, but this resort's best attribute is its kid-friendly atmosphere. One of the island's most family-friendly properties, the Four Seasons Resort Maui offers everything from a game room to a waterslide to the brand's complimentary Kids For All Seasons activities program. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea)
*Rooms and prices subject to availability at the time of booking. Discount is only available at participating hotels and may require a minimum night stay. The discount is based upon the total hotel priced excluding taxes and other fees. Discounts are subject to availability and may be discontinued without notice. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.
Have you ever noticed how those lovely old revolving doors at Claridge’s offer practically no resistance? They seem almost to spin themselves around at your approach, as if to draw you in, like a welcoming whirlpool. Once inside, the splendour swirls all about you in a blur of chequered marble tiles and soft chandelier light. Straight ahead, there is the bustle of the Foyer and Reading Room; a little off to one side, you might detect the reassuring rattle of cocktails being vigorously shaken in the Fumoir and expertly stirred in the Bar; round the corner, a sculptural arrangement of spectral white branches stands stock-still and silent in the middle of the Michelin-starred Fera restaurant like the remnants of some enchanted forest, just willing you to book a table for later that evening. Claridge’s is usually described as Art Deco in style, but this is only approximately correct. Most of the building predates the Art Deco moment and most of its life as a hotel has of course followed it. And while it does, undeniably, possess the impeccable manners, the aristocratic good looks, the sybaritic heart and the sequinned soul of a Twenties flapper, collaborations with designers such as Thierry Despont, Diane von Furstenberg and David Linley have introduced more contemporary qualities as well. Claridge’s is not one thing but many, at once impossibly grand and irresistibly cosy, both a glorious throwback and as perfectly fresh as a daisy. By Steve King
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'If we want things to stay as they are,' Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, 'things will have to change.' Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve King
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