This pioneering camp of 10 elegant, khaki-green Rajasthani tents marooned on a grassy island on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans has remained a standout hit for years. Here the intermittent rustling of the mokolwane palm trees is often the only sound breaking the utter silence. Lunar-like, the pans stretch for thousands of kilometres in all directions and are littered with fossils and Stone Age artefacts. Founded by fifth-generation safari operator, explorer and naturalist Ralph Bousfield, in memory of his crocodile-hunting late father Jack, the camp is a place to be adventurous and also educated. The guides are all long-standing experts in their fields, from zoology to palaeontology, and walkabouts are led by a resident bushmen clan. Jack’s is big on the classic, old-school East African safari experience, with Persian rugs, paraffin lanterns, brass fittings, mahogany campaign furniture, antique four-poster beds and raucous, communal dining in a mess tent. But it’s the choice of experiences, some dictated by the dramatic seasonal changes to the landscape, that ultimately thrill the most. In the dry season, meerkats and brown hyena are the unlikely stars of the show and zooming across the pans on quad bikes is obligatory. After the summer rains, lush grasses attract migrating herds of zebra and flamingos in their thousands. At any time of the year, it’s a photographer’s dream. Those who get to camp out under the stars near Kubu Island can consider themselves members of an elite club. By Jane Broughton
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
At this hotel on the pandanus-lined beachfront of Cabarita, the signature cocktail made with local Ink Gin changes from deep blue into shades of dusty pink. It completes the photographic panorama of navy and white sun beds, oversized sun hats and bronzed pool boys. It’s here, in this lazy coastal pocket halfway between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, that the linen-clad set come to kick back on long, hot summer days. Among the 21 rooms by Brisbane designer Anna Spiro, no two are the same. Each is a revision in Sixties eclecticism, with brass fixtures, antique memorabilia and dark wood furniture whimsically combined with a Mediterranean sensibility of patterned floor tiles, starched linens and wall panelling. Bathers migrate from the pool to dinner at Paper Daisy, the hotel’s restaurant helmed by Noma alumnus Ben Devlin, to try flavours of the surrounding landscape. For breakfast there are kefir pancakes with macadamia cream, passionfruit and berries, and lunches of prawn sandwiches with iceberg lettuce and avocado. A Moroccan-accented day spa with a domed hammam-style steam room was added in 2017. But it is perhaps general manager Mauro De Riso, with his charming sense of Italian hospitality, that stands out as the greatest investment made by owners Elisha and Siobhan Bickle. This boutique seaside bolthole etches a new, more sophisticated vision of the Australian lifestyle of surf, sun and sand on to the scene. By John Hannan
The story of this legendary escape began in 1965 when a British pilot and his American socialite wife built a large house above the sea near Porto Ercole and opened it up to guests. After it was bought by present owner Roberto Sciò in the 1970s, it became a magnet for a steady stream of international A-listers, as seen in the evocative, monochrome Slim Aarons images that hang in the bar. Fifty-plus years on, Il Pellicano is as alluring as ever, with a timeless quality that recalls those heady days – and it has a fiercely loyal following. Sciò’s designer daughter Marie-Louise has cleverly revamped the hotel without sacrificing its sense of history. The 50 airy bedrooms, divided between the main villa and six cottages hidden among olives and cypresses, have polished terracotta floors and a colour palette reflecting the surrounding land and seascapes. The retro yellow-and-white-striped beach towels are still laid out around the heated saltwater pool and along the famous bathing platform over the sea, but there’s a fresh feel to the place, too, with Fornasetti-inspired wallpaper, jazzy fabrics, a great spa and a boutique selling super-chic Eres swimwear. Lazy lunches of octopus salad and chilled local Ansonica roll on into pre-dinner Pelican Martinis whipped up by master mixologist Federico Morosi and suppers of risotto with pears and summer truffles on the candlelit terrace of the Michelin-starred restaurant. This is Tuscany’s most exceptional seaside retreat by miles. By Nicky Swallow
Hidden among fisherman’s casas painted cobalt-blue, pink and pistachio bordering Trancoso’s sleepy village square, where the town’s elders gather to shoot the breeze, Uxua is almost imperceptible to the passer-by. The only giveaway is the tables of smart Cariocas and international hipsters sipping passionfruit Caipirinhas while watching the early evening scene unfold on the Quadrado. Golden light catches the locals playing football around the whitewashed 16th-century church. This is just how expansive Dutch owner Wilbert Das (Diesel’s former creative director) likes it. Surrounded by dense rainforest and teetering high on a ridge overlooking the powder-sand fringed Atlantic, Uxua fits right into the post-hippie utopia of Trancoso. Working with local artisans, Das has turned the hotel into a collection of rustic renovated casas, cottages, an intimate treehouse and a tribal-inspired spa. All are cloaked by hummingbird-flecked tropical gardens and centred around a pool lined with green aventurine quartz, which, for those not up on their healing crystals, is said to be very therapeutic. Interiors are haute-boho: roomy indoor-outdoor sitting rooms and airy living spaces with dazzling-white walls and muslin-canopied beds, accented with lots of reclaimed wood, antiques and vintage finds including brightly painted Virgin Mary statuettes. A decked path runs through mangrove forests to the beach, where there are enormous day beds for post-breakfast snoozing and a beach bar fashioned from an old fishing boat – just stay horizontal and another Caipirinha will soon find its way to you. This is the South American coastal retreat that’s on everyone’s radar. By Chris Caldicott
Just one glance at Fotos innovatively designed lobby is enough to alert the senses that a treat is in store.The hotels black-and-white theme even extends to the hotels multilingual main library opposite reception (bibliophiles will adore this place) and checkered black-and-white teddy bears loll on the ultramodern white sofas (with black cushions, naturally) while black empty picture frames interact on the white walls.Two Macbooks sit on a solid teakwood table and are complimentary for guests.Each of the 79 rooms is a generous 46.5sqm and they are divided into two categories - Ocean (seaviews) and Ozone (no seaviews). Read More...
