There are few cities in which space is at such a premium as Tokyo. Which is why, when Aman opened its first urban resort in the city’s Otemachi business district, it delivered this sensational architectural masterpiece by Kerry Hill with acres of room at its heart. From the moment you step out into the 33rd-floor reception, there’s an overwhelming sense of calmness and light. Above a cavernous atrium walled in white washi rice paper rises like a giant shoji lantern; in front of it is a soothing Zen rock garden; and beyond floor-to-ceiling glass walls are views over twinkling buildings, the treetops of the Imperial Palace garden and – a rarity in Tokyo – big stretches of sky. The 84 bedrooms, built using a soothing combination of pale camphor woods, dark stone and white washi paper, all deliver minimal fuss and maximum comfort. Hi-tech touches are discreetly hidden so Japanese details can take centre stage: a deep furo soaking tub; a solitary work of calligraphy; a table decorated with a traditional teapot and a home-made dessert adorned with an exquisite edible flower. Within the two-storey, stone-clad spa is a 100ft pool to do laps in while looking out over the skyline, yoga and Pilates rooms, and therapists delivering tailor-made spa journeys (a soothing remedy to jetlag). The food tastes like it’s been made with ingredients just delivered to the kitchen – whether that’s rustic spaghetti alla puttanesca at Arva Italian restaurant, delicate Japanese egg-rolls served in lacquered bento boxes or made-to-order sushi with a shot of fine sake at the long Hinoki bar. Private excursions – in a sparkling black Mercedes with a white-gloved chauffeur – couldn’t be more polished, perhaps to Mount Fuji or going for a lesson with a master calligrapher. The ultimate Japanese cocooning urban retreat for those who want space to soak it all in. By Lisa Grainger
Located along the stunning blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, the hacienda-style Krystal Vallarta is a tropical oasis of calm, peace and serenity. Ideal for family vacations, this modern resort will keep younger guests entertained at Kamp Krystal, which features an indoor playground with a ball room and a new children’s pool with a waterslide. While the little ones have a blast at the kids club, parents can relax by the resort’s sparkling infinity pool overlooking the turquoise waters of Banderas Bay, or head to lively downtown Puerto Vallarta and explore the Malecón Seafront Promenade. Great for visitors who enjoy outdoor dining, the resort’s seaside restaurant affords breathtaking views of Banderas Bay. A wide range of delicious dining options, from elegant Japanese dishes and other international cuisine to fresh seafood and classic comfort foods from the beachfront snack bar, are sure to keep everyone happy.
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Readers declared this 85-room hotel in the Willamette Valley to be one of the best values among American wine country inns—perhaps not a surprise, since Pinot fans tend to love Oregon wineries for their laidback (and less costly) ambience. And while the hotel is nobly LEED Gold-certified—for such features as solar water heaters and glassware made from reclaimed wine bottles—it also offers decadent, you're-soaking-in-it spa treatments, like baths of local wine, honey and roses. Set on seven acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapevines, the Allison also got high marks for its idyllic location and a top-10 ranking for cuisine: its locavore restaurant Jory is named after the region’s fertile soil.
There are plenty of wellness-focused hotels out there nowadays, but this private island hotel has been around longer and does it better than most. Just ask its fan club, who travel from far and wide for the daily yoga sessions, early morning meditations on the pristine beach, healing massages, and Ayurvedic consultations with Dr Parth, who hails from Goa. Check into one of the whitewashed beachfront villas simply furnished with Indonesian four-poster beds swathed in Italian linens and that’s more or less what your days will consist of – not to mention biking around the island, snorkelling expeditions, kayaking and dawdling over long feasts. The only reason to wear a watch is to make sure you don’t miss yoga. For those who prefer their Caribbean hotels a bit more hedonistic, you can always skip the green juice and slurp a Mojito at the bar, which Keith Richards has been known to frequent when he’s in residence. The Rolling Stone is just one of the island’s famous homeowners. Donna Karan has called her Balinese-inspired villa on Parrot Cay ‘a sanctuary where I go to create awareness’. Bruce Willis and Christie Brinkley own estates nearby, which can be rented should you need more space than COMO’s beachfront villas can provide. This is a wide-open, big-hearted place that puts beach life first. By Laura Itzkowitz
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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. 

