Half an hour’s drive from Mérida, the state capital of Yucatán, Chablé began life as an 18th-century sisal hacienda, and many of its original buildings endure. The arcaded Casa Principal, its faded stucco the blue of a Madonna’s cloak, contains the bar and an enfilade of sitting rooms; the former machine house has been incorporated into the most ambitious of its four restaurants, which is under the auspices of Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil in Mexico City, ranked 11th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants; and a smaller building contains an immense library of tequilas. In case you feel the urge to atone for a surfeit of high living, the chapel of San Antonio, after whom the San Antonio Chablé estate was named, remains a house of God. Forty contemporary white-limestone-and-glass casitas are strung across the densely wooded 300-hectare estate, each with its own terrace, pool and hammock, and guests fall broadly into two categories: those who have come to explore the ruins of ancient abandoned Maya cities – Chablé is well placed for visiting Uxmal, arguably the greatest example of these on the Yucatán peninsula – and those who are here for the spectacular forest spa, where the pools are lined in tiles of petrified wood. Surrounded by jungle, a dozen treatment cabins are arranged around a cenote, a water-filled sinkhole which the Maya believed to be a portal to the underworld but guests are told is a fountain of wellness. It’s a place of such beauty and charm that even non-converts to traditional Maya healing rituals will succumb to the overall spirit and peace. By Claire Wrathall
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
The USA is a year-round destination and when (and where) you go depends on whether you fancy skiing, surfing or just lazing in a spa. Generally speaking, the North tends to be warm in the summer, but can be cold and cosy in winter. The South is generally warm throughout the year, with milder winters and sweltering summers. The spring and autumn can be the most spectacular time to visit, with beautiful wildflowers and fall colours in many regions. Of course, Hawaii and the national parks have their own microclimate, so talk to your luxury hotel concierge for insider tips on what to expect.
A quiet alternative to San Francisco's busy downtown hotels, the luxurious Inn Above Tide is within walking distance of the shops, restaurants, and ferry in quaint, ritzy Sausalito (the scenic ferry ride to the city takes about 30 minutes). The 31 sophisticated rooms here have sweeping bay views and most come with patios overlooking the water. While there's a spa, free breakfast, and free wine and cheese receptions, its lack of a pool and an on-site restaurant may deter some visitors.
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.
Located in Cancun’s lively entertainment district on a stunning expanse of powdery beachfront is Krystal Cancun. This resort offers multiple opportunities for relaxation or adventure, whether that means lounging by the panoramic infinity pool or exploring downtown. Guests can choose to dine at one of the on-site restaurants, including the renowned Hacienda El Mortero restaurant serving delectable Mexican cuisines; or guests can take advantage of the Krystal Dine Out Program and dine at one of Cancun’s preferred restaurants. Those who like staying active can use the resort’s modern gym facilities or have fun out on the water with complimentary water sports at the resort marina. Stylish and contemporary, this resort offers the best of both worlds – the chance to experience the cultural heart of Cancun, alongside the natural bliss of a beachside haven.
The contemporary-chic Viceroy has a retro Chicago façade and mid-century furnishings within. Textures and patterns grab the eye, including an abstract headboard wall, carpet that looks like a sand-hued topographic map, and—yes—quotes from Marcel Proust, reproduced on the lobby's 30-foot-wall. The ground level restaurant Somerset, from chef Lee Wolen, is a serious asset for the Viceroy; his creative American fare (don't miss the beet tartare and sausage-stuffed whole roasted chicken) matches the vaguely nautical, club-like setting. But don't skip the 18th floor, where he also does cocktails and bites at the swanky rooftop lounge Devereaux.
Guests may be surprised to hear that this exquisitely restored 1835 palace, with all its courtyards and pageantry, wasn’t built for a queen—but rather, for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. Later on, it was used as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, though it’s since comfortably taken its place as one of Rajasthan’s most luxurious hotels. Enjoy an evening of Champagne, moonlight, and candles in a private dining tent illuminated by flaming torches and pitched on the palace greens, and make sure you get to the Steam bar, which occupies a restored train.
