Since starting out in 1993 with one lodge, Singita has grown into an outfit that is now responsible for a million acres in five wild regions across three African countries. But what still matters most is the desire to preserve that pristine land and the animals that live on it. Its turbo-smart lodges and camps are scattered across private concessions in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Sasakwa, set in 140,000 hectares on the border of the Serengeti National Park, is the grandest of them all. Built from stone, it’s like a stately Edwardian manor house, with elegant colonial-era style: polished parquet floors, Persian carpets, chandeliers, bookshelf-lined walls, enormous fireplaces and a mix of African collectibles and European antiques. The service is faultless, orchestrated by Frank Louw, who started out as the executive chef many years ago and has dozens of stories to share about Tanzanian staff rising up through the ranks. As well as an entire reserve to explore, there’s tennis, archery, biking, hiking and top-notch treatments in the spa. Diet-defying meals are served wherever you want them, always with a view. Wines are plucked from the best of South Africa’s vineyards. Ten guest cottages each have separate living rooms, enormous bathrooms and private plunge pools. As impressive as all this is, though, the greatest draw is the exclusive game viewing – in the middle of a privately funded reserve that’s as big as the Maasai Mara. It continues to guarantee the survival of the western corridor of the annual migration of a million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle. And year-round, it provides the ultimate luxury to the lodge’s high-flying guests: not having to share wildlife sightings with anyone else. By Jane Broughton
While the Fairmont Pacific Rim features a long list of luxurious amenities, its downtown Vancouver location is what helps it stand apart from competitors. Set on the Coal Harbour waterfront, the hotel sits across the street from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal. Thanks to the hotel's location, recent guests say the views from the rooms and rooftop are spectacular. When you're not gazing out across the harbor, relax poolside in one of the private cabanas or by one of the cozy outdoor fire pits. For even more serenity, visitors recommend booking a treatment at the Willow Stream Spa. Continue the pampering at Botanist, which serves regionally sourced dishes. Craving a pick-me-up? Venture to giovane cafe + wine bar, which offers house-made pastries for breakfast and Italian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once you've refueled, retreat to your digs where you'll find a Stearns & Foster bed, an iPod docking station and an iPad2, which you can use to order room service and operate various controls in the guest room. Although this Fairmont's high-tech amenities are an added perk, according to recent visitors, it's the hotel's exceptional service that makes a stay here memorable.
People who don’t live in Los Angeles have a fantasy of what life in LA must look like. Towering palms. Bougainvillaea. Birds of paradise. And a fabulous bungalow tucked right in the thick of it, where every hour is golden hour. The Hotel Bel-Air, in the heart of the residential neighbourhood of the same name, is this fantasy come to life. One of the first sights to spot across the threshold is a swan lake. A lake with actual swans frolicking in it. The 12-acre gardens are part of the magic and made for meandering, with streams, footbridges, guava, pineapple, lemon and orange trees, as well as coastal redwoods that are most certainly not common in these parts. Out-of-towners and peace-and-quiet-seeking locals come here for privacy and to shelter from real life. Most never leave the grounds. In 2011 Alexandra Champalimaud did a full revamp of the lobby and spa, and designed the sizeable rooms to be lived in – they are cosy, with fireplaces, high ceilings and towels as thick as blankets. The bar is effortlessly cool, with photographs by Norman Seeff covering the walls, and the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, reimagined by David Rockwell a handful of years ago, is completely al fresco. You could venture out and explore LA, or you could order a crisp white and kick back beside the always-set-to-28˚C pool and forget there’s a world beyond the swan lake. This is where you want to stay in LA to feel like a high roller even if you’re not one. By Lauren DeCarlo
Dubbed 'Le nouveau St Tropez' by Vogue Paris, Montauk's rise from fishing village and low-key surf perch to Manhattan's most fashionable summer spot has been meteoric. For those who lack that crucial friend with a beach house, Ruschmeyer's is the next best option. Styled as a summer camp for adults, it's part souped-up motel, part restaurant, part dance party. The rooms are comfortable if basic, with wicker headboards, hammocks and shower rooms. Which is just fine, because they'll barely be used. Instead, hit the rollicking restaurant which is overseen by the people behind SoHo locavore favourite The Smile; make new chums over ping-pong in the Magic Garden; and get down at the Electric Eel club, which has DJs at weekends and a raucous bingo night on Thursdays. Breakfast is DIY and included in the price (love the smashed avocado on rye). Alternatively, borrow a bike and cycle 10 minutes to Ditch Plains Beach for quesadillas from the Ditch Witch food truck, or join the line of hipsters for burritos at Joni's in town. And while in the East Coast's premier surf spot, it would be churlish not to at least attempt to ride a wave: Ruschmeyer's will provide a board and lessons.
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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.
