You’re unlikely to meet a milder, more softly spoken gentleman than Michel Reybier, owner of the La Réserve portfolio of properties. Yet if his hotels are anything to go by, it’s safe to say that passions of Byronic intensity rage beneath his soberly suited breast. Consider La Réserve Paris, the most beloved address in the French capital for fashion editors and the go-to for regular visitors to the city who want to feel like they’re staying in a private mansion. It has only 40 rooms in a fine hôtel particulier designed by Baron Haussmann for Napoleon III’s half-brother the Duc de Morny in 1854. Its position, on a quiet, tree-lined street moments from the Place de la Concorde, is propitious. Then you cross the threshold and – ka-boom! – it’s an explosion of colour and texture in the best way imaginable. There’s brocade taffeta, velvet drapes and silk wallpapers in the richest shades of emerald and ruby. No crevice has gone ungilded. The very walls inside the lifts are covered in cuir de Cordoue so supple you’ll have to resist the urge to place your cheek against it. The views and sense of space are staggering (larger suites face the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower) but Reybier, stealthy sybarite that he is, has ensured that even the smaller courtyard-facing rooms are no less sumptuous. They, too, come amply stocked with choice vintages of Château Cos d’Estournel. It so happens that Reybier owns that great Bordeaux estate as well. Try it. The claret is divine, though no more intoxicating than the hotel itself. By Steve King
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
For an upscale twist on the classic ranch experience, consider bedding down at the No. 1 Best Hotel in Montana: The Ranch at Rock Creek. This Forbes Five Star-awarded property in Philipsburg, Montana, offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including horseback riding, naturalist classes, ice fishing and archery. All of these experiences are free for guests to partake in, plus room rates also cover nightly entertainment (like bowling and s'more-making) and meals and drinks at two on-site restaurants. Meanwhile, the ranch's rustic accommodations boast stocked minifridges or minibars and Frette linens and custom duvets. (Courtesy of The Ranch at Rock Creek)
The recipient of numerous industry accolades, including Frommer's Exceptional and AAA Four Diamond awards, the No. 1 Best Hotel in New York City sits in the heart of lower Manhattan. Along with its desirable address, travelers also praise The Beekman's superb service, tasty cuisine and trendy vibe. Acclaimed American chefs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally have outposts here, and guest rooms and suites boast modern features like custom leather headboards, aged oak floors, curated artwork and bathrooms with Carrara marble accents. (Courtesy of The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel)
Often referred to as the USA's best small hotel, this 20-suite Relais & Châteaux property - with cottages and outbuildings anchored by a 1795 New England farmhouse - sits in 300 acres of breathtaking wildflower meadows, pine forests, lakes and orchards. Its sophisticated style is the result of a long and fruitful relationship with the cream of NYC's interior-design world. In the 1990s, the original owner, Hawaiian newspaperman Thurston Twigg-Smith, commissioned designer and one-time Warhol apostle Jed Johnson to work his magic on the first 15 rooms. Cue chinoiserie toile pelmets, hand-carved ravens atop barley-twist bedposts and a trompe-l'oeil tented ceiling. Johnson's rooms are still marvellous, but when Twin Farms added another five bedrooms in 2005, plus spa treatment rooms, architect Peter Bohlin (known for his Apple stores) and interior designer Thad Hayes were called in. Their suites - such as The Aviary, with its Douglas-fir panelling, shag rug and buttoned-leather headboard, all in orange - are as luxurious as Johnson's, though less zesty. As delightful as the rooms are, the farm-raised, seasonal food (veal with butternut-squash purée in winter, grilled halibut and prawn gnocchi in summer) from chef Ted Ask and pastry honcho Christopher Wilson possibly tops it all. There's also access to deserted hiking trails, private ski slopes, fly-fishing, the Out of the Woods Spa and a 20,000-bottle wine cellar.
No visit to Canada would be complete without a visit to at least one of its great National Parks. Go polar bear watching in Wapusk from October to March, when you can also see Caribou herds, and with a great chance of viewing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Trek through Jasper, with snow-covered peaks, glaciers, meadows and rapid-flowing rivers. The national park is home to grizzly bears, moose and elk. Ski in Banff which has three resorts, or experience the thrill of a horse-drawn sleigh or a dogsled ride followed by a long relaxing soak in the warm waters of its spring-fed pools, such as Upper Hot Springs.
Survey voters clearly don’t want to have to take a shuttle to the slopes. This 100-room hotel made the top 20 for location, since it’s just a few steps from Vail’s Gondola One. While the lobby has classic-ski-lodge stone and timber, rooms lean toward the contemporary, rather than the log-cabin vibe, with polished wood headboards and reserved earth tones. The après-ski scene is similarly elegant, with the signature scotch collection at Frost, the hotel bar. For another kind of après-ski, readers loved the hotel’s spa, which utilizes the Vail Valley’s indigenous pine, flowers, and herbs. They may have also felt relaxed by the prices. Despite its high-end setting, the Sebastian was the top U.S. ski resort in the survey’s value category.
It’s a desert conundrum. You visit the driest, emptiest place on the planet to ogle the Martian landscapes, squint at the shimmering salt lake, gawp at the cosmos – this is world-renowned stargazing territory, home to the ALMA radio telescope. But at this hotel just outside the hip hiker-hub of San Pedro, part of you just wants to stay put. Inspired by pre-Inca ruins, this Awasi – the first of the tiny rootsy Chilean chain, open since 2007 – is all pale wood and tan adobe walls, with shade-giving trees pressing in on all sides. There are plenty of alpaca blankets and books in the public spaces, and a fire-pit and candlelight encourage intelligent idling after dark. The 10 suites have bathtubs, chaise-longues, more blankets. The restaurant serves up sublime octopus causas. It would be too easy to indulge in all of this and then join fellow wanderers at the bar and talk about expeditions to undertake, maybe tomorrow, over a glass of Maule Valley Merlot. Fortunately, Awasi insists all guests have a private guide – invariably an expert on Andean geology or geyser physics – and their own four-wheel-drive, so spending a little time away from the retreat is pretty straightforward too. This is a place made for hedonistic hermits, part of a new breed of superior and polished wilderness hotels. By Chris Moss
Built in 1851, the Maison du Fort is just a block away from the Citadel in Old Québec. The owner is willing to draw maps with highlights of the city for guests. Though it is located in the heart of the city, the surrounding neighborhood is quiet. As this is a converted residence, there are only a few rooms. This hotel is ideal for cat people, as there is a friendly resident cat named Oscar.

This go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie Goodwin

Nestled along Lake Massawippi's shores – about 85 miles east of Montreal – Manoir Hovey impresses guests with its luxurious amenities and serene ambiance. Each room comes equipped with L'Occitane toiletries, flat-screen TVs and Nespresso coffee makers, but if you're looking to inspire a little extra romance, spring for a treetops suite outfitted with a king-sized canopy bed and wood-burning fireplace. According to previous guests, swinging in a hammock or taking in the scenery by canoe both make for pleasant ways to while away warmer afternoons. During the winter, you can snowshoe and cross-country ski along neighboring trails. And a meal at Le Hatley Restaurant, which serves locally sourced Quebec fare, is a must-visit according to previous patrons. For a more casual dining experience, head to the Tap Room Pub, which dishes up lighter entrees like burgers. Members of Relais & Châteaux's exclusive Club 5C program may receive extras, such as room upgrades, for staying here.
DH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von Simson 
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