You may not need a passport to visit these hotels, but they'll still take you worlds away. From a polished, new harborside hangout in Baltimore to not one, but two fantastical Miami oases, not to mention a seriously musically inclined—and seriously well-located—boutique spot in Austin, they're all on this list. And they all got rave reviews from you for being entirely transporting These getaways—voted the 10 best hotels in the U.S. in the 2018 Readers' Choice Awards survey, all have something to brag about. Read on to see what made the list—and where it ranked on it. (Click to view as a list.)
Long before the influx of American billionaires preparing for the apocalypse by constructing mega-million-dollar retreats in the remotest reaches of New Zealand, there was the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs. American hedge-fund billionaire Julian Robertson created this hotel on a 6,000-acre working sheep farm set above the Pacific Ocean. For golfers, it offers the round of a lifetime. Created by late, great course designer, David Harmon, 15 of the 18 holes look out across the ocean, while six play alongside cliffs which drop 200 metres into the sea. Tee-offs require blind hits of faith across coastal chasms. But Robertson’s vision was hardly limited to golfers. There’s a day spa built within a native forest, and sunset barbecues on Friday evenings on the property’s pink-sand beach; more formal suppers are served inside the main lodge, which is designed to feel like a traditional farmhouse (albeit one which requires guests wear jackets for dinner). A farm-to-table ethos rules the kitchen, fresh produce from the sea and surrounding farms dictates daily changes to a menu regarded as northern New Zealand’s finest. Spacious rooms are neutral-toned and comfortable – fancy elements would be negated by the elevated views out to the Cavalli Islands. Those seeking even more space should try the 4,200-square-feet Owner’s Cottage, and then wander around the property, through ancient Kauri woodland, and down trails onto deserted white-sand bays where orcas and whales pass by. By Craig Tansley
Budget Inn Patricia Hotel C$ 63+ Hotel Ambassador C$ 79+ Cambie Hostel Gastown C$ 81+ Empire Landmark Hotel C$ 83+ Moda Hotel C$ 97+ Howard Johnson by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown C$ 99+ Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel C$ 109+ Ramada by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown C$ 111+ Best Western Plus Uptown Hotel C$ 112+ Executive Hotel Vintage Park C$ 123+ Coast Plaza Hotel And Suites C$ 123+ The Burrard C$ 128+ Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre C$ 132+ Hotel Belmont an Ascend Hotel Collection Member C$ 136+ Greenbrier Hotel C$ 136+ Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown C$ 139+ Best Western PLUS Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites & Conference Ctr. C$ 147+ Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown C$ 148+ Holiday Inn & Suites Vancouver Downtown C$ 151+ Sandman Suites Vancouver on Davie C$ 154+ Century Plaza Hotel & Spa C$ 156+ Park Inn & Suites By Radisson C$ 158+
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.
This Four Seasons property attracts beach lovers. Positioned along a beautiful stretch of Hulopoe Bay sand overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this resort offers breathtaking ocean views, manicured grounds and top-notch customer service. During their stays, guests can enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as snorkeling, deep sea fishing, hiking, whale watching, scuba diving and more. Visitors use terms like "paradise" and "heaven on earth" to describe the property. Guest rooms all feature private patios, as well as amenities like 75-inch flat-screen TVs with Blu-ray players, Nespresso machines and free internet access. One of the most loved features is the complimentary shuttle, which will cart you to and from Lanai Town. Recent visitors do say you should brace yourself for the high cost of meals at the resort's multiple restaurants and treatments at the in-house spa. Still, most travelers enjoy this Four Seasons resort's piece of shoreline and its world-class golf course.
Previous lodgers rave about this North Michigan Avenue hotel's refinement and unbeatable location. Sitting just steps from Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is central to all of the city's best restaurants, shops and nightlife. After you've sufficiently tested the limits of your credit card, retreat to one of the hotel's soundproofed spa treatment rooms to enjoy a relaxing massage or skin renewal treatment. Before you call it a night, previous guests highly recommend sitting down to dinner in the Allium's dining room, where diners are treated to fresh, farm-to-table Midwest cuisine. When it's time to bed down, this Four Seasons hotel's well-appointed accommodations provide a comfortable escape. Previous guests love the elegant decor, which combines contemporary fittings (like flat-screen TVs and iHome stereos) with 20th century-inspired design accents and spacious marble bathrooms. Recent visitors recommend splurging on the lake view accomodations, rather than the rooms with the city skyline vistas.
