Long before the influx of American billionaires preparing for the apocalypse by constructing mega-million-dollar retreats in the remotest reaches of New Zealand, there was the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs. American hedge-fund billionaire Julian Robertson created this hotel on a 6,000-acre working sheep farm set above the Pacific Ocean. For golfers, it offers the round of a lifetime. Created by late, great course designer, David Harmon, 15 of the 18 holes look out across the ocean, while six play alongside cliffs which drop 200 metres into the sea. Tee-offs require blind hits of faith across coastal chasms. But Robertson’s vision was hardly limited to golfers. There’s a day spa built within a native forest, and sunset barbecues on Friday evenings on the property’s pink-sand beach; more formal suppers are served inside the main lodge, which is designed to feel like a traditional farmhouse (albeit one which requires guests wear jackets for dinner). A farm-to-table ethos rules the kitchen, fresh produce from the sea and surrounding farms dictates daily changes to a menu regarded as northern New Zealand’s finest. Spacious rooms are neutral-toned and comfortable – fancy elements would be negated by the elevated views out to the Cavalli Islands. Those seeking even more space should try the 4,200-square-feet Owner’s Cottage, and then wander around the property, through ancient Kauri woodland, and down trails onto deserted white-sand bays where orcas and whales pass by. By Craig Tansley
Filling the top floors of a 58-story financial district building, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong's location is one of its strongest selling points: Its prime location, right at the heart of the city's commercial center, means guests have easy access to high-end shopping and the Metro, plus, it's just a quick walk to the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. As you might imagine, the cloud-level rooms, described by guests as large and luxurious, have perfect views of the Huangpu River and the city's ever-evolving skyline.
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Built on the bones of an old temple (hence the name), this 142-room hotel is a haven for the hip and slightly edgy, and reflective of wider development in the Chengdu area. Designed by U.K. architecture firm Make, the hotel comprises two L-shaped halves separated by a verdant courtyard evoking Sichuan’s rice terraces. Rooms are minimalist and incorporate local materials (timber, bamboo, step stones) and architectural elements—ask if you can get one facing the courtyard. And while the hotel offers French bistro-style plates at its Temple Café and regionally inspired Italian fare at Tivano, head for the wood-lined Mi Xun Teahouse, whose design is inspired by Chinese medicine. With its vegan/vegetarian menu, it’s the hottest seat in the house—if you can get one.
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)
According to recent guests, the best part about staying in the downtown Wedgewood Hotel & Spa –which is just steps away from Robson Street's high-end shops – is the impeccable service. Travelers describe the staff at this Relais & Châteaux property as especially attentive, gracious and personable. Visitors also gush over the well-appointed rooms, which are outfitted with complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee machines and more. The spacious bathrooms, which boast Frette towels, marble accents deep-soaking tubs and L'Occitane toiletries, also receive a nod of approval from guests. For a little extra pampering, head to the on-site spa or the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge. Guests describe the restaurant's ambiance as elegant and serene, and the seafood as delicious.
Québec City not only has a fantastic Old Town which one can spend days exploring, but is in the centre of lovely countryside that offers an excellent range of scenic daytrips. The attractions are nearby, so no change of hotel will be necessary for any of these trips. Orleans Island is just 15 minutes drive from the Old Town. Aside from some great views of the St. Lawrence, Orleans Island is best known as a gourmet destination, with a number of great restaurants focussing on top quality local produce. Jacque Cartier National Park is just 30 minutes drive north and is known for its deep river valleys, pristine trails and extensive wildlife, including moose and red fox. Families and keen photographers may enjoy a trip on the Charlevoix Railway, which travels from Quebec City to La Malbaie, with much of the track running along the lovely St. Lawrence River.
Enter one of the property's 62 rooms or 15 luxury suites and you'll experience what previous guests praise most about the Hazelton: ample space. Rooms here start off at 575 square feet and feature amenities such as Nespresso makers, Juliet or walkout balconies and 47-inch flat-screen TVs. The expansive bathrooms also come complete with TVs as well as L'Occitane bath products and separate soaking tubs and rain showers. The amenities outside of the rooms are also top notch. The hotel houses its own private screening theater with leather chair seating for 25 guests. Or pamper yourself with rejuvenating treatments at the spa. When you get hungry, try the hotel's ONE Restaurant that features dishes from celebrity chef Mark McEwan. ONE serves French and Italian cuisine that recent diners described as well priced for the quality. Plus, Yorkville's shopping and high-end dining options sit just outside the Hazelton's doors. Part of The Leading Hotels of the World, the property participates in the Leaders Club loyalty program.
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.
The Norman Foster-designed hotel on Sentosa Island is partly housed in colonial buildings, and the standing lamps, rugs, and 20th-century-style travel trunks in the lobby project old-world charm. Capella shows off a different side to Singapore—a beachy escape from the hustle and bustle of the business district and the shopping strips. It's one of the most expensive hotels here, but a little tranquility can be priceless.
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Retaining its neoclassical splendour yet introducing mischief and modernity, art curator Nuria Ferrer Klein – the owner’s mother – has perked up this 19th-century mansion’s ancient coffered ceilings and paved courtyard and gallery by using a smoky charcoal-grey hue. Bespoke contemporary canvases by trailblazing artists Guillem Nadal and Josep Maria Riera i Aragó are an arresting sight in the otherwise serene lobby. In the former stables, the snug Quadrat restaurant serves up convincing yet edgy Mediterranean dishes such as scarlet-shrimp socarrat rice. Hollywood stars and the hotel’s savvy regulars head for the private garden, or chow down on sushi served by the pool on the rooftop terrace, the largest in town. While common spaces are filled with chequered stone tiles, soft grey textiles and sofas, bedrooms cut a dash, some with frescoed ceilings, French oak flooring and bold chandeliers. Set in the city’s twisty-turny historic quarter, the hotel can sort inspired concierge-curated diversions, including gin making at a local distillery – but if that’s too taxing, the barman can easily rustle up the real deal here instead. Sant Francesc sums up what makes Palma so alluring in the first place – that intersection of old and new imbued with a playful spirit. This is Palma’s most self-assured though understated address. By Anna Nicholas
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