Have you ever noticed how those lovely old revolving doors at Claridge’s offer practically no resistance? They seem almost to spin themselves around at your approach, as if to draw you in, like a welcoming whirlpool. Once inside, the splendour swirls all about you in a blur of chequered marble tiles and soft chandelier light. Straight ahead, there is the bustle of the Foyer and Reading Room; a little off to one side, you might detect the reassuring rattle of cocktails being vigorously shaken in the Fumoir and expertly stirred in the Bar; round the corner, a sculptural arrangement of spectral white branches stands stock-still and silent in the middle of the Michelin-starred Fera restaurant like the remnants of some enchanted forest, just willing you to book a table for later that evening. Claridge’s is usually described as Art Deco in style, but this is only approximately correct. Most of the building predates the Art Deco moment and most of its life as a hotel has of course followed it. And while it does, undeniably, possess the impeccable manners, the aristocratic good looks, the sybaritic heart and the sequinned soul of a Twenties flapper, collaborations with designers such as Thierry Despont, Diane von Furstenberg and David Linley have introduced more contemporary qualities as well. Claridge’s is not one thing but many, at once impossibly grand and irresistibly cosy, both a glorious throwback and as perfectly fresh as a daisy. By Steve King
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)
Back when this hotel opened in 1995, there were few places in the Maldives to rival it. Landing here by seaplane felt like arriving at an escape cast out at the edge of the world. These days, neighbouring lights are aplenty, but this pristine paradise still feels wild enough to instil excitement. The groundbreaking barefoot ethos created by husband-and-wife owners Sonu and Eva Shivdasani ensures immediate surrender. Explore the island by bike, stopping to bob, chat, and giggle in the warm ocean for hours. Seventy rustic, thatched-roof villas, each hidden in the jungle shade (no stilts over water here) are designed with pared-back simplicity: natural tones, soft textures, lots of driftwood. Each comes with the softest organic sheets, huge daybeds, private pools, hammocks, and a sound system on which to blare out Nat King Cole. There’s snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing trips, and treatments in the spa (tension-soothing massages with lemongrass oil, rose-crystal lymphatic facials, a touch of Ayurveda). At the forward-thinking art studio, wine bottles are upcycled into sculptures. Food is central, with enough sushi to sink a ship, epic make-your-own salad bars, addictive egg appam, an ice cream parlour, a cheese room, and the new Out of the Blue restaurant, with slides straight into the sea. No wonder everybody here is beaming. One of the first luxe–but–laid-back hotels to open in the Indian Ocean, Fushi still delivers on fresh, cool charisma. By Daisy Finer
Nestled in Québec City's Old Port, the Auberge Saint-Antoine complements the quaint Petit-Champlain district with elegant decor featuring European artifacts and modern accents. Additional touches, such as minibars, coffee machines, and bathrooms equipped with heated floors and no-fog mirrors earn an extra nod of approval, but recent guests particularly applaud this Relais & Châteaux property's warm and courteous hotel staff. After strolling along Québec City's cobbled streets, you can cozy up at Chez Muffy, an intimate dining room that stuns with gorgeous St. Lawrence River views and an eclectic assortment of seasonal French-Canadian dishes. For lighter fare, grab a table at Bar Artefact, which dishes up small dishes like poutine and grilled cheese. You can also take advantage of the hotel's unique amenities, such as the private movie screening room and LeGYM fitness center and private spa treatment rooms, which all receive high marks from previous visitors.
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.
Europe had 18 winners — including first-timer Six Senses Douro Valley, in the heart of Portugal’s stunning wine country — while Mexico can boast of 10. No surprise that Rosewood San Miguel de Allende made the cut, surely in part thanks to its location in the No. 1 city in the world. “The rooftop bar was our go-to place for drinks,” said one reader. “A very special place.”
Hôtel 71 is located in a building with plenty of history: it was formerly the first head office of the National Bank of Canada in Québec City. The outside has a great example of 19th-century Neoclassical architecture, while the inside is decorated in an elegant urban style. An espresso lounge serves coffee throughout the day. The hotel is ideally located for cruises, as it is close to the terminals. It is also close to the funicular. For delightful Italian cuisine, eat at the attached restaurant, Il Matto.
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Felicité, the fifth-biggest island in the Seychelles, is widely considered to be one of its most beautiful. Giant granite boulders lie scattered atop curvaceous hills like remnants of a gods’ pétanque match. Blue pigeons coo and roost in jungly vegetation. The sand is so powdery and pristine that it squeaks as you scuttle into the clear aquamarine shallows. And within all this almost-otherworldly natural splendour is a man-made retreat that is almost as pretty – and equally as green (how many other islands have solar-power panels, a reverse-osmosis plant and a patch of land for an organic kitchen garden?). The 30 glass-fronted rooms are set among boulders and trees, with wide decks and plunge pools outside, and polished wooden floors and furnishings in the hues of the sea inside. At the beach bar, giant hammocks are strung over the ocean from which to sip passionfruit Mojitos and mango ice-lollies. At breakfast, there are green smoothies, rainbow-coloured fruit platters and oysters; at night it’s French Champagne and fire-cooked lobster, followed by rum tastings in a cosy bar. In between all this taste-bud tantalising, there are hills to hike, reefs to dive around and palm trees to lie under and contemplate the delightful symmetry of a crab’s tracks or the puffiness of a cloud. There’s a spa amid boulders by the sea, and a yoga platform where an instructor leads daily sun salutations as dawn breaks. A private-island game-changer. By Lisa Grainger
You can bet that just about every detail at this palatial hotel, which took more than three years and 1,200 master craftsmen to build, aims to please. Each of the 53 individual three-story riads has a mini courtyard (with a canopy that automatically unfurls if rain is detected); a dazzling living room and bedroom with silk-covered walls; and a private rooftop terrace with a fireplace and heated plunge pool. If you do decide to leave your room, (though, you very well may not) try one of the two superb restaurants, La Grande Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Française (both overseen by chef Yannick Alléno from Paris’s Le Meurice), as well as the indoor-outdoor La Table, which serves a formally presented breakfast and lunch—by white-gloved staff.
Tucked in the Virginia countryside amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland attracts travelers looking for a mix of activity and relaxation. There is no shortage of things to do here, from kayaking and golfing to horseback riding and stargazing. The property also has a spa, and hosts yoga and meditation classes. And guests appreciate the variety of accommodation options, too, with a traditional lodge, suites, cottages and even tree houses to choose from. (Courtesy of Primland)