Enter the polished marble hall, take in the view down the Grande Allée that bisects its gardens, scented with the roses they cut to decorate the bedrooms and cooled by what F Scott Fitzgerald called its ‘deferential palms'. The Mediterranean lies beyond, and your spirits cannot but soar. Can there be a lovelier place for breakfast than the terrace of its mansion-like main building, all pale pink stucco, slate mansard roofs and oeil-de-boeuf windows? Or a more flirtatious spot for a coupe de Champagne than the starlit, ocean-liner-like roof terrace of the waterside Eden-Roc restaurant? Or a smarter arena in which to show off your trapeze skills than the swings, rings and rope ladders suspended over the sea, just beyond the heated saltwater swimming pool? Its chintzy bedrooms will never win prizes for innovative design or modernity. There may be Wi-Fi and phones, but a retro panel of bells on the bedside tables still summons your valet, femme d’etage or room service. And yet, in spite of all this – or, more likely, because of it – there’s nowhere else on earth quite like it. Hence the eternal allure that ensures the top-floor rooms of its century-old seaside annexe, Eden-Roc, shielded both from public gaze and waterborne paparazzi, remains the A-list’s lodging of choice during the Cannes Film Festival. By Claire Wrathall
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.
The people of Quebec City are hardy and quite used to the harsh weather that is typical in the long winter months. Rather than mope and complain they tend to turn lemons into lemonade, or rather snow and ice into sculptures and other works of art. The city holds a winter carnival every year, officially known as Le Carnaval de Quebéc. Despite the brisk temperatures that are experienced at this time, this carnival is as popular among travellers as events held in the summer months. In fact it is the largest carnival of its kind in the world, with more than one million people drawn to view the ice sculptures, take part in winter sports and attend parades and masquerade balls. Bonhomme, a stylised giant snowman, is the delightful official mascot. Those looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay in the deep winter months should head a few miles to the north of the city where the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, is open from January to March each year. The spectacular suites are carved out of the ice by artists and have to be seen to be believed.
While the Fairmont Pacific Rim features a long list of luxurious amenities, its downtown Vancouver location is what helps it stand apart from competitors. Set on the Coal Harbour waterfront, the hotel sits across the street from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal. Thanks to the hotel's location, recent guests say the views from the rooms and rooftop are spectacular. When you're not gazing out across the harbor, relax poolside in one of the private cabanas or by one of the cozy outdoor fire pits. For even more serenity, visitors recommend booking a treatment at the Willow Stream Spa. Continue the pampering at Botanist, which serves regionally sourced dishes. Craving a pick-me-up? Venture to giovane cafe + wine bar, which offers house-made pastries for breakfast and Italian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once you've refueled, retreat to your digs where you'll find a Stearns & Foster bed, an iPod docking station and an iPad2, which you can use to order room service and operate various controls in the guest room. Although this Fairmont's high-tech amenities are an added perk, according to recent visitors, it's the hotel's exceptional service that makes a stay here memorable.
A tricky business, the restoration of important old stuff. There are people who say that the Mona Lisa ought to be all bright and punchy and Instagram-ready and that 'The Night Watch' was actually The Day Watch. So what do you do about an ageing masterpiece like the Crillon? Nobody rushed to any conclusions. In the end, the refurb took four years and the hotel reopened in 2017 under the Rosewood brand. The Ritz, nearby, underwent the same process around the same time. But the two properties took divergent approaches: the Ritz to maintain the status quo, only more so, as it were; the Crillon to propel itself into the 21st century. In both cases, the results are exemplary. And if it is the Crillon whose name appears in capital letters in this list, it is in recognition of a moral rather than an absolute victory. A prize for bravery. The best of what was best of the Crillon has been thoughtfully preserved, while the best of what is new (the bar, the barbershop, L’Ecrin restaurant and the stupendous suites by Karl Lagerfeld) is gobsmacking in its boldness and daring. The Crillon has long been a sentimental favourite among the French. Something to do with all the beheadings that occurred outside the front door. Imagine what would have happened if Rosewood had, you know, got it wrong. By Steve King
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.
The No. 1 Best Hotel in West Palm Beach is a guest favorite thanks to its contemporary blue, yellow and white digs and secluded location in Manalapan, Florida. Situated on 7 acres, Eau Palm Beach offers water sports equipment rentals, fishing excursions and more for adventurous travelers, plus a spa and a fire pit for R&R-seekers. For those traveling with children, the resort features an unlimited drinks package for kids in addition to age-specific activities like scavenger hunts and video games. (Courtesy of Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa)
Located in Cancun’s lively entertainment district on a stunning expanse of powdery beachfront is Krystal Cancun. This resort offers multiple opportunities for relaxation or adventure, whether that means lounging by the panoramic infinity pool or exploring downtown. Guests can choose to dine at one of the on-site restaurants, including the renowned Hacienda El Mortero restaurant serving delectable Mexican cuisines; or guests can take advantage of the Krystal Dine Out Program and dine at one of Cancun’s preferred restaurants. Those who like staying active can use the resort’s modern gym facilities or have fun out on the water with complimentary water sports at the resort marina. Stylish and contemporary, this resort offers the best of both worlds – the chance to experience the cultural heart of Cancun, alongside the natural bliss of a beachside haven.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is an icon in Los Angeles. The Pink Palace sits on 12 acres along a secluded section of Sunset Boulevard. Travelers say the customer service is just as legendary as the property itself, praising the hotel staff for being warm and welcoming upon arrival and the wait staff for being attentive through meal services. At the No. 3 Best Hotel in Los Angeles, guests can lounge around the palm tree-lined pool, book a massage at the spa or sample the cuisine (and keep an eye out for celebrities) at the infamous Polo Lounge. (Courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel)
Highly recommend for a white Christmas! The city is so magical complete with German Christmas markets and carolers (come prepared for the cold!). Old town is beautiful (very European) and there is lots to do. Recommend trying the toboggan ride (great for all ages) and a visit to nearby Jacques-Cartier National Park if you like the outdoors! Tip: make sure you have the right change (in coins) for the buses.
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 No. 2 Best Hotel in Chicago combines Asian flair with Midwest charm, winning over visitors with chic accommodations and ample amenities. Guests love The Peninsula's two-story health and wellness center, which includes a spa, a fitness facility and a large indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows. Plus, the hotel occupies prime real estate on Michigan Avenue, along the Magnificent Mile, putting guests near plenty of shops and eateries. (Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago)
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
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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)