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.
Readers declared this 85-room hotel in the Willamette Valley to be one of the best values among American wine country inns—perhaps not a surprise, since Pinot fans tend to love Oregon wineries for their laidback (and less costly) ambience. And while the hotel is nobly LEED Gold-certified—for such features as solar water heaters and glassware made from reclaimed wine bottles—it also offers decadent, you're-soaking-in-it spa treatments, like baths of local wine, honey and roses. Set on seven acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapevines, the Allison also got high marks for its idyllic location and a top-10 ranking for cuisine: its locavore restaurant Jory is named after the region’s fertile soil.
Celebrating its 20th year, this 60-room property in the Ayung River Valley is reached via a suspension bridge that hovers over coconut trees and rice fields. The drama doesn’t end there: each of the riverside guest villas has a meditation space and lily pond on the roof, as well as an outdoor living room and pool. The sense of calm befits the resort’s location near Ubud, the spiritual heart of Bali. Yet new experiences, including cooking lessons in a bamboo-clad center designed by Elora Hardy and Sacred Nap relaxation treatments, keep things innovative and modern.
Twenty-six years on, Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art, and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road, one of many overlooking the sea in the wind-protected suburb of Bantry Bay. And that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. The bar, restaurant, and spa are exclusive to invited and resident guests, which means it’s very private and secure. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country—his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar, and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s answer to Kew) in the one-and-a-half acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery and an excellent little spa. Checking into one of the individually decorated rooms in the house—many with local African design elements, some on the small size—feels both comfortable and comforting. As does the open-access kitchen. Walk right in, tell the chefs what you’re craving and it is whipped up in minutes. Better yet, take a snack back to your room. The post-sunset vista from the balcony has to be one of the best views of the Atlantic found anywhere on earth.
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The USA is as varied as it is vast. You could bask in the bright lights of one of the world’s great cities or stargaze in the great outdoors. Embark on a road trip through wine country or find yourself in a private spa retreat. It’s a country with enough A-list sights to fill the biggest Hollywood blockbuster, but still has a down-to-earth charm that you can’t help but fall for. And, when it comes to luxury hotels, America remains one of the world’s big hitters.
This 142-room hotel sits in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and in the shadow of the iconic bridge—which, no doubt, helped it land its top-10 rankings for both location and lovebirds. You get the choice of two compelling kinds of lodging: either the new, eco-friendly suites with gas fireplaces, floor-to-ceiling windows and bamboo furniture; or rooms in the site’s original Fort Baker, which was an officers’ residence during World War II. Readers also loved the Northern-Cal-style spa, which features massage as well as energy work (like reiki and jin-shin) and hypnotherapy.
Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa offers five-star luxury through its collection of plush pool villas in the famous beach resort area of Jimbaran.The sands of the pristine Jimbaran Bay is within only walking distance from the resort, down Jalan Yoga Perkanthi, one of the quiet side streets off the Jimbaran main road.The popular sunset seafood cafes on Muaya Beach are a few minutes south, and the resort 24-hour shuttle services can take you to the livelier beach resort areas of Kuta and Legian within 30 minutes north, and Ngurah Rai International Airport only a 15-minute transfer away in the neighbouring area of Tuban. Read More...
One of the curious things about the Anassa is how tricky it is to parcel up and present. Capturing the wholeness of the place, framing its splendid size, its weighty elegance, its thrilling solidity, is challenging. It is so much more than the sum of its parts: a cracking hotel, which is at once back-straighteningly smart and also effortless. Diamonds and flip-flops. Exquisite sashimi and sticky-sweet ice-cream cones. As on the button for peace-seeking grown-ups as it is for half-term and school holiday hijinks. And because of the reliable balminess of the weather, it’s as delightful in early May as in mid-October and all the months in between. The imposing, traditional Greek Cypriot-style buildings, with their terracotta-tiled roofs, whitewashed walls and periwinkle-blue shutters, spill down to pools and rolling lawns that in turn tumble onto the beach. There is space, endless space everywhere, and wide-eyed views of the scoop of Chrysochou Bay for scuba diving straight off the shore. Hushed dinners at Asian-leaning Basiliko are followed by weekly torchlit grilled-swordfish barbecues and local folk suppers in the chapel courtyard under blousy branches of bougainvillaea. The rooms are classic and calm, pale linens, a jaunty nautical stripe, muslin curtains, and at night, with the windows flung open, all you can hear is the lick of sea on sand. After a week of sleeping, swimming, feasting and spa-ing everyone leaves feeling properly rested for the first time in months. Which is why they come back again and again. By Issy von Simson
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)