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.
Just northeast of Kekaha Kai State Park, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is one of the most luxurious resorts on the Big Island. Recent visitors suggested indulging in the Hualalai Spa, which features spa treatments with island twists, like a Polynesian Niu (Coconut) Scrub or a Sun Relief Ti Leaf Wrap. Meanwhile, the resort's seven unique swimming spots – from a saltwater pond with a few friendly manta rays to an oceanfront infinity pool – earn high marks across the board. Should you be interested in learning more about Hawaiian life, the Ka'upulehu Cultural Center offers interactive programs that give insight into the island's history, traditions and even music. After a long day of learning (or relaxing), enjoy a fresh seafood meal at one of three restaurants or two lounges before retiring to your room. Accommodations at this Four Seasons resort feature nature-inspired hues and Hawaiian art, as well as balconies, granite bathrooms and plasma TVs. Although recent guests won't deny that room rates and dining costs here are high, they say that the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai's facilities and customer service are worth the price.
Viceroy Bali presents luxurious villa accommodation in the cool upland and cultural heartland of Bali, Ubud.The five-star resort makes good use of its natural surroundings, perched on a verdant valley overlooking one of the legendary rivers in Bali.Guests are welcomed to the calm and serenity of the hotel grounds, and enjoy a stay that is close to nature and away from the hubbubs of modern life.The resort is a 90-minute transfer from the Ngurah Rai International Airport in southern Bali, while the hub of Ubud, where a collection of must-see landmarks, art galleries, museums and rows of fine restaurants are found, is only a 15-minute transfer away. Read More...
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)
With an ideal location by the National Mall and impeccable service, The Hay-Adams continually impresses travelers. The No. 2 Best Hotel in the District of Columbia exudes historical charm, especially inside its tastefully decorated accommodations. All rooms blend period-inspired details, such as canopied beds and curtains and garlanded white plaster ceilings, with modern amenities like flat-screen TVs and Bose music systems. Additionally, visitors can maintain their fitness regimens in the gym, catch up on work in the 24-hour business center or take in White House views while savoring contemporary American cuisine at The Lafayette. (Courtesy of The Hay-Adams)
It's no wonder royalty, A-list celebrities, and athletes keep returning to the luxury Calistoga Ranch: It's in a class all by itself. Guests rent exquisite private lodges, set on a private 157-acre park-like property complete with hiking trails and a top-of-the-line restaurant and spa. Attention to detail carries over from room design to landscape planning -- all modules for the lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The property boasts plenty of activities, including outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, a fabulous fitness center, and wine tasting seminars. If guests decide to venture out for some reason, they can easily access downtown Calistoga and other towns with not only loaner bikes, but loaner Mercedes-Benzes! This property stands out as one of the most remarkable not just in Napa Valley but in the entire country.
The winning U.S. hotel in the survey has a quintessential American spirit: located in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, it’s a four-star dude ranch where you can rustle dogies by day then reward yourself with duck confit, Wagyu steaks and a huckleberry trifle by evening, all with thoughtful wine pairings. As a result, the hotel also ranked at No. 3 in the U.S. for cuisine, and in the top 10 for its elegantly rustic design: cedar-lined log cabins, stone fireplaces and world-class Western art. Given its thorough menu of complimentary activities—including fly fishing, archery, skiing, and even horse-pulled skijoring—readers also ranked the high-end Triple Creek at No. 1 for being a solid value.
This former 17th-century convent mixes elements of its past (exposed wood ceilings, beautiful arched walkways) with modernity in a very graceful way: Rooms are either contemporary or colonial-style, and while the newer ones offer views of the pool or the Caribbean, colonial suites have antique furniture and overlook the Old Town or interior gardens. To play at being pious, check out Restaurant 1621, once the Clarist nuns’ dining room, which now serves French-inflected cuisine.
