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
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
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)
Halekulani, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Honolulu – Oahu, wins favor with guests for its luxe accommodations and impressive views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Guest rooms are outfitted in a sleek "seven shades of white" theme and the property offers several on-site amenities, including a spa, multiple restaurants and a unique outdoor pool that features an orchid mosaic on its floor. (Courtesy of Halekulani)
The Burj Al Arab may well have been a showstopper when it slapped down in this city of ever-higher skyscrapers, but actually, the greatest thing about the seven-star sail is its bold architecture – and that’s best seen from one of the roomy hotel balconies opposite. The real insider’s choice among Dubai’s proud crown of Jumeirah hotels is the cooler, more understated Mina A’Salam. It is central to the mighty Madinat Jumeirah souk, with its canals and windtowers, home to two other hotels and secluded summerhouses popular with visiting starlets. Mina A’Salam is where every experienced bruncher in town comes on Friday. But hotel guests get to discover another level of service: cruising in a little abra boat for breakfast on the sun deck of the superb Pai Thai restaurant; being served up cold towels, flavoured crushed ice and fresh mango at the pool or beach club; drinking Champagne and feasting on seafood at Shimmers, the barefoot restaurant in the sand. Staying at the Mina A’Salam really does feel like you’ve made it in Dubai – it’s the hub of both its old and new worlds. By Becky Lucas
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Utah places powder hounds right next to the slopes of Deer Valley Resort, offering lodgers ski-in, ski-out access. But it's not just a winter escape. A large outdoor pool, kayak and canoe routes and more than 300 miles of accessible hiking trails keep the Montage Deer Valley in season all year long. And aside from the plethora of on-site activities, the courteous and helpful staff is another major reason guests say they return to this luxury retreat. (Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley)
Situated on the banks of the Chicago River and less than a mile from the shopping on The Magnificent Mile, The Langham, Chicago is a hit with recent travelers. Opened in 2013, the hotel impresses guests with its attentive service, quiet location and riverfront views. Occupying the first 13 floors of a 52-story landmark skyscraper, The Langham, Chicago boasts 316 guest rooms and suites. Accommodations are outfitted with soaking tubs and rain showers, 55-inch LCD TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. Past lodgers compliment the comfy beds and relaxing bathrooms and recommend booking a room with a river view to make the most of the hotel's location. When you're not relaxing in your room, you'll find plenty of other amenities at your fingertips. In addition to the Chuan Spa, the hotel also touts a health club and 67-foot-long indoor pool. Though many of downtown Chicago's top restaurants are within reach, previous visitors suggest giving the on-site restaurant, Travelle Kitchen + Bar, a try. As is the case throughout the property, guests say the service staff members at the restaurant are both attentive and friendly.
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.
Since starting out in 1993 with one lodge, Singita has grown into an outfit that is now responsible for a million acres in five wild regions across three African countries. But what still matters most is the desire to preserve that pristine land and the animals that live on it. Its turbo-smart lodges and camps are scattered across private concessions in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Sasakwa, set in 140,000 hectares on the border of the Serengeti National Park, is the grandest of them all. Built from stone, it’s like a stately Edwardian manor house, with elegant colonial-era style: polished parquet floors, Persian carpets, chandeliers, bookshelf-lined walls, enormous fireplaces and a mix of African collectibles and European antiques. The service is faultless, orchestrated by Frank Louw, who started out as the executive chef many years ago and has dozens of stories to share about Tanzanian staff rising up through the ranks. As well as an entire reserve to explore, there’s tennis, archery, biking, hiking and top-notch treatments in the spa. Diet-defying meals are served wherever you want them, always with a view. Wines are plucked from the best of South Africa’s vineyards. Ten guest cottages each have separate living rooms, enormous bathrooms and private plunge pools. As impressive as all this is, though, the greatest draw is the exclusive game viewing – in the middle of a privately funded reserve that’s as big as the Maasai Mara. It continues to guarantee the survival of the western corridor of the annual migration of a million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle. And year-round, it provides the ultimate luxury to the lodge’s high-flying guests: not having to share wildlife sightings with anyone else. By Jane Broughton
