Two are indisputably better than one at the Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare, a dual-property entity sitting high above Portofino cove. Both halves carry with them a bit of history: the 670-room Hotel Splendido was once a 16th-century monastery known for withstanding attacks from Saracen pirates, while the other, 16-room “Mare” half sits on the piazzetta, a respite from the lively Ligurian harbor. Outside, fragrant bundles of wisteria and straight-backed juniper bushes flank its winding cobblestone walkways, while rooms mostly come with terra-cotta-tiled terraces where you can take your morning cappuccino—some offer up stunning panoramic views of the cove.
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.
A quiet alternative to San Francisco's busy downtown hotels, the luxurious Inn Above Tide is within walking distance of the shops, restaurants, and ferry in quaint, ritzy Sausalito (the scenic ferry ride to the city takes about 30 minutes). The 31 sophisticated rooms here have sweeping bay views and most come with patios overlooking the water. While there's a spa, free breakfast, and free wine and cheese receptions, its lack of a pool and an on-site restaurant may deter some visitors.
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Vermont also happens to be one of its most unique. Situated on 300 acres of farmland in Barnard, Vermont, this adults-only, all-inclusive property features a spa, a pub and just 20 accommodations equipped with fireplaces and separate showers and bathtubs. Additionally, all guests have access to complimentary laundry service, minifridge snacks and packing and unpacking services, plus daily breakfast, lunch, dinner and alcoholic beverages at the on-site restaurant are included in the room rate. Activities, such as canoeing and kayaking, fly-fishing, tennis and snowshoeing, are also covered. (Courtesy of Twin Farms)
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Remember when some places used to call themselves art hotels, for the sake of a few second-rate daubings on the walls? Well, this opened in 2013, a key player in Oslo’s waterside reboot, and has the sort of collection many urban galleries would kill for. There’s a genuflecting bronze by Antony Gormley outside by the revolving doors, a Julian Opie animation in the lift, and you’ll spot pieces by Warhol, Richard Prince, Niki de Saint Phalle and Tony Cragg dotted around the public spaces. The Thief is the work of Petter Stordalen, who drives a biofuel-powered Ferrari and has banned bacon in his hotels for sustainability reasons. It straddles the water on the reclaimed islet of Tjuvholmen, a sheeny-shiny place of glinting bridges and newbuilds, many of which are home to small independent galleries – though the big-hitter is the neighbouring Astrup Fearnley, from where much of the hotel’s artwork is borrowed. The spa and pool are accessed via a secret underground tunnel – locals come for the Sauna Guss experience, inspired by Dr Kneipp’s immune-system-boosting methods, with a dip in the icy Oslofjord followed by a sauna using essential oils. Rooms are clad in touchy-feely textures, golds and greys, with picture windows to slide wide open for gulps of Nordic sea air from the harbour below. (Two of the biggest rooms were designed by Lee Broom and Peter Blake, riffing on Fifties and Sixties London – a cubist coffee table here, a geometric-patterned sofa there.) The rooftop restaurant was recently revamped, British chef David Taylor has fun with regional ingredients (scallops, turnips, monkfish, lamb neck) at the FoodBar restaurant, the bar has helped up Oslo’s cocktail game (try the Michael Jackson and Bubbles – rum, banana cordial, green tea, Champagne, in a ceramic monkey head). London-born Dominic Gorham is the personable go-to chap for guests, taking it to the stage to MC regular unplugged music sessions. It’s a 15-minute walk from the town centre – this is a city for striding out, along the Aker Brygge waterfront, over the glacier-like Opera House and up for more sculptures in the hillside Ekeburg park. The Thief’s new art collection is set to arrive soon, along with a sister hotel in town, Amerikalinjen. Oslo’s overflowing oil wealth meant this was a city that never bothered itself unduly with drawing visitors, but that’s changed and it has a fresh international outlook – this is the best place to feel you’re part of that. By Rick Jordan
Flanking the northern base of Blackcomb Mountain, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler prides itself on its picturesque surroundings, upscale lodging and first-rate service. Previous visitors recommend booking a mountain-facing room. Although they're pricier than other accommodations, these rooms come with cozy comforts such as designer bath products, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. You'll also find an abundance of activities to choose from: Wintertime yields skiing and sleigh rides, while summer offers opportunities to hike and whitewater raft. And at any time of year, you can lounge along the heated outdoor pool, rejuvenate with a Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar scrub or enjoy wine tastings. In the evening, sip a cocktail at the on-site bar or sample prime slices of tenderloin at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar (recent visitors mention that meals here are pricey, but worth every penny). Recent guests were thrilled with the exceptional service at this Four Seasons property, but thought the parking fees were a tad high.
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There are plenty of wellness-focused hotels out there nowadays, but this private island hotel has been around longer and does it better than most. Just ask its fan club, who travel from far and wide for the daily yoga sessions, early morning meditations on the pristine beach, healing massages, and Ayurvedic consultations with Dr Parth, who hails from Goa. Check into one of the whitewashed beachfront villas simply furnished with Indonesian four-poster beds swathed in Italian linens and that’s more or less what your days will consist of – not to mention biking around the island, snorkelling expeditions, kayaking and dawdling over long feasts. The only reason to wear a watch is to make sure you don’t miss yoga. For those who prefer their Caribbean hotels a bit more hedonistic, you can always skip the green juice and slurp a Mojito at the bar, which Keith Richards has been known to frequent when he’s in residence. The Rolling Stone is just one of the island’s famous homeowners. Donna Karan has called her Balinese-inspired villa on Parrot Cay ‘a sanctuary where I go to create awareness’. Bruce Willis and Christie Brinkley own estates nearby, which can be rented should you need more space than COMO’s beachfront villas can provide. This is a wide-open, big-hearted place that puts beach life first. By Laura Itzkowitz
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