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
According to previous guests, The Peninsula New York lives up to its promise of providing a "perfect respite from the city that never sleeps." Situated on Fifth Avenue by the Museum of Modern Art, the No. 6 Best Hotel in New York City features 235 rooms and suites with neutral color schemes, free Wi-Fi access and marble bathrooms. This historic property, which originally opened in 1905 as The Gotham Hotel, is also home to an award-winning spa, an indoor pool and a rooftop bar with Manhattan panoramas. (Courtesy of The Peninsula New York)
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)
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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.
Many of the winners also have a summer camp vibe, suggesting a collective recognition of (and nostalgia for) the benefits of a simpler experience. Ranch-style resorts, offering horse stables, wide-open spaces, and a rustic-luxe design, ranked highly — in particular, the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado and the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming. Both are popular with multigenerational groups. “C Lazy U is perhaps the best family vacation we’ve ever had,” one fan said. “We’ve been seven times and are going back again!”
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.”
When Jasper Conran realised a lifelong dream to open his diminutive hotel in Marrakech, it heralded a new chapter in a city long beloved by designers. Yves Saint Laurent, Bill Willis and Madison Cox have all made their mark here over the years, but L’Hotel brings a new dimension, one that reflects the contemporary medina scene. Playful, Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moments catapult you, on arrival, from a dark and brooding hallway into a garden that unfurls around a turquoise pool, scented by figs. The interior, meanwhile, is as pared-back and calming as a Scandinavian cabin. Conran’s personal collection of antiques and curios is artfully gathered together as if this were always their rightful home, curated across the five bedrooms, a grand salon in a hundred shades of yellow and a cedar-wood bar flanked by candy-cane striped armchairs. Venetian glass mirrors glint like diamonds from a tadelakt wall the colour of jade, alongside a portrait of Hindu maharajahs; exquisite Syrian chests are inlaid with mother-of-pearl; four-poster beds are draped in snowy voile and scattered with rose petals. Service is attentive yet discreet – there are no rules – but guests should definitely don their prettiest outfits when dressing for supper. Bouchra, the household’s jolly resident matriarch, is a phenomenal cook and her jewel-like salads and fragrant chicken, prune and almond tagine will have you pestering her for the recipes. Sleep late, wallow in an orange-blossom bath, come down for breakfast at noon. This is a much-loved city residence that avoids the usual clichés. By Tara Stevens
This Four Seasons property attracts beach lovers. Positioned along a beautiful stretch of Hulopoe Bay sand overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this resort offers breathtaking ocean views, manicured grounds and top-notch customer service. During their stays, guests can enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as snorkeling, deep sea fishing, hiking, whale watching, scuba diving and more. Visitors use terms like "paradise" and "heaven on earth" to describe the property. Guest rooms all feature private patios, as well as amenities like 75-inch flat-screen TVs with Blu-ray players, Nespresso machines and free internet access. One of the most loved features is the complimentary shuttle, which will cart you to and from Lanai Town. Recent visitors do say you should brace yourself for the high cost of meals at the resort's multiple restaurants and treatments at the in-house spa. Still, most travelers enjoy this Four Seasons resort's piece of shoreline and its world-class golf course.
The Ritz-Carlton Montréal lives up to the brand's reputation by providing sophisticated accommodations and superb service in a location that's well-suited for both business and leisure travelers. Set in downtown Montreal (within walking distance of Mont-Royal Park and the McGill University campus), this Ritz-Carlton earns high praise for its stylish guest rooms, decorated in neutral tones with bright pink accents. All accommodations come appointed with 47-inch LCD flat-screen TVs and bathrooms appointed with rain showers, flat-screen TVs and even toilets with heated seats. (Some suites also feature hardwood floors and marble fireplaces.) The property also houses a fitness center and a small pool, not to mention a garden and terrace. After a long day, you can satisfy your craving for gourmet French fare at renowned chef Daniel Boulud's restaurant, Maison Boulud. Yet despite all of these on-site offerings, it's the Ritz's impeccable customer service that impresses travelers time and time again. And thanks to Ritz's affiliation with Marriott, guests participating in the Marriott Rewards program and can earn or trade in their rewards points for extra perks.
Dubbed 'Le nouveau St Tropez' by Vogue Paris, Montauk's rise from fishing village and low-key surf perch to Manhattan's most fashionable summer spot has been meteoric. For those who lack that crucial friend with a beach house, Ruschmeyer's is the next best option. Styled as a summer camp for adults, it's part souped-up motel, part restaurant, part dance party. The rooms are comfortable if basic, with wicker headboards, hammocks and shower rooms. Which is just fine, because they'll barely be used. Instead, hit the rollicking restaurant which is overseen by the people behind SoHo locavore favourite The Smile; make new chums over ping-pong in the Magic Garden; and get down at the Electric Eel club, which has DJs at weekends and a raucous bingo night on Thursdays. Breakfast is DIY and included in the price (love the smashed avocado on rye). Alternatively, borrow a bike and cycle 10 minutes to Ditch Plains Beach for quesadillas from the Ditch Witch food truck, or join the line of hipsters for burritos at Joni's in town. And while in the East Coast's premier surf spot, it would be churlish not to at least attempt to ride a wave: Ruschmeyer's will provide a board and lessons.
Karon is an especially family-friendly part of Phuket, as well as being quiet and relaxing. Our list of the best places to stay in Karon Beach reflects that. Many of the hotels and resorts below have excellent facilities. These include big swimming pools, great restaurants, first-class spas and modern, spacious rooms. If you're looking at Karon Beach as your next Phuket holiday destination, these are the places which will almost guarantee you have a fantastic time.