Remember when some places used to call themselves art hotels, for the sake of a few second-rate daubings on the walls? Well, this opened in 2013, a key player in Oslo’s waterside reboot, and has the sort of collection many urban galleries would kill for. There’s a genuflecting bronze by Antony Gormley outside by the revolving doors, a Julian Opie animation in the lift, and you’ll spot pieces by Warhol, Richard Prince, Niki de Saint Phalle and Tony Cragg dotted around the public spaces. The Thief is the work of Petter Stordalen, who drives a biofuel-powered Ferrari and has banned bacon in his hotels for sustainability reasons. It straddles the water on the reclaimed islet of Tjuvholmen, a sheeny-shiny place of glinting bridges and newbuilds, many of which are home to small independent galleries – though the big-hitter is the neighbouring Astrup Fearnley, from where much of the hotel’s artwork is borrowed. The spa and pool are accessed via a secret underground tunnel – locals come for the Sauna Guss experience, inspired by Dr Kneipp’s immune-system-boosting methods, with a dip in the icy Oslofjord followed by a sauna using essential oils. Rooms are clad in touchy-feely textures, golds and greys, with picture windows to slide wide open for gulps of Nordic sea air from the harbour below. (Two of the biggest rooms were designed by Lee Broom and Peter Blake, riffing on Fifties and Sixties London – a cubist coffee table here, a geometric-patterned sofa there.) The rooftop restaurant was recently revamped, British chef David Taylor has fun with regional ingredients (scallops, turnips, monkfish, lamb neck) at the FoodBar restaurant, the bar has helped up Oslo’s cocktail game (try the Michael Jackson and Bubbles – rum, banana cordial, green tea, Champagne, in a ceramic monkey head). London-born Dominic Gorham is the personable go-to chap for guests, taking it to the stage to MC regular unplugged music sessions. It’s a 15-minute walk from the town centre – this is a city for striding out, along the Aker Brygge waterfront, over the glacier-like Opera House and up for more sculptures in the hillside Ekeburg park. The Thief’s new art collection is set to arrive soon, along with a sister hotel in town, Amerikalinjen. Oslo’s overflowing oil wealth meant this was a city that never bothered itself unduly with drawing visitors, but that’s changed and it has a fresh international outlook – this is the best place to feel you’re part of that. By Rick Jordan
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
For the fourth year in a row, The Jefferson claims the title of No. 1 Best Hotel in the District of Columbia. Welcoming the district's elite visitors since 1923, this historic property is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, a spa offering customized treatments and a cozy library inspired by Thomas Jefferson. Additionally, all of the classically appointed accommodations come equipped with modern conveniences, such as in-mirror bathroom TVs, iPads, free Wi-Fi access and buttons to request privacy or housekeeping services. (Courtesy of The Jefferson, Washington, DC)
Rajasthan isn’t exactly lacking in grand heritage hotels, but there are at least two reasons to visit this property. First, a section of it is still home to the former Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family (one of the largest private residences in the world); and second, for the extraordinary scale of the imposing architecture and the 26 acres of precisely manicured grounds. High on Chittar Hill, overlooking the Blue City, this golden-colored sandstone pile has operated as a hotel since 1971, but it was the arrival of Taj Hotels in 2005 that elevated the service to match its royal setting. Art Deco interiors unfold over ornamental latticed stonework, artfully lit carved pillars, a sweeping marble staircase, exotic frescoes, and a neck-craning 105-foot-high cupola. And while there are some pretty spectacular rooms—such as the Maharani Suite, with its original bath carved from a single piece of pink Italian marble—choose a Royal Suite, where terrazzo flooring, original palace artwork, and lavish bathrooms lead to private balconies that frame views of the peacock-speckled gardens. A morning workout at the marble squash courts will justify a lazy afternoon at the subterranean spa, and then a dinner of spice-laced Jodhpuri murgh in Risala restaurant. To stay here amid all the incredible old-world opulence is to really get a taste of Jodhpur’s gilded glory.
