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.
This year, 27 of the top 100 hotels in the world are in Asia — the most of any region. They include an atmospheric hotel with a restored Qing dynasty courtyard in the city of Chengdu, China (the Temple House); two honeymooners’ havens in the Maldives (Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru), and an immaculate, palatial resort overlooking the Taj Mahal in Agra, India (Oberoi Amarvilas). “Uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal give this hotel its own iconic status,” said one reader, while another raved: “The stuff of legends.”
The building’s textile-clad façade and verdant latticework by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma creates a palpable sense of calm – ideal for meditating on the deeper cultural meaning behind contemporary Chinese artworks in the atrium, such as Beijing Memory No. 1 and No. 2, Li Xiaofeng’s wearable cheongsam and military breastplate covered in Ming and Qing-dynasty porcelain shards, and ceramicist Fiona Wong’s ghostly, lace-like White Wings. There’s also a 20ft-high Chinese apothecary chest of 6,000 drawers in the lobby, and the multilingual staff shuffling around in all-black outfits further add to the art-gallery vibe. More straightforward are the 99 open-plan guestrooms finished in oak wood and Turkish sandstone, with Japanese-style furo soaking tubs and powerful overhead rain showers. The complimentary ‘maxi-bar’ features craft brews from the nearby Arrow Factory and bottles of orange-flavoured Arctic Ocean soda, the nectar of any Beijing childhood. A decade after the hotel opened, the Sanlitun area surrounding the House has blossomed. Cross the street to Dover Street Market, where you’re likely to spy staff nipping out to pick up niche items at pop-up events. Follow the scent of date wood back to the hotel’s Jing Yaa Tang restaurant: cumin-laced lamb skewer and fiery kung pao chicken from a cage-free farm south of Beijing deliver just the right amount of anticipation while the master roaster glazes your duck with his secret combination of osmanthus, honey, vinegar, molasses and crushed dates. Order an Old Peking as nightcap, made with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, Mancino Vecchio vermouth and finished in a cloud of date wood smoke – the only type used by serious Beijing duck roasters. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
This spa resort doesn't take any of its five stars for granted, particularly when it comes to delivering first-rate customer service. Recent guests can't help but keep the compliments coming: Travelers say that the resort staff took extra care to personalize each experience. One problem you might face, however, is exclusivity. The Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach only has 98 guest rooms and suites, so be sure to book early for an upcoming trip to Sunny Isles Beach. The rooms come with flat-screen TVs and private balconies, as well as double sinks and glass-enclosed showers. Meanwhile, the property also features three in-house eateries, four pools, a spa and beach amenities. What's more, the hotel is part of The Leading Hotels of the World, meaning Leaders Club members have access to perks here. You'll find the Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, about 11 miles north of Miami Beach.
The No. 2 Best Hotel in Aspen sits in the heart of town, within walking distance of Aspen's boutiques, restaurants and ski slopes. Back at the hotel, travelers can soothe their aching muscles with a Rocky Mountain-inspired treatment at the spa. Additionally, guests have access to three on-site eateries and watering holes, including a modern American bistro, a cozy lounge and the Old West-themed J-Bar (a traveler favorite). Aspen influences are also on display in the property's guest rooms, which blend rustic decor (think: cowhide chairs and contemporary animal busts) with modern perks, such as plasma TVs and work desks. (Courtesy of Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort)
Celebrating its 20th year, this 60-room property in the Ayung River Valley is reached via a suspension bridge that hovers over coconut trees and rice fields. The drama doesn’t end there: each of the riverside guest villas has a meditation space and lily pond on the roof, as well as an outdoor living room and pool. The sense of calm befits the resort’s location near Ubud, the spiritual heart of Bali. Yet new experiences, including cooking lessons in a bamboo-clad center designed by Elora Hardy and Sacred Nap relaxation treatments, keep things innovative and modern.
No visit to Canada would be complete without a visit to at least one of its great National Parks. Go polar bear watching in Wapusk from October to March, when you can also see Caribou herds, and with a great chance of viewing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Trek through Jasper, with snow-covered peaks, glaciers, meadows and rapid-flowing rivers. The national park is home to grizzly bears, moose and elk. Ski in Banff which has three resorts, or experience the thrill of a horse-drawn sleigh or a dogsled ride followed by a long relaxing soak in the warm waters of its spring-fed pools, such as Upper Hot Springs.
As the largest country in North America, when it comes to travel: you've got options in Canada. And all across the great white north, Travelocity lets you rate, compare and book the perfect hotel for your vacation. To find all the best rates for top Canadian cities, look no further! No matter where you want to go in Canada, whether travelling for business or pleasure, your options are endless.
This go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie Goodwin
DH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von Simson
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
The Magnolia Hotel & Spa is a small, boutique property situated in downtown Victoria. Its enviable location in the city's center makes the hotel suitable for both business and leisure travelers; however, some say city noise can seep into the accommodations. Rooms are equipped with free internet access, minibars, marble bathrooms with glass showers, deep soaking tubs and sweeping views of the city or Inner Harbour. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Magnolia's on-site eatery, The Courtney Room, which serves up French dishes. As for customer service, recent guests enjoy the attention to detail – travelers are treated to a welcome gift of fruit and handmade chocolates – and praise the staff for being exceptionally friendly and helpful. The Spa Magnolia is also lauded for coupling a relaxed atmosphere with a versatile array of treatments.
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.
Hotel Bel-Air offers lodgers a taste of respite and romance within easy commuting distance of top city sights. Guests appreciate the property's quiet atmosphere and superb customer service, while the rooms and suites win visitors over with bright, airy decor and tech-savvy amenities like in-room iPads. The spa, outdoor pool and on-site eateries are also popular at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air)
The contemporary-chic Viceroy has a retro Chicago façade and mid-century furnishings within. Textures and patterns grab the eye, including an abstract headboard wall, carpet that looks like a sand-hued topographic map, and—yes—quotes from Marcel Proust, reproduced on the lobby's 30-foot-wall. The ground level restaurant Somerset, from chef Lee Wolen, is a serious asset for the Viceroy; his creative American fare (don't miss the beet tartare and sausage-stuffed whole roasted chicken) matches the vaguely nautical, club-like setting. But don't skip the 18th floor, where he also does cocktails and bites at the swanky rooftop lounge Devereaux.
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The Beverly Hills Hotel is iconic to La-La Land lore, made famous by The Eagles tune "Hotel California." But the Pink Palace has racked up quite a few fabled stories: Katharine Hepburn is said to have jumped into the pool fully clothed, and Elizabeth Taylor enjoyed six honeymoons here. Today, this Dorchester Collection hotel continues to cater to discerning travelers with stylish guest rooms (equipped with marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, high-speed internet access and gourmet minibars), business amenities and a supreme Sunset Boulevard location. Travelers say the customer service is just as legendary as the hotel itself, praising the hotel staff for its attentiveness. And the on-site Polo Lounge is not only known for its celeb-spotting – it's known for serving up a mean breakfast as well.
Set in the Arashiyama district on the western side of Kyoto (an area frequented by Japanese nobles of years gone by), Suiran sits seamlessly on the jade waters of the Katsura river. The original buildings, which now house the restaurants and lobby, are constructed around beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, and sunlight-dappled pebble-stone pathways lead the way to the more modern low-rise buildings that house the rooms. Yukata-clad staff welcome you warmly with a hot towel and tea whilst discretely whisking your luggage off to your room, leaving you to enjoy the serene surroundings, bathed in light and soothed by the sounds of flowing water. Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose.