Set in the Arashiyama district on the western side of Kyoto (an area frequented by Japanese nobles of years gone by), Suiran sits seamlessly on the jade waters of the Katsura river. The original buildings, which now house the restaurants and lobby, are constructed around beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, and sunlight-dappled pebble-stone pathways lead the way to the more modern low-rise buildings that house the rooms. Yukata-clad staff welcome you warmly with a hot towel and tea whilst discretely whisking your luggage off to your room, leaving you to enjoy the serene surroundings, bathed in light and soothed by the sounds of flowing water. Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose.
Often referred to as the USA's best small hotel, this 20-suite Relais & Châteaux property - with cottages and outbuildings anchored by a 1795 New England farmhouse - sits in 300 acres of breathtaking wildflower meadows, pine forests, lakes and orchards. Its sophisticated style is the result of a long and fruitful relationship with the cream of NYC's interior-design world. In the 1990s, the original owner, Hawaiian newspaperman Thurston Twigg-Smith, commissioned designer and one-time Warhol apostle Jed Johnson to work his magic on the first 15 rooms. Cue chinoiserie toile pelmets, hand-carved ravens atop barley-twist bedposts and a trompe-l'oeil tented ceiling. Johnson's rooms are still marvellous, but when Twin Farms added another five bedrooms in 2005, plus spa treatment rooms, architect Peter Bohlin (known for his Apple stores) and interior designer Thad Hayes were called in. Their suites - such as The Aviary, with its Douglas-fir panelling, shag rug and buttoned-leather headboard, all in orange - are as luxurious as Johnson's, though less zesty. As delightful as the rooms are, the farm-raised, seasonal food (veal with butternut-squash purée in winter, grilled halibut and prawn gnocchi in summer) from chef Ted Ask and pastry honcho Christopher Wilson possibly tops it all. There's also access to deserted hiking trails, private ski slopes, fly-fishing, the Out of the Woods Spa and a 20,000-bottle wine cellar.
The Jefferson wins visitors over time and again with its sophisticated and traditionally decorated accommodations, impeccable service and award-winning cuisine. The hotel's location in downtown Washington is a highlight as well; guests are just a short walk from the White House, the National Mall and top-notch bars and eateries. The Jefferson is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. for 2017. (Courtesy of The Jefferson, Washington, DC)
Set in 60 acres and within a scrim of fluttering white birches, majestic balsam firs and organic farms, Hidden Pond in southern Maine offers 'rustic' with a difference. Forget soggy tents and mouldy camp shacks, this place has 36 stunning one- and two-bedroom clapboard cottages beautifully orchestrated by some of the state's top designers. The 20 one-bedroom bungalows have vaulted ceilings, gas fireplaces, outdoor rain showers and sleek bathrooms; the 16 two-bedroom options also have proper kitchens. After checking in at the Arts and Crafts-style lodge, head to the pools, trails and beaches for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, biking and hiking. Yummy Continental breakfasts are delivered to the cottages by golf cart, cocktails are served at the Back Porch Bar, and light meals at the family-friendly Sand Bar Grill and Farm Bar. But supper at the main restaurant, Earth, is something special, with fresh handmade pasta and wood-oven pizzas as well as diver scallops, swordfish or crispy duck, served in an outdoorsy setting (there's a nightly bonfire, and the restaurant walls are made from trees that were felled to clear the site). None of which should be an excuse to miss dining in the local seafood shacks and at famous restaurants such as the nearby White Barn Inn, sometimes frequented by George and Laura Bush, who live in the area.
The Norman Foster-designed hotel on Sentosa Island is partly housed in colonial buildings, and the standing lamps, rugs, and 20th-century-style travel trunks in the lobby project old-world charm. Capella shows off a different side to Singapore—a beachy escape from the hustle and bustle of the business district and the shopping strips. It's one of the most expensive hotels here, but a little tranquility can be priceless.
When a hotel opens in New York it’s not uncommon for locals to barely notice. This is, after all, a city crawling with them – big, small, modern, classic. In this town, it really takes an exceptional property, in an exceptional neighbourhood, to capture the collective consciousness. Which is exactly what happened in 2016, when The Beekman opened. First off, consider its location in the Financial District. Pre-9/11, this area catered to bankers and stockbrokers who scurried back uptown or to Westchester as soon as the market’s closing bell chimed. It was a no man’s land. Post 9/11, bars and restaurants opened and flourished; shops came; smart apartment buildings popped up. And then came the Beekman. The landmark building was built in the 1880s with a nine-storey, glass-ceiling atrium, but throughout the past century, the atrium had been covered up as the building functioned as just another office. And thank goodness, because when the property was being developed the covers were torn down, revealing the glasswork and wrought-iron railings beautifully intact. Now the glass skylight soars once again above the lobby’s Art Deco bar where New Yorkers flock to – come 6pm it’s nearly impossible to find a free bar stool. The rooms all have vintage furnishings, with dark wood floors and distressed leather headboards – they’re just what you’d want your New York apartment to feel like: comfortable but not so much so that you don’t want to leave and miss out on everything happening around you. The hotel is also home to two restaurants, Keith McNally’s bistro Augustine, a sister restaurant to the perennially hip Balthazar, and Tom Colicchio’s classic American spot Temple Court, both worthy of a dinner reservation. So many hotels like to say they’ve made the neighbourhood, but in the case of the Beekman it’s actually true. By Lauren DeCarlo
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.”
This heritage urban resort will seduce you with its breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River and the architecture of the Old fortified City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In any one of its 611 guestrooms and suites, you will feel an elegant touch of historic Europe. Your experience at this landmark luxury hotel will guarantee you a memorable and inspiring stay in one of the most beautiful, and walkable, cities in the world.
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)
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.
There are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. Sydney. São Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve King
Set just steps from the Magnificent Mile, the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is central to all of the city's best restaurants, shops and nightlife. Rooms and suites at this Four Seasons outpost offer city or lake views and feature marble bathrooms, private bars and chic contemporary decor. The No. 3 Best Hotel in Chicago is also home to a spa, a large indoor pool and a restaurant serving globally inspired cuisine. (Peter Peirce/Four Seasons Hotel Chicago)
The coastal road between Camps Bay and Llandudno is a conservation area, so it’s undeveloped—just fynbos-covered mountains to one side, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the other. Until you round a curve in the road and catch your first glimpse of the Twelve Apostles, named after the Twelve Apostles mountain range that runs parallel to the coast, that is: Built into the contours of the mountainside, there’s a lot of hotel packed into its relatively small footprint. The rooms are flamboyant, old-school glamour, either facing the sea or the mountains.
This 21-room mansion-turned-hotel was the survey’s No. 1 winner among small city hotels, and it embodies that time-machine charm of the Holy City: fireplaces in every room, hors d’oeuvres and sherry in the lobby, and chocolate truffles on your pillow at bedtime. With so many seductive treats, readers also awarded the Second-Empire-style hotel a high ranking for romance. Meanwhile, with Southern-meets-global dishes like antelope country paté, cast-iron poulet rouge and sweet potato doughnuts, the on-site Circa 1886 restaurant helped the Wentworth win the gold medal for small-city hotel dining.
The 50 individually designed rooms at this boutique hotel within the White City (a Tel Aviv neighborhood known for its collection of Bauhaus buildings, as well as for art galleries and designer boutiques) are spread between two historic townhouses—23 and 25 Nachmani Street, respectively—which are divided by a fragrant citrus garden. There’s a rooftop infinity pool, a 1940s-style Library Bar, a formal French-Mediterranean brasserie, and an excellent Izakaya-style Japanese restaurant—so you won't want for activity (or sustenance) while you're here.
Those longing for the timeless elegance of Old World Europe need look no further than the Fairmont Hotel. Since its opening in 1897, this grand dame on the banks of Hamburg's Inner Alster Lake has drawn travelers for its elegance, service, discretion, and attention to detail. (The hotel counts Maria Callas, Peter Ustinov, and Prince Heinrich of Prussia among its former guests.) Notable, too, are its spacious rooms, curated interiors, and two-Michelin star Haerlin restaurant. The hotel even has a "dog waiting room" for restaurant guests reluctant to part with their pooches—talk about service.
This spa resort doesn't take any of its five stars for granted, particularly when it comes to delivering first-rate customer service. Recent guests can't help but keep the compliments coming: Travelers say that the resort staff took extra care to personalize each experience. One problem you might face, however, is exclusivity. The Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach only has 98 guest rooms and suites, so be sure to book early for an upcoming trip to Sunny Isles Beach. The rooms come with flat-screen TVs and private balconies, as well as double sinks and glass-enclosed showers. Meanwhile, the property also features three in-house eateries, four pools, a spa and beach amenities. What's more, the hotel is part of The Leading Hotels of the World, meaning Leaders Club members have access to perks here. You'll find the Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, about 11 miles north of Miami Beach.