That tiny-island locale is one reason Beth Blair loves Sunset Key Cottages, another top 10 contender. Its air of exclusivity is “magical, and I could go on and on about the top-notch service and views,” says the Minnesota travel blogger. But something else won her heart: “The pastry baskets that arrive every morning at the front door are a wow factor,” she says. “There's nothing more relaxing than sitting on a beach-facing patio, sipping hot coffee and nibbling on freshly baked muffins.”
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.
Less than a quarter mile from the golden-sand Kalo Livadi beach, one of the longest on the island, the Archipelagos Hotel is about as idyll a retreat as you’ll find, despite sitting on one of Greece’s more popular spits of land. Take in a Cycladean sunset from your post on the pool deck, or, if you prefer, from the comfort of your room—designed like an amphitheater, many of the set-ups offer views of the region’s azure waters. Come breakfast, stake out the buffet, a princely spread of fresh pastries, breads, meats, cheeses, and dried fruit to sustain you for the day ahead—whether that means a hike up the isle’s rocky crags, or one parsing past issues of The New Yorker by the pool.
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.
With a stay at Katamama, you'll be centrally located in Seminyak, steps from Seminyak Beach and within a 10-minute walk of Eat Street.Featured amenities include complimentary newspapers in the lobby, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a 24-hour front desk.A roundtrip airport shuttle is provided for a surcharge (available 24 hours), and free valet parking is available onsite. Read More...
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)
The room was very comfortable and although on a main road was very quiet. Staff were extremely friendly and helpful and the breakfast croissants were delicious. Liked the use of a shared kitchen area (which had kettle, coffee maker, microwave and fridge). The hotel is near to shops, restaurants and is within easy walking distance of the old town of Quebec and all the sights.
Enjoying a prime location in midtown Manhattan, The St. Regis New York puts guests close to the Big Apple's top sights, such as the Museum of Modern Art and Central Park. The No. 4 Best Hotel in New York City prides itself on its sophisticated setting and high level of customer service: Lodgers note the elegant interior throughout the property and the friendly staff members as highlights of their stays. (Courtesy of The St. Regis New York)
Occupying prime real estate on Chicago's coveted Magnificent Mile, The Peninsula Chicago combines Hong Kong's cosmopolitan flair with the Windy City's Midwestern charm. Travelers describe the guest rooms as comfortable thanks to their creamy color palette and plush furniture, not to mention their modern techie touches, like a bedside remote command station that controls the lights, television and room temperatures. Meanwhile, the renowned Peninsula Spa is in a class by itself: earning The Peninsula Chicago many accolades from health and leisure magazines. Another honorable mention goes to the afternoon tea served in the lobby bar, which visitors say is a nice and welcome touch. During your stay, guests recommend making time for the tasty Cantonese dishes served in the Shanghai Terrace restaurant. However, for many travelers, it was The Peninsula Chicago's friendly service staff that convinced them to stay here again.
Famed artist Lon Megargee created the Hermosa Inn in the 1930s as an escape for his friends before opening its doors to outside guests. Today, the Paradise Valley resort and its 43 hacienda-style casitas attract both vacationers on the hunt for peace and quiet, and foodies, too. Lon’s, the on-site restaurant, incorporates Southwestern techniques like smoking and wood-grilling into its New American cuisine—try the ever-popular Himalayan salt-seared Ahi Tuna, served with cilantro, pickled onion, and ceviche sauce, and pair it with one of the more than 500 wines in the cellar.
This legendary hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side has a highly developed sense of noblesse oblige. The Carlyle opened inauspiciously in 1930, the year after the Wall Street Crash, and its lobby retains the original black-and-white tiled floor designed by Dorothy Draper. The lift operator knows each guest's name and room number, handy should you return late and a little squiffy. And each room has a proper key: no troublesome cards or spooky 'iris recognition' here. The bedrooms themselves are generously sized - at least for New York - while the tower suites are positively vast and very beautiful, with pale beechwood parquet floors, Chinese cabinets, onyx lamps and silk-cushioned fauteuils, as well as heart-stopping views of Central Park. Refreshment is never far away: tea is served in the Ottoman-styled Gallery, cocktails in the Bemelmans Bar (the bar of the Upper East Side) and lunch or dinner in the Carlyle Restaurant, which is decorous without being sedate. And music is inherent at the Carlyle, whose first tenant was composer Richard Rodgers. In its public rooms and suites there are 14 baby grand pianos, and Woody Allen still plays jazz clarinet every Monday night, six months of the year, at the ground-floor Café Carlyle. But in the end, the Carlyle's brilliance lies in its understatement. The fire instructions say, 'Remain relaxed'. Here, at what is still New York's grandest hotel, it's hard to do anything else.