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.
Building a hotel into the face of Santorini’s dramatic sea cliffs lends an immediate advantage: The location alone is enough to make it a showstopper. Happily, the 18-room Mystique lives up to its stunning site, and is well worth the step-filled trip it takes to get there. The free-form rooms, decorated in what might be called cave-art style (driftwood for headboards, a dining table and chairs that appear to be made of egg-shaped boulders), are carved directly into the cliff, and the views—toward the town of Fira—are magnificent.
This Four Seasons outpost consistently impresses visitors with its prime location. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Maryland this year, the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore offers breathtaking views of the harbor and close proximity to local shops and restaurants. Plus, travelers are treated to top-notch amenities, such as two eateries, a spa and two pools, including one overlooking the harbor. Additionally, visitors will find a marble bathroom, an espresso machine and a flat-screen TV with a Blu-ray player inside each room. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore)
It’s easy enough to sweep the Dominican Republic into that category of Caribbean island better left for spring-breaking American college kids. But then you’d miss out on the otherworldly stretch of beach along its remote northern shore, with excellent surf breaks, royal palms growing to the edge of the sea and this delightful, Celerie Kemble-designed hotel. In the light-filled clubhouse, which doubles as lobby, bar and dining room, ice-cold Mojitos are handed out as welcome drinks. Slatted shuttered doors lead to a wraparound verandah, past the pool that blends into the sweeping lawn, and through grounds wild with creeping bougainvillaea, which keep things from feeling too manicured. The nine guest cottages reference the Dominican Republic’s lacy Victorian-era gingerbread architecture, with its white lattice woodwork and pastel yellow doors. Inside, they are a maximalist’s dream of high-back wicker chairs, ikat pillows, and pink-and-green tile floors – all assembled in Kemble’s Palm-Beach-by-way-of-Bali style. There’s not much to do but go the beach, ride bicycles around the estate, and maybe, one morning, take out a boat to navigate through the nearby mangrove forest to an offshore reef for snorkelling. On returning there’s time for a late breakfast at the clubhouse: poached eggs on thick toast, homemade yoghurt with local honey. Alternatively, a few minutes up the beach there’s a shack serving whole lobster and tostones, and frosty Presidente beer. Who cares that it’s 10am? By Rebecca Misner
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.
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.
The No. 3 Best Hotel in New York City, The Towers at Lotte New York Palace is a hit with visitors thanks to its superb customer service and breathtaking city vistas. The hotel sits on the top 14 floors of its sister property, Lotte New York Palace, in the heart of Manhattan's Midtown East area, meaning every room has a view. Plus, guests of The Towers have access to all of the larger property's amenities, including its spa, restaurant, bakery and bars, as well as free perks, such as car service within a 20-mile radius, Wi-Fi access and shoeshines and clothing pressings. (Courtesy of The Towers at Lotte New York Palace)
The No. 2 Best Hotel in Aspen sits in the heart of town, within walking distance of Aspen's boutiques, restaurants and ski slopes. Back at the hotel, travelers can soothe their aching muscles with a Rocky Mountain-inspired treatment at the spa. Additionally, guests have access to three on-site eateries and watering holes, including a modern American bistro, a cozy lounge and the Old West-themed J-Bar (a traveler favorite). Aspen influences are also on display in the property's guest rooms, which blend rustic decor (think: cowhide chairs and contemporary animal busts) with modern perks, such as plasma TVs and work desks. (Courtesy of Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort)
Villa Cha Cha Bangkok is a mid-range boutique hotel located parallel to the world famous Khao San Road in the Banglampu District of Bangkok.Because of its location guests can be on the party scene within minutes and the Grand Palace is a 15 minute stroll away as is the Chao Phraya River and its fleet of long tail taxi boats.Shopping in this area is interesting and ranges from the obvious hippy clothes and sportswear to genuine antiques and quirky art.Accommodation at Villa Cha Cha Bangkok varies from Junior Queen and King to the much larger Royal Family with many room categories in between to make a total of 73 rooms. Read More...