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.
Survey voters clearly don’t want to have to take a shuttle to the slopes. This 100-room hotel made the top 20 for location, since it’s just a few steps from Vail’s Gondola One. While the lobby has classic-ski-lodge stone and timber, rooms lean toward the contemporary, rather than the log-cabin vibe, with polished wood headboards and reserved earth tones. The après-ski scene is similarly elegant, with the signature scotch collection at Frost, the hotel bar. For another kind of après-ski, readers loved the hotel’s spa, which utilizes the Vail Valley’s indigenous pine, flowers, and herbs. They may have also felt relaxed by the prices. Despite its high-end setting, the Sebastian was the top U.S. ski resort in the survey’s value category.
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.
The winning U.S. hotel in the survey has a quintessential American spirit: located in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, it’s a four-star dude ranch where you can rustle dogies by day then reward yourself with duck confit, Wagyu steaks and a huckleberry trifle by evening, all with thoughtful wine pairings. As a result, the hotel also ranked at No. 3 in the U.S. for cuisine, and in the top 10 for its elegantly rustic design: cedar-lined log cabins, stone fireplaces and world-class Western art. Given its thorough menu of complimentary activities—including fly fishing, archery, skiing, and even horse-pulled skijoring—readers also ranked the high-end Triple Creek at No. 1 for being a solid value.
'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
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.
Foodies who are eager to enjoy Napa Valley's award-winning wineries and restaurants will love staying at Auberge du Soleil. This upscale property features a 15,000-bottle cellar and two eateries, both of which are helmed by Michelin-starred chef Robert Curry. After filling up on gourmet fare, travelers can enjoy complimentary yoga classes at the Japanese-style pavilion, go for a walk through the sculpture garden, unwind with a treatment at the spa or sip cocktails by the outdoor pool. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Napa Valley also boasts relaxation-focused extras, such as fireplaces and soaking tubs, inside its guest rooms. (Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil, An Auberge Resort)
Situated in star-studded Beverly Hills, the No. 5 Best Hotel in Los Angeles features a full-service spa, a rooftop pool, complimentary car service and the French-focused Avec Nous eatery, among other amenities. Inside this Viceroy outpost's suites, guests will find custom Italian furnishings, Venetian glass mirrors and modern touches, such as Nespresso coffee makers, free Wi-Fi access and bedside USB ports. Plus, additional perks like dog beds and welcome treats are available for guests with pets, and families have access to loaner strollers, cribs, hooded towels and more. (Courtesy of Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills)
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
Even the most unaffected New Yorkers can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia when passing through the gilded revolving doors of the St Regis to be promptly greeted by a gentleman with white gloves and a smile. The sense of the city’s golden era lingers in that lobby, where shining chandeliers warm the pale walls to create a necessary calming counter to the crush of cabs and suits in Midtown Manhattan. It’s precisely the atmosphere John Jacob Astor IV sought to capture when he opened this 18-storey, Beaux-Arts landmark at the turn of last century. Today, there’s more Michael Kors than mink in the King Cole Bar, though the order hasn’t changed: ignore the lengthy cocktail list and go for a note-perfect dry Martini or a Bloody Mary, the house speciality, and fall into conversation with the bankers in from Boston sitting at the bar. For those who do stay on for a Martini or three more, it’s nice to know that your suite is just an elevator ride away. It may be done up in lipstick-ruby wallpaper or blue velvet curtains and striped white walls, with classic pieces such as silk-stitched loveseats and oil paintings to resemble that glamorous pied à terre everyone fantasises about. A New York institution that channels the city’s glamorous past like no other, steps from the Fifth Avenue buzz. By Erin Florio
It’s a desert conundrum. You visit the driest, emptiest place on the planet to ogle the Martian landscapes, squint at the shimmering salt lake, gawp at the cosmos – this is world-renowned stargazing territory, home to the ALMA radio telescope. But at this hotel just outside the hip hiker-hub of San Pedro, part of you just wants to stay put. Inspired by pre-Inca ruins, this Awasi – the first of the tiny rootsy Chilean chain, open since 2007 – is all pale wood and tan adobe walls, with shade-giving trees pressing in on all sides. There are plenty of alpaca blankets and books in the public spaces, and a fire-pit and candlelight encourage intelligent idling after dark. The 10 suites have bathtubs, chaise-longues, more blankets. The restaurant serves up sublime octopus causas. It would be too easy to indulge in all of this and then join fellow wanderers at the bar and talk about expeditions to undertake, maybe tomorrow, over a glass of Maule Valley Merlot. Fortunately, Awasi insists all guests have a private guide – invariably an expert on Andean geology or geyser physics – and their own four-wheel-drive, so spending a little time away from the retreat is pretty straightforward too. This is a place made for hedonistic hermits, part of a new breed of superior and polished wilderness hotels. By Chris Moss
This once-dilapidated, 65-room hotel tied for first in the world in the design category: it was completely rebuilt in 2004 as an exact replica of its 1868 self, with each of the original 247 windows placed in the exact same location as before. Today's rooms have feather-top beds and Early New England artwork, as well as flat-screen TVs and iPads. The bluff-top hotel also ranked at No. 4 in the survey for its location, offering views of either the Atlantic or Little Narragansett Bay. To explore in either direction, you can go fishing, surf or tool around in one of the Mercedes-Benz house cars, available for day use.
Sitting on the sand of a Georgia barrier island, this 1928 grande dame is a readers’ favorite for its country-estate aesthetics: Turkish rugs, overstuffed chairs, and marble baths (as well as an old-school Sweet Shop, home of the pecan-covered Gold Brick Sundae). That stately ambience helped secure its No. 4 ranking in the business hotel category: its generous meeting space has hosted a G8 Summit, and offers downtime at three championship golf courses (including Seaside, designed in 1929 by famed architects Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison). It also scored well for multi-generational travelers, thanks to the less formal diversions of bingo nights and low-country boils on the beach.
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