Twenty-six years on, Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road, one of many overlooking the sea in the wind-protected suburb of Bantry Bay. And that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. The bar, restaurant and spa are exclusive to invited and resident guests, which means it’s very private and secure. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country – his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s answer to Kew) in the one-and-a-half acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery and an excellent little spa. Checking into one of the individually decorated rooms in the house – many with local African design elements, some on the small size – feels both comfortable and comforting. As does the open-access kitchen. Walk right in, tell the chefs what you’re craving and it is whipped up in minutes. Better yet, take a snack back to your room. The post-sunset vista from the balcony has to be one of the best views of the Atlantic found anywhere on earth. By Jane Broughton
A two-hour drive north of Madrid will get you to this massive converted Baroque-Romanesque abbey surrounded by vineyards. Abadia's aesthetic feels medieval—in a good way—with vaulted ceilings, thick stone walls, and a silent cloister, minus the drafty bedrooms, ash-littered fireplaces, and drab brocade curtains. In their place are bright and airy pieces of modern furniture accented by warm wood and soaring windows, plus a one-starred Michelin restaurant, Refectorio. Examine the peeling frescoes while you make your way through a prix-fixe menu that might include smoked cauliflower soup and roasted squab with an artichoke and olive confit.
Music producer Chris Blackwell, who introduced the world to Bob Marley back in 1973, also founded this oceanfront island hideaway a few years later, based around the clifftop villa where Ian Fleming wrote all his Bond novels. In the decades since its reach has grown and grown. There’s no sign at the entrance, which is part of the low-key charm. It’s easy to see why many music and film stars make their way here: this is a sweet spot with a very independent flavour, a world away from the oversized all-inclusives, and more honed than Blackwell’s companion hotel, Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains. Couples tend to hole up in the wooden beach huts; families and friends take over the massive villas; industry bigwigs feel right at home in Fleming’s former house, which has three bedrooms and a personable, clued-in staff. There are a few nods to 007 – black-and-white photos of Bond in reception plus novels and films on loan – but GoldenEye is mainly about Jamaica, a sensibility found in the blazingly coloured fabrics, breezy breakfasts on the verandah with cups of Blue Mountain coffee, and heaps of tropical fruit. The sheltered bay for morning swims is just a few paces away across immaculate sands. It says everything that Blackwell still lives here (guests have been known to unwittingly roll up to his villa and ask for a drink, which is always obligingly provided). And why would he leave? He gets to enjoy a highly original hangout that is entirely of his making. This is that rare beast: a hotel that balances heritage and hip and gets away with it. By Nigel Tisdall
Spending the night at this place feels a bit like finding yourself in an Agatha Christie novel. Here you are, one of a group of strangers staying in an elegant mansion that’s laced with a sense of history and intrigue. Except there’s no mystery about why it’s so appealing. Every aspect has been meticulously thought through: the courtyard, the orangery, the library stacked with fantastic books and the living room in which to read them. There’s even a hammam in the basement. The name translates as ‘a home’, which is exactly what the 12-bedroom townhouse hotel feels like, though one, admittedly, conceived by one of the world’s great interior designers. Ilse Crawford has created the most exclusive place to hole up in the Swedish capital, precisely by not making it feel too exclusive. Yes, you have to buzz to get into the private garden to enter the hotel, but once inside there’s a wonderful mix of classic Scandi design and modern pieces, including a handsome brass bar cabinet by London craftsman Jack Trench. The atmosphere is relaxed and unfussy; guests are free to wander into the kitchen and chat to the chef. The location is great, in the heart of Ostermalm, the smartest neighbourhood in the city, but set away from the main roads. With incredible taste, warmth and no snootiness whatsoever, this hotel is a fusion of all that’s best about Scandinavia. By Stephen Whitlock
Located in a classic pre-war building, this Manhattan Ritz-Carlton ranked at No. 1 among big-city hotels in the U.S., and also made the top 10 for business hotels. Whether or not readers came here to cut deals, the hotel made them feel like insiders: Each member of the multilingual concierge team belongs to the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or, and readers repeatedly wrote that the service feels warm and natural, despite the grand setting. Indeed, one of the daily activities is a standing invitation to help feed the hotel’s carriage horses across the street. Its La Prairie day spa, meanwhile–where one treatment is the decidedly-non-fishy Caviar Back Massage—ranked at the top of the U.S. survey for hotel spas.
