Rooms at the Mercer are bright, spacious, and impeccably laid out; some have even been built into an original Roman defense tower, translating to walls of gorgeous, centuries-old brickwork. The food here is equally superior, without being stuffy: you’ll find foie gras and caviar, yes, but also patatas bravas and beer. For the full five-star boutique experience, there’s no better bang for your buck in Barcelona.
‘Nothing worked, but we didn’t care,’ Princess Margaret recalled of her holidays here in the late 1960s. Back then this former sugar mill and cotton warehouse was a little hotel where guests dined on canned spaghetti. Now it’s a romantic 17-room bolthole beloved by young couples, families with small children and anyone in dire need of some hardcore downtime. Set beside Endeavour Bay, it has a style that is colonial-meets-contemporary, the centrepiece of which is an airy Great Room, created by Parisian designer Tristan Auer, and which every Tuesday hosts a boisterous, not-to-be-missed cocktail party that almost the whole island attends. Breakfast of jerked eggs and smoked lionfish is served on the veranda, with a view across parrot-green lawns to the small and lovely beach. Water pistols are thoughtful provided to keep sneaky birdlife at bay while you tuck in. Couples can hole up in one of the three colourful cottages, or in a room within earshot of the crashing waves; families can spread out in the huge suites set in the tropical gardens. The island stretches over three miles, and many guests rely on golf carts to see its crowd-free beaches and exhilarating coastal trails, and for a run to Basil’s Bar, newly revamped by Philippe Starck, where a dance under the stars is almost obligatory. Like the rest of Mustique, the hum of glamour at The Cotton House is soft and low rather than high-pitched, making it one of the most charming island hangouts around. By Nigel Tisdall
The USA is as varied as it is vast. You could bask in the bright lights of one of the world’s great cities or stargaze in the great outdoors. Embark on a road trip through wine country or find yourself in a private spa retreat. It’s a country with enough A-list sights to fill the biggest Hollywood blockbuster, but still has a down-to-earth charm that you can’t help but fall for. And, when it comes to luxury hotels, America remains one of the world’s big hitters.
There are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. Sydney. São Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve King
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.
I liked the owners of the hotel. The room was perfect, clean, and the bed was super clean and comfortable. The Breakfast was yummy, the best breakfast I had so far in all my travels. The host guided me to the best easy way to reach the attraction sites in Quebec city. Walking distance from the bus station to the hotel and from the hotel to old Town of Quebec and restaurants. Thanks for the great hosts ever. Will certainly come back to the same hotel next time.
The golden rule of Bangkok: if it’s even remotely out of the way, don’t bother (a cab across town at rush hour could take as long as your flight over). The Siam is the exception. Although we’re not sure that Bill Bensley designed this low-slung and sleek urban retreat, on the north-east bank of the Chao Phraya river, as a destination in itself, it has certainly become one. It’s possible to spend a whole afternoon ogling the 16th-century Burmese Buddhas and vintage toy race cars displayed with particular flair from the hotel’s film room to its grand upstairs bar (owner Krissada Clapp makes weekly visits to local antiques dealer House of Chao, and tweaks the hotel’s collection almost daily). Located north of the Grand Palace and the hordes of flip-flop-wearing twenty-somethings streaming through the neon glow of Khao San Road, The Siam is a vitally tranquil place to return to after a day of tuk-tuk-ing between temples and haggling for silks at Chatuchak market. The gentle gurgle of water from stone fountains form a soundtrack for the sun-flooded courtyard, a profusion of palms and greenery; the enormous hammam-style spa, with its opulent marble pillars, does utterly resetting Reiki massages – though a soak in the clawfoot tubs in the teak-clad, Art Deco-style rooms does the trick, too. And early evening cocktails on the terrace, as the lights begin to flicker in the darkening skies on the other side of the moody Chao Phraya, can feel as though you’ve escaped the city entirely. To get back into the thick of it, though, the hotel’s river boat ferries guests towards that neon all day and night. Three years after opening, this is still Bangkok’s most accomplished urban hideaway. By Erin Florio
This spa resort doesn't take any of its five stars for granted, particularly when it comes to delivering first-rate customer service. Recent guests can't help but keep the compliments coming: Travelers say that the resort staff took extra care to personalize each experience. One problem you might face, however, is exclusivity. The Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach only has 98 guest rooms and suites, so be sure to book early for an upcoming trip to Sunny Isles Beach. The rooms come with flat-screen TVs and private balconies, as well as double sinks and glass-enclosed showers. Meanwhile, the property also features three in-house eateries, four pools, a spa and beach amenities. What's more, the hotel is part of The Leading Hotels of the World, meaning Leaders Club members have access to perks here. You'll find the Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, about 11 miles north of Miami Beach.