That tiny-island locale is one reason Beth Blair loves Sunset Key Cottages, another top 10 contender. Its air of exclusivity is “magical, and I could go on and on about the top-notch service and views,” says the Minnesota travel blogger. But something else won her heart: “The pastry baskets that arrive every morning at the front door are a wow factor,” she says. “There's nothing more relaxing than sitting on a beach-facing patio, sipping hot coffee and nibbling on freshly baked muffins.”
There are plenty of travellers who are undecided until the very end of their travel dates where they would like to stay. For such procrastinators, Yatra keeps coming up with attractive last minute hotel deals. If you are subscribed to the Yatra newsletter or are a regular user, you will be aware of some of the best hotel deals among other campaigns running on the site. Some of these last minute deals allow you to book on the day of check-in, or a day prior to check-in, at select hotels by providing you a discount of approx 1000 bucks or more, and these bookings become applicable with immediate effect. Such a deal is extremely useful to a business traveller who has an impromptu, last minute trip crop up.
This 1940s hacienda-style classic, recently the subject of a Hollywood boycott, is almost as well known as the guests it has harboured. Marilyn Monroe lived here on and off during her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and it was here she posed for her final photo shoot; Liz Taylor and Grace Kelly also used it as a place to crash. These days it's Brad and Angelina, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig who drink and dine in its swish environs, revamped recently with a snazzy La Prairie spa and Wolfgang Puck restaurant serving a Mediterranean-inflected Californian menu. But its true essence remains in the maze of jasmine-scented gardens and lily ponds with resident swans, the courtyards where lizards slither across the tiles, shimmering in the sunlight like jewels. At night, cocooned in one of the alfresco alcoves, you can feast on sweet-pea tortellini and white asparagus with crispy polenta. You'd never know, but there are 100 rooms and suites, all with vintage furniture and spa-like bathrooms; three new hillside villas have huge terraces and infinity pools. At times it can feel like a grand country retreat, but a glance out of a window at the famous vista of sunset and soaring palms provides an instant reminder of its LA setting.
The No. 2 Best Hotel in Chicago combines Asian flair with Midwest charm, winning over visitors with chic accommodations and ample amenities. Guests love The Peninsula's two-story health and wellness center, which includes a spa, a fitness facility and a large indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows. Plus, the hotel occupies prime real estate on Michigan Avenue, along the Magnificent Mile, putting guests near plenty of shops and eateries. (Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago)
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
Some hotel stays are utterly forgettable—decent food, standard sheets, middle-of-the-road location. But some, you'll remember for the rest of your life. The following list of lodgings, ranked the 50 best hotels in the world by Traveler readers in this year's Readers' Choice Awards, happen to belong to the latter category. From a verdant valley in the middle of Bhutan to the well-tread steps of Santorini, Greece, these 50 picks have it all: inimitable style, discreet, but sharp service, destination restaurant-worthy food, and more. So read on—and get ready to book your next vacation. Counting down...
At this palatial 32-acre hilltop estate, there's an art to the first impression: Because cars aren’t permitted beyond the front gate, visitors arrive at reception in a golf cart or, for VIPs, a horse-drawn carriage. In lieu of a formal check-in desk, a standard bearer greets guests by militarily clicking his heels before leading them under a shower of rose petals and into the former ruler of Hyderabad’s neo-Palladian palace. The rest of the experience is no less impressive, with museum-quality reception rooms furnished in late-Victorian style, gleaming with burnished wood and leather, and a gracious garden courtyard with trees and fountains is flanked by two wings housing most of the 60 rooms. (Just beyond one of the wings, the suites faithfully decorated in a grand Edwardian manner surround a smaller, star-shaped courtyard.)