When Jasper Conran realised a lifelong dream to open his diminutive hotel in Marrakech, it heralded a new chapter in a city long beloved by designers. Yves Saint Laurent, Bill Willis and Madison Cox have all made their mark here over the years, but L’Hotel brings a new dimension, one that reflects the contemporary medina scene. Playful, Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moments catapult you, on arrival, from a dark and brooding hallway into a garden that unfurls around a turquoise pool, scented by figs. The interior, meanwhile, is as pared-back and calming as a Scandinavian cabin. Conran’s personal collection of antiques and curios is artfully gathered together as if this were always their rightful home, curated across the five bedrooms, a grand salon in a hundred shades of yellow and a cedar-wood bar flanked by candy-cane striped armchairs. Venetian glass mirrors glint like diamonds from a tadelakt wall the colour of jade, alongside a portrait of Hindu maharajahs; exquisite Syrian chests are inlaid with mother-of-pearl; four-poster beds are draped in snowy voile and scattered with rose petals. Service is attentive yet discreet – there are no rules – but guests should definitely don their prettiest outfits when dressing for supper. Bouchra, the household’s jolly resident matriarch, is a phenomenal cook and her jewel-like salads and fragrant chicken, prune and almond tagine will have you pestering her for the recipes. Sleep late, wallow in an orange-blossom bath, come down for breakfast at noon. This is a much-loved city residence that avoids the usual clichés. By Tara Stevens
Karon Phunaka Resort & Spa straddles the hillside above Karon Temple and this 86-room resort enjoys gentle breezes all year round, a tranquility conducive to peaceful reflection, well-kept grounds that border real jungle, an elevator and an air-conditioned funicular to help you up and down the steep hillside, a spectacular infinity pool with a wide sweep of views and a separate childrens pool, Thai cooking classes, a great air-conditioned free-of-charge fitness room with those views again, an air-conditioned squash court and a Thai and international restaurant with live music.Karon Phunaka Resort and Spas accommodation is made up of 36sqm Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms with the same dimensions, 38.5sqm interconnecting Family Rooms, and one 108sqm Suite. Read More...
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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An instant modern classic when it opened in late 2017, The Sanders has a sense of drama in its bones. The name is derived from ‘Alexander’s’, after its owner, Alexander Kølpin, who for many years was one of Denmark’s leading ballet dancers. Leaving the stage, he rejoined the family hotel business but wanted to have a project to call his own. To say the resulting property is ‘good’ is like saying Swan Lake is a ‘nice bit of choreography’. Sanders is impeccable, with a seemingly three-fold secret to its success: extraordinary attention to detail, warm and inviting design, and staff who pride themselves on making guests feel at home. Many hotels have concierges with whom you can have a brief conversation when you return at the end of the day. But how many, the next morning, have already prepared a map for a place you’d mentioned you might visit – and laminated it, in case of rain? Style-wise, it blends colonial-era comfort – wicker chairs, a beige-and-white colour scheme, an abundance of artworks on the walls – with some Left Bank charm and a huge dollop of Danish hygge (there’s a fireplace in the bar, after all). Like so many of the very best hotels, it has made itself a part of the fabric of the city. Locals stop in at the French-style bistro for weekend brunch, grab a quick coffee on the street outside, or come for an evening drink. Remarkably for a new arrival, the place feels old-school, perhaps because there’s no focus on fashion or trying to be painstakingly of the moment, but rather on service, style, and comfort, which it delivers with curtain-call-worthy aplomb. By Stephen Whitlock
Auberge aux Deux Lions is close to the most popular areas of the city without being in the heart of the action. This small, urban hotel is located in the Montcalm district and is not far from the old city. Certain rooms show off the stone walls from the oldest parts of the hotel, which date back to 1909. As this hotel is quite small, reservations are an absolute must, and the staff is willing to help with anything and everything, including a free walking tour of the city to help adjust to Québec City.
I liked the owners of the hotel. The room was perfect, clean, and the bed was super clean and comfortable. The Breakfast was yummy, the best breakfast I had so far in all my travels. The host guided me to the best easy way to reach the attraction sites in Quebec city. Walking distance from the bus station to the hotel and from the hotel to old Town of Quebec and restaurants. Thanks for the great hosts ever. Will certainly come back to the same hotel next time.