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.
It’s not a Rorschach test. Don’t dwell too long on Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake’s uncommon structure sitting on a grassy patch in São Paulo’s refined Jardim Paulista neighbourhood. Is it a watermelon slice? An ocean liner? Step inside the gargantuan belly of a sunlit lobby, then spread out on one of the International Klein blue cushion couches to imbibe a glass of Champagne. More liquid satisfaction is found along The Wall, the lobby bar with its 60ft high stash of spirits (for bibliophiles, 300-plus titles hide alongside). Guests are sent on a sensory adventure, from the unlit lift and barely illuminated corridor to 95 white-on-white cabin-like guestrooms, where an oversized porthole window continues to play with a sense of scale even as an abundance of natural light flows through (highly effective blackout panels close it at the touch of a button). Most fun are those rooms running along the building’s elongated curve, featuring floors that could almost double as a skateboard park. Surround-sound speakers are hidden in headboards, and in the see-through bathroom is a tub with whirlpool jets; less hi-tech but highly coveted are the complimentary Havaiana flip-flops in the closet. Save your appetite for the plump pink salmon sashimi, spicy Amazonian cassoulet and Portuguese arroz de pato (duck rice) at Dijon-born chef Emmanuel Bassoleil’s rooftop Skye restaurant with its 360-degree metropolitan panorama and ruby-red lacquered swimming pool. Commandeer one of the white double daybeds and order Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, colour-coordinated with the pool with fresh strawberries and raspberries. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis offers a romantic experience in old Québec City. The ambiance is cozy and the décor honors the building’s history: this is a former pair of Victorian houses renovated into a small boutique hotel. As the building is historic, ask for a ground floor room if you have mobility issues; there is no elevator. The rooms all come with a tea service set and are also decorated in Victorian-inspired furniture. The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis also specializes in romantic packages for couples, ensuring a true taste of Québec City’s culture.
This Spanish-moss-draped resort combines an idyllic beauty with a little bit of history, including antebellum plantation land and the ruins of a Gatsby-era mansion. But readers also ranked it at the top of the survey for families: various ages can go horseback riding, fishing, golfing, paddle-boarding, or swimming, while grownups can engage in such rigorous activities as “porching”—sitting in a rocker out front of the 50 clapboard cottages (the hotel will expand by 150 rooms in 2016). Readers raved about the vacation-home atmosphere, which helped the resort make the top 5 of the world for design. Cottages range up to 1,500 feet, have screened-in porches and make the most of the river, lagoon, or forest views.
Rodeo Drive's world-renowned shops are only steps away from the Montage Beverly Hills, making this Preferred Hotels & Resorts outpost an ideal option for shoppers. Aside from its enviable address, former guests praised the hotel's on-site amenities, which range from a rooftop pool to a spa to a barbershop. The rooms are also well-appointed, offering tablets, free Wi-Fi access and separate showers and bathtubs. These features, plus industry awards from AAA, Forbes and Fodor's, helped the Montage Beverly Hills claim the title of No. 4 Best Hotel in Los Angeles for 2018. (Courtesy of Montage Beverly Hills)
Today the guns are silent, but the walls remain and enclose a charming Old Town that makes Quebec City one of the most visited cities of its size in Canada. The architecture and atmosphere buzz with a romantic and historic feel, making visitors almost believe they have left North America. Opened in the late 19th century, the Chateau Frontenac was conceived as one of the original Canadian Pacific Railroad’s grand luxury hotels, constructed throughout the Canada. With its imposing design, substantial height and bulk and copper roofs it certainly is incredibly grand. Even those who are not staying at the hotel are advised to at least have a drink or two at the bar, so as to experience this Quebec City and Canadian icon. Art lovers should head for the Musée national des Beaux-arts du Québec. Situated in a striking modern building just a bit beyond the Old Town’s walls, it features the very best of contemporary and historical art from Quebec and temporary exhibitions of international works.
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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