This will stop even island regulars in their tracks: on the way to breakfast when they see baby sharks swimming right there in the shallows; passing the giant, gnarling, Tomb Raider-esque banyan tree near the tucked-away spa; at sunset when the pool becomes a mirror for the sky and the only colours that exist in the world are orange and blue. Amilla is a minimalist and clean-lined version of the Maldives, with low-rise buildings in a white wood the same shade as the flour-fine sand. Nothing pokes above the palm trees, even the treehouses high up in the canopy (for those who prefer to fall asleep to the sound of birdcall rather than waves) cleverly blend into their surroundings. Being in or near the water is what it’s all about: the snorkelling is sensational and the house reef is home to a coral-lined underwater chimney where hawksbill turtles, triggerfish and guitar sharks schmooze. But there’s also a knockout spa where trainers from hit London outfit Bodyism lead guests through a gym session to get hearts racing and then brilliant therapists from Bhutan calm them back down again. All is mellow and fairy-lit when it gets dark and everyone seems to be wearing something floaty. Among the half dozen restaurants, Japanese Feeling Koi, set right out over the ocean, is a highlight: reef-fish ceviche with pomegranate; crispy crab roll with green-tea powder. Amilla has some of the most knockout villas in the archipelago. Any which way, it’s a very fun, very glamorous place to stay. By Grainne McBride
The Indian ethos that the guest is god rings true of many grand hotels in the country, yet the Oberoi likes to put its own spin on things. Rising like a great gilded cake from the western shores of Lake Pichola, magnificent Udaivilas is just the spot to wash up after a dusty Rajasthan road trip. This particular pleasure palace is a relatively recent arrival but, like the 18th-century mansions it overlooks, it was built to showcase the craftsmanship of the Rajput era: marble-carved lotus ponds; glittering thikri mosaics; delicate miniatures painted on pale gold walls hand-plastered with lime, crushed marble, egg white and tamarind. The spectacular Candle Room contains a dome set with thousands of pieces of mirrored glass. Udaipur’s busy market streets are only a few miles away, but Udaivilas has the luxury of space: 30 acres of what used to be the Maharana of Mewar’s hunting estate, with bird-filled grounds and views of the pretty lake and its floating mansions. All this grandeur could feel cold and overwhelming if it weren’t for the excellent staff. Guests are greeted off the motor boat by doormen with great twirling moustaches and within minutes everyone knows your name. Small, personal interventions include gifts of a metal-wrought tea light or beaded bag, say, left in your room alongside a handwritten note. In the most romantic city in India, this is the most spectacular place to stay. By Pippa de Bruyn
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.
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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
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.
This heritage urban resort will seduce you with its breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River and the architecture of the Old fortified City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In any one of its 611 guestrooms and suites, you will feel an elegant touch of historic Europe. Your experience at this landmark luxury hotel will guarantee you a memorable and inspiring stay in one of the most beautiful, and walkable, cities in the world.
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Wisconsin is The American Club, a historic Tudor-style hotel in the small town of Kohler. Once used as a dormitory for immigrants, the property now welcomes guests to its charming accommodations, which feature rich fabrics and dark woods. Each room is named after an iconic figure like Fred Astaire or Harriet Beecher Stowe and comes equipped with a minibar and Kohler Waters Spa amenities, among other perks. Visitors also have access to an array of high-end facilities, including two championship golf courses and a health center with tennis courts and fitness classes. (Courtesy of The American Club and Kohler Co.)
After a massive renovation in 2009, this boutique reopened, and regained its place among DC's elite hotels. It's not as famous as the Hay-Adams, but its subtle blend of technology (TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic housekeeping buttons) and colonial charms (intimate library, working dumbwaiter) are second to none. All that's missing is T.J. himself. (Oh wait, no.Here he is. ... )
To some readers, a great hotel room is merely the place where you rest up between memorable meals. This plush country-style inn has an English country home vibe—it was decorated by a London set designer— but many guests initially came for the menu, created by inn founder and James Beard Award-winner Patrick O’Connell. Indeed, the inn won the survey for the best hotel dining in America: it has a 14,000-bottle wine cellar and a French-influenced menu featuring “munchies” like foie gras with pear butter, or a Tin of Sin with American Osetra caviar and peekytoe crab. The hotel also tied at No. 1 in the U.S. for service, with such attentive amenities as afternoon tea, kitchen tours, and three housekeeping visits for your room per day.
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Opened in 1844 and operated by the same family ever since, this property has hosted the likes of Joan Miró and Plácido Domingo. Set in a garden near the Bahnhofstrasse shopping drag (Zurich's equivalent of Fifth Avenue), the hotel looks right onto Lake Zurich and the Alps—but that's not the only nice view. Inside, rooms tastefully mix Art Deco, Louis XVI, and Regency styles, and are individually decorated in neutral tones with red, purple, and teal accents—though, if you're lucky, you'll get a room with a balcony on the water. Rive Gauche is a chic Mediterranean restaurant, while the seasonal Rive Gauche Terrasse is a popular open-air spot for chilled cocktails on warm summer nights. If you're really keen to splurge, the Michelin-starred Pavillon is worth the indulgence.
This 24-acre resort offers panoramic views of the beach and Maui's Kapalua Bay. Visitors can spend their time with activities that range from snorkeling and zip lining to Hawaiian luau and 'Ulalena shows. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Maui is also home to two golf courses, an infinity-edge pool, multiple tennis courts, a spa and several restaurants. (Courtesy of Montage Kapalua Bay)
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