Karon Phunaka Resort & Spa straddles the hillside above Karon Temple and this 86-room resort enjoys gentle breezes all year round, a tranquility conducive to peaceful reflection, well-kept grounds that border real jungle, an elevator and an air-conditioned funicular to help you up and down the steep hillside, a spectacular infinity pool with a wide sweep of views and a separate childrens pool, Thai cooking classes, a great air-conditioned free-of-charge fitness room with those views again, an air-conditioned squash court and a Thai and international restaurant with live music.Karon Phunaka Resort and Spas accommodation is made up of 36sqm Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms with the same dimensions, 38.5sqm interconnecting Family Rooms, and one 108sqm Suite. Read More...
Featuring a coveted location in the charming Georgetown neighborhood, the No. 3 Best Hotel in the District of Columbia, offers contemporary digs and an upscale atmosphere. All of the property's accommodations boast neutral decor with vivid artwork and accent fabrics, plus granite bathroom countertops, minibars and glass-enclosed showers. Outside the rooms, visitors will find additional amenities, such as a 12,500-square-foot gym, an indoor lap pool, a 24-hour business center and a wine bar. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC and Michael Kleinberg)
Twenty-six years on, Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road, one of many overlooking the sea in the wind-protected suburb of Bantry Bay. And that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. The bar, restaurant and spa are exclusive to invited and resident guests, which means it’s very private and secure. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country – his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s answer to Kew) in the one-and-a-half acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery and an excellent little spa. Checking into one of the individually decorated rooms in the house – many with local African design elements, some on the small size – feels both comfortable and comforting. As does the open-access kitchen. Walk right in, tell the chefs what you’re craving and it is whipped up in minutes. Better yet, take a snack back to your room. The post-sunset vista from the balcony has to be one of the best views of the Atlantic found anywhere on earth. By Jane Broughton

This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)
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

No visit to Canada would be complete without a visit to at least one of its great National Parks. Go polar bear watching in Wapusk from October to March, when you can also see Caribou herds, and with a great chance of viewing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Trek through Jasper, with snow-covered peaks, glaciers, meadows and rapid-flowing rivers. The national park is home to grizzly bears, moose and elk. Ski in Banff which has three resorts, or experience the thrill of a horse-drawn sleigh or a dogsled ride followed by a long relaxing soak in the warm waters of its spring-fed pools, such as Upper Hot Springs.
The Embassy Hotel and Suites (25 Cartier St.) is a small 130-room hotel in downtown Ottawa less then five minutes from Parliament Hill. It is a short distance from Elgin St., Somerset St. and Chinatown. A number of surrounding parks create a suburban atmosphere for this centrally located hotel. Confederation Park, Minto Park and Jack Purcell Park are within walking distance. Average rates start at CAD$123.
Before Buenos Aires surrendered to the motor car – and every Argentine male modelled his ego on that of Formula One legend Juan Manuel Fangio – Avenida Alvear was one of the city’s main thoroughfares, with horse-drawn carriages and trams rolling by en route to Palermo’s lush gardens and shady parks. Something of this Belle Epoque spirit still endures and nowhere more so than at the Palacio Duhau, completed in 1934 as the city mansion of a landed family. Its grand neoclassical façade is right on the avenue, and the lobby is a stately, serene space where light pours in from the terrace onto the fluted marble columns, intricately carved wooden doors and low-slung white leather sofas. The tiered gardens on the terrace are worthy of a scene in The Great Gatsby. Rooms range from spacious and functional to sumptuous and palatial; the boudoir suite has butler service, an enormous marble bathroom and, perhaps more impressive, two private terraces overlooking the avenue below. The Duhau restaurant and public spaces channel the property’s storied glamour, with local couples having lunch and out-of-towners sipping rum-laced Arnaud’s milk-punch cocktails. The surrounding barrio of Recoleta is known for its old-world architecture, and this hotel, modelled on the Château du Marais near Paris, is the maximum expression of Argentine Francophilia. Its only rival on this stately strip is the Alvear Palace – but where the latter flaunts its ostentation, the Hyatt’s grandest South American property rather keeps itself to itself. By Chris Moss
‘Coûte que coûte’ goes the punning family motto of Sir Charles Coote, for whom the opulent Ballyfin estate was conceived in the early 19th century. ‘No matter the cost’ is how this loosely translates, proving as apt an adage in the 21st century as it was then. Many millions of euros may have been lavished on this stately pile in County Laois, both in its original construction and, more recently, its painstaking restoration. For the architectural historian, the house is a head turner – the culmination of Regency craftsmanship brought together in lusciously modelled plasterwork, scagliola in varying colours, stained glass and staggeringly intricate parquetry. For the sybarite, the house is a place of comfort and grandeur, not least in the Gold Drawing Room where walls are hung with lustrous silk and vast windows frame views of the 28-acre lake. Bedrooms are also decorated with rich fabrics and wallpaper, fine antiques, fresh flowers from the garden, art and books – a fabulous amalgamation of Anglo-Irish panache. New this year is Ballyfin’s 21st room and first standalone property: the tiny Gardener’s Cottage overlooking, to the rear, the walled gardens, which supply Ballyfin’s kitchen with organic fruit and vegetables. The grounds are made for strolling in the complimentary wellies, with grottoes and rockeries, a folly and a fernery, a rose garden and an aviary. There is no finer Irish-country house experience. By Pamela Goodman
With Ocean House's accolades, including a Forbes Five Star Award and a AAA Five Diamond Award, it's hardly surprising that visitors keep returning to the No. 1 Best Hotel in Rhode Island. Ocean House offers a quintessential New England experience with its classic architecture, local artwork and regional cuisine. Along with a muted color palette and turn-of-the-20th-century decor, each room and suite includes a flat-screen TV, an iPad, 400-thread-count linens and Molton Brown toiletries. Additionally, guests can enjoy a multitude of free amenities, including afternoon refreshments in the hotel's lobby, transportation around the town of Westerly and daily activities, such as yoga and cooking classes. (Courtesy of Ocean House)

The people of Quebec City are hardy and quite used to the harsh weather that is typical in the long winter months. Rather than mope and complain they tend to turn lemons into lemonade, or rather snow and ice into sculptures and other works of art. The city holds a winter carnival every year, officially known as Le Carnaval de Quebéc. Despite the brisk temperatures that are experienced at this time, this carnival is as popular among travellers as events held in the summer months. In fact it is the largest carnival of its kind in the world, with more than one million people drawn to view the ice sculptures, take part in winter sports and attend parades and masquerade balls. Bonhomme, a stylised giant snowman, is the delightful official mascot. Those looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay in the deep winter months should head a few miles to the north of the city where the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, is open from January to March each year. The spectacular suites are carved out of the ice by artists and have to be seen to be believed.


'If we want things to stay as they are,' Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, 'things will have to change.' Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve King
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