This go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie Goodwin
Building a hotel into the face of Santorini’s dramatic sea cliffs lends an immediate advantage: The location alone is enough to make it a showstopper. Happily, the 18-room Mystique lives up to its stunning site, and is well worth the step-filled trip it takes to get there. The free-form rooms, decorated in what might be called cave-art style (driftwood for headboards, a dining table and chairs that appear to be made of egg-shaped boulders), are carved directly into the cliff, and the views—toward the town of Fira—are magnificent.
With a prime beachfront location and a first-rate staff, the Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach continually impresses guests. The property has four pools surrounded by palm trees, lounge chairs and umbrellas that overlook the shore and offer poolside food and beverage service. What's more, all of the accommodations are equipped with terraces, a traveler favorite. The resort is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Miami Beach for 2017. (Courtesy of Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach)
The No. 2 Best Hotel in Chicago combines Asian flair with Midwest charm, winning over visitors with chic accommodations and ample amenities. Guests love The Peninsula's two-story health and wellness center, which includes a spa, a fitness facility and a large indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows. Plus, the hotel occupies prime real estate on Michigan Avenue, along the Magnificent Mile, putting guests near plenty of shops and eateries. (Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago)
This former 17th-century convent mixes elements of its past (exposed wood ceilings, beautiful arched walkways) with modernity in a very graceful way: Rooms are either contemporary or colonial-style, and while the newer ones offer views of the pool or the Caribbean, colonial suites have antique furniture and overlook the Old Town or interior gardens. To play at being pious, check out Restaurant 1621, once the Clarist nuns’ dining room, which now serves French-inflected cuisine.
The Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago overlooks the river and provides sweeping views of the city and Lake Michigan. The property, the No. 5 Best Hotel in Chicago, puts travelers close to many of the Windy City's most popular sights, including the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier and Millennium Park. Guests praise the hotel's sleek and well-appointed accommodations, its outstanding employees and the Terrace at Trump's cocktails and panoramic vistas. (Courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago)
Half an hour’s drive from Mérida, the state capital of Yucatán, Chablé began life as an 18th-century sisal hacienda, and many of its original buildings endure. The arcaded Casa Principal, its faded stucco the blue of a Madonna’s cloak, contains the bar and an enfilade of sitting rooms; the former machine house has been incorporated into the most ambitious of its four restaurants, which is under the auspices of Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil in Mexico City, ranked 11th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants; and a smaller building contains an immense library of tequilas. In case you feel the urge to atone for a surfeit of high living, the chapel of San Antonio, after whom the San Antonio Chablé estate was named, remains a house of God. Forty contemporary white-limestone-and-glass casitas are strung across the densely wooded 300-hectare estate, each with its own terrace, pool and hammock, and guests fall broadly into two categories: those who have come to explore the ruins of ancient abandoned Maya cities – Chablé is well placed for visiting Uxmal, arguably the greatest example of these on the Yucatán peninsula – and those who are here for the spectacular forest spa, where the pools are lined in tiles of petrified wood. Surrounded by jungle, a dozen treatment cabins are arranged around a cenote, a water-filled sinkhole which the Maya believed to be a portal to the underworld but guests are told is a fountain of wellness. It’s a place of such beauty and charm that even non-converts to traditional Maya healing rituals will succumb to the overall spirit and peace. By Claire Wrathall
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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.
Though hardly a secret, it is surprising that more people are not raving about this handsome hotel set in Victorian buildings in elegant South Kensington. It’s quintessentially English, with excellent food and service; the bar, too, is impeccably sleek and takes its cocktails seriously. It has some of the most charming and comfortable public spaces (that sequence of sunlit sitting rooms along the Queen’s Gate side) of any small hotel in the city, and two of the loveliest suites, the Knightsbridge and the Brompton, which can be connected to become a single mega-apartment. Apart from which, what is there to recommend the place? Well, there is the endlessly diverting art on the walls, which displays an eclectic mixture not only of periods and genres but also of seriousness and whimsy. And then there are the camellia-motif carpets, extending in all directions once you ascend above the ground floor. These ought to be frightening but are, on the contrary, delightful, so perpetually spring-like they cannot but put a spring in your step. The Kensington was the first Doyle Collection property to launch in London (followed very closely by the Marylebone; the Bloomsbury, the most recent arrival, was also an instant hit). Yet it is, if not the best, then the warmest and cosiest, the most genial and the most versatile, of the lot. By Steve King
Secluded among 157 acres of ancient trees and burbling streams, this Northern California retreat got raves from readers for its leafy privacy. The 48 “rooms” are actually cedar-and-glass cabins with huge views of the woods, along with fabulous outdoor living rooms, “bath gardens” and outdoor showers. Given the spa’s mud baths and private mineral-soaking pools, the resort also scored well with readers for its stress-relieving potential.