Flanking the northern base of Blackcomb Mountain, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler prides itself on its picturesque surroundings, upscale lodging and first-rate service. Previous visitors recommend booking a mountain-facing room. Although they're pricier than other accommodations, these rooms come with cozy comforts such as designer bath products, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. You'll also find an abundance of activities to choose from: Wintertime yields skiing and sleigh rides, while summer offers opportunities to hike and whitewater raft. And at any time of year, you can lounge along the heated outdoor pool, rejuvenate with a Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar scrub or enjoy wine tastings. In the evening, sip a cocktail at the on-site bar or sample prime slices of tenderloin at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar (recent visitors mention that meals here are pricey, but worth every penny). Recent guests were thrilled with the exceptional service at this Four Seasons property, but thought the parking fees were a tad high.
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.
Bold, crazy, ambitious, foolhardy, visionary – any number of adjectives could have been used to describe Australians Rory and Melita Hunter when they formulated their plan some 12 years ago to create a destination hotel on two tiny islands in the little-known Koh Rong archipelago, 20 miles off the coast of Cambodia. Yet the sublime result was Song Saa – the first opening outside of Siem Reap to rekindle an interest in travel to Cambodia after decades of oppression (their next project is 200-hectare Song Saa Reserve at Siem Reap). Nine of the 27 standalone villas (each with a private pool) are on stilted platforms over aquamarine water, the rest dotting the shoreline or tucked into the jungly interior of the larger island; the smaller island, linked via a wooden walkway, remains an unblemished nature reserve. But it’s Melita’s creative touch that really defines the look and feel of Song Saa: driftwood and bamboo from broken-up fishing boats and abandoned houses have been recycled into walls, floors and furniture. The Song Saa Foundation runs in conjunction with the hotel, championing health, employment and education among local communities, and tackles issues such as waste management and marine protection. So staying at this top-class island hideaway also means supporting social and environmental change. A meaningful blueprint for sustainable travel. By Pamela Goodman
A heavenly adults only paradise located in Riviera Maya, Platinum Yucatan Princess All Suites Spa and Resort is a divine beachfront location. Boasting spacious suites with topnotch amenities, guests are welcomed with a bottle of tequila, spa discounts, complimentary private dinner, and welcome gifts, while honeymooners receive all that and more. With an extremely friendly staff, everything you need is at your fingertips. With Stay at 1, Play at 3, guests can venture into neighboring resorts and enjoy their amenities and restaurants as well, with the exception of private areas of Laguna Villas and Platinum Suite which are only designated for those guests of Grand Sunset Princess. Splash around in the crystalline pools or unwind with a rejuvenating spa treatment during the day. After the sun sets finish your day off with live nightly entertainment.
The spotless stuccoed Victorian façade; the fretwork shutters and balusters in Cambridge blue; the acres of white marble and wicker within; the emerald lawn with its picturesque little gazebo without... The original part of the Mandarin Oriental looks even more exotic today than it must have done when it first appeared on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River in 1876. Surrounded by the general mayhem of 21st-century Bangkok, the Authors’ Wing, as it is now known, epitomises a certain atmosphere of resolute calm and order. It strikes a particular note – bright and distinct – with which the other elements of the place are beautifully in step. This is all the more remarkable since it is such a big hotel: 400-odd rooms and suites, nine restaurants and bars, spread over several buildings on both sides of the river. It is also stylistically diverse, blending high Victoriana with traditional Thai elements and more hard-edged contemporary accents, particularly in the main modern tower. But its defining spaces pick up and enrich that original sweet note: the shamelessly opulent Michelin-starred restaurant Le Normandie, the much-loved and often-moved Bamboo Bar, the exceptional spa. This is a classic that still rings out loud and clear after all these years. By Steve King
Karon Phunaka Resort & Spa straddles the hillside above Karon Temple and this 86-room resort enjoys gentle breezes all year round, a tranquility conducive to peaceful reflection, well-kept grounds that border real jungle, an elevator and an air-conditioned funicular to help you up and down the steep hillside, a spectacular infinity pool with a wide sweep of views and a separate childrens pool, Thai cooking classes, a great air-conditioned free-of-charge fitness room with those views again, an air-conditioned squash court and a Thai and international restaurant with live music.Karon Phunaka Resort and Spas accommodation is made up of 36sqm Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms with the same dimensions, 38.5sqm interconnecting Family Rooms, and one 108sqm Suite. Read More...