The Indian ethos that the guest is god rings true of many grand hotels in the country, yet the Oberoi likes to put its own spin on things. Rising like a great gilded cake from the western shores of Lake Pichola, magnificent Udaivilas is just the spot to wash up after a dusty Rajasthan road trip. This particular pleasure palace is a relatively recent arrival but, like the 18th-century mansions it overlooks, it was built to showcase the craftsmanship of the Rajput era: marble-carved lotus ponds; glittering thikri mosaics; delicate miniatures painted on pale gold walls hand-plastered with lime, crushed marble, egg white and tamarind. The spectacular Candle Room contains a dome set with thousands of pieces of mirrored glass. Udaipur’s busy market streets are only a few miles away, but Udaivilas has the luxury of space: 30 acres of what used to be the Maharana of Mewar’s hunting estate, with bird-filled grounds and views of the pretty lake and its floating mansions. All this grandeur could feel cold and overwhelming if it weren’t for the excellent staff. Guests are greeted off the motor boat by doormen with great twirling moustaches and within minutes everyone knows your name. Small, personal interventions include gifts of a metal-wrought tea light or beaded bag, say, left in your room alongside a handwritten note. In the most romantic city in India, this is the most spectacular place to stay. By Pippa de Bruyn
Before Buenos Aires surrendered to the motor car – and every Argentine male modelled his ego on that of Formula One legend Juan Manuel Fangio – Avenida Alvear was one of the city’s main thoroughfares, with horse-drawn carriages and trams rolling by en route to Palermo’s lush gardens and shady parks. Something of this Belle Epoque spirit still endures and nowhere more so than at the Palacio Duhau, completed in 1934 as the city mansion of a landed family. Its grand neoclassical façade is right on the avenue, and the lobby is a stately, serene space where light pours in from the terrace onto the fluted marble columns, intricately carved wooden doors and low-slung white leather sofas. The tiered gardens on the terrace are worthy of a scene in The Great Gatsby. Rooms range from spacious and functional to sumptuous and palatial; the boudoir suite has butler service, an enormous marble bathroom and, perhaps more impressive, two private terraces overlooking the avenue below. The Duhau restaurant and public spaces channel the property’s storied glamour, with local couples having lunch and out-of-towners sipping rum-laced Arnaud’s milk-punch cocktails. The surrounding barrio of Recoleta is known for its old-world architecture, and this hotel, modelled on the Château du Marais near Paris, is the maximum expression of Argentine Francophilia. Its only rival on this stately strip is the Alvear Palace – but where the latter flaunts its ostentation, the Hyatt’s grandest South American property rather keeps itself to itself. By Chris Moss
Hotel Bel-Air offers lodgers a taste of respite and romance within easy commuting distance of top city sights. Guests appreciate the property's quiet atmosphere and superb customer service, while the rooms and suites win visitors over with bright, airy decor and tech-savvy amenities like in-room iPads. The spa, outdoor pool and on-site eateries are also popular at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air)
If the altitude of Cusco lays you low, El Convento will provide pumped-in oxygen to your room, along with its other amenities. The namesake convent dates to the 1500s and archeological ruins are maintained on property. Décor continues the old-new pairing, with stylish rooms and public areas lined with stone arches, while weavers in the courtyard give demonstrations and must-have textiles are available for purchase.
