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
According to recent guests, the best part about staying in the downtown Wedgewood Hotel & Spa –which is just steps away from Robson Street's high-end shops – is the impeccable service. Travelers describe the staff at this Relais & Châteaux property as especially attentive, gracious and personable. Visitors also gush over the well-appointed rooms, which are outfitted with complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee machines and more. The spacious bathrooms, which boast Frette towels, marble accents deep-soaking tubs and L'Occitane toiletries, also receive a nod of approval from guests. For a little extra pampering, head to the on-site spa or the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge. Guests describe the restaurant's ambiance as elegant and serene, and the seafood as delicious.
This hip property continues to make a name for itself in Sin City. The No. 3 Best Hotel in Las Vegas this year, the Cosmopolitan enjoys a prime location on the center of the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel is one of the few in Las Vegas to offer rooms with balconies, and its accommodations feature contemporary decor and marble bathrooms. Outside the rooms, visitors have access to multiple pools, the Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub, a 100,000-square-foot casino and several dining venues, including the traveler favorite Wicked Spoon brunch buffet. (Courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas)
The Jefferson wins visitors over time and again with its sophisticated and traditionally decorated accommodations, impeccable service and award-winning cuisine. The hotel's location in downtown Washington is a highlight as well; guests are just a short walk from the White House, the National Mall and top-notch bars and eateries. The Jefferson is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. for 2017. (Courtesy of The Jefferson, Washington, DC)
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.
When Indian hotels do opulent, they really do opulent. And every inch of this palatial spot in the calm, tree-lined boulevards of Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave is gilded, mirrored, plumped, embroidered and topped with not-a-petal-out-of-place flower arrangements (14,000 blooms are delivered daily). But while it channels the vibe of the grand residence of a globetrotting Maharaja – huge Murano chandeliers from Venice, hand-woven carpets from Turkey, intricate Rajasthani miniature paintings, sandstone elephant statues carved in Qatar (no wonder if cost hundreds of millions to build) – it was actually all brand spanking new when it opened in 2011, so also has a stealthy undercurrent of techie and green credentials. The 260 gold-hued rooms and suites are some of the largest in the city, treatments at ESPA spa draw on India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions and the whole hotel is stuffed with so much contemporary Indian art that there’s a dedicated guided walk to take it all in, past Seema Kohli’s layered storytelling canvases, Satish Gupta’s lotus murals and Laxma Goud’s bronzes. An army of ultra-attentive staff fall over themselves to open doors, take bags and present garlands. And at the restaurants (there are four, and two bars), the menus are equally extravagant: hand-cut black truffle fettuccine in black truffle sauce at Italian Le Cirque; lobster nerulli curry at Indian Jamavar; sashimi made with cuts direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market at Japanese Megu. A new species of grand hotel, and hugely influential. By Fiona Kerr
This gorgeous farm hotel is a secluded, serene haven for foodies and nature lovers. Guests can immerse themselves in the beauty of the Appalachians by enjoying the venue's 4,200 acres of land and all the various activities offered. The restaurant, The Barn, offers a true farm-to-table dining experience as a majority of the produce is picked from the property's garden. There's also a stunning, tranquil spa and two pools that visitors can enjoy. Guests can stay in luxurious cottages or in a charming room in the Main House.
This 21-room mansion-turned-hotel was the survey’s No. 1 winner among small city hotels, and it embodies that time-machine charm of the Holy City: fireplaces in every room, hors d’oeuvres and sherry in the lobby, and chocolate truffles on your pillow at bedtime. With so many seductive treats, readers also awarded the Second-Empire-style hotel a high ranking for romance. Meanwhile, with Southern-meets-global dishes like antelope country paté, cast-iron poulet rouge and sweet potato doughnuts, the on-site Circa 1886 restaurant helped the Wentworth win the gold medal for small-city hotel dining.
That tiny-island locale is one reason Beth Blair loves Sunset Key Cottages, another top 10 contender. Its air of exclusivity is “magical, and I could go on and on about the top-notch service and views,” says the Minnesota travel blogger. But something else won her heart: “The pastry baskets that arrive every morning at the front door are a wow factor,” she says. “There's nothing more relaxing than sitting on a beach-facing patio, sipping hot coffee and nibbling on freshly baked muffins.”
