Its central address – behind a curving stone entrance and spread over 49 floors above the high-end Pacific Place mall, off leafy Hong Kong Park – is reason enough to book here over the other top hotels that form the city’s skyline. But hands-down it’s the guest rooms and penthouses that really make the Upper House the place to stay in Hong Kong. Because it occupies what used to be serviced apartments, local guru Andre Fu made the rooms feel like someone’s home. Read: comfortable, calming. He did the unimaginable and designed them with real humans in mind. There’s a free, help-yourself minibar; light switches that can be easily found; and a bed so comfortable that guests ask about the make and model so they can order one back home. The same goes for the bathrooms, with their room-for-two tubs and plenty of natural wood and marble. There’s no spa or pool, but deeply pampering in-room treatments can be arranged. In the restaurant on the top floor, Gray Kunz’s Café Gray Deluxe, the lamb tagine is so tender there’s no guilt for skipping a chance to have dim sum and Hong Kong’s signature egg tarts. This showpiece for Swire Hotels’ House Collective (also in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu) is as slick and sophisticated as ever—an original design hotel that’s true to its label. By Ed Peters
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
Rajasthan isn’t exactly lacking in grand heritage hotels, but there are at least two reasons to visit this property. First, a section of it is still home to the former Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family (one of the largest private residences in the world); and second, for the extraordinary scale of the imposing architecture and the 26 acres of precisely manicured grounds. High on Chittar Hill, overlooking the Blue City, this golden-colored sandstone pile has operated as a hotel since 1971, but it was the arrival of Taj Hotels in 2005 that elevated the service to match its royal setting. Art Deco interiors unfold over ornamental latticed stonework, artfully lit carved pillars, a sweeping marble staircase, exotic frescoes, and a neck-craning 105-foot-high cupola. And while there are some pretty spectacular rooms—such as the Maharani Suite, with its original bath carved from a single piece of pink Italian marble—choose a Royal Suite, where terrazzo flooring, original palace artwork, and lavish bathrooms lead to private balconies that frame views of the peacock-speckled gardens. A morning workout at the marble squash courts will justify a lazy afternoon at the subterranean spa, and then a dinner of spice-laced Jodhpuri murgh in Risala restaurant. To stay here amid all the incredible old-world opulence is to really get a taste of Jodhpur’s gilded glory.
The Auberge St-Antoine is a luxury hotel in the heart of Quebec City’s Old Port. In addition to its superb location facing the majestic St. Lawrence River what makes it so unique is its location on one of Quebec City’s richest archaeological sites; the presence of artifacts in the hotel; and its construction made from 3 historic buildings, a dock and a battery of cannon from the 17th century. You will find yourself immersed in the heart of the city’s magic as it is near the old ramparts, museums and the picturesque Petit-Champlain district. The hotel offers 95 luxury rooms and suites equipped for your utmost comfort. It is member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux.
The Hôtel du Vieux-Québec is both TripAdvisor’s number one hotel as well as one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the city, with its own beehives. That trend extends to its new restaurant, Le Tournebroche, which specializes in cooking local organic foods. The hotel offers free walking tours of Old Québec during the summer. In the warmer months, stop by the rooftop garden; when it’s cold outside, go down to the basement for a selection of games and movies. Homemade breakfast baskets add to the cozy and comfortable feeling.

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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
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