The arrival of Soho House in this city two years ago caused a fluttering of hearts among cool-hunting locals and the numerous digital nomads for whom this group has become an essential part of the global landscape. Housed in a handsome, 19th-century townhouse in the Gothic Quarter that once belonged to the wealthy Mandri family, it is bursting with original details rescued by architect Hector Restrepo Calvo and given new life by the in-house design team: modernist hydraulic tiles and polished parquet floors; vaulted red-brick ceilings hung with brass petal lanterns like something from a Gaudí-inspired fantasy. But the details couldn’t be more English – hot-water bottles in cable-knitted cosies in the bed-side cabinet, Burleigh porcelain for a proper cup of tea, chintzy velvet sofas to sink into – combined with carefully considered touches such as the ready-mixed Negronis in the mini-bar. The gym is so bright and lovely you might actually use it, the Cowshed spa is a spoiling urban retreat and travellers who love a quiet night can hunker down in the 36-seat, racing-green cinema. The whole place buzzes, day and night, as the city’s movers and shakers linger over coffee while scrolling through their social-media accounts, or sip Lady A rosé and eat sweets from a free giant dispenser. The Catalans have made this modern-British institution their own. By Tara Stevens
Nestled in Québec City's Old Port, the Auberge Saint-Antoine complements the quaint Petit-Champlain district with elegant decor featuring European artifacts and modern accents. Additional touches, such as minibars, coffee machines, and bathrooms equipped with heated floors and no-fog mirrors earn an extra nod of approval, but recent guests particularly applaud this Relais & Châteaux property's warm and courteous hotel staff. After strolling along Québec City's cobbled streets, you can cozy up at Chez Muffy, an intimate dining room that stuns with gorgeous St. Lawrence River views and an eclectic assortment of seasonal French-Canadian dishes. For lighter fare, grab a table at Bar Artefact, which dishes up small dishes like poutine and grilled cheese. You can also take advantage of the hotel's unique amenities, such as the private movie screening room and LeGYM fitness center and private spa treatment rooms, which all receive high marks from previous visitors.
Remember when some places used to call themselves art hotels, for the sake of a few second-rate daubings on the walls? Well, this opened in 2013, a key player in Oslo’s waterside reboot, and has the sort of collection many urban galleries would kill for. There’s a genuflecting bronze by Antony Gormley outside by the revolving doors, a Julian Opie animation in the lift, and you’ll spot pieces by Warhol, Richard Prince, Niki de Saint Phalle and Tony Cragg dotted around the public spaces. The Thief is the work of Petter Stordalen, who drives a biofuel-powered Ferrari and has banned bacon in his hotels for sustainability reasons. It straddles the water on the reclaimed islet of Tjuvholmen, a sheeny-shiny place of glinting bridges and newbuilds, many of which are home to small independent galleries – though the big-hitter is the neighbouring Astrup Fearnley, from where much of the hotel’s artwork is borrowed. The spa and pool are accessed via a secret underground tunnel – locals come for the Sauna Guss experience, inspired by Dr Kneipp’s immune-system-boosting methods, with a dip in the icy Oslofjord followed by a sauna using essential oils. Rooms are clad in touchy-feely textures, golds and greys, with picture windows to slide wide open for gulps of Nordic sea air from the harbour below. (Two of the biggest rooms were designed by Lee Broom and Peter Blake, riffing on Fifties and Sixties London – a cubist coffee table here, a geometric-patterned sofa there.) The rooftop restaurant was recently revamped, British chef David Taylor has fun with regional ingredients (scallops, turnips, monkfish, lamb neck) at the FoodBar restaurant, the bar has helped up Oslo’s cocktail game (try the Michael Jackson and Bubbles – rum, banana cordial, green tea, Champagne, in a ceramic monkey head). London-born Dominic Gorham is the personable go-to chap for guests, taking it to the stage to MC regular unplugged music sessions. It’s a 15-minute walk from the town centre – this is a city for striding out, along the Aker Brygge waterfront, over the glacier-like Opera House and up for more sculptures in the hillside Ekeburg park. The Thief’s new art collection is set to arrive soon, along with a sister hotel in town, Amerikalinjen. Oslo’s overflowing oil wealth meant this was a city that never bothered itself unduly with drawing visitors, but that’s changed and it has a fresh international outlook – this is the best place to feel you’re part of that. By Rick Jordan
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
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
I did not know what to expect from Quebec City at first, but once I got there I fell in love with it. There isn’t that much to do there, but if you take a walk around Old Quebec you will know what I mean - the architecture and the atmosphere make it worthwhile. The city’s history is rich and there are quite a few museums that can show you that (such as the Citadelle and the museum of Civilisation). Even though the city’s winter is harsh, I do recommend visitors to check it out near Christmas time, the city is not as packed as NY city, and there is a very nice and cozy Christmas market that takes place at Old Quebec. Anyway if you have the chance go and take a look at Quebec City!