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
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)
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)
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
Visitors can take advantage of all the Holy City has to offer at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Charleston: The Dewberry Charleston. Ideally positioned on downtown's Meeting Street, the hotel puts guests near the city's top things to do, including the Charleston City Market and the Battery. For attractions farther afield, travelers can make use of the hotel's complimentary bicycles or one of its Volvo house cars. Back at the hotel, lodgers have access to yoga classes, a restaurant and a spa, as well as in-room amenities like high-definition televisions. (Courtesy of The Dewberry Charleston)
Many of the winners also have a summer camp vibe, suggesting a collective recognition of (and nostalgia for) the benefits of a simpler experience. Ranch-style resorts, offering horse stables, wide-open spaces, and a rustic-luxe design, ranked highly — in particular, the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado and the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming. Both are popular with multigenerational groups. “C Lazy U is perhaps the best family vacation we’ve ever had,” one fan said. “We’ve been seven times and are going back again!”
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
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.
The Jefferson, Washington, DC has been catering to Washington's most elite visitors since 1923, providing a taste of European luxury in the heart of the United States capital. The Beaux-Arts era reigns supreme here, with early 20th century paintings and sculptures lining the checkered floors. The Jefferson's elegant accommodations are appointed with Bose sound systems, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. (For a little more space, upgrade to a suite, which will come equipped with a coffee maker and, in some suites, balconies overlooking the Washington Monument.) Recent guests highly recommend making good use of the intimate on-site spa during your stay, and the in-house gourmet restaurants, Plume and The Greenhouse, earn particularly high praise, along with the on-site bar, Quill. Visitors also give props for The Jefferson's location, which is just a short walk from the National Mall.
Situated about 25 miles north of San Diego, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is a little off the beaten path. But even with its removed location, the resort is a hit with guests, thanks to its carefully manicured gardens, Mediterranean-style rooms and suites and fine dining at Veladora. The No. 1 Best Hotel in California wows visitors with its top-notch service and many luxury amenities, including a tennis facility, an expansive fitness center and two outdoor heated pools and hot tubs. What's more, the resort organizes daily complimentary activities (think: tequila tastings and lawn games) for guests. (Courtesy of Rouse Photography)
Whether you’re looking for snow-covered peaks and sprawling national parks, frenetic big cities or historic cobblestoned towns, dramatic coastline or red sand deserts, America has a holiday for you. Ride horseback through big sky country, hit the slopes in Colorado or Utah, and explore the concrete jungle of New York. Wander Austin for live music, wander up and down San Francisco’s famous hills, live out your great American road trip, or take to the beaches of Aloha state Hawaii. You’ll likely work up an appetite with all that adventure, so it’s lucky for you that the United States is the home of Manhattan bagels, Maine lobster, southern barbecue, fluffy beignets, crisp California wines, strong Portland coffee and hoppy midwestern microbrews.
Those longing for the timeless elegance of Old World Europe need look no further than the Fairmont Hotel. Since its opening in 1897, this grand dame on the banks of Hamburg's Inner Alster Lake has drawn travelers for its elegance, service, discretion, and attention to detail. (The hotel counts Maria Callas, Peter Ustinov, and Prince Heinrich of Prussia among its former guests.) Notable, too, are its spacious rooms, curated interiors, and two-Michelin star Haerlin restaurant. The hotel even has a "dog waiting room" for restaurant guests reluctant to part with their pooches—talk about service.
If you're sightseeing, you may only be after a basic hotel, but its location will be crucial to you. Hotels.com gives you detailed maps of the Quebec area and each landmark and transportation option to allow you to book the cheapest hotel in Quebec nearest the attractions you actually care about. You can even search outside the city and find budget hotels across Quebec.
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.
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa is a four-star resort located in the south of Karon Beach along Phuket Islandâ€™s verdant and winding west coast.Horizon is within strolling distance of Karon Beach, its southern nightlife, and Kata Beach.This area is much better suited to vacationing families than its noisy neighbour Patong Beach, some seven kilometres to the north.Patong is the island hub for entertainment, shopping and fun whereas Karon still has good shopping and restaurants but proceeds at a more leisurely pace.Accommodation choices at Horizon are many: The resort offers Superior Rooms with Pool View; Sea-Facing Superior Rooms; Deluxe Rooms; Club Rooms; Club Room Pool Access, and Honeymoon Suites. Read More...
