This elegant Art Deco tower piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner – and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million-dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink in the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. No photographs. No phone calls – it says on the bottom of the menu firmly while maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes. The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favourite; the seared scallops with black leek and truffle sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots – in a city with a strong alfresco game – for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of LA and basking in that brilliant golden sunshine. By Mary Lussiana
The Norman Foster-designed hotel on Sentosa Island is partly housed in colonial buildings, and the standing lamps, rugs, and 20th-century-style travel trunks in the lobby project old-world charm. Capella shows off a different side to Singapore—a beachy escape from the hustle and bustle of the business district and the shopping strips. It's one of the most expensive hotels here, but a little tranquility can be priceless.
The Bahama House is the millennial child of Harbour Island, and a fashionable one at that; a relative newcomer among a clutch of older hotels that have been around for generations. To be fair, this Bahamian outpost needed the provocation this slick upstart has brought. The unremarkable exterior along the main drag of Dunmore Town, with its buzzy street-life where roosters roam free and locals play dominoes at sundown, feels no different from the surrounding low-level houses. But inside the New Orleans-style courtyard, leafy vegetation conceals super-smart interiors. There’s more than a nod to an old-school Palm Beach aesthetic – beautiful patterned fabrics, bamboo mirrors and antique wicker chairs, Martinis made to perfection at the sunken bar and a discreet shaded pool providing welcome relief during the intense heat of the afternoon – but with an infrastructure that is reassuringly slick. There is no restaurant and yet the best food on the island is made to order by chefs whenever and wherever you want it. The hotel is part of Eleven Experience, a group that specialises in one-off adventure trips – if it’s kite surfing on wild beaches or fishing in secret coves that you want, or a beautifully curated picnic in an isolated seaside spot, you only have to ask. It’s the perfect vantage point, between the pretty harbour front with its pastel cottages and the unimpeachably perfect Pink Sands Beach, from which to people watch and experience this brilliant Bahamian find. By Vassi Chamberlain
Tucked in the Virginia countryside amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland attracts travelers looking for a mix of activity and relaxation. There is no shortage of things to do here, from kayaking and golfing to horseback riding and stargazing. The property also has a spa, and hosts yoga and meditation classes. And guests appreciate the variety of accommodation options, too, with a traditional lodge, suites, cottages and even tree houses to choose from. (Courtesy of Primland)
This gorgeous property is located inside an old ceramics factory in the heart of Mexico's Puebla, set between brightly painted colonial homes and storefronts. Beautifully restored into a luxury hotel, the Cartesiano does a brilliant job of fusing old and new, knowing exactly where to preserve and where to introduce modern features—the annex, which has whole walls impressed with colorful, hand-painted ceramic tiles that were produced by the century-old factory, visible from the rooftop pool, is just one such example.
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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)
A tricky business, the restoration of important old stuff. There are people who say that the Mona Lisa ought to be all bright and punchy and Instagram-ready and that 'The Night Watch' was actually The Day Watch. So what do you do about an ageing masterpiece like the Crillon? Nobody rushed to any conclusions. In the end, the refurb took four years and the hotel reopened in 2017 under the Rosewood brand. The Ritz, nearby, underwent the same process around the same time. But the two properties took divergent approaches: the Ritz to maintain the status quo, only more so, as it were; the Crillon to propel itself into the 21st century. In both cases, the results are exemplary. And if it is the Crillon whose name appears in capital letters in this list, it is in recognition of a moral rather than an absolute victory. A prize for bravery. The best of what was best of the Crillon has been thoughtfully preserved, while the best of what is new (the bar, the barbershop, L’Ecrin restaurant and the stupendous suites by Karl Lagerfeld) is gobsmacking in its boldness and daring. The Crillon has long been a sentimental favourite among the French. Something to do with all the beheadings that occurred outside the front door. Imagine what would have happened if Rosewood had, you know, got it wrong. By Steve King
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With Ocean House's accolades, including a Forbes Five Star Award and a AAA Five Diamond Award, it's hardly surprising that visitors keep returning to the No. 1 Best Hotel in Rhode Island. Ocean House offers a quintessential New England experience with its classic architecture, local artwork and regional cuisine. Along with a muted color palette and turn-of-the-20th-century decor, each room and suite includes a flat-screen TV, an iPad, 400-thread-count linens and Molton Brown toiletries. Additionally, guests can enjoy a multitude of free amenities, including afternoon refreshments in the hotel's lobby, transportation around the town of Westerly and daily activities, such as yoga and cooking classes. (Courtesy of Ocean House)
Famed artist Lon Megargee created the Hermosa Inn in the 1930s as an escape for his friends before opening its doors to outside guests. Today, the Paradise Valley resort and its 43 hacienda-style casitas attract both vacationers on the hunt for peace and quiet, and foodies, too. Lon’s, the on-site restaurant, incorporates Southwestern techniques like smoking and wood-grilling into its New American cuisine—try the ever-popular Himalayan salt-seared Ahi Tuna, served with cilantro, pickled onion, and ceviche sauce, and pair it with one of the more than 500 wines in the cellar.