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Overlooking an untamed strip of Pacific coast on Vancouver Island (about 195 miles northwest of Victoria), the Wickaninnish Inn is a Relais & Châteaux luxury amid the pines. Guests adore this hotel's rugged setting and isolated locale. All guest rooms boast ocean views, and include balconies, fireplaces, soaker tubs and heated flooring in the bathrooms. Guests can dine on fine, locally-sourced fare at The Pointe Restaurant for Brunch and dinner while the Driftwood Cafe features drinks such as coffee and smoothies, snacks and lunch options. For a bit of relaxation, hotel guests suggest heading to Ancient Cedars Spa, which offers treatments like West Coast Sacred Sea body wraps, or grabbing a drink at sundown at the On The Rocks Bar.
Named for singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, a country music legend, this hotel fits right into the Live Music Capital of the World. Musical touches are everywhere: chandeliers made from French horns; a lobby bar record player that pipes tunes into the elevators; artwork in the shape of flying birds made out of vinyl. Every room has an impressive view of either the city or Lady Bird Lake, and is done in a stylish palette of gray and dark blue. But while the furniture is run-of-the-mill Restoration Hardware, the artwork is bespoke: think framed replicas of vintage concert posters and a historic map of Austin as wallpaper.
Guests may be surprised to hear that this exquisitely restored 1835 palace, with all its courtyards and pageantry, wasn’t built for a queen—but rather, for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. Later on, it was used as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, though it’s since comfortably taken its place as one of Rajasthan’s most luxurious hotels. Enjoy an evening of Champagne, moonlight, and candles in a private dining tent illuminated by flaming torches and pitched on the palace greens, and make sure you get to the Steam bar, which occupies a restored train.
Built in 2005, the St. Regis offers the best in modern luxury: Highly attentive, personalized service includes 24-hour butlers; the relaxation rooms at Remede Spa serve chocolate truffles and champagne; the hotel's Ame restaurant is a notable destination in its own right; and the rooms and suites match the city's best for space, superior technology, and amenities. Its artsy SoMa surroundings, modern glass building, and impressive contemporary art collection lack the historical grandeur of the Nob Hill grand dames, but in substance it stands shoulder to shoulder, or above, its hilltop competitors.
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.
Who hasn’t dreamed of traveling like royalty, sleeping in some of the world’s most expensive suites, and eating in Michelin-starred restaurants? The time and money for that kind of trip can be tricky to come by, but it’s always good to be ready just in case the opportunity arises, right? We here at Oyster have been lucky enough to have visited thousands of hotels around the globe and across the states. The U.S. is known for having high standards when it comes to hotels, and hotels stateside offer some of the most decadent services around. So we’ve put together a list of the best luxury properties in the States for those planning a luxe trip -- and for those who just like to dream. Enjoy!
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
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Utah places powder hounds right next to the slopes of Deer Valley Resort, offering lodgers ski-in, ski-out access. But it's not just a winter escape. A large outdoor pool, kayak and canoe routes and more than 300 miles of accessible hiking trails keep the Montage Deer Valley in season all year long. And aside from the plethora of on-site activities, the courteous and helpful staff is another major reason guests say they return to this luxury retreat. (Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley)
That tiny-island locale is one reason Beth Blair loves Sunset Key Cottages, another top 10 contender. Its air of exclusivity is “magical, and I could go on and on about the top-notch service and views,” says the Minnesota travel blogger. But something else won her heart: “The pastry baskets that arrive every morning at the front door are a wow factor,” she says. “There's nothing more relaxing than sitting on a beach-facing patio, sipping hot coffee and nibbling on freshly baked muffins.”
On the weekends during summer, hotel rates surge. Still, the average cost of a hotel room is budget-friendly at under $70 per night. Days Inn Brampton is $63 per night and offers a comfortable stay along with free parking and Wi-Fi. The Toronto Airport West Hotel at $66 per night provides guests with an airport shuttle to make getting to and from the airport convenient. Additionally, you’ll find a restaurant and indoor pool on site, ensuring you’ll have a relaxing stay. Save on your stay by booking a hotel that's just a short drive from Toronto.
Travelers love the elegant Mediterranean-style facade and ample amenities available at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, the No. 1 Best Hotel in San Diego. Situated about 20 miles north of San Diego amid Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, the hotel offers a golf course, an award-winning spa, a palm tree-lined pool and multiple dining options. What's more, guests rave about the spacious accommodations and the friendly employees, from the bell staff and the valet to the concierges and the restaurant servers. (Courtesy of Fairmont Grand Del Mar)
The best hotels in Karon Beach take full advantage of their setting in this beautiful resort town on Phuket’s west coast. This lovely destination has the island’s third-longest beach and first most squeaky sand. There are plenty of activities available on the beach and many shops and restaurants behind it. Shaded by trees, it is one of the more picturesque shores on the island.