According to recent guests, the best part about staying in the downtown Wedgewood Hotel & Spa –which is just steps away from Robson Street's high-end shops – is the impeccable service. Travelers describe the staff at this Relais & Châteaux property as especially attentive, gracious and personable. Visitors also gush over the well-appointed rooms, which are outfitted with complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee machines and more. The spacious bathrooms, which boast Frette towels, marble accents deep-soaking tubs and L'Occitane toiletries, also receive a nod of approval from guests. For a little extra pampering, head to the on-site spa or the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge. Guests describe the restaurant's ambiance as elegant and serene, and the seafood as delicious.
Every so often a game changer comes along. Six years later than scheduled, this country-house hotel finally opened in September 2018, an 18th-century manor whose estate is vital to its very core. The land has been enthusiastically pressed back into service – albeit with a new, biodynamic twist – both as bountiful supplier and as a playground for anyone staying here. A river and arboretum planted by 19th-century head gardener William Wildsmith unfold beyond the Georgian pleasure garden, rolling into crop fields and farm pastures which guests are encouraged to explore. There is further acreage inside: a private dining room, drawing and morning rooms, a leather-clad screening room. Designer Ben Thompson’s layering of soft colours, texture and assiduously polished antiques with contemporary craftsmanship has created a refined earthy feel. Of the 45 bedrooms, six are suites, including the bold Ochre Room with its chocolate marble bathroom, the sleek off-white Panelled Room, and the Long Room, with a log fire and its own terrace. Skye Gyngell, formerly of café-turned-Michelin-star-sensation Petersham Nurseries, heads up its two restaurants: Marle and casual, brick-clad Hearth. She brings the farm-to-fork ethos in evidence at her London restaurant Spring but here in her rural domain, the ingredients (peach leaves, perhaps, for subtly flavoured ice cream) can be plucked to order from a walled orchard yards, not counties, away. In the absence of your own stately pile, this estate’s return to authentic, productive life is the closest you can get to lording it up. By Sally Shalam
The Covent Garden Hotel might sit in the heart of theatre-land, but it’s no drama queen. It lets other divas in town take the curtain calls. Instead, this place goes for the slow burn, revealing itself subtly and demurely. But when it does, you realise it’s a beauty. Take the first-floor Drawing Room, lined in maple wood, shiny as toffee, which originally came from the now demolished League of Nations building near Trafalgar Square. Here too are delicately limbed parlour chairs with 18th-century needlepoint embroidery and a grand old writing desk, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and holding numerous little drawers that surely concealed secret notes over the years. The honesty bar just off the nook of a library is as well stocked as a house party, meaning that nightcaps can be as late as you like. Settle into the yellow and red sofa in front of the log fire, kick off your shoes (it’s not frowned upon) and soak up the elegant yet cosy surroundings. Just as lovely is the fourth-floor Terrace Suite, up among the rooftops and chimneys of London like a Mary Poppins eyrie. Parrots peck at blousy dusty-pink flowers on the linen upholstery of the sofa and over-sized headboard and purple and teal ikat-print curtains frame the windows. In the morning, watch the sunrise over the Shard from the little wooden deck. There’s a deep bathtub for soaking in, and lavender-and-eucalyptus bathroom lotions by RikRak (a bespoke Firmdale range) that smell so good you’ll be sniffing your arm for the rest of the day. Many new names have landed in London recently, but this trouper still holds its head up high. By Grainne McBride
A tricky business, the restoration of important old stuff. There are people who say that the Mona Lisa ought to be all bright and punchy and Instagram-ready and that 'The Night Watch' was actually The Day Watch. So what do you do about an ageing masterpiece like the Crillon? Nobody rushed to any conclusions. In the end, the refurb took four years and the hotel reopened in 2017 under the Rosewood brand. The Ritz, nearby, underwent the same process around the same time. But the two properties took divergent approaches: the Ritz to maintain the status quo, only more so, as it were; the Crillon to propel itself into the 21st century. In both cases, the results are exemplary. And if it is the Crillon whose name appears in capital letters in this list, it is in recognition of a moral rather than an absolute victory. A prize for bravery. The best of what was best of the Crillon has been thoughtfully preserved, while the best of what is new (the bar, the barbershop, L’Ecrin restaurant and the stupendous suites by Karl Lagerfeld) is gobsmacking in its boldness and daring. The Crillon has long been a sentimental favourite among the French. Something to do with all the beheadings that occurred outside the front door. Imagine what would have happened if Rosewood had, you know, got it wrong. By Steve King
This is a hotel you might've dreamt of when you were little—though we doubt you were this imaginative. The place truly is a palace, though from the front, it's tough to discern its size: You pull into a private, paved drive, with a fairly modest entrance, and a beautiful, if somewhat smallish lobby, and it's not until you make it out to the back of the hotel that you realize its scale. Set on a hill overlooking the aquamarine (yes, actually aquamarine) waters of Lake Geneva, you'll first notice the immaculately manicured gardens, the thin strips of outdoor pools, and the piqued tent tops under which people are taking their lunch al fresco. Hard to believe, but it only gets better from there.
