With a plethora of amenities, settings and dining options to choose from, finding the perfect hotel for your next vacation can seem daunting. That's where U.S. News can help. Using a comprehensive methodology that factors in each hotel's star rating, industry accolades and guest reviews, our editors determined which of the country's highly regarded hotels stand out from the rest. Out of the 2,194 properties considered for the 2018 list, these are the top 50. (Courtesy of The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Rouse Photography, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, The Ranch at Rock Creek and The Towers at Lotte New York Palace)
People who don’t live in Los Angeles have a fantasy of what life in LA must look like. Towering palms. Bougainvillaea. Birds of paradise. And a fabulous bungalow tucked right in the thick of it, where every hour is golden hour. The Hotel Bel-Air, in the heart of the residential neighbourhood of the same name, is this fantasy come to life. One of the first sights to spot across the threshold is a swan lake. A lake with actual swans frolicking in it. The 12-acre gardens are part of the magic and made for meandering, with streams, footbridges, guava, pineapple, lemon and orange trees, as well as coastal redwoods that are most certainly not common in these parts. Out-of-towners and peace-and-quiet-seeking locals come here for privacy and to shelter from real life. Most never leave the grounds. In 2011 Alexandra Champalimaud did a full revamp of the lobby and spa, and designed the sizeable rooms to be lived in – they are cosy, with fireplaces, high ceilings and towels as thick as blankets. The bar is effortlessly cool, with photographs by Norman Seeff covering the walls, and the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, reimagined by David Rockwell a handful of years ago, is completely al fresco. You could venture out and explore LA, or you could order a crisp white and kick back beside the always-set-to-28˚C pool and forget there’s a world beyond the swan lake. This is where you want to stay in LA to feel like a high roller even if you’re not one. By Lauren DeCarlo
At this hotel on the pandanus-lined beachfront of Cabarita, the signature cocktail made with local Ink Gin changes from deep blue into shades of dusty pink. It completes the photographic panorama of navy and white sun beds, oversized sun hats and bronzed pool boys. It’s here, in this lazy coastal pocket halfway between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, that the linen-clad set come to kick back on long, hot summer days. Among the 21 rooms by Brisbane designer Anna Spiro, no two are the same. Each is a revision in Sixties eclecticism, with brass fixtures, antique memorabilia and dark wood furniture whimsically combined with a Mediterranean sensibility of patterned floor tiles, starched linens and wall panelling. Bathers migrate from the pool to dinner at Paper Daisy, the hotel’s restaurant helmed by Noma alumnus Ben Devlin, to try flavours of the surrounding landscape. For breakfast there are kefir pancakes with macadamia cream, passionfruit and berries, and lunches of prawn sandwiches with iceberg lettuce and avocado. A Moroccan-accented day spa with a domed hammam-style steam room was added in 2017. But it is perhaps general manager Mauro De Riso, with his charming sense of Italian hospitality, that stands out as the greatest investment made by owners Elisha and Siobhan Bickle. This boutique seaside bolthole etches a new, more sophisticated vision of the Australian lifestyle of surf, sun and sand on to the scene. By John Hannan
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
Hôtel 71 is located in a building with plenty of history: it was formerly the first head office of the National Bank of Canada in Québec City. The outside has a great example of 19th-century Neoclassical architecture, while the inside is decorated in an elegant urban style. An espresso lounge serves coffee throughout the day. The hotel is ideally located for cruises, as it is close to the terminals. It is also close to the funicular. For delightful Italian cuisine, eat at the attached restaurant, Il Matto.
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
Foodies who are eager to enjoy Napa Valley's award-winning wineries and restaurants will love staying at Auberge du Soleil. This upscale property features a 15,000-bottle cellar and two eateries, both of which are helmed by Michelin-starred chef Robert Curry. After filling up on gourmet fare, travelers can enjoy complimentary yoga classes at the Japanese-style pavilion, go for a walk through the sculpture garden, unwind with a treatment at the spa or sip cocktails by the outdoor pool. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Napa Valley also boasts relaxation-focused extras, such as fireplaces and soaking tubs, inside its guest rooms. (Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil, An Auberge Resort)
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