Few hotels are as synonymous with their destination as La Mamounia. Frankly, if you don’t end up overnighting in one of this former palace’s tiled guest rooms, just behind the blush-colored walls of the medina, it’s almost as though you were never in Marrakech at all. That’s because this opulent, more-is-absolutely-more pocket of palm trees, landscaped gardens and fountains, where sultry lobby spaces and bars are draped in silks and dark velvets, has come to embody all those reasons we travel to Marrakech in the first place. Inside its hammam, a mosaic of blue, red and pine-green tiles, are cheery therapists who offer clay body wraps (head down early for a pre-treatment dip). By the utterly enormous pool, a flurry of bow-tied waiters rush between the Brits and French and, with increasing frequency, Russians and Turks, lying about all day long, with bottles of Moroccan rosé and surprisingly well-mixed Old Fashioneds, moving equally as swiftly between the languages. In the incredible bedrooms, the sweeping Moorish curves on the balcony doors are emulated in the archway to the bathrooms, themselves a symphony of tilework and gold-framed mirrors. All of this is accompanied by the 5 a.m. call to prayer carrying in as softly as a fragrance of jasmine, from the nearby mosque.
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Two are indisputably better than one at the Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare, a dual-property entity sitting high above Portofino cove. Both halves carry with them a bit of history: the 670-room Hotel Splendido was once a 16th-century monastery known for withstanding attacks from Saracen pirates, while the other, 16-room “Mare” half sits on the piazzetta, a respite from the lively Ligurian harbor. Outside, fragrant bundles of wisteria and straight-backed juniper bushes flank its winding cobblestone walkways, while rooms mostly come with terra-cotta-tiled terraces where you can take your morning cappuccino—some offer up stunning panoramic views of the cove.
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
This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)