Three championship golf courses, a spa, a tennis club and three pools (including a zero-entry pool with waterslides) are just a few ways guests can entertain themselves while staying at the No. 1 Best Hotel in Colorado Springs. Perched next to Cheyenne Lake, this Preferred Hotels & Resorts outpost serves as a great jumping-off point for adventurous travelers eager to hike, fly-fish and more in the surrounding area. Along with its enviable location, visitors are also impressed with The Broadmoor's restaurant, La Taverne, and its large accommodations. All rooms and suites offer dark wood furnishings, floral-designed fabrics and patterned carpets, as well as flat-panel TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. (Courtesy of The Broadmoor)
Sitting on the sand of a Georgia barrier island, this 1928 grande dame is a readers’ favorite for its country-estate aesthetics: Turkish rugs, overstuffed chairs, and marble baths (as well as an old-school Sweet Shop, home of the pecan-covered Gold Brick Sundae). That stately ambience helped secure its No. 4 ranking in the business hotel category: its generous meeting space has hosted a G8 Summit, and offers downtime at three championship golf courses (including Seaside, designed in 1929 by famed architects Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison). It also scored well for multi-generational travelers, thanks to the less formal diversions of bingo nights and low-country boils on the beach.
The room was very comfortable and although on a main road was very quiet. Staff were extremely friendly and helpful and the breakfast croissants were delicious. Liked the use of a shared kitchen area (which had kettle, coffee maker, microwave and fridge). The hotel is near to shops, restaurants and is within easy walking distance of the old town of Quebec and all the sights.
A heavenly adults only paradise located in Riviera Maya, Platinum Yucatan Princess All Suites Spa and Resort is a divine beachfront location. Boasting spacious suites with topnotch amenities, guests are welcomed with a bottle of tequila, spa discounts, complimentary private dinner, and welcome gifts, while honeymooners receive all that and more. With an extremely friendly staff, everything you need is at your fingertips. With Stay at 1, Play at 3, guests can venture into neighboring resorts and enjoy their amenities and restaurants as well, with the exception of private areas of Laguna Villas and Platinum Suite which are only designated for those guests of Grand Sunset Princess. Splash around in the crystalline pools or unwind with a rejuvenating spa treatment during the day. After the sun sets finish your day off with live nightly entertainment.
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Big Sur is all about big views, and the Post Ranch Inn has become synonymous with the wild, dramatic beauty that is the Pacific Coast along California's Highway 1. The region's natural charms are reflected in the names of its 39 rooms - including Cliff House, Pacific Suite, Ocean House, Tree House, Mountain House and the Butterfly Rooms - and the spectacularly constructed recycled-redwood lodgings are designed to inspire awe. The Cliff Houses have glass-walled bedrooms and decks suspended over a 1,200ft precipice, with private, stainless-steel outdoor hot tubs from which to absorb that vast oceanic expanse. Surrounded by regal redwoods and oaks, the triangular Tree Houses are raised on nine-foot stilts, with dreamy views through the foliage to the Santa Lucia Mountains. Activities for energetic types include everything from morning yoga, meditation and guided nature hikes to the use of two clifftop spa tubs, an infinity pool and a private telescope. For foodies, the inn's Sierra Mar restaurant serves gorgeous dishes bursting with seasonal flavours, such as freshly picked strawberries with wild-mint blossoms, goat's cheese and pistachio purée. But the essence of any stay here is just whiling away the hours with someone you really like, letting time unspool in truly spectacular surroundings.
