Manhattan? Like, so over. Food, fashion, music, art - it's all happening over the East River in Brooklyn. Of the clutch of hotels that have followed the wave, the 70-room Wythe, which opened in 2012, is the clear winner. This converted barrel factory is in Williamsburg, a five-minute subway ride from the island, and a hotbed of bars, restaurants and shops (Pies 'n' Thighs for Southern grub, Catbird for quirky jewellery). Owners Jed Walentas - scion of the New York real-estate family - Australian hotelier Peter Lawrence and Andrew Tarlow, who runs Brooklyn restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons, have kept things industrial inside, with exposed brick, mosaic and tiled floors, and beamed ceilings. Bedrooms are particularly minimalist, with polished concrete floors, king-size beds and Manhattan views from floor-to-ceiling windows in west-facing rooms. There's even a thwack of skyline from the little window in the walk-in shower. The hotel's rooftop bar, The Ides, does great cocktails and is a raucous spot in summer, but it's the ground-floor restaurant, Reynard, that is a must for its super-fresh, veg-laden dishes including fluke crudo with fennel and caraway, and grass-fed steak with beets, goat's cheese and watercress. The hotel has no gym of its own, but guests are given a pass to Chalk down the road, a haunt for bench-pressing local hipsters.
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The ancient lava fields and low-lying scrub of the surrounding area make it feel more like Namibia than Hawaii. But as soon as driver pulls off Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway onto a private lane and the landscape shifts from Martian to tropical – lush with palms, canary-yellow hibiscus and musk ferns – and you inhale the plumeria-infused cold towel, bowing to receive the simple kukui nut lei, you know exactly where you are. Creating this distinct sense of place without employing gimmicky tropes (all too easy to do in a place like Hawaii where a little puka shell goes a long way) is what makes Hualalai stand out on an island of upscale hotels. The Hawaii-ana is restrained – hand-woven palm mats, tropical wallpaper in neutral tones – and the buildings are modelled on classic architecture that really pushes the indoor-outdoor living. The soaring lobby opens onto teak lanais overlooking the secluded stretch of coastline, miles from touristy Kona to the south and the resort village of Waikoloa to the north. Authenticity shines through, too, in the way this place interacts with its environment; for example, rather than clearing the hardened lava from various eruptions, Four Seasons used traditional hand-stacking techniques to build walls, stocked the King Pond with injured rescue fish from the ocean, and implemented a commercial fishing ban to allow the depleted waters in front of the property to recover. And the staff emit the characteristically chill aloha spirit while being super-attentive to the overworked tech couple from Silicon Valley and the stylish family of five escaping an endless New York winter. By Rebecca Misner
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.
Since opening in 2001, The Peninsula Chicago has wowed visitors with its Magnificent Mile address, friendly staff and modern decor. Each guest room and suite offers cream, black and navy blue hues, as well as a Nespresso coffee maker, Bernardaud china, a tablet and one king-sized or two double beds with custom Pratesi linens. On the hotel's 19th and 20th floors, travelers will find The Peninsula Spa, which offers Asian-inspired treatments, an indoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Chicago also houses four on-site dining venues that serve small bites, European dishes, modern American fare and Asian cuisine. (Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago)
At the No. 2 Best Hotel in Maui, guests are greeted with panoramic views of Wailea Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Accommodations are spacious (each room measures at least 600 square feet) and include lanais, locally inspired art, deep-soaking tubs and Nespresso coffee makers. On the resort grounds, travelers will find three saltwater pools, two tennis courts and a spa, but this resort's best attribute is its kid-friendly atmosphere. One of the island's most family-friendly properties, the Four Seasons Resort Maui offers everything from a game room to a waterslide to the brand's complimentary Kids For All Seasons activities program. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea)
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