Spending the night at this place feels a bit like finding yourself in an Agatha Christie novel. Here you are, one of a group of strangers staying in an elegant mansion that’s laced with a sense of history and intrigue. Except there’s no mystery about why it’s so appealing. Every aspect has been meticulously thought through: the courtyard, the orangery, the library stacked with fantastic books and the living room in which to read them. There’s even a hammam in the basement. The name translates as ‘a home’, which is exactly what the 12-bedroom townhouse hotel feels like, though one, admittedly, conceived by one of the world’s great interior designers. Ilse Crawford has created the most exclusive place to hole up in the Swedish capital, precisely by not making it feel too exclusive. Yes, you have to buzz to get into the private garden to enter the hotel, but once inside there’s a wonderful mix of classic Scandi design and modern pieces, including a handsome brass bar cabinet by London craftsman Jack Trench. The atmosphere is relaxed and unfussy; guests are free to wander into the kitchen and chat to the chef. The location is great, in the heart of Ostermalm, the smartest neighbourhood in the city, but set away from the main roads. With incredible taste, warmth and no snootiness whatsoever, this hotel is a fusion of all that’s best about Scandinavia. By Stephen Whitlock
The Covent Garden Hotel might sit in the heart of theatre-land, but it’s no drama queen. It lets other divas in town take the curtain calls. Instead, this place goes for the slow burn, revealing itself subtly and demurely. But when it does, you realise it’s a beauty. Take the first-floor Drawing Room, lined in maple wood, shiny as toffee, which originally came from the now demolished League of Nations building near Trafalgar Square. Here too are delicately limbed parlour chairs with 18th-century needlepoint embroidery and a grand old writing desk, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and holding numerous little drawers that surely concealed secret notes over the years. The honesty bar just off the nook of a library is as well stocked as a house party, meaning that nightcaps can be as late as you like. Settle into the yellow and red sofa in front of the log fire, kick off your shoes (it’s not frowned upon) and soak up the elegant yet cosy surroundings. Just as lovely is the fourth-floor Terrace Suite, up among the rooftops and chimneys of London like a Mary Poppins eyrie. Parrots peck at blousy dusty-pink flowers on the linen upholstery of the sofa and over-sized headboard and purple and teal ikat-print curtains frame the windows. In the morning, watch the sunrise over the Shard from the little wooden deck. There’s a deep bathtub for soaking in, and lavender-and-eucalyptus bathroom lotions by RikRak (a bespoke Firmdale range) that smell so good you’ll be sniffing your arm for the rest of the day. Many new names have landed in London recently, but this trouper still holds its head up high. By Grainne McBride
This legendary hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side has a highly developed sense of noblesse oblige. The Carlyle opened inauspiciously in 1930, the year after the Wall Street Crash, and its lobby retains the original black-and-white tiled floor designed by Dorothy Draper. The lift operator knows each guest's name and room number, handy should you return late and a little squiffy. And each room has a proper key: no troublesome cards or spooky 'iris recognition' here. The bedrooms themselves are generously sized - at least for New York - while the tower suites are positively vast and very beautiful, with pale beechwood parquet floors, Chinese cabinets, onyx lamps and silk-cushioned fauteuils, as well as heart-stopping views of Central Park. Refreshment is never far away: tea is served in the Ottoman-styled Gallery, cocktails in the Bemelmans Bar (the bar of the Upper East Side) and lunch or dinner in the Carlyle Restaurant, which is decorous without being sedate. And music is inherent at the Carlyle, whose first tenant was composer Richard Rodgers. In its public rooms and suites there are 14 baby grand pianos, and Woody Allen still plays jazz clarinet every Monday night, six months of the year, at the ground-floor Café Carlyle. But in the end, the Carlyle's brilliance lies in its understatement. The fire instructions say, 'Remain relaxed'. Here, at what is still New York's grandest hotel, it's hard to do anything else.
The Lowell is conveniently situated near Fifth Avenue and Central Park on the Upper East Side. Offering 74 rooms and suites with cashmere throws, king-sized beds and pantries or kitchenettes stocked with Dean & DeLuca snacks, this boutique property also features an array of drinking and dining venues, including the elegant Majorelle, the oak-paneled Jacques Bar and the cozy Club Room. And no visit to the No. 2 Best Hotel in New York City would be complete without sitting for afternoon tea in the Pembroke Room. (Courtesy of The Lowell Hotel New York)
Located in the charming Georgetown neighborhood, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC welcomes guests with ample luxury amenities and services. The No. 4 Best Hotel in the District of Columbia houses an indoor saltwater lap pool, a spa, a health club and the highly praised Bourbon Steak restaurant. Travelers also compliment the staff members, who they describe as professional, warm and accommodating. (Michael Kleinberg/Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC)
Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.
After three decades, this wine-country pioneer, balanced on a hillside overlooking Napa Valley, remains a favourite. Even for jaded souls who think they've seen it all, the light-filled rooms - just 52 of them, mostly intimate, Mediterranean-style stucco cottages - are a delight. With French doors, private terraces and fireplaces, they're designed for comfort, privacy and relaxation. An olive grove shades the grounds, and a large sculpture garden makes for a pleasant walk to and from the main house, pool and Michelin-starred restaurant. Dinner on the patio is a must: choose from chef Robert Curry's seasonal menu - the excellent roast pork belly, kampachi sashimi and seared tuna with fava purée are standouts - and say yes to head sommelier Kris Margerum's thoughtful wine pairing. The massive spa has a central courtyard lined by hammam-style sauna and steam rooms, outdoor showers and hot and cold plunge pools. A leisurely afternoon here is a treat, not least because of the sunshine-soaked views.
The Sebastian is a charming, upscale ski lodge set at the base of Vail Mountain in Colorado. The property's well-maintained common areas, including the outdoor fire pit and the library, and its cozy rooms are traveler favorites, and key attributes that helped the resort earn the No. 1 Best Hotel in Vail distinction for 2017. Visitors say the staff members go out of their way to make stays special, citing extras such as hot chocolate and cookies and complimentary transportation around town as standout services. (Courtesy of The Sebastian – Vail)
The best hotels in Karon Beach take full advantage of their setting in this beautiful resort town on Phuket’s west coast. This lovely destination has the island’s third-longest beach and first most squeaky sand. There are plenty of activities available on the beach and many shops and restaurants behind it. Shaded by trees, it is one of the more picturesque shores on the island.
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