There’s a lot happening at the Raffles Jakarta—but it’s still a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of this busy capital city. Sitting in Jakarta’s Golden Triangle, a monument- and memorial-laden area in the southern edge of the city center, the hotel hugs the upscale Lotte Shopping Avenue and the Ciputra Artpreneur Center, an art gallery and theater complex. Let the bellman in the spiffy getup take your bags and usher you in to the marbled lobby, which also pulls double-duty as an art gallery: Works by Hendra Gunawan, an Indonesian artist, line the walls with bursts of color in an otherwise glossy, cream-colored space. Other standouts include the Writers Bar—a spinoff of the hotel’s famous Singapore outpost—which celebrates Jakarta’s art, literature, and history, and the guest rooms' floor-to-ceiling windows.
Jamahal Private Resort and Spa offers five-star luxury villa accommodation in Jimbaran.The villa resort is located on the secluded Gang Batu Putih passage off Jimbarans main Jalan Uluwatu, within only 20 minutes transfer south from the Ngurah Rai International Airport in the neighbouring beach resort area of Tuban.Balis two other popular beach resorts, namely Kuta and Legian are only a half-hour taxi ride north, while Jimbarans own famous highlight of sunset seafood cafes that line Muaya Beach are within walking distance from the resort, passing the Jimbaran Corner complex of restaurants and shopping boutiques. Read More...
The fourth-generation, family-owned Hotel Continental is one of the oldest and most established hotels in Oslo—but it's not just its pedigree that makes it a notable stay. Located on the doorstep of some of the city's main tourist attractions, including the Royal Castle, the parade street Karl Johan, the National Gallery, the waterfront, and the Aker Brygge neighborhood, it's in a veritable hotbed of activity. The five-star spot caters to an accordingly upscale crowd, with plenty of business travelers in the mix, but there are also locals swinging by for pre-dinner cocktails at Bar Boman, the stylish hotel bar—so you won't feel at all sequestered from the scene.
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)
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.
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
**Le Club AccorHotels members who register and book the Fairmont Moments offer by February 28, 2019, and stay between January 1 and March 31, 2019, will receive triple the Rewards points for their stay. Guests must register before making their reservation to be eligible to receive the discount. Offer only applicable in Canada, USA, Mexico and Panama. For more details click here.
After three decades, this wine-country pioneer, balanced on a hillside overlooking Napa Valley, remains a favourite. Even for jaded souls who think they've seen it all, the light-filled rooms - just 52 of them, mostly intimate, Mediterranean-style stucco cottages - are a delight. With French doors, private terraces and fireplaces, they're designed for comfort, privacy and relaxation. An olive grove shades the grounds, and a large sculpture garden makes for a pleasant walk to and from the main house, pool and Michelin-starred restaurant. Dinner on the patio is a must: choose from chef Robert Curry's seasonal menu - the excellent roast pork belly, kampachi sashimi and seared tuna with fava purée are standouts - and say yes to head sommelier Kris Margerum's thoughtful wine pairing. The massive spa has a central courtyard lined by hammam-style sauna and steam rooms, outdoor showers and hot and cold plunge pools. A leisurely afternoon here is a treat, not least because of the sunshine-soaked views.
The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis offers a romantic experience in old Québec City. The ambiance is cozy and the décor honors the building’s history: this is a former pair of Victorian houses renovated into a small boutique hotel. As the building is historic, ask for a ground floor room if you have mobility issues; there is no elevator. The rooms all come with a tea service set and are also decorated in Victorian-inspired furniture. The Hôtel le Clos Saint-Louis also specializes in romantic packages for couples, ensuring a true taste of Québec City’s culture.
With elegant chalet decor and a host of amenities, the Landing Resort & Spa offers a luxury stay across from a private beach on Lake Tahoe and near Heavenly Village and the Stateline casinos. Its 77 stylish rooms have fireplaces, mini-fridges, Keurig coffeemakers, private balconies or patios (some with lake views), and luxurious bathrooms with heated floors and toilet seats. There's a restaurant that serves Greek and Californian fare and has a lovely patio overlooking the lake, though there are reports of slow service. For a dose of pampering, guests can head to the on-site spa, which has a sauna and steam room, and there’s also an outdoor pool with a hot tub. Rates are pricey, however, plus there's a mandatory resort fee covering the facilities and services like Wi-Fi and valet parking.
Located along the stunning blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, the hacienda-style Krystal Vallarta is a tropical oasis of calm, peace and serenity. Ideal for family vacations, this modern resort will keep younger guests entertained at Kamp Krystal, which features an indoor playground with a ball room and a new children’s pool with a waterslide. While the little ones have a blast at the kids club, parents can relax by the resort’s sparkling infinity pool overlooking the turquoise waters of Banderas Bay, or head to lively downtown Puerto Vallarta and explore the Malecón Seafront Promenade. Great for visitors who enjoy outdoor dining, the resort’s seaside restaurant affords breathtaking views of Banderas Bay. A wide range of delicious dining options, from elegant Japanese dishes and other international cuisine to fresh seafood and classic comfort foods from the beachfront snack bar, are sure to keep everyone happy.
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)