Right from its opening in 1999, this little gem has punched above its weight, a super-slick alternative to Boston's bigger hotels. With just 63 rooms tucked into a meticulously restored, 10-storey Beaux Arts building, this is one of the East Coast's most stylish boltholes, with finely tuned service to boot. The entrance is a dramatic, black-walled lobby with a charming cage lift from 1902. In the bedrooms, there are gas fireplaces, marble busts and huge four-poster or canopied beds, while corner studios provide views of Boston Common. The hotel keeps a couple of Lexus limos to ferry guests around town, and minibars are packed with Krug (and chilled cucumber eye cream) for post-shopping-trip pampering. Sassy steakhouse Mooo serves buttery Wagyu beef as well as classic seafood dishes (caramelised sea scallops, linguini with white clams) and has a 30,000-bottle wine cellar. Places this good don't keep on top of the game by resting on their laurels, and the hotel recently had a discreet facelift, also adding a rooftop deck with a hot tub. More than a decade after it opened, XV Beacon remains popular with CEOs and visiting actors: a boutique-hotel leader in the heart of Brahmin East Coast America.
The Four Seasons Resort Maui is a tranquil retreat located on Wailea Beach. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Maui offers spacious rooms and suites appointed with lanais, access to three golf courses and many kid-friendly amenities, such as lawn games, arts and crafts and hula lessons. What's more, guests can enjoy the hotel's picturesque location, as they lounge on the beach or by one of the three pools, including an adults-only pool with underwater music and a swim-up bar. (Peter Vitale/Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea)
Québec City not only has a fantastic Old Town which one can spend days exploring, but is in the centre of lovely countryside that offers an excellent range of scenic daytrips. The attractions are nearby, so no change of hotel will be necessary for any of these trips. Orleans Island is just 15 minutes drive from the Old Town. Aside from some great views of the St. Lawrence, Orleans Island is best known as a gourmet destination, with a number of great restaurants focussing on top quality local produce. Jacque Cartier National Park is just 30 minutes drive north and is known for its deep river valleys, pristine trails and extensive wildlife, including moose and red fox. Families and keen photographers may enjoy a trip on the Charlevoix Railway, which travels from Quebec City to La Malbaie, with much of the track running along the lovely St. Lawrence River.
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
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*Rooms and prices subject to availability at the time of booking. Discount is only available at participating hotels and may require a minimum night stay. The discount is based upon the total hotel priced excluding taxes and other fees. Discounts are subject to availability and may be discontinued without notice. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.
When Indian hotels do opulent, they really do opulent. And every inch of this palatial spot in the calm, tree-lined boulevards of Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave is gilded, mirrored, plumped, embroidered and topped with not-a-petal-out-of-place flower arrangements (14,000 blooms are delivered daily). But while it channels the vibe of the grand residence of a globetrotting Maharaja – huge Murano chandeliers from Venice, hand-woven carpets from Turkey, intricate Rajasthani miniature paintings, sandstone elephant statues carved in Qatar (no wonder if cost hundreds of millions to build) – it was actually all brand spanking new when it opened in 2011, so also has a stealthy undercurrent of techie and green credentials. The 260 gold-hued rooms and suites are some of the largest in the city, treatments at ESPA spa draw on India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions and the whole hotel is stuffed with so much contemporary Indian art that there’s a dedicated guided walk to take it all in, past Seema Kohli’s layered storytelling canvases, Satish Gupta’s lotus murals and Laxma Goud’s bronzes. An army of ultra-attentive staff fall over themselves to open doors, take bags and present garlands. And at the restaurants (there are four, and two bars), the menus are equally extravagant: hand-cut black truffle fettuccine in black truffle sauce at Italian Le Cirque; lobster nerulli curry at Indian Jamavar; sashimi made with cuts direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market at Japanese Megu. A new species of grand hotel, and hugely influential. By Fiona Kerr