For the seventh year in a row, Halekulani claims the title of No. 1 Best Hotel in Honolulu - Oahu. Overlooking Diamond Head State Monument and Waikiki Beach on Oahu's southern coast, Halekulani offers a spa with Polynesian-inspired treatments, three eateries, a jazz lounge and a heated outdoor pool. Guests applaud the property's attentive employees, as well as the picturesque ocean views in select rooms and suites. No matter the accommodation type you choose, you'll be treated to in-room amenities such as snacks, free Wi-Fi access and deep-soaking tubs. (Courtesy of Halekulani)
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 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
The people of Quebec City are hardy and quite used to the harsh weather that is typical in the long winter months. Rather than mope and complain they tend to turn lemons into lemonade, or rather snow and ice into sculptures and other works of art. The city holds a winter carnival every year, officially known as Le Carnaval de Quebéc. Despite the brisk temperatures that are experienced at this time, this carnival is as popular among travellers as events held in the summer months. In fact it is the largest carnival of its kind in the world, with more than one million people drawn to view the ice sculptures, take part in winter sports and attend parades and masquerade balls. Bonhomme, a stylised giant snowman, is the delightful official mascot. Those looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay in the deep winter months should head a few miles to the north of the city where the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, is open from January to March each year. The spectacular suites are carved out of the ice by artists and have to be seen to be believed.
The top Fairmont property in the country and the No. 1 Best Hotel in San Diego is the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Nestled within Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve on 400 acres, this tranquil property charms guests with its Mediterranean-style architecture, friendly employees and award-winning cuisine. Each room and suite overlooks the surrounding canyon or the on-site golf course and is outfitted with dark wood furniture, a Nespresso coffee maker and a bathroom with marble accents. Outside the rooms, travelers can stay active at the Equestrian Center, in the fitness center or on one of two tennis courts. Meanwhile, R&R-seekers can visit the spa or lounge by the adults-only pool. (Courtesy of Fairmont Grand Del Mar)
This was always destined to be the Ferrari of farm holidays, coming as it does from Soho House, which specialises in hotels top-loaded with glamorous naughtiness. Even so founder Nick Jones must be surprised at how enthusiastically his tribe has taken to tractor life. In December 2018, it adds 40 Piglets, dinky billets shaped like pig arcs, and 10 proper rooms built into the walled kitchen garden, to the original 40 clapperboard cabins, set along a river engineered to sashay through the place like a supermodel. The Waltons meets Will.i.am moodboard certainly inspires guests to feel as carefree as Huckleberry Finn: rough-wood finishes, homespun fabrics, woodburners and (this is Soho House after all) bath tubs on the balcony, with modesty curtains. This farmyard has fire pits and fancy sofas, the Main Barn is cavernous, with vast steel-framed windows, a statement bar, low-slung Chesterfields and an atmosphere other hoteliers wish they could bottle. There’s a 25-metre beauty of an infinity pool cantilevered over a lake, fabulous Japanese cooking at Pen Yen as well as Soho House’s winning comfort food, and the chance to witness grown-ups giggling like kids as they wobble about on Foffa bikes, the preferred mode of transport. Of course, it’s all about the little touches: the barman in the roaming milk float who fixes doorstep G&Ts; the vase of wildflowers from the room carefully stowed in the boot of your car with your cases as a goodbye keepsake. A game-changing, ground-shaking hotel that’s now become rooted in the British countryside. By Susan d'Arcy
Although the rooms at the Shinagawa Tobu Hotel are small (this is Japan after all), they’re modern, comfortable, and have an en suite bathroom, so there’s really not that much to complain about. Funny enough, this is one of the best hotels in Tokyo simply because it offers a room with four single beds or two doubles at a reasonable price. WiFi, nightwear, toothbrushes, and slippers are provided. There’s even a common guests’ lounge where free coffee is provided. JR Shinagawa Station is a 5-minute walk away so you’ll easily be able to get anywhere in the city in no time.
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.