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.
The recipient of numerous industry accolades, including Frommer's Exceptional and AAA Four Diamond awards, the No. 1 Best Hotel in New York City sits in the heart of lower Manhattan. Along with its desirable address, travelers also praise The Beekman's superb service, tasty cuisine and trendy vibe. Acclaimed American chefs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally have outposts here, and guest rooms and suites boast modern features like custom leather headboards, aged oak floors, curated artwork and bathrooms with Carrara marble accents. (Courtesy of The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel)
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-coloured 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
With this fresh city crash pad, Mexico’s Grupo Habita has, once again, demonstrated its knack for sniffing out budding star designers and promising hot spots. Taking up residence in Northwest Tower, The Robey jostles alongside artisanal coffee shops, independent boutiques, and pop-up restaurants in Chicago’s creative corner between the hipster neighborhoods of Bucktown and Wicker Park. The slender, triangular-shaped Art Deco pile slots like a slice of pie right into the junction where Milwaukee, North, and Damen avenues meet. Of the 69 rooms, the best are the corner suites, where wraparound windows shed natural light onto low-key, unfussy interiors by Belgium’s Nicolas Schuybroek and Marc Merckx. The real head-turners, though, are the collection of bars and restaurants, not least the curbside Café Robey, which hums from the first plate of eggs and hash browns in the morning to last call at night. The Lounge, on the second floor, is a wind-down joint with live music, but the Up Room, the 13th- floor rooftop bar, is the place to go for the full Chicago effect, with its sprawling cityscape views. Here, custom-made seating is interspersed with mid-century modern finds that don’t detract from the building’s original features: terrazzo flooring, brass details, and marble wall panels. Come summer, the only place to be is on the sixth-floor outdoor pool terrace, the Cabana Club, with a basil gimlet in hand. Barely two years old, The Robey has already shaped up to be a hotel heavy hitter in this heavy-hitting town. By Lauren Ho
Located in the Financial District (just one block north of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre), this Ritz-Carlton property offers easy access to the city's shopping, dining and attractions. The property's guest rooms and suites boast floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lake Ontario and the surrounding cityscape. The rooms' marble bathrooms are particularly impressive – each has a rain shower and a deep soaking tub. Meanwhile, an open-air fire pit sits on the outdoor patio of the hotel's terrace and lounge, DEQ. For Italian dishes with rich flavors, try TOCA restaurant. Find your urban sanctuary at the hotel's Spa My Blend by Clarins with steam rooms and vitality pools. Recent guests said the hotel's prices are fairly steep, but the stellar quality of your stay makes it worth the splurge. Plus, you can earn points on or redeem points for that splurge through the Marriott Rewards program.
Shimbashi is not nearly as popular as Shinjuku and Shibuya which is why you’ll find plenty of cheap hotels in Tokyo around this area. The b Tokyo Shimbashi opened in late 2017, so it’s relatively new. All rooms have a France bed mattress, private bathroom with free toiletries, free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, slippers, and a mini-fridge. The 24-hour front desk offers luggage storage service and there’s coin laundry available if needed. You could even argue that Shimbashi is the best place to stay in Tokyo since there aren’t as many crowds. The hotel is a 6-minute walk from JR Shimbashi Station while Uchisaiwaicho Subway Station is 4-minutes by foot.
Karon is an especially family-friendly part of Phuket, as well as being quiet and relaxing. Our list of the best places to stay in Karon Beach reflects that. Many of the hotels and resorts below have excellent facilities. These include big swimming pools, great restaurants, first-class spas and modern, spacious rooms. If you're looking at Karon Beach as your next Phuket holiday destination, these are the places which will almost guarantee you have a fantastic time.