Back when this hotel opened in 1995, there were few places in the Maldives to rival it. Landing here by seaplane felt like arriving at an escape cast out at the edge of the world. These days, neighbouring lights are aplenty, but this pristine paradise still feels wild enough to instil excitement. The groundbreaking barefoot ethos created by husband-and-wife owners Sonu and Eva Shivdasani ensures immediate surrender. Explore the island by bike, stopping to bob, chat, and giggle in the warm ocean for hours. Seventy rustic, thatched-roof villas, each hidden in the jungle shade (no stilts over water here) are designed with pared-back simplicity: natural tones, soft textures, lots of driftwood. Each comes with the softest organic sheets, huge daybeds, private pools, hammocks, and a sound system on which to blare out Nat King Cole. There’s snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing trips, and treatments in the spa (tension-soothing massages with lemongrass oil, rose-crystal lymphatic facials, a touch of Ayurveda). At the forward-thinking art studio, wine bottles are upcycled into sculptures. Food is central, with enough sushi to sink a ship, epic make-your-own salad bars, addictive egg appam, an ice cream parlour, a cheese room, and the new Out of the Blue restaurant, with slides straight into the sea. No wonder everybody here is beaming. One of the first luxe–but–laid-back hotels to open in the Indian Ocean, Fushi still delivers on fresh, cool charisma. By Daisy Finer
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.
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
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
The spotless stuccoed Victorian façade; the fretwork shutters and balusters in Cambridge blue; the acres of white marble and wicker within; the emerald lawn with its picturesque little gazebo without... The original part of the Mandarin Oriental looks even more exotic today than it must have done when it first appeared on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River in 1876. Surrounded by the general mayhem of 21st-century Bangkok, the Authors’ Wing, as it is now known, epitomises a certain atmosphere of resolute calm and order. It strikes a particular note – bright and distinct – with which the other elements of the place are beautifully in step. This is all the more remarkable since it is such a big hotel: 400-odd rooms and suites, nine restaurants and bars, spread over several buildings on both sides of the river. It is also stylistically diverse, blending high Victoriana with traditional Thai elements and more hard-edged contemporary accents, particularly in the main modern tower. But its defining spaces pick up and enrich that original sweet note: the shamelessly opulent Michelin-starred restaurant Le Normandie, the much-loved and often-moved Bamboo Bar, the exceptional spa. This is a classic that still rings out loud and clear after all these years. By Steve King
Located in Old Quebec City, Hotel Manoir de l'Esplanade was built in 1845. It features free WiFi and an elevator. A flat-screen TV and refrigerator are included in all guest rooms. Loved the location. We had a 4th floor room with a view of the Frontenac. We stayed 3 nights and enjoyed every second of it. Our room wasn't quite ready when we got there early and we were excited to start exploring. They kept our luggage and put in in the room waiting for our return. Very friendly staff. Perfect perfect spot.
Built on the bones of an old temple (hence the name), this 142-room hotel is a haven for the hip and slightly edgy, and reflective of wider development in the Chengdu area. Designed by U.K. architecture firm Make, the hotel comprises two L-shaped halves separated by a verdant courtyard evoking Sichuan’s rice terraces. Rooms are minimalist and incorporate local materials (timber, bamboo, step stones) and architectural elements—ask if you can get one facing the courtyard. And while the hotel offers French bistro-style plates at its Temple Café and regionally inspired Italian fare at Tivano, head for the wood-lined Mi Xun Teahouse, whose design is inspired by Chinese medicine. With its vegan/vegetarian menu, it’s the hottest seat in the house—if you can get one.
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The romantic 261-room Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay serves the Ritz-Carlton name well, offering stunning rooms, a large spa, and beautiful bay views. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, the hotel has excellent outdoor facilities including fire pits facing the ocean and a manicured 18-hole golf course. Rooms are spacious and elegant, yet simple, with beautiful marble bathrooms and quaint shutters covering the windows. Fire pit rooms come with -- you guessed it -- cozy outdoor fire pits looking out over the rocky coast.
Highly recommend for a white Christmas! The city is so magical complete with German Christmas markets and carolers (come prepared for the cold!). Old town is beautiful (very European) and there is lots to do. Recommend trying the toboggan ride (great for all ages) and a visit to nearby Jacques-Cartier National Park if you like the outdoors! Tip: make sure you have the right change (in coins) for the buses.