This 1940s hacienda-style classic, recently the subject of a Hollywood boycott, is almost as well known as the guests it has harboured. Marilyn Monroe lived here on and off during her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and it was here she posed for her final photo shoot; Liz Taylor and Grace Kelly also used it as a place to crash. These days it's Brad and Angelina, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig who drink and dine in its swish environs, revamped recently with a snazzy La Prairie spa and Wolfgang Puck restaurant serving a Mediterranean-inflected Californian menu. But its true essence remains in the maze of jasmine-scented gardens and lily ponds with resident swans, the courtyards where lizards slither across the tiles, shimmering in the sunlight like jewels. At night, cocooned in one of the alfresco alcoves, you can feast on sweet-pea tortellini and white asparagus with crispy polenta. You'd never know, but there are 100 rooms and suites, all with vintage furniture and spa-like bathrooms; three new hillside villas have huge terraces and infinity pools. At times it can feel like a grand country retreat, but a glance out of a window at the famous vista of sunset and soaring palms provides an instant reminder of its LA setting.
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The No. 1 Best Hotel in Wisconsin is The American Club, a historic Tudor-style hotel in the small town of Kohler. Once used as a dormitory for immigrants, the property now welcomes guests to its charming accommodations, which feature rich fabrics and dark woods. Each room is named after an iconic figure like Fred Astaire or Harriet Beecher Stowe and comes equipped with a minibar and Kohler Waters Spa amenities, among other perks. Visitors also have access to an array of high-end facilities, including two championship golf courses and a health center with tennis courts and fitness classes. (Courtesy of The American Club and Kohler Co.)
This was founded in 2001 by siblings Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, whose great-grandfather migrated from Italy and acquired a ranch and vineyards, building the house where Catherine still lives today. She and Joe are a constant presence, checking in with regulars at the restaurant and joining in afternoon wine tastings (including a knockout red-field blend from their own Lost & Found label). Their deep Sonoma roots translate into perks for guests at local wineries, restaurants and shops, whose owners invariably light up at their mention. And the pair’s enthusiasm percolates through to the easygoing attitude of the longtime staff. You’re as likely to get a great oyster shack or hiking trail tip from the parking attendant as you are from the concierge desk. Of the bedrooms, the newer ones at the quieter, wooded end of the hotel are best, with porches that feel suspended among the trees. Inside you’ll find a conga drum refashioned as a cocktail stand, a vintage ladder propped against one wall under the vaulted wooden ceiling. A double-sided fireplace faces both the bedroom and the Adirondack chairs outside on the porch. The inn’s restaurant has become a destination in itself: chef Steve Litke has a light touch with his Mediterranean-inflected menu, including a delicate Hokkaido scallop with Moroccan spices, and a thyme-scented trio of rabbit (applewood-smoked loin, confit of leg, roasted rack with mustard cream). But you can take the electric car out and head westward to the coast and have lunch at the inimitable Marshall Store, where Sonoma’s best oysters (raw and wood-fire-grilled) are served on wooden barrels along the shore of Tomales Bay. Family-owned and run hotels are now a rarity in California’s wine country, which makes this switched-on place so exceptional. By Peter Lindberg
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 Italian townhouse hotel redefined. The attention to detail here is painstaking, from the discreetly attentive service to a stylish marine colour scheme that might have appeared on a Thirties racing yacht (Tuscan designer Michele Bonan famously checks each hue under various lighting conditions before approving it). This nautical theme is appropriate for a hotel that rises like the upper decks of a liner above the Mediterranean, with views across to Sorrento, Naples and Vesuvius. Among its competitors, only Punta Tragara enjoys a similar reach-out-and-touch rapport with the sea. Capri Town, and the air-kissing aperitivo joints of its celebrated chicane of a square, La Piazzetta, are just 10 minutes away on the hotel’s shuttle. But you’d be surprised at just how many guests never take up the offer. The satisfyingly large swimming pool is difficult to tear yourself away from, and as evening approaches, signature cocktails such as the JK Spritz (a gingery variation on the Venetian classic) have a way of appearing, accompanied by inventive nibbles that ease guests into dinner on the restaurant terrace. This Capri outpost has more of an unashamedly food focus than its sister hotels in Rome and Florence, and Neapolitan chef Eduardo Estatico’s menu is light, seasonal and also playful – don’t miss his Cucciolone, a popsicle variant on the classic pastiera pie of Estatico’s home town. If the Italian dolce vita is all about living the good life with class, style and confidence, JK Place Capri must be the cult’s high temple. By Lee Marshall
The No. 4 Best Hotel in California is located on a quiet, carefully manicured property about 25 miles north of San Diego. A winner of multiple industry accolades, including AAA's Five Diamond Award and recognition on Condé Nast's Readers' Choice List, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa appeals to R&R-seekers who want to be pampered while on vacation. On-site facilities include an adults-only pool, a yoga pavilion and a spa with a menu of massages, facials and more. Visitors also offer ample praise for the resort's staff and the Mediterranean-inspired ambiance of the hacienda-style suites. (Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa and Rouse Photography)
A few miles inland from the Mediterranean, this 67-room hotel on the Costa del Sol is the elegant centerpiece of an ambitious real estate project that includes private villas and a top-rated golf course. Surrounded by impeccably landscaped grounds, the Finca Cortesin took its cues from traditional Spanish farmhouses—low, whitewashed, terra-cotta-tile-roofed, and built around interior courtyards that often have a Moorish decor. Take advantage of the complex's three restaurants, superb spa with an indoor saltwater pool (there are two outdoor pools), a high-tech gym with Med views, a hammam, and a Finnish-style snow room.
From its seven pools to its Ka'upulehu Cultural Center, which hosts daily hula and ukulele lessons, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Hawaii - The Big Island provides guests a variety of ways to embrace all that Hawaii has to offer. At this Four Seasons outpost's five restaurants and lounges, visitors can savor sushi rolls and American and Italian dishes made with fresh seafood. Meanwhile, golfers can tee off at the oceanfront Hualalai Golf Course. And inside the 243 guest rooms, suites and villas, travelers will find natural elements like bamboo canopy beds, slate floors and bathrooms with granite accents. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai)
Moevenpick Phuket is a place to go to unwind, to simply relax and absorb the peace and calm that pervades this beautiful environment.Parts of the generous grounds are evocative of a well-maintained English botanical garden and even though they are spacious and winding, guests simply need to follow the orchids to get to the beach.The resorts spa is a model of classic lines and offers some of the best treatments to be had on the island along with couples-friendly suites.Gourmets will appreciate the international dishes to be enjoyed here and steak lovers especially love El Gaucho - Moevenpicks beefy South American outlet. Read More...
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This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)