There are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. Sydney. São Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve King
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The Auberge St-Antoine is a luxury hotel in the heart of Quebec City’s Old Port. In addition to its superb location facing the majestic St. Lawrence River what makes it so unique is its location on one of Quebec City’s richest archaeological sites; the presence of artifacts in the hotel; and its construction made from 3 historic buildings, a dock and a battery of cannon from the 17th century. You will find yourself immersed in the heart of the city’s magic as it is near the old ramparts, museums and the picturesque Petit-Champlain district. The hotel offers 95 luxury rooms and suites equipped for your utmost comfort. It is member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux.
Manhattan? Like, so over. Food, fashion, music, art - it's all happening over the East River in Brooklyn. Of the clutch of hotels that have followed the wave, the 70-room Wythe, which opened in 2012, is the clear winner. This converted barrel factory is in Williamsburg, a five-minute subway ride from the island, and a hotbed of bars, restaurants and shops (Pies 'n' Thighs for Southern grub, Catbird for quirky jewellery). Owners Jed Walentas - scion of the New York real-estate family - Australian hotelier Peter Lawrence and Andrew Tarlow, who runs Brooklyn restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons, have kept things industrial inside, with exposed brick, mosaic and tiled floors, and beamed ceilings. Bedrooms are particularly minimalist, with polished concrete floors, king-size beds and Manhattan views from floor-to-ceiling windows in west-facing rooms. There's even a thwack of skyline from the little window in the walk-in shower. The hotel's rooftop bar, The Ides, does great cocktails and is a raucous spot in summer, but it's the ground-floor restaurant, Reynard, that is a must for its super-fresh, veg-laden dishes including fluke crudo with fennel and caraway, and grass-fed steak with beets, goat's cheese and watercress. The hotel has no gym of its own, but guests are given a pass to Chalk down the road, a haunt for bench-pressing local hipsters.
Casa Tua isn't the most obvious choice for a hotel in Miami - it's not beachfront and it lacks the city's signature Art Deco style - but that's pretty much the point. There's something wonderfully idiosyncratic about this red-roofed, Mediterranean-style villa, an appeal that draws the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson. While the rest of South Beach is all splash factor and excitable Kardashian clones, this place remains as peaceful and detached as a Tuscan hideaway. With their big marble bathrooms, overstuffed sofas and canopy beds, the five all-white suites manage to feel both homely and luxurious. But there can be little doubt that the downstairs restaurant is the biggest draw, with a fabulous courtyard lit by dozens of antique lanterns and a living room-like interior filled with framed black-and-white photos. The food fits in perfectly with this smart but homespun vibe: seared seabass with olives, tomatoes, artichokes and asparagus; tiramisu for pudding. Casa Tua doesn't have a pool, but it's possible to book a spot at the Delano hotel's beach, a block and a half away.
