It’s easy enough to sweep the Dominican Republic into that category of Caribbean island better left for spring-breaking American college kids. But then you’d miss out on the otherworldly stretch of beach along its remote northern shore, with excellent surf breaks, royal palms growing to the edge of the sea and this delightful, Celerie Kemble-designed hotel. In the light-filled clubhouse, which doubles as lobby, bar and dining room, ice-cold Mojitos are handed out as welcome drinks. Slatted shuttered doors lead to a wraparound verandah, past the pool that blends into the sweeping lawn, and through grounds wild with creeping bougainvillaea, which keep things from feeling too manicured. The nine guest cottages reference the Dominican Republic’s lacy Victorian-era gingerbread architecture, with its white lattice woodwork and pastel yellow doors. Inside, they are a maximalist’s dream of high-back wicker chairs, ikat pillows, and pink-and-green tile floors – all assembled in Kemble’s Palm-Beach-by-way-of-Bali style. There’s not much to do but go the beach, ride bicycles around the estate, and maybe, one morning, take out a boat to navigate through the nearby mangrove forest to an offshore reef for snorkelling. On returning there’s time for a late breakfast at the clubhouse: poached eggs on thick toast, homemade yoghurt with local honey. Alternatively, a few minutes up the beach there’s a shack serving whole lobster and tostones, and frosty Presidente beer. Who cares that it’s 10am? By Rebecca Misner
The main draw of Las Vegas is its world-renowned Strip, so it's hardly surprising that the No. 1 Best Hotel in Las Vegas is perfectly positioned along this iconic thoroughfare. Featuring brand signatures like impeccable customer service and a Forbes Five Star-awarded spa and restaurant, this Mandarin Oriental outpost lures luxury-seeking travelers. Guest rooms and suites start at 505 square feet and come equipped with dark wood or mother-of-pearl headboards, walk-in closets and large windows that overlook the city. (Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas)
This was founded in 2001 by siblings Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, whose great-grandfather migrated from Italy and acquired a ranch and vineyards, building the house where Catherine still lives today. She and Joe are a constant presence, checking in with regulars at the restaurant and joining in afternoon wine tastings (including a knockout red-field blend from their own Lost & Found label). Their deep Sonoma roots translate into perks for guests at local wineries, restaurants and shops, whose owners invariably light up at their mention. And the pair’s enthusiasm percolates through to the easygoing attitude of the longtime staff. You’re as likely to get a great oyster shack or hiking trail tip from the parking attendant as you are from the concierge desk. Of the bedrooms, the newer ones at the quieter, wooded end of the hotel are best, with porches that feel suspended among the trees. Inside you’ll find a conga drum refashioned as a cocktail stand, a vintage ladder propped against one wall under the vaulted wooden ceiling. A double-sided fireplace faces both the bedroom and the Adirondack chairs outside on the porch. The inn’s restaurant has become a destination in itself: chef Steve Litke has a light touch with his Mediterranean-inflected menu, including a delicate Hokkaido scallop with Moroccan spices, and a thyme-scented trio of rabbit (applewood-smoked loin, confit of leg, roasted rack with mustard cream). But you can take the electric car out and head westward to the coast and have lunch at the inimitable Marshall Store, where Sonoma’s best oysters (raw and wood-fire-grilled) are served on wooden barrels along the shore of Tomales Bay. Family-owned and run hotels are now a rarity in California’s wine country, which makes this switched-on place so exceptional. By Peter Lindberg
With seven swimming pools, a 28,000-square-foot spa and an epic beachfront location on the Kohala Coast, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Hawaii. Accommodations embrace the locale, with bright colors and Hawaiian art. Plus, many rooms include furnished terraces and outdoor lava rock showers. This Four Seasons outpost also organizes special experiences for guests, ranging from private luaus to mixology classes. (Don Riddle/Four Seasons Resort Hualalai)
Just minutes walk from the pier at Pra Athit, Riva Surya is a visual delight, with as much consideration put into the hotels public spaces as the rooms.French windows open on to a large courtyard behind the hotel, with a swimming pool and plenty of room to lounge, either on the daybeds that fringe the river or under the shaded veranda.Babble and Rum restaurant and bar is the ideal location for a riverside evening drink or a hearty plate of high-quality Thai or Western fare.There are also plenty of decent restaurants and bars in this area, and famous backpacker street Khao San Road is only five minutes walk away. Read More...
This elegant Art Deco tower piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner – and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million-dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink in the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. No photographs. No phone calls – it says on the bottom of the menu firmly while maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes. The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favourite; the seared scallops with black leek and truffle sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots – in a city with a strong alfresco game – for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of LA and basking in that brilliant golden sunshine. By Mary Lussiana
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Set in the Arashiyama district on the western side of Kyoto (an area frequented by Japanese nobles of years gone by), Suiran sits seamlessly on the jade waters of the Katsura river. The original buildings, which now house the restaurants and lobby, are constructed around beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, and sunlight-dappled pebble-stone pathways lead the way to the more modern low-rise buildings that house the rooms. Yukata-clad staff welcome you warmly with a hot towel and tea whilst discretely whisking your luggage off to your room, leaving you to enjoy the serene surroundings, bathed in light and soothed by the sounds of flowing water. Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose.
Nestled in the heart of the Strip, this member of the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas doesn't feature a casino on the property. And with only 389 guest rooms and suites, this hotel is practically a boutique compared to the Strip's monumental towers. But guests love the Waldorf Astoria's quiet and classy atmosphere and they don't mind leaving the hotel to hit the slots. The spacious rooms are particularly popular, filled with features like flat-screen TVs, soaking tubs and separate showers, and the design aesthetic highlights sleek and subtle touches. Another traveler favorite is the critically acclaimed spa, which guests say has some of the best masseuses on the Strip. You'll find the Waldorf Astoria LasVegas tucked between the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino and the Shops at Crystals shopping complex, smack dab in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.
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.
Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.