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
From its seven pools to its Ka'upulehu Cultural Center, which hosts daily hula and ukulele lessons, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Hawaii - The Big Island provides guests a variety of ways to embrace all that Hawaii has to offer. At this Four Seasons outpost's five restaurants and lounges, visitors can savor sushi rolls and American and Italian dishes made with fresh seafood. Meanwhile, golfers can tee off at the oceanfront Hualalai Golf Course. And inside the 243 guest rooms, suites and villas, travelers will find natural elements like bamboo canopy beds, slate floors and bathrooms with granite accents. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai)
This destination retreat is stylish and savvy—and in the mountainous Paro Valley of Bhutan. Intimate, with 29 guest rooms, the design melds Bhutanese craftsmanship with signature COMO amenities—especially centered around wellness. You're in a prime location for hiking and exploring the natural wonders around you, not to mention trekking to visit nearby Buddhist temples. You can arrange a half-day hike to the Instagram famous Tigers Nest monastery, then come back to the spa's bathhouse, where you have the pick of two Bhutanese hot stone bathhouses, steam rooms, a pool, gym and yoga studio, and treatment rooms for a range of spa services.
Royal Palms Resort and Spa is a relaxing getaway set in the desert on the outskirts of Phoenix. Guest rooms here boast vibrant, jewel-toned decor, soaking tubs and hand-selected furniture. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Phoenix invites travelers to unwind at the spa, sample Mediterranean fare at the on-site restaurant and admire views of Camelback Mountain from the comfort of the pool or a cabana. What's more, guests rave about the friendly and accommodating staff members. (Courtesy of Royal Palms Resort and Spa)
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
On paper it shouldn’t work. An entire Puglian village, built from scratch. A reimagining of townhouses and a square, a colonnade of shops, villas dotted around the grounds, a little farm area with horses and chickens and rabbits. How could it possibly be anything other than pastiche? And yet… at the grand old age of 10, Borgo Egnazia has carved a name for itself as one of the loveliest places to stay in all of Italy. It is dreamily beautiful, the way the harsh Mediterranean sun hits the mellow tufu limestone from which the buildings have been honed, the shock of bougainvillea that has crept up every wall, the softness, the shadows, the dusky lanes between the hotel rooms. It is of course a hotel, but feels far from formulaic. Rooms are soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions and sun-trap terraces. They are retreats in themselves, some with their own little kitchens, others with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops. The restaurants are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls, and food made straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, aubergines, pasta made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. There is the sweetest children’s club you’ll ever stumble across, and a supremely cool beach hangout, and a spa that is mesmerising and magical. At night the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air. Sometimes a bonfire crackles in the central square. A deeply special place. By Issy von Simson
Jeff Finley took this photo of Balanced Rock. It is one the few unique rock formations in Arches National Park that is highly visible from the road. It's a little over nine miles from the park's visitor center. Even though you can see it from the road, get out of the car and walk the short 0.3 mile trail around the rock formation to really appreciate the ball atop its 55-foot base (128 feet tall overall.)
Beach destinations appear throughout the list, of course — from warm-weather getaways like the Setai, a palatial resort with three pools on Miami Beach, to the Stephanie Inn, a 41-room boutique property on Oregon’s rocky Pacific coast. But mountain resorts also proved to be popular with our readers. Properties like the Swag, in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina; the Little Nell, in the Colorado Rockies, praised as “charming and restful” by one respondent; and Primland, a “hidden gem” in Virginia’s Blue Ridge range, show that travelers value being able to get away from it all by getting above it all. “No words can express the beauty of this hotel and area,” one reader said. “It is a slice of heaven, whether you stay in one of the tree houses or the main lodge,” said another.
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