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.
After three decades, this wine-country pioneer, balanced on a hillside overlooking Napa Valley, remains a favourite. Even for jaded souls who think they've seen it all, the light-filled rooms - just 52 of them, mostly intimate, Mediterranean-style stucco cottages - are a delight. With French doors, private terraces and fireplaces, they're designed for comfort, privacy and relaxation. An olive grove shades the grounds, and a large sculpture garden makes for a pleasant walk to and from the main house, pool and Michelin-starred restaurant. Dinner on the patio is a must: choose from chef Robert Curry's seasonal menu - the excellent roast pork belly, kampachi sashimi and seared tuna with fava purée are standouts - and say yes to head sommelier Kris Margerum's thoughtful wine pairing. The massive spa has a central courtyard lined by hammam-style sauna and steam rooms, outdoor showers and hot and cold plunge pools. A leisurely afternoon here is a treat, not least because of the sunshine-soaked views.
According to recent guests, the best part about staying in the downtown Wedgewood Hotel & Spa –which is just steps away from Robson Street's high-end shops – is the impeccable service. Travelers describe the staff at this Relais & Châteaux property as especially attentive, gracious and personable. Visitors also gush over the well-appointed rooms, which are outfitted with complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee machines and more. The spacious bathrooms, which boast Frette towels, marble accents deep-soaking tubs and L'Occitane toiletries, also receive a nod of approval from guests. For a little extra pampering, head to the on-site spa or the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge. Guests describe the restaurant's ambiance as elegant and serene, and the seafood as delicious.
This 20-room mansion could make anyone nostalgic for the Gilded Age: it was built in 1873 as the summer home of a Congressman. Each room has its own décor personality (like Louis XIV, Gothic or Regency), as well as fireplaces, heated bathroom floors and even TVs by the tub—earning the hotel a near-perfect score in the rooms category. Readers also declared the Chanler a worthy dining destination even if you don’t spend the night: the Spiced Pear does a signature New England tasting menu that speaks with a French accent—like butter-poached lobster, cold oysters with pickled-pear mignonette and, for dessert, seasonally-inspired soufflés.
Built in 2005, the St. Regis offers the best in modern luxury: Highly attentive, personalized service includes 24-hour butlers; the relaxation rooms at Remede Spa serve chocolate truffles and champagne; the hotel's Ame restaurant is a notable destination in its own right; and the rooms and suites match the city's best for space, superior technology, and amenities. Its artsy SoMa surroundings, modern glass building, and impressive contemporary art collection lack the historical grandeur of the Nob Hill grand dames, but in substance it stands shoulder to shoulder, or above, its hilltop competitors.
The Sebastian is a charming, upscale ski lodge set at the base of Vail Mountain in Colorado. The property's well-maintained common areas, including the outdoor fire pit and the library, and its cozy rooms are traveler favorites, and key attributes that helped the resort earn the No. 1 Best Hotel in Vail distinction for 2017. Visitors say the staff members go out of their way to make stays special, citing extras such as hot chocolate and cookies and complimentary transportation around town as standout services. (Courtesy of The Sebastian – Vail)
Not only do Mr and Mrs Robert Wtterwulghe share an extraordinary surname, they also hold the world record for the most visits made by paying guests to One&Only Le Saint Géran. The Belgian couple made their 88th pilgrimage here this past year. Few hotels inspire such loyalty. When it opened in 1975 it was, if not the only place to stay in Mauritius, the only one you would have wished to stay in. Its proprietor, South African Sol Kerzner, announced his intention to ‘blow the guests away’. In a sense, he achieved the opposite. They came in droves. They are still coming in droves. These days it is not uncommon for three generations from the same family to arrive simultaneously. Now Mauritius has the greatest concentration of five-star hotels of any island in the Indian Ocean and yet Le Saint Géran has in no way been overtaken. The changes made during a 2017 makeover were uncontroversial, either merely cosmetic or merely sensible. The number of rooms has decreased, and they are the very definition of tasteful neutrality, taupe and teal, as soothing as a sea breeze. The spa has expanded and there’s a new pool. But the essentials remain the same. The location – on 60 acres with a mile of flawless beach – is unbeatable. The spangled Alice Temperley teepee is still available for seaside revels. The adored tree in the lobby continues to grow. By Steve King