The ancient lava fields and low-lying scrub of the surrounding area make it feel more like Namibia than Hawaii. But as soon as driver pulls off Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway onto a private lane and the landscape shifts from Martian to tropical – lush with palms, canary-yellow hibiscus and musk ferns – and you inhale the plumeria-infused cold towel, bowing to receive the simple kukui nut lei, you know exactly where you are. Creating this distinct sense of place without employing gimmicky tropes (all too easy to do in a place like Hawaii where a little puka shell goes a long way) is what makes Hualalai stand out on an island of upscale hotels. The Hawaii-ana is restrained – hand-woven palm mats, tropical wallpaper in neutral tones – and the buildings are modelled on classic architecture that really pushes the indoor-outdoor living. The soaring lobby opens onto teak lanais overlooking the secluded stretch of coastline, miles from touristy Kona to the south and the resort village of Waikoloa to the north. Authenticity shines through, too, in the way this place interacts with its environment; for example, rather than clearing the hardened lava from various eruptions, Four Seasons used traditional hand-stacking techniques to build walls, stocked the King Pond with injured rescue fish from the ocean, and implemented a commercial fishing ban to allow the depleted waters in front of the property to recover. And the staff emit the characteristically chill aloha spirit while being super-attentive to the overworked tech couple from Silicon Valley and the stylish family of five escaping an endless New York winter. By Rebecca Misner
The Ritz-Carlton Montréal lives up to the brand's reputation by providing sophisticated accommodations and superb service in a location that's well-suited for both business and leisure travelers. Set in downtown Montreal (within walking distance of Mont-Royal Park and the McGill University campus), this Ritz-Carlton earns high praise for its stylish guest rooms, decorated in neutral tones with bright pink accents. All accommodations come appointed with 47-inch LCD flat-screen TVs and bathrooms appointed with rain showers, flat-screen TVs and even toilets with heated seats. (Some suites also feature hardwood floors and marble fireplaces.) The property also houses a fitness center and a small pool, not to mention a garden and terrace. After a long day, you can satisfy your craving for gourmet French fare at renowned chef Daniel Boulud's restaurant, Maison Boulud. Yet despite all of these on-site offerings, it's the Ritz's impeccable customer service that impresses travelers time and time again. And thanks to Ritz's affiliation with Marriott, guests participating in the Marriott Rewards program and can earn or trade in their rewards points for extra perks.
This legendary hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side has a highly developed sense of noblesse oblige. The Carlyle opened inauspiciously in 1930, the year after the Wall Street Crash, and its lobby retains the original black-and-white tiled floor designed by Dorothy Draper. The lift operator knows each guest's name and room number, handy should you return late and a little squiffy. And each room has a proper key: no troublesome cards or spooky 'iris recognition' here. The bedrooms themselves are generously sized - at least for New York - while the tower suites are positively vast and very beautiful, with pale beechwood parquet floors, Chinese cabinets, onyx lamps and silk-cushioned fauteuils, as well as heart-stopping views of Central Park. Refreshment is never far away: tea is served in the Ottoman-styled Gallery, cocktails in the Bemelmans Bar (the bar of the Upper East Side) and lunch or dinner in the Carlyle Restaurant, which is decorous without being sedate. And music is inherent at the Carlyle, whose first tenant was composer Richard Rodgers. In its public rooms and suites there are 14 baby grand pianos, and Woody Allen still plays jazz clarinet every Monday night, six months of the year, at the ground-floor Café Carlyle. But in the end, the Carlyle's brilliance lies in its understatement. The fire instructions say, 'Remain relaxed'. Here, at what is still New York's grandest hotel, it's hard to do anything else.
The chic accommodations at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto reflect the charm of its Yorkville backdrop. The property's rooms and suites – designed with elegant decor and modern amenities like an in-room iPad to access Four Seasons services and bathrooms equipped with deep soaking tubs and TVs – hold views of the downtown neighborhood's surrounding shops and cafes. Despite the abundance of nearby restaurants, guests suggest enjoying a meal on premises; both Café Boulud and d|bar lounge offer French-inspired menus from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. Serenity-seekers rave about the spacious, sleek setting in the spa, which comes outfitted with an indoor pool, a steam room, a salon and a long list of treatment options.