There are few cities in which space is at such a premium as Tokyo. Which is why, when Aman opened its first urban resort in the city’s Otemachi business district, it delivered this sensational architectural masterpiece by Kerry Hill with acres of room at its heart. From the moment you step out into the 33rd-floor reception, there’s an overwhelming sense of calmness and light. Above a cavernous atrium walled in white washi rice paper rises like a giant shoji lantern; in front of it is a soothing Zen rock garden; and beyond floor-to-ceiling glass walls are views over twinkling buildings, the treetops of the Imperial Palace garden and – a rarity in Tokyo – big stretches of sky. The 84 bedrooms, built using a soothing combination of pale camphor woods, dark stone and white washi paper, all deliver minimal fuss and maximum comfort. Hi-tech touches are discreetly hidden so Japanese details can take centre stage: a deep furo soaking tub; a solitary work of calligraphy; a table decorated with a traditional teapot and a home-made dessert adorned with an exquisite edible flower. Within the two-storey, stone-clad spa is a 100ft pool to do laps in while looking out over the skyline, yoga and Pilates rooms, and therapists delivering tailor-made spa journeys (a soothing remedy to jetlag). The food tastes like it’s been made with ingredients just delivered to the kitchen – whether that’s rustic spaghetti alla puttanesca at Arva Italian restaurant, delicate Japanese egg-rolls served in lacquered bento boxes or made-to-order sushi with a shot of fine sake at the long Hinoki bar. Private excursions – in a sparkling black Mercedes with a white-gloved chauffeur – couldn’t be more polished, perhaps to Mount Fuji or going for a lesson with a master calligrapher. The ultimate Japanese cocooning urban retreat for those who want space to soak it all in. By Lisa Grainger
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
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You may not need a passport to visit these hotels, but they'll still take you worlds away. From a polished, new harborside hangout in Baltimore to not one, but two fantastical Miami oases, not to mention a seriously musically inclined—and seriously well-located—boutique spot in Austin, they're all on this list. And they all got rave reviews from you for being entirely transporting These getaways—voted the 10 best hotels in the U.S. in the 2018 Readers' Choice Awards survey, all have something to brag about. Read on to see what made the list—and where it ranked on it. (Click to view as a list.)
On paper it shouldn’t work. An entire Puglian village, built from scratch. A reimagining of townhouses and a square, a colonnade of shops, villas dotted around the grounds, a little farm area with horses and chickens and rabbits. How could it possibly be anything other than pastiche? And yet… at the grand old age of 10, Borgo Egnazia has carved a name for itself as one of the loveliest places to stay in all of Italy. It is dreamily beautiful, the way the harsh Mediterranean sun hits the mellow tufu limestone from which the buildings have been honed, the shock of bougainvillea that has crept up every wall, the softness, the shadows, the dusky lanes between the hotel rooms. It is of course a hotel, but feels far from formulaic. Rooms are soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions and sun-trap terraces. They are retreats in themselves, some with their own little kitchens, others with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops. The restaurants are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls, and food made straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, aubergines, pasta made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. There is the sweetest children’s club you’ll ever stumble across, and a supremely cool beach hangout, and a spa that is mesmerising and magical. At night the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air. Sometimes a bonfire crackles in the central square. A deeply special place. By Issy von Simson
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.
Nestled along Lake Massawippi's shores – about 85 miles east of Montreal – Manoir Hovey impresses guests with its luxurious amenities and serene ambiance. Each room comes equipped with L'Occitane toiletries, flat-screen TVs and Nespresso coffee makers, but if you're looking to inspire a little extra romance, spring for a treetops suite outfitted with a king-sized canopy bed and wood-burning fireplace. According to previous guests, swinging in a hammock or taking in the scenery by canoe both make for pleasant ways to while away warmer afternoons. During the winter, you can snowshoe and cross-country ski along neighboring trails. And a meal at Le Hatley Restaurant, which serves locally sourced Quebec fare, is a must-visit according to previous patrons. For a more casual dining experience, head to the Tap Room Pub, which dishes up lighter entrees like burgers. Members of Relais & Châteaux's exclusive Club 5C program may receive extras, such as room upgrades, for staying here.
The USA is a year-round destination and when (and where) you go depends on whether you fancy skiing, surfing or just lazing in a spa. Generally speaking, the North tends to be warm in the summer, but can be cold and cosy in winter. The South is generally warm throughout the year, with milder winters and sweltering summers. The spring and autumn can be the most spectacular time to visit, with beautiful wildflowers and fall colours in many regions. Of course, Hawaii and the national parks have their own microclimate, so talk to your luxury hotel concierge for insider tips on what to expect.