Music producer Chris Blackwell, who introduced the world to Bob Marley back in 1973, also founded this oceanfront island hideaway a few years later, based around the clifftop villa where Ian Fleming wrote all his Bond novels. In the decades since its reach has grown and grown. There’s no sign at the entrance, which is part of the low-key charm. It’s easy to see why many music and film stars make their way here: this is a sweet spot with a very independent flavour, a world away from the oversized all-inclusives, and more honed than Blackwell’s companion hotel, Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains. Couples tend to hole up in the wooden beach huts; families and friends take over the massive villas; industry bigwigs feel right at home in Fleming’s former house, which has three bedrooms and a personable, clued-in staff. There are a few nods to 007 – black-and-white photos of Bond in reception plus novels and films on loan – but GoldenEye is mainly about Jamaica, a sensibility found in the blazingly coloured fabrics, breezy breakfasts on the verandah with cups of Blue Mountain coffee, and heaps of tropical fruit. The sheltered bay for morning swims is just a few paces away across immaculate sands. It says everything that Blackwell still lives here (guests have been known to unwittingly roll up to his villa and ask for a drink, which is always obligingly provided). And why would he leave? He gets to enjoy a highly original hangout that is entirely of his making. This is that rare beast: a hotel that balances heritage and hip and gets away with it. By Nigel Tisdall
Located in the charming Georgetown neighborhood, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC welcomes guests with ample luxury amenities and services. The No. 4 Best Hotel in the District of Columbia houses an indoor saltwater lap pool, a spa, a health club and the highly praised Bourbon Steak restaurant. Travelers also compliment the staff members, who they describe as professional, warm and accommodating. (Michael Kleinberg/Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC) 

Few hotels are as synonymous with their destination as La Mamounia. Frankly, if you don’t end up overnighting in one of this former palace’s tiled guest rooms, just behind the blush-coloured walls of the medina, it’s almost as though you were never in Marrakech at all. That’s because this opulent, more-is-absolutely-more pocket of palm trees, landscaped gardens and fountains, where sultry lobby spaces and bars are draped in silks and dark velvets, has come to embody all those reasons we travel to Marrakech in the first place. Inside its hammam, a mosaic of blue, red and pine-green tiles, are cheery therapists who offer clay body wraps (head down early for
Twenty-six years on, Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road, one of many overlooking the sea in the wind-protected suburb of Bantry Bay. And that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. The bar, restaurant and spa are exclusive to invited and resident guests, which means it’s very private and secure. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country – his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s answer to Kew) in the one-and-a-half acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery and an excellent little spa. Checking into one of the individually decorated rooms in the house – many with local African design elements, some on the small size – feels both comfortable and comforting. As does the open-access kitchen. Walk right in, tell the chefs what you’re craving and it is whipped up in minutes. Better yet, take a snack back to your room. The post-sunset vista from the balcony has to be one of the best views of the Atlantic found anywhere on earth. By Jane Broughton
The Marriott-affiliated St. Regis Atlanta appeals to luxury-seeking travelers who desire superb customer service and proximity to some of Atlanta's best shopping in neighboring Buckhead. This elegant property, which is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Atlanta, features classic St. Regis touches, such as butler service, a spa and rooms outfitted with chandeliers and white marble accents. Other standout features include the hotel's outdoor 40,000-square-foot Pool Piazza, a wine room, a 24-hour fitness center and Astor Court, an upscale dining venue that serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. (Courtesy of The St. Regis Atlanta)
There are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. Sydney. São Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve King
This spa resort doesn't take any of its five stars for granted, particularly when it comes to delivering first-rate customer service. Recent guests can't help but keep the compliments coming: Travelers say that the resort staff took extra care to personalize each experience. One problem you might face, however, is exclusivity. The Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach only has 98 guest rooms and suites, so be sure to book early for an upcoming trip to Sunny Isles Beach. The rooms come with flat-screen TVs and private balconies, as well as double sinks and glass-enclosed showers. Meanwhile, the property also features three in-house eateries, four pools, a spa and beach amenities. What's more, the hotel is part of The Leading Hotels of the World, meaning Leaders Club members have access to perks here. You'll find the Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, about 11 miles north of Miami Beach.
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