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)
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.”
Flanking the northern base of Blackcomb Mountain, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler prides itself on its picturesque surroundings, upscale lodging and first-rate service. Previous visitors recommend booking a mountain-facing room. Although they're pricier than other accommodations, these rooms come with cozy comforts such as designer bath products, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. You'll also find an abundance of activities to choose from: Wintertime yields skiing and sleigh rides, while summer offers opportunities to hike and whitewater raft. And at any time of year, you can lounge along the heated outdoor pool, rejuvenate with a Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar scrub or enjoy wine tastings. In the evening, sip a cocktail at the on-site bar or sample prime slices of tenderloin at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar (recent visitors mention that meals here are pricey, but worth every penny). Recent guests were thrilled with the exceptional service at this Four Seasons property, but thought the parking fees were a tad high.
Reachable only by boat or seaplane, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is located on a private island where wild key deer roam. It includes 30 luxurious suites, many with private oceanfront verandas. A favorite getaway for celebrities, it provides a secluded place to unplug from the world (use of technology is discouraged) and experience a romantic vacation in a lush, tropical environment.
As if the Pen didn’t already tower above the competition – and it has from the day it opened, right opposite Saks on Michigan Avenue, in 2001 – a $37-million renovation in 2016 took it way over the top. Bedrooms were always large for downtown Chicago but feel even more spacious now, thanks to clever ship-cabin cabinetry. Indeed, interiors have a yacht-like feel, in both the space-saving design and the burled wood and leather finishes. Even the entry-level rooms have a separate living area. With muted pale-blue and steel-grey tones, the palette nods towards Lake Michigan, while a wall-size, hand-embroidered rendering of a chrysanthemum refers to Peninsula’s Asian roots without feeling overly on-the-nose. But it’s the in-room tech that’s the true knockout here, with all sorts of ingenious smart-home conveniences. From the bathtub, one touch on the ‘Spa’ button will soften the lighting, stream in a not-at-all-annoying soundtrack and activate the do-not-disturb sign. Maybe you’ve encountered similar tech elsewhere; the difference here is that it actually works – and you don’t need a 15-minute tutorial to figure out the controls. While it’s very hotel-room-of-the-future, the Pen doesn’t feel brave-new-world impersonal: there’s a warmth and softness to the design that feels timeless and embracing. But try and tear yourself away to check out Green River for craft cocktails and Gibsons for steaks. Abundantly comfortable, smooth as hand-embroidered silk but never too sleek, the Pen is far and away Chicago’s top-dog hotel. By Peter Lindberg
If you are travelling for vacation, figure out which attractions or landmarks you want to see and book a hotel that is within close proximity. Although hotels near attractions might cost a little more, you may find that spending those extra few dollars is worth the convenience. You can even find hotels that align with your interests. For example, if you are looking for a relaxing vacation, a spa hotel may be the perfect choice for you.
This was always destined to be the Ferrari of farm holidays, coming as it does from Soho House, which specialises in hotels top-loaded with glamorous naughtiness. Even so founder Nick Jones must be surprised at how enthusiastically his tribe has taken to tractor life. In December 2018, it adds 40 Piglets, dinky billets shaped like pig arcs, and 10 proper rooms built into the walled kitchen garden, to the original 40 clapperboard cabins, set along a river engineered to sashay through the place like a supermodel. The Waltons meets Will.i.am moodboard certainly inspires guests to feel as carefree as Huckleberry Finn: rough-wood finishes, homespun fabrics, woodburners and (this is Soho House after all) bath tubs on the balcony, with modesty curtains. This farmyard has fire pits and fancy sofas, the Main Barn is cavernous, with vast steel-framed windows, a statement bar, low-slung Chesterfields and an atmosphere other hoteliers wish they could bottle. There’s a 25-metre beauty of an infinity pool cantilevered over a lake, fabulous Japanese cooking at Pen Yen as well as Soho House’s winning comfort food, and the chance to witness grown-ups giggling like kids as they wobble about on Foffa bikes, the preferred mode of transport. Of course, it’s all about the little touches: the barman in the roaming milk float who fixes doorstep G&Ts; the vase of wildflowers from the room carefully stowed in the boot of your car with your cases as a goodbye keepsake. A game-changing, ground-shaking hotel that’s now become rooted in the British countryside. By Susan d'Arcy
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.
Beach destinations appear throughout the list, of course — from warm-weather getaways like the Setai, a palatial resort with three pools on Miami Beach, to the Stephanie Inn, a 41-room boutique property on Oregon’s rocky Pacific coast. But mountain resorts also proved to be popular with our readers. Properties like the Swag, in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina; the Little Nell, in the Colorado Rockies, praised as “charming and restful” by one respondent; and Primland, a “hidden gem” in Virginia’s Blue Ridge range, show that travelers value being able to get away from it all by getting above it all. “No words can express the beauty of this hotel and area,” one reader said. “It is a slice of heaven, whether you stay in one of the tree houses or the main lodge,” said another.
Colorado is the place for big skies, crystal-clear rivers and valleys peppered with ranches. And Dunton Hot Springs is the state's original retreat offering super-smart rooms in a rustic setting, the one we first fell in love with. About 90 minutes' drive from Durango, in the San Juan National Forest, this former ghost town and natural hot spring sets the bar for glamping. From the outside, the 12 guest cabins look like 19th-century homesteads crafted from planks and corrugated iron; inside, there are bison-skin rugs, cowhide throws and surprising ethnic touches such as a Rajasthani wedding bed or African mask. More Wild West-themed rooms display homespun cowboy-print curtains, ticking stripe and gingham. Owners Christoph and Katrin Henkel have spared little expense in creating this magical, 200-acre getaway. Chef Carrie Eagle prepares meals using local ingredients, and the list of activities includes snowshoeing, fly-fishing, river rafting and horse riding. Top that? The Henkels have tried with Dunton River Camp, their new property just four miles downriver, where eight super-luxe tents have views of elks grazing on bluebell-covered meadows.
Owned by actor Robert De Niro, Tribeca's Greenwich Hotel is best known for offering trendy digs with an international flair. All of the hotel's 88 rooms and suites feature Tibetan silk rugs, English leather settees and Moroccan-tiled or Italian Carrara marble bathrooms – details that impressed previous guests. Facilities found on-site include a spa, an indoor pool and a fitness center. Plus, visitors can savor Italian classics in Locanda Verde's dining room or the Drawing Room's courtyard. The property is the No. 5 Best Hotel in New York City for 2018. (Courtesy of The Greenwich Hotel)
Tucked among 12,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland tied for first place among U.S. hotels for both its design and rooms. The LEED-registered property is both smart and whimsical: the stone fireplaces and exposed beams came from indigenous materials, but readers were most dazzled by the treehouse-style cabins and the Celestron-equipped observatory. Readers also ranked it in the top 20 for service, thanks to a committed team of concierges, and an app that lets you schedule do-not-disturb timeframes, choose a pillow or request wine and truffles. Readers also gushed about the ridge-top golf course, designed by renowned architect Donald Steel.
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)