‘Coûte que coûte’ goes the punning family motto of Sir Charles Coote, for whom the opulent Ballyfin estate was conceived in the early 19th century. ‘No matter the cost’ is how this loosely translates, proving as apt an adage in the 21st century as it was then. Many millions of euros may have been lavished on this stately pile in County Laois, both in its original construction and, more recently, its painstaking restoration. For the architectural historian, the house is a head turner – the culmination of Regency craftsmanship brought together in lusciously modelled plasterwork, scagliola in varying colours, stained glass and staggeringly intricate parquetry. For the sybarite, the house is a place of comfort and grandeur, not least in the Gold Drawing Room where walls are hung with lustrous silk and vast windows frame views of the 28-acre lake. Bedrooms are also decorated with rich fabrics and wallpaper, fine antiques, fresh flowers from the garden, art and books – a fabulous amalgamation of Anglo-Irish panache. New this year is Ballyfin’s 21st room and first standalone property: the tiny Gardener’s Cottage overlooking, to the rear, the walled gardens, which supply Ballyfin’s kitchen with organic fruit and vegetables. The grounds are made for strolling in the complimentary wellies, with grottoes and rockeries, a folly and a fernery, a rose garden and an aviary. There is no finer Irish-country house experience. By Pamela Goodman
Situated on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana offers elegant, adults only getaways along stunning golden-sandy shores. During your stay, savour gourmet cuisines, artfully-prepared cocktails and stunning oceanviews while doing as much or as little as you’d wish. Delight in thrilling water sports or escape to the spa offering pampering treatments for a small fee. Afterwards, luxuriate on a comfortable beach lounger or delight in afternoon hors d’oeuvres served poolside with fresh towels and wait service. When it comes time to grab a bite to eat, choose from a variety of dining options including Dorado, Hideaway’s main restaurant serving à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of the most notable features of this boutique-style resort are the lavish accommodations, with preferential suites featuring Royalton premium DreamBeds™ with high thread count sheets. Guests can also upgrade to Diamond Club to enjoy added amenities such as butler service, a selection of in-suite liquors, upgraded room service and exclusive reservations at the resort’s esteemed à la carte restaurants.
Attention to detail is a high priority at ARIA Sky Suites, the No. 2 Best Hotel in Las Vegas. A personal concierge is assigned to each Sky Suite. Plus, there are designated check-in and checkout areas separate from other guests and according to recent travelers, the service is unparalleled. In addition to Sky Suites perks, visitors who stay here receive access to all of ARIA Resort's amenities, including the pools, the casino and the several on-site restaurants. (Courtesy of ARIA Sky Suites)
The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel can be found in New York's lower Manhattan neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. While the property's public spaces feature Old World details like Oriental rugs, rich wood paneling and a pyramidal skylight, this Thompson Hotels outpost's modern guest rooms and suites offer crisp white interiors with custom leather headboards, Carrara marble bathrooms, Asian-inspired lamps and hardwood floors with purple or blue accent rugs. In-room tech amenities include free Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs with digital video recorders. After you've settled into your accommodations, grab a bite in one of the two on-site restaurants. Acclaimed chef Tom Colicchio created Temple Court, the hotel's signature restaurant, which serves contemporary American dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meanwhile, the Keith McNally-affiliated Augustine restaurant, which opened in November 2016, dishes up brasserie-style meals. Or, if you'd like a light dinner alongside specialty libations, visit the Alley Cat lounge in the once-hidden cellar. You can also listen to DJs and musicians at this venue. Overall, past guests enjoyed the hotel's food, service and classic yet trendy vibe, though some complained that rooms could use more outlets and better lighting.
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.
Rodeo Drive's world-renowned shops are only steps away from the Montage Beverly Hills, making this Preferred Hotels & Resorts outpost an ideal option for shoppers. Aside from its enviable address, former guests praised the hotel's on-site amenities, which range from a rooftop pool to a spa to a barbershop. The rooms are also well-appointed, offering tablets, free Wi-Fi access and separate showers and bathtubs. These features, plus industry awards from AAA, Forbes and Fodor's, helped the Montage Beverly Hills claim the title of No. 4 Best Hotel in Los Angeles for 2018. (Courtesy of Montage Beverly Hills)
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.
Sugar Palm Hillside spans no less than nine levels and partially overlooks the bay of Kata Beach, with views of the surrounding hills, Phukets well-known Big Buddha and Kata village.Getting up and down the hillside could be a problem if guests insist on walking but this situation is surmounted by a lift system from the ground floor to the fourth and then another lift from the fourth to the ninth.Sugar Palm Grand Hillside features three main swimming pools but also has 31 pool access rooms that share a pool between two to five rooms and indeed the sound of running water is prevalent throughout the entire resort. Read More...
Filling the top floors of a 58-story financial district building, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong's location is one of its strongest selling points: Its prime location, right at the heart of the city's commercial center, means guests have easy access to high-end shopping and the Metro, plus, it's just a quick walk to the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. As you might imagine, the cloud-level rooms, described by guests as large and luxurious, have perfect views of the Huangpu River and the city's ever-evolving skyline.
For travelers who put a premium on luxury, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia delivers. Recent visitors said the staff's attention to detail makes guests feel like royalty. And the 156 rooms and suites aren't too shabby either: Accommodations feature views of the hotel's inner courtyard or the Vancouver cityscape, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee makers and complimentary Wi-Fi. The bathrooms are just as impressive with rainforest shower fixtures and heated floors. For extra pampering, treat yourself to a visit at Sense, A Rosewood Spa. When hunger sets in, the swanky Reflections: The Garden Terrace (open during the warmer months), serves cocktails and small plates. Meanwhile, Hawksworth Restaurant features a formal atmosphere and a menu with locally inspired cuisine. But when just drinks will do, kick back at the 1927 Lobby Lounge, which borrows its name from the building's original construction in 1927. You'll find this Rosewood outpost in downtown Vancouver at the corner of Howe and West Georgia streets (around the corner from the Vancouver Art Gallery).
Year to year, we see our readers’ travel habits shift, as some destinations suddenly explode in popularity (hello, Portugal and Iceland) and others experience a cooling, perhaps due to geopolitical events or an unfavorable exchange rate. And this, of course, trickles down into our World’s Best results, particularly when it comes to ranking the top 100 hotels on the planet. But one thing remains a constant: the properties that make this selective list are all incredible ambassadors for their home countries, delivering intuitive service and luxury experiences that can truly make a vacation.
The Hay-Adams is steeped in American history. Originally built in the 1920s, the property occupies an enviable location in the nation's capital. The No. 2 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. puts guests just a short walk from the White House, the Washington Monument and the museums and sites along the National Mall. The property's rooms and suites are classic and elegant, with beds dressed in Italian linens, down pillows and duvets. Accommodations are also equipped with Bose music systems and iPads. (Courtesy of The Hay-Adams)
Flanking the northern base of Blackcomb Mountain, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler prides itself on its picturesque surroundings, upscale lodging and first-rate service. Previous visitors recommend booking a mountain-facing room. Although they're pricier than other accommodations, these rooms come with cozy comforts such as designer bath products, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. You'll also find an abundance of activities to choose from: Wintertime yields skiing and sleigh rides, while summer offers opportunities to hike and whitewater raft. And at any time of year, you can lounge along the heated outdoor pool, rejuvenate with a Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar scrub or enjoy wine tastings. In the evening, sip a cocktail at the on-site bar or sample prime slices of tenderloin at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar (recent visitors mention that meals here are pricey, but worth every penny). Recent guests were thrilled with the exceptional service at this Four Seasons property, but thought the parking fees were a tad high.
'If we want things to stay as they are,' Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, 'things will have to change.' Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve King
Jeff Finley took this photo of Balanced Rock. It is one the few unique rock formations in Arches National Park that is highly visible from the road. It's a little over nine miles from the park's visitor center. Even though you can see it from the road, get out of the car and walk the short 0.3 mile trail around the rock formation to really appreciate the ball atop its 55-foot base (128 feet tall overall.)
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.