Halekulani, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Honolulu – Oahu, wins favor with guests for its luxe accommodations and impressive views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Guest rooms are outfitted in a sleek "seven shades of white" theme and the property offers several on-site amenities, including a spa, multiple restaurants and a unique outdoor pool that features an orchid mosaic on its floor. (Courtesy of Halekulani)
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.
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.
Secluded among 157 acres of ancient trees and burbling streams, this Northern California retreat got raves from readers for its leafy privacy. The 48 “rooms” are actually cedar-and-glass cabins with huge views of the woods, along with fabulous outdoor living rooms, “bath gardens” and outdoor showers. Given the spa’s mud baths and private mineral-soaking pools, the resort also scored well with readers for its stress-relieving potential.
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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 No. 2 Best Hotel in New York City exudes a serene, elegant ambiance, further enhanced by its calming gold and cream color scheme. Perched on the Upper East Side, just a few blocks from Fifth Avenue's sleek storefronts, The Lowell New York provides travelers with easy access to iconic city sights and stores. The boutique property also impresses visitors with its impeccably decorated rooms and spacious marble bathrooms, its attentive staff and afternoon tea. (Courtesy of The Lowell New York)
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.
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.
John Steinbeck certainly chose a beautiful spot to hole up while writing his famous piece on Positano for Harper’s Bazaar in 1953. Positano was just a quiet fishing village then and he described the Sirenuse as ‘an old family house converted into a first-class hotel, spotless and cool’. While still spotless and cool, the summer villa is a lot more upscale these days, immaculately run with huge charm and a maniacal eye for detail by Antonio Sersale and his wife Carla. The handsome ox-blood red building is crammed with precious antiques (starting with a rare 18th-century palanquin in the reception hall), many of them collected by Antonio’s late father Franco, and the white bedrooms have tiled floors from Vietri and balconies with grandstand views. But it’s the small details – the cloth-bound copies of Steinbeck’s article and the pretty beach baskets in the bedrooms, the crisp Frette linens and Eau d’Italie bath goodies – that kick things to another level. Positano is a bit of a madhouse nowadays, but you can avoid it altogether, dreaming away the hours on the pool terrace, booking a massage at the Gae Aulenti-designed Aveda spa or hopping on the hotel’s boat for a spin. In the evening, guests gather in the Champagne & Oyster bar before moving on to La Sponda restaurant to tuck into tonnarelli pasta with lobster and saddle of lamb with artichokes to the sound of guitar and mandolin duo Franco and Andrea. By Nicky Swallow
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
'If we want things to stay as they are,' Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, 'things will have to change.' Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve King