The Italian townhouse hotel redefined. The attention to detail here is painstaking, from the discreetly attentive service to a stylish marine colour scheme that might have appeared on a Thirties racing yacht (Tuscan designer Michele Bonan famously checks each hue under various lighting conditions before approving it). This nautical theme is appropriate for a hotel that rises like the upper decks of a liner above the Mediterranean, with views across to Sorrento, Naples and Vesuvius. Among its competitors, only Punta Tragara enjoys a similar reach-out-and-touch rapport with the sea. Capri Town, and the air-kissing aperitivo joints of its celebrated chicane of a square, La Piazzetta, are just 10 minutes away on the hotel’s shuttle. But you’d be surprised at just how many guests never take up the offer. The satisfyingly large swimming pool is difficult to tear yourself away from, and as evening approaches, signature cocktails such as the JK Spritz (a gingery variation on the Venetian classic) have a way of appearing, accompanied by inventive nibbles that ease guests into dinner on the restaurant terrace. This Capri outpost has more of an unashamedly food focus than its sister hotels in Rome and Florence, and Neapolitan chef Eduardo Estatico’s menu is light, seasonal and also playful – don’t miss his Cucciolone, a popsicle variant on the classic pastiera pie of Estatico’s home town. If the Italian dolce vita is all about living the good life with class, style and confidence, JK Place Capri must be the cult’s high temple. By Lee Marshall
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
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.
Even the most unaffected New Yorkers can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia when passing through the gilded revolving doors of the St Regis to be promptly greeted by a gentleman with white gloves and a smile. The sense of the city’s golden era lingers in that lobby, where shining chandeliers warm the pale walls to create a necessary calming counter to the crush of cabs and suits in Midtown Manhattan. It’s precisely the atmosphere John Jacob Astor IV sought to capture when he opened this 18-storey, Beaux-Arts landmark at the turn of last century. Today, there’s more Michael Kors than mink in the King Cole Bar, though the order hasn’t changed: ignore the lengthy cocktail list and go for a note-perfect dry Martini or a Bloody Mary, the house speciality, and fall into conversation with the bankers in from Boston sitting at the bar. For those who do stay on for a Martini or three more, it’s nice to know that your suite is just an elevator ride away. It may be done up in lipstick-ruby wallpaper or blue velvet curtains and striped white walls, with classic pieces such as silk-stitched loveseats and oil paintings to resemble that glamorous pied à terre everyone fantasises about. A New York institution that channels the city’s glamorous past like no other, steps from the Fifth Avenue buzz. By Erin Florio
It’s not a Rorschach test. Don’t dwell too long on Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake’s uncommon structure sitting on a grassy patch in São Paulo’s refined Jardim Paulista neighbourhood. Is it a watermelon slice? An ocean liner? Step inside the gargantuan belly of a sunlit lobby, then spread out on one of the International Klein blue cushion couches to imbibe a glass of Champagne. More liquid satisfaction is found along The Wall, the lobby bar with its 60ft high stash of spirits (for bibliophiles, 300-plus titles hide alongside). Guests are sent on a sensory adventure, from the unlit lift and barely illuminated corridor to 95 white-on-white cabin-like guestrooms, where an oversized porthole window continues to play with a sense of scale even as an abundance of natural light flows through (highly effective blackout panels close it at the touch of a button). Most fun are those rooms running along the building’s elongated curve, featuring floors that could almost double as a skateboard park. Surround-sound speakers are hidden in headboards, and in the see-through bathroom is a tub with whirlpool jets; less hi-tech but highly coveted are the complimentary Havaiana flip-flops in the closet. Save your appetite for the plump pink salmon sashimi, spicy Amazonian cassoulet and Portuguese arroz de pato (duck rice) at Dijon-born chef Emmanuel Bassoleil’s rooftop Skye restaurant with its 360-degree metropolitan panorama and ruby-red lacquered swimming pool. Commandeer one of the white double daybeds and order Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, colour-coordinated with the pool with fresh strawberries and raspberries. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
Back when this hotel opened in 1995, there were few places in the Maldives to rival it. Landing here by seaplane felt like arriving at an escape cast out at the edge of the world. These days, neighbouring lights are aplenty, but this pristine paradise still feels wild enough to instil excitement. The groundbreaking barefoot ethos created by husband-and-wife owners Sonu and Eva Shivdasani ensures immediate surrender. Explore the island by bike, stopping to bob, chat, and giggle in the warm ocean for hours. Seventy rustic, thatched-roof villas, each hidden in the jungle shade (no stilts over water here) are designed with pared-back simplicity: natural tones, soft textures, lots of driftwood. Each comes with the softest organic sheets, huge daybeds, private pools, hammocks, and a sound system on which to blare out Nat King Cole. There’s snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing trips, and treatments in the spa (tension-soothing massages with lemongrass oil, rose-crystal lymphatic facials, a touch of Ayurveda). At the forward-thinking art studio, wine bottles are upcycled into sculptures. Food is central, with enough sushi to sink a ship, epic make-your-own salad bars, addictive egg appam, an ice cream parlour, a cheese room, and the new Out of the Blue restaurant, with slides straight into the sea. No wonder everybody here is beaming. One of the first luxe–but–laid-back hotels to open in the Indian Ocean, Fushi still delivers on fresh, cool charisma. By Daisy Finer
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)
This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)