Featuring a coveted location in the charming Georgetown neighborhood, the No. 3 Best Hotel in the District of Columbia, offers contemporary digs and an upscale atmosphere. All of the property's accommodations boast neutral decor with vivid artwork and accent fabrics, plus granite bathroom countertops, minibars and glass-enclosed showers. Outside the rooms, visitors will find additional amenities, such as a 12,500-square-foot gym, an indoor lap pool, a 24-hour business center and a wine bar. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC and Michael Kleinberg)
Survey voters clearly don’t want to have to take a shuttle to the slopes. This 100-room hotel made the top 20 for location, since it’s just a few steps from Vail’s Gondola One. While the lobby has classic-ski-lodge stone and timber, rooms lean toward the contemporary, rather than the log-cabin vibe, with polished wood headboards and reserved earth tones. The après-ski scene is similarly elegant, with the signature scotch collection at Frost, the hotel bar. For another kind of après-ski, readers loved the hotel’s spa, which utilizes the Vail Valley’s indigenous pine, flowers, and herbs. They may have also felt relaxed by the prices. Despite its high-end setting, the Sebastian was the top U.S. ski resort in the survey’s value category.
Dubbed 'Le nouveau St Tropez' by Vogue Paris, Montauk's rise from fishing village and low-key surf perch to Manhattan's most fashionable summer spot has been meteoric. For those who lack that crucial friend with a beach house, Ruschmeyer's is the next best option. Styled as a summer camp for adults, it's part souped-up motel, part restaurant, part dance party. The rooms are comfortable if basic, with wicker headboards, hammocks and shower rooms. Which is just fine, because they'll barely be used. Instead, hit the rollicking restaurant which is overseen by the people behind SoHo locavore favourite The Smile; make new chums over ping-pong in the Magic Garden; and get down at the Electric Eel club, which has DJs at weekends and a raucous bingo night on Thursdays. Breakfast is DIY and included in the price (love the smashed avocado on rye). Alternatively, borrow a bike and cycle 10 minutes to Ditch Plains Beach for quesadillas from the Ditch Witch food truck, or join the line of hipsters for burritos at Joni's in town. And while in the East Coast's premier surf spot, it would be churlish not to at least attempt to ride a wave: Ruschmeyer's will provide a board and lessons.
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.)
Retaining its neoclassical splendour yet introducing mischief and modernity, art curator Nuria Ferrer Klein – the owner’s mother – has perked up this 19th-century mansion’s ancient coffered ceilings and paved courtyard and gallery by using a smoky charcoal-grey hue. Bespoke contemporary canvases by trailblazing artists Guillem Nadal and Josep Maria Riera i Aragó are an arresting sight in the otherwise serene lobby. In the former stables, the snug Quadrat restaurant serves up convincing yet edgy Mediterranean dishes such as scarlet-shrimp socarrat rice. Hollywood stars and the hotel’s savvy regulars head for the private garden, or chow down on sushi served by the pool on the rooftop terrace, the largest in town. While common spaces are filled with chequered stone tiles, soft grey textiles and sofas, bedrooms cut a dash, some with frescoed ceilings, French oak flooring and bold chandeliers. Set in the city’s twisty-turny historic quarter, the hotel can sort inspired concierge-curated diversions, including gin making at a local distillery – but if that’s too taxing, the barman can easily rustle up the real deal here instead. Sant Francesc sums up what makes Palma so alluring in the first place – that intersection of old and new imbued with a playful spirit. This is Palma’s most self-assured though understated address. By Anna Nicholas
'If we want things to stay as they are,' Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, 'things will have to change.' Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve King