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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.
Hidden among fisherman’s casas painted cobalt-blue, pink and pistachio bordering Trancoso’s sleepy village square, where the town’s elders gather to shoot the breeze, Uxua is almost imperceptible to the passer-by. The only giveaway is the tables of smart Cariocas and international hipsters sipping passionfruit Caipirinhas while watching the early evening scene unfold on the Quadrado. Golden light catches the locals playing football around the whitewashed 16th-century church. This is just how expansive Dutch owner Wilbert Das (Diesel’s former creative director) likes it. Surrounded by dense rainforest and teetering high on a ridge overlooking the powder-sand fringed Atlantic, Uxua fits right into the post-hippie utopia of Trancoso. Working with local artisans, Das has turned the hotel into a collection of rustic renovated casas, cottages, an intimate treehouse and a tribal-inspired spa. All are cloaked by hummingbird-flecked tropical gardens and centred around a pool lined with green aventurine quartz, which, for those not up on their healing crystals, is said to be very therapeutic. Interiors are haute-boho: roomy indoor-outdoor sitting rooms and airy living spaces with dazzling-white walls and muslin-canopied beds, accented with lots of reclaimed wood, antiques and vintage finds including brightly painted Virgin Mary statuettes. A decked path runs through mangrove forests to the beach, where there are enormous day beds for post-breakfast snoozing and a beach bar fashioned from an old fishing boat – just stay horizontal and another Caipirinha will soon find its way to you. This is the South American coastal retreat that’s on everyone’s radar. By Chris Caldicott
On paper it shouldn’t work. An entire Puglian village, built from scratch. A reimagining of townhouses and a square, a colonnade of shops, villas dotted around the grounds, a little farm area with horses and chickens and rabbits. How could it possibly be anything other than pastiche? And yet… at the grand old age of 10, Borgo Egnazia has carved a name for itself as one of the loveliest places to stay in all of Italy. It is dreamily beautiful, the way the harsh Mediterranean sun hits the mellow tufu limestone from which the buildings have been honed, the shock of bougainvillea that has crept up every wall, the softness, the shadows, the dusky lanes between the hotel rooms. It is of course a hotel, but feels far from formulaic. Rooms are soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions and sun-trap terraces. They are retreats in themselves, some with their own little kitchens, others with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops. The restaurants are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls, and food made straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, aubergines, pasta made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. There is the sweetest children’s club you’ll ever stumble across, and a supremely cool beach hangout, and a spa that is mesmerising and magical. At night the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air. Sometimes a bonfire crackles in the central square. A deeply special place. By Issy von Simson
**Le Club AccorHotels members who register and book the Fairmont Savers offer by February 28, 2019, and stay between January 1 and March 31, 2019, will receive triple the Rewards points for their stay. Guests must register before making their reservation to be eligible to receive the discount. Offer only applicable in Canada, USA, Mexico and Panama. For more details click here.
Tucked away amid North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, the Old Edwards Inn and Spa is reminiscent of a European lodge, complete with an exposed stone and brick facade, cozy fireplaces and Victorian-era furnishings. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and wins the distinction of the No. 1 Best Hotel in North Carolina for 2017. Along with its historical designation, the Old Edwards Inn provides guests a relaxing retreat with multiple pools and whirlpools, a spa, a theater room, a golf course and several restaurants. (Courtesy of Old Edwards Inn and Spa)
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Shimbashi is not nearly as popular as Shinjuku and Shibuya which is why you’ll find plenty of cheap hotels in Tokyo around this area. The b Tokyo Shimbashi opened in late 2017, so it’s relatively new. All rooms have a France bed mattress, private bathroom with free toiletries, free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, slippers, and a mini-fridge. The 24-hour front desk offers luggage storage service and there’s coin laundry available if needed. You could even argue that Shimbashi is the best place to stay in Tokyo since there aren’t as many crowds. The hotel is a 6-minute walk from JR Shimbashi Station while Uchisaiwaicho Subway Station is 4-minutes by foot.
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
If you’re looking for a cheap Tokyo hotel in Shibuya, you have limited choice. Fortunately, there’s the Tokyu Stay Shibuya Shin-Minamiguchi that offers good value and is a 1-minute walk from JR Shibuya station. A kitchenette, mini-fridge, microwave, electric kettle, and kitchenware are all provided since this is an apartment-style hotel. In addition, you’ll also get an in-room washing machine and free WiFi. Additional services include dry cleaning, photocopying and couriers services. Breakfast is available at Jonathan’s restaurant next door for just 500 Yen.
Halekulani, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Honolulu – Oahu, wins favor with guests for its luxe accommodations and impressive views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Guest rooms are outfitted in a sleek "seven shades of white" theme and the property offers several on-site amenities, including a spa, multiple restaurants and a unique outdoor pool that features an orchid mosaic on its floor. (Courtesy of Halekulani)
Situated about 25 miles north of San Diego, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is a little off the beaten path. But even with its removed location, the resort is a hit with guests, thanks to its carefully manicured gardens, Mediterranean-style rooms and suites and fine dining at Veladora. The No. 1 Best Hotel in California wows visitors with its top-notch service and many luxury amenities, including a tennis facility, an expansive fitness center and two outdoor heated pools and hot tubs. What's more, the resort organizes daily complimentary activities (think: tequila tastings and lawn games) for guests. (Courtesy of Rouse Photography)
I liked the owners of the hotel. The room was perfect, clean, and the bed was super clean and comfortable. The Breakfast was yummy, the best breakfast I had so far in all my travels. The host guided me to the best easy way to reach the attraction sites in Quebec city. Walking distance from the bus station to the hotel and from the hotel to old Town of Quebec and restaurants. Thanks for the great hosts ever. Will certainly come back to the same hotel next time.