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.
A short, cobblestoned walk up from Cusco’s central plaza sits an elegant hotel with ancient roots. The story of this Belmond all-suite property—which opened in 2012—is reflected in its décor: Original Inca stone walls from the building’s footprint give way to the colonial-era frescoes and gilded 17th-century décor of its private mansion days, while a small restored chapel and serene arcades reveals its time as a convent. Now, tucked-away terraces and gardens, bubbling fountains, and Cusco’s first heated pool encourage contemplation of another kind to guests of the 55 accommodations. With butler service included for all rooms, checking in and getting acquainted with your suite is a breeze. Despite the historic air, all the technology is up-to-date, so enjoy the in-room iPads, espresso/tea machines, heated bathroom floors, and pumped-in oxygen to help ease any altitude issues.
There are plenty of wellness-focused hotels out there nowadays, but this private island hotel has been around longer and does it better than most. Just ask its fan club, who travel from far and wide for the daily yoga sessions, early morning meditations on the pristine beach, healing massages, and Ayurvedic consultations with Dr Parth, who hails from Goa. Check into one of the whitewashed beachfront villas simply furnished with Indonesian four-poster beds swathed in Italian linens and that’s more or less what your days will consist of – not to mention biking around the island, snorkelling expeditions, kayaking and dawdling over long feasts. The only reason to wear a watch is to make sure you don’t miss yoga. For those who prefer their Caribbean hotels a bit more hedonistic, you can always skip the green juice and slurp a Mojito at the bar, which Keith Richards has been known to frequent when he’s in residence. The Rolling Stone is just one of the island’s famous homeowners. Donna Karan has called her Balinese-inspired villa on Parrot Cay ‘a sanctuary where I go to create awareness’. Bruce Willis and Christie Brinkley own estates nearby, which can be rented should you need more space than COMO’s beachfront villas can provide. This is a wide-open, big-hearted place that puts beach life first. By Laura Itzkowitz
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.
DH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von Simson
Nestled in Québec City's Old Port, the Auberge Saint-Antoine complements the quaint Petit-Champlain district with elegant decor featuring European artifacts and modern accents. Additional touches, such as minibars, coffee machines, and bathrooms equipped with heated floors and no-fog mirrors earn an extra nod of approval, but recent guests particularly applaud this Relais & Châteaux property's warm and courteous hotel staff. After strolling along Québec City's cobbled streets, you can cozy up at Chez Muffy, an intimate dining room that stuns with gorgeous St. Lawrence River views and an eclectic assortment of seasonal French-Canadian dishes. For lighter fare, grab a table at Bar Artefact, which dishes up small dishes like poutine and grilled cheese. You can also take advantage of the hotel's unique amenities, such as the private movie screening room and LeGYM fitness center and private spa treatment rooms, which all receive high marks from previous visitors.
The Jefferson, Washington, DC has been catering to Washington's most elite visitors since 1923, providing a taste of European luxury in the heart of the United States capital. The Beaux-Arts era reigns supreme here, with early 20th century paintings and sculptures lining the checkered floors. The Jefferson's elegant accommodations are appointed with Bose sound systems, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. (For a little more space, upgrade to a suite, which will come equipped with a coffee maker and, in some suites, balconies overlooking the Washington Monument.) Recent guests highly recommend making good use of the intimate on-site spa during your stay, and the in-house gourmet restaurants, Plume and The Greenhouse, earn particularly high praise, along with the on-site bar, Quill. Visitors also give props for The Jefferson's location, which is just a short walk from the National Mall.
This 32-room hotel may appear traditional thanks to its colonial facade, but guests know that the sleek Hotel Matilda is anything but: there’s a crazy video installation installed behind the front desk, and the hallways are lined with contemporary artwork. Once you get to your room, you’ll discover crisp white beds dressed with Egyptian cotton linens and adorned slate gray accents, and marble-clad bathrooms hstocked with Malin + Goetz products. The infinity pool and the rooftop bar, though, are the true standouts.
