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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
The Taj Mahal Palace is a 1903, grey-and-white stone, red-domed wedding cake of a building that stands sentry over Mumbai’s harbor. When your taxi pulls up through the throngs of families and tourists who choke the roads near the Gateway to India arch and you’re ceremoniously welcomed by doormen in traditional silk kurtas, you have that pinch-me feeling of Wow, I’m really staying here? You’re in good company, as everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Barack Obama has spent the night here too. Because the Taj is such a landmark, there are tourists and locals who come and go from the hotel’s restaurants, shops, and bars, as well as the daily Heritage Walks around the property. But some parts of the hotel are off-limits to non-guests, so you quickly leave the bustle of the lobby behind. The Taj has the best pool in Mumbai, and a dozen restaurants, bars, and cafés, including Wasabi by Morimoto, Souk for Tagines, and Kraft Masala for Indian.
Previous lodgers rave about this North Michigan Avenue hotel's refinement and unbeatable location. Sitting just steps from Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is central to all of the city's best restaurants, shops and nightlife. After you've sufficiently tested the limits of your credit card, retreat to one of the hotel's soundproofed spa treatment rooms to enjoy a relaxing massage or skin renewal treatment. Before you call it a night, previous guests highly recommend sitting down to dinner in the Allium's dining room, where diners are treated to fresh, farm-to-table Midwest cuisine. When it's time to bed down, this Four Seasons hotel's well-appointed accommodations provide a comfortable escape. Previous guests love the elegant decor, which combines contemporary fittings (like flat-screen TVs and iHome stereos) with 20th century-inspired design accents and spacious marble bathrooms. Recent visitors recommend splurging on the lake view accomodations, rather than the rooms with the city skyline vistas.
‘Nothing worked, but we didn’t care,’ Princess Margaret recalled of her holidays here in the late 1960s. Back then this former sugar mill and cotton warehouse was a little hotel where guests dined on canned spaghetti. Now it’s a romantic 17-room bolthole beloved by young couples, families with small children and anyone in dire need of some hardcore downtime. Set beside Endeavour Bay, it has a style that is colonial-meets-contemporary, the centrepiece of which is an airy Great Room, created by Parisian designer Tristan Auer, and which every Tuesday hosts a boisterous, not-to-be-missed cocktail party that almost the whole island attends. Breakfast of jerked eggs and smoked lionfish is served on the veranda, with a view across parrot-green lawns to the small and lovely beach. Water pistols are thoughtful provided to keep sneaky birdlife at bay while you tuck in. Couples can hole up in one of the three colourful cottages, or in a room within earshot of the crashing waves; families can spread out in the huge suites set in the tropical gardens. The island stretches over three miles, and many guests rely on golf carts to see its crowd-free beaches and exhilarating coastal trails, and for a run to Basil’s Bar, newly revamped by Philippe Starck, where a dance under the stars is almost obligatory. Like the rest of Mustique, the hum of glamour at The Cotton House is soft and low rather than high-pitched, making it one of the most charming island hangouts around. By Nigel Tisdall
The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah is set in a rare and dramatic location in the scenic village of Tengkulak, with uniquely designed one-bedroom suites and pool villas spread out.Three 160sqm one-bedroom spa villas offer more convenience to spa-goers with daily 90-minute complimentary spa treatments in a private treatment room.A unique 550sqm two-bedroom estate named after Tanah Gajahâ€™s founder and owner, Hadiprana, features some of the finest paintings, antiques and artefacts from his vast private collection.A 10-metre long swimming pool sits outside, surrounded by tropical gardens.Each villa features broadband Internet, iPod docking stations, 32-inch flat-screen televisions and Bose home theatre entertainment systems. Read More...