We’ve got a serious soft spot for any hotel that wears its eco-consciousness on its sleeve, and 1 Hotel South Beach does just that, from the organic bedding and reclaimed furniture to its sea-to-table Habitat restaurant. In addition to the five-star amenities and 600 feet of private beach, regular events—like sunset meditation and terrarium-building workshops—keep guests coming back.
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Hôtel 71 is located in a building with plenty of history: it was formerly the first head office of the National Bank of Canada in Québec City. The outside has a great example of 19th-century Neoclassical architecture, while the inside is decorated in an elegant urban style. An espresso lounge serves coffee throughout the day. The hotel is ideally located for cruises, as it is close to the terminals. It is also close to the funicular. For delightful Italian cuisine, eat at the attached restaurant, Il Matto.
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
The building’s textile-clad façade and verdant latticework by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma creates a palpable sense of calm – ideal for meditating on the deeper cultural meaning behind contemporary Chinese artworks in the atrium, such as Beijing Memory No. 1 and No. 2, Li Xiaofeng’s wearable cheongsam and military breastplate covered in Ming and Qing-dynasty porcelain shards, and ceramicist Fiona Wong’s ghostly, lace-like White Wings. There’s also a 20ft-high Chinese apothecary chest of 6,000 drawers in the lobby, and the multilingual staff shuffling around in all-black outfits further add to the art-gallery vibe. More straightforward are the 99 open-plan guestrooms finished in oak wood and Turkish sandstone, with Japanese-style furo soaking tubs and powerful overhead rain showers. The complimentary ‘maxi-bar’ features craft brews from the nearby Arrow Factory and bottles of orange-flavoured Arctic Ocean soda, the nectar of any Beijing childhood. A decade after the hotel opened, the Sanlitun area surrounding the House has blossomed. Cross the street to Dover Street Market, where you’re likely to spy staff nipping out to pick up niche items at pop-up events. Follow the scent of date wood back to the hotel’s Jing Yaa Tang restaurant: cumin-laced lamb skewer and fiery kung pao chicken from a cage-free farm south of Beijing deliver just the right amount of anticipation while the master roaster glazes your duck with his secret combination of osmanthus, honey, vinegar, molasses and crushed dates. Order an Old Peking as nightcap, made with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, Mancino Vecchio vermouth and finished in a cloud of date wood smoke – the only type used by serious Beijing duck roasters. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
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.
The b is one of the best budget hotel chains in Tokyo and their Akasaka location offers incredible value since it’s not in the core tourist areas. The b Tokyo Akasaka-Mitsuke is a 2-minute walk from Akasaka-Mitsuke Station which is connected to 5 different metro lines, so it’s quite convenient to get around the city. As for the rooms, they come with a flat-screen TV, free WiFi, and a surprisingly spacious private bathroom. A portable WiFi hotspot smartphone is also provided so you’ll have free roaming data while you’re in Tokyo.
The striking pale yellow Ocean House looks like a massive Victorian mansion. The grand hotel was originally built in 1868 and has undergone extensive renovations to maintain its stately grandeur. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Rhode Island, the property offers impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean along with New England-style accommodations outfitted with wooden furnishings and pastel decor. Ocean House offers several luxury perks and amenities, including the Mercedes-Benz driving program, an award-winning spa, a wine and culinary arts program and more. (Courtesy of Ocean House)
It’s not a Rorschach test. Don’t dwell too long on Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake’s uncommon structure sitting on a grassy patch in São Paulo’s refined Jardim Paulista neighbourhood. Is it a watermelon slice? An ocean liner? Step inside the gargantuan belly of a sunlit lobby, then spread out on one of the International Klein blue cushion couches to imbibe a glass of Champagne. More liquid satisfaction is found along The Wall, the lobby bar with its 60ft high stash of spirits (for bibliophiles, 300-plus titles hide alongside). Guests are sent on a sensory adventure, from the unlit lift and barely illuminated corridor to 95 white-on-white cabin-like guestrooms, where an oversized porthole window continues to play with a sense of scale even as an abundance of natural light flows through (highly effective blackout panels close it at the touch of a button). Most fun are those rooms running along the building’s elongated curve, featuring floors that could almost double as a skateboard park. Surround-sound speakers are hidden in headboards, and in the see-through bathroom is a tub with whirlpool jets; less hi-tech but highly coveted are the complimentary Havaiana flip-flops in the closet. Save your appetite for the plump pink salmon sashimi, spicy Amazonian cassoulet and Portuguese arroz de pato (duck rice) at Dijon-born chef Emmanuel Bassoleil’s rooftop Skye restaurant with its 360-degree metropolitan panorama and ruby-red lacquered swimming pool. Commandeer one of the white double daybeds and order Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, colour-coordinated with the pool with fresh strawberries and raspberries. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
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