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
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 Sebastian is a charming, upscale ski lodge set at the base of Vail Mountain in Colorado. The property's well-maintained common areas, including the outdoor fire pit and the library, and its cozy rooms are traveler favorites, and key attributes that helped the resort earn the No. 1 Best Hotel in Vail distinction for 2017. Visitors say the staff members go out of their way to make stays special, citing extras such as hot chocolate and cookies and complimentary transportation around town as standout services. (Courtesy of The Sebastian – Vail)
Nestled along Lake Massawippi's shores – about 85 miles east of Montreal – Manoir Hovey impresses guests with its luxurious amenities and serene ambiance. Each room comes equipped with L'Occitane toiletries, flat-screen TVs and Nespresso coffee makers, but if you're looking to inspire a little extra romance, spring for a treetops suite outfitted with a king-sized canopy bed and wood-burning fireplace. According to previous guests, swinging in a hammock or taking in the scenery by canoe both make for pleasant ways to while away warmer afternoons. During the winter, you can snowshoe and cross-country ski along neighboring trails. And a meal at Le Hatley Restaurant, which serves locally sourced Quebec fare, is a must-visit according to previous patrons. For a more casual dining experience, head to the Tap Room Pub, which dishes up lighter entrees like burgers. Members of Relais & Châteaux's exclusive Club 5C program may receive extras, such as room upgrades, for staying here.
The Wentworth Mansion – the No. 1 Best Hotel in Charleston – appeals to visitors in search of a boutique atmosphere, complimentary extras and old-world charm. Built in the late 1800s, this 21-room hotel houses unique amenities like a spa inside the mansion's former stables and a restaurant in the original carriage house. Accommodations feature traditional details like fireplaces, ornate light fixtures and gilded mirrors. Plus, all room rates cover daily breakfast, homemade chocolates, an afternoon wine reception and more. (Courtesy of Wentworth Mansion)
At the No. 2 Best Hotel in Maui, guests are greeted with panoramic views of Wailea Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Accommodations are spacious (each room measures at least 600 square feet) and include lanais, locally inspired art, deep-soaking tubs and Nespresso coffee makers. On the resort grounds, travelers will find three saltwater pools, two tennis courts and a spa, but this resort's best attribute is its kid-friendly atmosphere. One of the island's most family-friendly properties, the Four Seasons Resort Maui offers everything from a game room to a waterslide to the brand's complimentary Kids For All Seasons activities program. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea)
To arrive here in the dark, through deserts and date trees and mountain passes, is to be greeted by a multitude of twinkling lights from the clear starry skies and from the dim lanterns that illuminate the stone houses. This far-flung hotel lies sandwiched between the dramatic Hajar Mountains and the warm seas off the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. Reimagined to form a traditional village, each villa has a private pool, reed ceilings, rough stucco walls and lamps suspended on ropes that reflect in the thick wood-framed mirrors. Outside, though, through the dense surrounding stands of palm, is a full-on luxe seaside hotel, with a pristine talcum-fine beach and a magnificent swimming pool set against a backdrop of towering pink peaks. Not surprising, given it’s a Six Senses, many people come here for the spa and its bespoke programmes of treatments and fitness. More unusual is the opportunity for adventure. Those who want maximum drama should paraglide, starting on a ledge 293 metres up at the top of the Zighy summit to float down over the bay. The food is worth the journey alone: Bedouin cooking at Shua Shack; wagu-beef fritters in the mountain-lair-like Sense on the Edge. Breakfasts of Arabic coffee and dishes such as akawi, labneh and zaatar-sprinkled pittas are excellent fuel for a morning of beachcombing for the cowrie shells that dazzle here – perfectly polished with a dusting of dark freckles. Six Senses is a growing group but what it does so brilliantly is stay rooted in the sense of each place and let the surroundings shine. By Mary Lussiana
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.