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The Indian ethos that the guest is god rings true of many grand hotels in the country, yet the Oberoi likes to put its own spin on things. Rising like a great gilded cake from the western shores of Lake Pichola, magnificent Udaivilas is just the spot to wash up after a dusty Rajasthan road trip. This particular pleasure palace is a relatively recent arrival but, like the 18th-century mansions it overlooks, it was built to showcase the craftsmanship of the Rajput era: marble-carved lotus ponds; glittering thikri mosaics; delicate miniatures painted on pale gold walls hand-plastered with lime, crushed marble, egg white and tamarind. The spectacular Candle Room contains a dome set with thousands of pieces of mirrored glass. Udaipur’s busy market streets are only a few miles away, but Udaivilas has the luxury of space: 30 acres of what used to be the Maharana of Mewar’s hunting estate, with bird-filled grounds and views of the pretty lake and its floating mansions. All this grandeur could feel cold and overwhelming if it weren’t for the excellent staff. Guests are greeted off the motor boat by doormen with great twirling moustaches and within minutes everyone knows your name. Small, personal interventions include gifts of a metal-wrought tea light or beaded bag, say, left in your room alongside a handwritten note. In the most romantic city in India, this is the most spectacular place to stay. By Pippa de Bruyn
Its central address – behind a curving stone entrance and spread over 49 floors above the high-end Pacific Place mall, off leafy Hong Kong Park – is reason enough to book here over the other top hotels that form the city’s skyline. But hands-down it’s the guest rooms and penthouses that really make the Upper House the place to stay in Hong Kong. Because it occupies what used to be serviced apartments, local guru Andre Fu made the rooms feel like someone’s home. Read: comfortable, calming. He did the unimaginable and designed them with real humans in mind. There’s a free, help-yourself minibar; light switches that can be easily found; and a bed so comfortable that guests ask about the make and model so they can order one back home. The same goes for the bathrooms, with their room-for-two tubs and plenty of natural wood and marble. There’s no spa or pool, but deeply pampering in-room treatments can be arranged. In the restaurant on the top floor, Gray Kunz’s Café Gray Deluxe, the lamb tagine is so tender there’s no guilt for skipping a chance to have dim sum and Hong Kong’s signature egg tarts. This showpiece for Swire Hotels’ House Collective (also in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu) is as slick and sophisticated as ever—an original design hotel that’s true to its label. By Ed Peters
This destination retreat is stylish and savvy—and in the mountainous Paro Valley of Bhutan. Intimate, with 29 guest rooms, the design melds Bhutanese craftsmanship with signature COMO amenities—especially centered around wellness. You're in a prime location for hiking and exploring the natural wonders around you, not to mention trekking to visit nearby Buddhist temples. You can arrange a half-day hike to the Instagram famous Tigers Nest monastery, then come back to the spa's bathhouse, where you have the pick of two Bhutanese hot stone bathhouses, steam rooms, a pool, gym and yoga studio, and treatment rooms for a range of spa services.
Tucked among 12,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland tied for first place among U.S. hotels for both its design and rooms. The LEED-registered property is both smart and whimsical: the stone fireplaces and exposed beams came from indigenous materials, but readers were most dazzled by the treehouse-style cabins and the Celestron-equipped observatory. Readers also ranked it in the top 20 for service, thanks to a committed team of concierges, and an app that lets you schedule do-not-disturb timeframes, choose a pillow or request wine and truffles. Readers also gushed about the ridge-top golf course, designed by renowned architect Donald Steel.
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A quiet alternative to San Francisco's busy downtown hotels, the luxurious Inn Above Tide is within walking distance of the shops, restaurants, and ferry in quaint, ritzy Sausalito (the scenic ferry ride to the city takes about 30 minutes). The 31 sophisticated rooms here have sweeping bay views and most come with patios overlooking the water. While there's a spa, free breakfast, and free wine and cheese receptions, its lack of a pool and an on-site restaurant may deter some visitors.
With a flotilla of boldfaced big-hitters hugging its sunny shores, Dubai isn’t exactly short of luxury digs. But what makes the newly opened Bulgari stand out is its location on its own seahorse-shaped manmade island, and its low-slung layout, a pleasing retort to the city’s ubiquitous canyons of skyscrapers. This is down to the group’s Milan-based architects, who anchored the hotel so it separates two bays: one an oh-so-quiet stretch of beach lined with villas; the other a super-smart marina with a sweep of restaurants and the Bulgari Yacht Club – a first for the brand. Structures are topped with layers of coral-like latticework; other marvellous textures that draw the eye include backlit green onyx, black granite and woollen Beni Ourain rugs from Morocco, picked out with covetable objects from B&B Italia and Flos. The city centre thrums on the other side of a 300-metre bridge, but with six bars and restaurants at the hotel, there really is no reason to cross it. La Spiaggia is a poolside crowd-pleaser that flips out wagyu beef burgers during the day, while in the evening, a Negroni from the oval Bulgari bar is a punchy aperitif for oysters and bottarga risotto at the neighbouring Niko Romito restaurant. The wow factor, though, is provided by the immense spa, with its ice fountains, hammam and an indoor pool – lined with a mosaic of real gold tiles, naturally – that has far-reaching views of the sea and the Dubai cityscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. The sense of contented wellbeing isn’t limited to the spa. In a land of hyperbole, this is understated perfection that thinks big. By Lauren Ho
Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.