This LEED Platinum-certified boutique property in Yountville, California, is dedicated to protecting the environment while providing a high-end experience for travelers. Not only does the No. 2 Best Hotel in Napa Valley place guests close to the area's vineyards and top-notch restaurants, it's also home to its own highly praised "field-to-fork" eatery, Lucy. Travelers also rave about Bardessono's rooftop pool, accommodations and spacious bathrooms. (Courtesy of Bardessono)
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 contemporary-chic Viceroy has a retro Chicago façade and mid-century furnishings within. Textures and patterns grab the eye, including an abstract headboard wall, carpet that looks like a sand-hued topographic map, and—yes—quotes from Marcel Proust, reproduced on the lobby's 30-foot-wall. The ground level restaurant Somerset, from chef Lee Wolen, is a serious asset for the Viceroy; his creative American fare (don't miss the beet tartare and sausage-stuffed whole roasted chicken) matches the vaguely nautical, club-like setting. But don't skip the 18th floor, where he also does cocktails and bites at the swanky rooftop lounge Devereaux.
This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)
Before Buenos Aires surrendered to the motor car – and every Argentine male modelled his ego on that of Formula One legend Juan Manuel Fangio – Avenida Alvear was one of the city’s main thoroughfares, with horse-drawn carriages and trams rolling by en route to Palermo’s lush gardens and shady parks. Something of this Belle Epoque spirit still endures and nowhere more so than at the Palacio Duhau, completed in 1934 as the city mansion of a landed family. Its grand neoclassical façade is right on the avenue, and the lobby is a stately, serene space where light pours in from the terrace onto the fluted marble columns, intricately carved wooden doors and low-slung white leather sofas. The tiered gardens on the terrace are worthy of a scene in The Great Gatsby. Rooms range from spacious and functional to sumptuous and palatial; the boudoir suite has butler service, an enormous marble bathroom and, perhaps more impressive, two private terraces overlooking the avenue below. The Duhau restaurant and public spaces channel the property’s storied glamour, with local couples having lunch and out-of-towners sipping rum-laced Arnaud’s milk-punch cocktails. The surrounding barrio of Recoleta is known for its old-world architecture, and this hotel, modelled on the Château du Marais near Paris, is the maximum expression of Argentine Francophilia. Its only rival on this stately strip is the Alvear Palace – but where the latter flaunts its ostentation, the Hyatt’s grandest South American property rather keeps itself to itself. By Chris Moss
Strolling into this hotel is a rich sensory experience unlike any other in town. The atrium is filled with a dozen ficus trees wrapped in delicate white lights and dotted with lavish ‘Are they real?’ floral arrangements. The answer is, of course. Since opening in 2005, Wynn has remained the high-rolling kingpin of Sin City names, partly because of its money-no-problem approach to design and services, but also because it likes to poach big spenders – as well as newly minted winners on the casino floor. There are nearly 40 designer shops (including two Chanel stores) spread throughout three shopping hubs, the newest of which, Wynn Plaza, just opened this autumn with a Cipriani restaurant and a SoulCycle outpost. Elsewhere, there’s a multiplicity of restaurants, nightclubs, a beach club, pools, spas and bars (our personal tip is the pretty Parasol Down for its fanciful cocktails and waterfall views). Rumour has it the cost to maintain the floral displays at Wynn and its sister tower, Encore, is in the millions. But not everything is gilded fantasy here. Wynn recently opened its own solar field, which offsets up to three-quarters of its energy usage, and every restaurant has a vegan or vegetarian menu. A golf course designed by Tom Fazio will open at the end of the year. The Strip has no shortage of hotels, but despite its size, the Wynn manages to feel intimate and draws a clued-up international crowd who appreciate a player with style. By Juliana Shallcross
This hip property continues to make a name for itself in Sin City. The No. 3 Best Hotel in Las Vegas this year, the Cosmopolitan enjoys a prime location on the center of the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel is one of the few in Las Vegas to offer rooms with balconies, and its accommodations feature contemporary decor and marble bathrooms. Outside the rooms, visitors have access to multiple pools, the Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub, a 100,000-square-foot casino and several dining venues, including the traveler favorite Wicked Spoon brunch buffet. (Courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas)
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.