The Auberge St-Antoine is a luxury hotel in the heart of Quebec City’s Old Port. In addition to its superb location facing the majestic St. Lawrence River what makes it so unique is its location on one of Quebec City’s richest archaeological sites; the presence of artifacts in the hotel; and its construction made from 3 historic buildings, a dock and a battery of cannon from the 17th century. You will find yourself immersed in the heart of the city’s magic as it is near the old ramparts, museums and the picturesque Petit-Champlain district. The hotel offers 95 luxury rooms and suites equipped for your utmost comfort. It is member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux.
Royal Palms Resort and Spa is a relaxing getaway set in the desert on the outskirts of Phoenix. Guest rooms here boast vibrant, jewel-toned decor, soaking tubs and hand-selected furniture. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Phoenix invites travelers to unwind at the spa, sample Mediterranean fare at the on-site restaurant and admire views of Camelback Mountain from the comfort of the pool or a cabana. What's more, guests rave about the friendly and accommodating staff members. (Courtesy of Royal Palms Resort and Spa)
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.
Situated about 25 miles north of San Diego, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is a little off the beaten path. But even with its removed location, the resort is a hit with guests, thanks to its carefully manicured gardens, Mediterranean-style rooms and suites and fine dining at Veladora. The No. 1 Best Hotel in California wows visitors with its top-notch service and many luxury amenities, including a tennis facility, an expansive fitness center and two outdoor heated pools and hot tubs. What's more, the resort organizes daily complimentary activities (think: tequila tastings and lawn games) for guests. (Courtesy of Rouse Photography)
At Calistoga Ranch in northern Napa Valley, guests rejoice in the hotel's bevy of amenities, which include complimentary use of a Mercedes-Benz, a private lake, a private wine cave, an on-site vineyard and more. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Napa Valley invites visitors to relax on its 157 acres of land, with offerings such as outdoor spa treatments, an on-site mineral pool and a restaurant dishing out California cuisine with expert wine pairings. (Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort)
Spending the night at this place feels a bit like finding yourself in an Agatha Christie novel. Here you are, one of a group of strangers staying in an elegant mansion that’s laced with a sense of history and intrigue. Except there’s no mystery about why it’s so appealing. Every aspect has been meticulously thought through: the courtyard, the orangery, the library stacked with fantastic books and the living room in which to read them. There’s even a hammam in the basement. The name translates as ‘a home’, which is exactly what the 12-bedroom townhouse hotel feels like, though one, admittedly, conceived by one of the world’s great interior designers. Ilse Crawford has created the most exclusive place to hole up in the Swedish capital, precisely by not making it feel too exclusive. Yes, you have to buzz to get into the private garden to enter the hotel, but once inside there’s a wonderful mix of classic Scandi design and modern pieces, including a handsome brass bar cabinet by London craftsman Jack Trench. The atmosphere is relaxed and unfussy; guests are free to wander into the kitchen and chat to the chef. The location is great, in the heart of Ostermalm, the smartest neighbourhood in the city, but set away from the main roads. With incredible taste, warmth and no snootiness whatsoever, this hotel is a fusion of all that’s best about Scandinavia. By Stephen Whitlock
One of two Four Seasons properties in New York City, this hotel impresses visitors time and again with its ornate art deco lobby, sophisticated service and stellar views of midtown Manhattan. The Four Seasons Hotel New York, the No. 5 Best Hotel in New York City, boasts a spa (complete with a steam room and sauna) and an address that puts guests just a short walk away from Central Park and the shops along Fifth Avenue. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel New York)
Though Napa Valley is filled with high-end properties, one of its most well-regarded resorts is Calistoga Ranch. This Auberge-affiliated resort – the No. 2 Best Hotel in Napa Valley – is home to all sorts of luxurious features, including a wine cave, a mineral pool and a fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that guests can borrow for free. The property also offers a variety of specialized experiences (for a fee), from beekeeping courses to wine blending experiences. Meanwhile, accommodations boast indoor-outdoor living areas with fireplaces, as well as outdoor rain showers, separate soaking tubs and wet bars with gourmet snacks. (Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort)
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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
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.