‘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
This sprawling cream-colored villa is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and the stunning vantage point is one of the hotel's finest features: Hermanus is known for its rugged natural beauty, and Birkenhead House maximizes that in all directions. Hermanus is a lovely add-on to any South Africa trip, and this is the best hotel in the area by far. If you're a serious whale watcher, it's a no brainer: You can't beat these views.
Even the most unaffected New Yorkers can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia when passing through the gilded revolving doors of the St Regis to be promptly greeted by a gentleman with white gloves and a smile. The sense of the city’s golden era lingers in that lobby, where shining chandeliers warm the pale walls to create a necessary calming counter to the crush of cabs and suits in Midtown Manhattan. It’s precisely the atmosphere John Jacob Astor IV sought to capture when he opened this 18-storey, Beaux-Arts landmark at the turn of last century. Today, there’s more Michael Kors than mink in the King Cole Bar, though the order hasn’t changed: ignore the lengthy cocktail list and go for a note-perfect dry Martini or a Bloody Mary, the house speciality, and fall into conversation with the bankers in from Boston sitting at the bar. For those who do stay on for a Martini or three more, it’s nice to know that your suite is just an elevator ride away. It may be done up in lipstick-ruby wallpaper or blue velvet curtains and striped white walls, with classic pieces such as silk-stitched loveseats and oil paintings to resemble that glamorous pied à terre everyone fantasises about. A New York institution that channels the city’s glamorous past like no other, steps from the Fifth Avenue buzz. By Erin Florio
This was always destined to be the Ferrari of farm holidays, coming as it does from Soho House, which specialises in hotels top-loaded with glamorous naughtiness. Even so founder Nick Jones must be surprised at how enthusiastically his tribe has taken to tractor life. In December 2018, it adds 40 Piglets, dinky billets shaped like pig arcs, and 10 proper rooms built into the walled kitchen garden, to the original 40 clapperboard cabins, set along a river engineered to sashay through the place like a supermodel. The Waltons meets Will.i.am moodboard certainly inspires guests to feel as carefree as Huckleberry Finn: rough-wood finishes, homespun fabrics, woodburners and (this is Soho House after all) bath tubs on the balcony, with modesty curtains. This farmyard has fire pits and fancy sofas, the Main Barn is cavernous, with vast steel-framed windows, a statement bar, low-slung Chesterfields and an atmosphere other hoteliers wish they could bottle. There’s a 25-metre beauty of an infinity pool cantilevered over a lake, fabulous Japanese cooking at Pen Yen as well as Soho House’s winning comfort food, and the chance to witness grown-ups giggling like kids as they wobble about on Foffa bikes, the preferred mode of transport. Of course, it’s all about the little touches: the barman in the roaming milk float who fixes doorstep G&Ts; the vase of wildflowers from the room carefully stowed in the boot of your car with your cases as a goodbye keepsake. A game-changing, ground-shaking hotel that’s now become rooted in the British countryside. By Susan d'Arcy
Rooms at the Mercer are bright, spacious, and impeccably laid out; some have even been built into an original Roman defense tower, translating to walls of gorgeous, centuries-old brickwork. The food here is equally superior, without being stuffy: you’ll find foie gras and caviar, yes, but also patatas bravas and beer. For the full five-star boutique experience, there’s no better bang for your buck in Barcelona.
Villa Cha Cha Bangkok is a mid-range boutique hotel located parallel to the world famous Khao San Road in the Banglampu District of Bangkok.Because of its location guests can be on the party scene within minutes and the Grand Palace is a 15 minute stroll away as is the Chao Phraya River and its fleet of long tail taxi boats.Shopping in this area is interesting and ranges from the obvious hippy clothes and sportswear to genuine antiques and quirky art.Accommodation at Villa Cha Cha Bangkok varies from Junior Queen and King to the much larger Royal Family with many room categories in between to make a total of 73 rooms. Read More...