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. By Jane Broughton
This 24-acre beachfront resort in Lahaina, Hawaii, entices visitors on the hunt for an authentic Hawaiian vacation. In addition to hosting cultural activities like ukulele classes, lei making demonstrations and hula lessons, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Maui also offers ample ways to enjoy the island's picturesque setting, including snorkeling tours, paddleboarding and catamaran excursions. Or, guests can spend the day lounging by the white sand beach or one of two pools. Accommodations also feature classic Hawaiian touches, such as lanais and colorful accent pillows. (Courtesy of Montage Kapalua Bay)
The best hotels in Karon Beach take full advantage of their setting in this beautiful resort town on Phuket’s west coast. This lovely destination has the island’s third-longest beach and first most squeaky sand. There are plenty of activities available on the beach and many shops and restaurants behind it. Shaded by trees, it is one of the more picturesque shores on the island.
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)
Enter the polished marble hall, take in the view down the Grande Allée that bisects its gardens, scented with the roses they cut to decorate the bedrooms and cooled by what F Scott Fitzgerald called its ‘deferential palms'. The Mediterranean lies beyond, and your spirits cannot but soar. Can there be a lovelier place for breakfast than the terrace of its mansion-like main building, all pale pink stucco, slate mansard roofs and oeil-de-boeuf windows? Or a more flirtatious spot for a coupe de Champagne than the starlit, ocean-liner-like roof terrace of the waterside Eden-Roc restaurant? Or a smarter arena in which to show off your trapeze skills than the swings, rings and rope ladders suspended over the sea, just beyond the heated saltwater swimming pool? Its chintzy bedrooms will never win prizes for innovative design or modernity. There may be Wi-Fi and phones, but a retro panel of bells on the bedside tables still summons your valet, femme d’etage or room service. And yet, in spite of all this – or, more likely, because of it – there’s nowhere else on earth quite like it. Hence the eternal allure that ensures the top-floor rooms of its century-old seaside annexe, Eden-Roc, shielded both from public gaze and waterborne paparazzi, remains the A-list’s lodging of choice during the Cannes Film Festival. By Claire Wrathall
The recipient of numerous industry accolades, including Frommer's Exceptional and AAA Four Diamond awards, the No. 1 Best Hotel in New York City sits in the heart of lower Manhattan. Along with its desirable address, travelers also praise The Beekman's superb service, tasty cuisine and trendy vibe. Acclaimed American chefs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally have outposts here, and guest rooms and suites boast modern features like custom leather headboards, aged oak floors, curated artwork and bathrooms with Carrara marble accents. (Courtesy of The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel)
Located in a classic pre-war building, this Manhattan Ritz-Carlton ranked at No. 1 among big-city hotels in the U.S., and also made the top 10 for business hotels. Whether or not readers came here to cut deals, the hotel made them feel like insiders: Each member of the multilingual concierge team belongs to the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or, and readers repeatedly wrote that the service feels warm and natural, despite the grand setting. Indeed, one of the daily activities is a standing invitation to help feed the hotel’s carriage horses across the street. Its La Prairie day spa, meanwhile–where one treatment is the decidedly-non-fishy Caviar Back Massage—ranked at the top of the U.S. survey for hotel spas.
The 40-room, luxury Lodge at Sea Island is on the site of a former cotton plantation, accessed via an avenue of historic antebellum oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Outside, the lodge resembles an English manor; inside, it feels like a 1920s-style golf clubhouse or hunting lodge, with personal butlers who deliver milk and cookies to guest rooms at bedtime. Golfers will be in heaven, but there are plenty of non-golf-centric activities, too. Rooms are huge and packed with amenities -- some havebalconies with beautiful views of the St. Simons Sound. Listen for the nightly bagpiper who performs at sunset. Guests should note that some features -- such as the beach, spa, and swimming pool -- are located at the sister property, The Cloister, which is too far to walk to; however, there's a free regular shuttle there and back.
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)