The St.Regis Bali has a gorgeous beachfront extending from Geger Beach, just south of the Nusa Dua peninsula.Its collection of suites, villas, and excellent restaurants, as well as its ballrooms and state-of-the art meeting spaces make it a resort apt for both business and leisure.Well-trained butlers are ready to assist you with virtually all your needs during your stay and offer that touch of genuine opulence that you get at St.Regis.An expansive blue lagoon serves as a centrepiece surrounded by lagoon villas, each boasting a wealth of Balinese art and inspired designs.These villas are romantic and perfectly suit honeymooners, who find a specially prepared flower bath upon arrival plus sweet fruit, dipped in chocolate fondue. Read More...
The Langham, Chicago captures the honor of the No. 1 Best Hotel in the United States and the No. 1 Best Hotel in Chicago for 2017. Still a relatively new property to the Windy City's hospitality scene (the hotel opened in 2013), The Langham provides the epitome of a luxury stay, according to recent guests. The hotel overlooks the Chicago River, and its accommodations afford stellar city and water views. The property also houses a spa, a fitness center and an indoor pool. What's more, travelers praise The Langham's exceptional staff members, noting that they helped make their stays special by calling guests by name and offering helpful city tips. (Courtesy of The Langham, Chicago)
This 13-acre property, enviably sited in the centro, is without peer in a town that has its share of swank hotels. Portals and stone paths lead to tiered swimming pools, two-person cabanas, covered patios, and a tequila bar, and the 67 rooms are grand and outfitted with regionally sourced hardwood floors and Spanish colonial furnishings. Even a standard king, at an already-generous 535 square feet, comes with special treatment: A bubble bath lit by candles is drawn at turndown upon request.
Just three blocks from the mighty Mekong River, surrounded by gilded Buddhist temples, and in the upscale heart of the city center, Villa Maly has a coveted address in Luang Prabang. The two-story house, awash with white paint and deep wood accents, feels like entering the home of your chicest Laoation friend—that is, if your friend were a grandson of a 19th-century Lao king. (And, actually, it was Prince Khamtan Ounkham who built the house in 1938, and prominent French nouveau details are a nod to the years he spent studying in France.) Belly up to the Maly Bar for cocktails and light snacks, or enjoy a D.I.Y poolside barbecue with marinated meats and vegetables; and don't forget to make use of the hotel's complementary bike rentals while you're at it.
This sprawling cream-colored villa is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and the stunning vantage point is one of the hotel's finest features: Hermanus is known for its rugged natural beauty, and Birkenhead House maximizes that in all directions. Hermanus is a lovely add-on to any South Africa trip, and this is the best hotel in the area by far. If you're a serious whale watcher, it's a no brainer: You can't beat these views.
A good place to get one’s bearings when visiting Quebec City is the Citadelle of Quebec. It is only a short walk from most of the Old City hotels. Originally conceived by French colonists, and constructed by British forces, the fort has the perfect, and near impenetrable, defensive position atop the plateau. It has served to restrict entry to the important St. Lawrence River and formed the centrepiece of the town’s defensive structures. These include a circling stone wall which survives to this day, making Quebec City the only remaining walled city in the US or Canada. Despite being an active military installation, and an official residence of both the governor general of Canada, and the Canadian monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II), tours of the site are available throughout the year. The citadel, along with the historic district of Old Quebec, is a designated World Heritage Site.
If the altitude of Cusco lays you low, El Convento will provide pumped-in oxygen to your room, along with its other amenities. The namesake convent dates to the 1500s and archeological ruins are maintained on property. Décor continues the old-new pairing, with stylish rooms and public areas lined with stone arches, while weavers in the courtyard give demonstrations and must-have textiles are available for purchase.
Hôtel le Priori is close to Old Québec’s main attractions, and though the building is quite old, the décor inside does not only reflect the history of the surrounding district. Instead, the décor expertly blends old and new, with antique bathtubs in the bathroom complementing the Art Deco furniture and bright, contemporary colors. Each room is individually decorated. There are also multiple loft-style suites for extended stays. Like many other hotels in the old city, reservations are a must. The hotel restaurant, le Toast, is also exemplary.
The Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago overlooks the river and provides sweeping views of the city and Lake Michigan. The property, the No. 5 Best Hotel in Chicago, puts travelers close to many of the Windy City's most popular sights, including the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier and Millennium Park. Guests praise the hotel's sleek and well-appointed accommodations, its outstanding employees and the Terrace at Trump's cocktails and panoramic vistas. (Courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago)
Highly recommend for a white Christmas! The city is so magical complete with German Christmas markets and carolers (come prepared for the cold!). Old town is beautiful (very European) and there is lots to do. Recommend trying the toboggan ride (great for all ages) and a visit to nearby Jacques-Cartier National Park if you like the outdoors! Tip: make sure you have the right change (in coins) for the buses.