This 1940s hacienda-style classic, recently the subject of a Hollywood boycott, is almost as well known as the guests it has harboured. Marilyn Monroe lived here on and off during her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and it was here she posed for her final photo shoot; Liz Taylor and Grace Kelly also used it as a place to crash. These days it's Brad and Angelina, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig who drink and dine in its swish environs, revamped recently with a snazzy La Prairie spa and Wolfgang Puck restaurant serving a Mediterranean-inflected Californian menu. But its true essence remains in the maze of jasmine-scented gardens and lily ponds with resident swans, the courtyards where lizards slither across the tiles, shimmering in the sunlight like jewels. At night, cocooned in one of the alfresco alcoves, you can feast on sweet-pea tortellini and white asparagus with crispy polenta. You'd never know, but there are 100 rooms and suites, all with vintage furniture and spa-like bathrooms; three new hillside villas have huge terraces and infinity pools. At times it can feel like a grand country retreat, but a glance out of a window at the famous vista of sunset and soaring palms provides an instant reminder of its LA setting.
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.
The Norman Foster-designed hotel on Sentosa Island is partly housed in colonial buildings, and the standing lamps, rugs, and 20th-century-style travel trunks in the lobby project old-world charm. Capella shows off a different side to Singapore—a beachy escape from the hustle and bustle of the business district and the shopping strips. It's one of the most expensive hotels here, but a little tranquility can be priceless.
Right on Xpu-ha beach, the best stretch of white sands on this part of the Caribbean coast, Esencia is one of those hotels that is spoken about in hushed tones by those in the know, none of who want to let this secret get out. But those who do make it here discover a small, natural beauty of place set on a palm-swaying estate on the edge of the tumbling sea. There are hammocks to laze in, and a dimly lit spa where lotions and potions made from garden herbs are crushed into poultices to smooth out knots. For snorkeling among rainbow-colored fish, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is a five-minute hop on the hotel’s catamaran. There are ceviches and tiraditos to try at Mistura, a restaurant with views of the moon-dappled sea, and a wooden beach bar that does the best Margaritas in Mexico. And then there are the rooms. The interiors of the house, originally built as a hideaway for an Italian duchess, have splashes of fifties art and huge bedrooms with generous terraces. There are brand-new Jungle Rooms with plunge pools and beach suites that are a study in white. All in all, it is perfect. By Mary Lussiana
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
At Calistoga Ranch in northern Napa Valley, guests rejoice in the hotel's bevy of amenities, which include complimentary use of a Mercedes-Benz, a private lake, a private wine cave, an on-site vineyard and more. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Napa Valley invites visitors to relax on its 157 acres of land, with offerings such as outdoor spa treatments, an on-site mineral pool and a restaurant dishing out California cuisine with expert wine pairings. (Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort)
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)
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...
Halekulani, the No. 1 Best Hotel in Honolulu – Oahu, wins favor with guests for its luxe accommodations and impressive views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Guest rooms are outfitted in a sleek "seven shades of white" theme and the property offers several on-site amenities, including a spa, multiple restaurants and a unique outdoor pool that features an orchid mosaic on its floor. (Courtesy of Halekulani)
Picture this: You’re in the middle of a tiled, two-story courtyard, where potted plants reach up toward archways, their emerald leaves a contrast to the salmon-colored walls. And that's just the view inside. Hacienda de San Antonio, set at the foot of the Colima Volcano in the midst of a 5,000-acre nature reserve, feels like Gatsby went to Mexico and never left. The estate is like an ornately designed cosmopolitan residence in the middle of nowhere, with a garden-facing bar and vaulted common rooms, where plush couches inspire shoulder-to-shoulder socializing.
As if the Pen didn’t already tower above the competition – and it has from the day it opened, right opposite Saks on Michigan Avenue, in 2001 – a $37-million renovation in 2016 took it way over the top. Bedrooms were always large for downtown Chicago but feel even more spacious now, thanks to clever ship-cabin cabinetry. Indeed, interiors have a yacht-like feel, in both the space-saving design and the burled wood and leather finishes. Even the entry-level rooms have a separate living area. With muted pale-blue and steel-grey tones, the palette nods towards Lake Michigan, while a wall-size, hand-embroidered rendering of a chrysanthemum refers to Peninsula’s Asian roots without feeling overly on-the-nose. But it’s the in-room tech that’s the true knockout here, with all sorts of ingenious smart-home conveniences. From the bathtub, one touch on the ‘Spa’ button will soften the lighting, stream in a not-at-all-annoying soundtrack and activate the do-not-disturb sign. Maybe you’ve encountered similar tech elsewhere; the difference here is that it actually works – and you don’t need a 15-minute tutorial to figure out the controls. While it’s very hotel-room-of-the-future, the Pen doesn’t feel brave-new-world impersonal: there’s a warmth and softness to the design that feels timeless and embracing. But try and tear yourself away to check out Green River for craft cocktails and Gibsons for steaks. Abundantly comfortable, smooth as hand-embroidered silk but never too sleek, the Pen is far and away Chicago’s top-dog hotel. By Peter Lindberg
A heavenly adults only paradise located in Riviera Maya, Platinum Yucatan Princess All Suites Spa and Resort is a divine beachfront location. Boasting spacious suites with topnotch amenities, guests are welcomed with a bottle of tequila, spa discounts, complimentary private dinner, and welcome gifts, while honeymooners receive all that and more. With an extremely friendly staff, everything you need is at your fingertips. With Stay at 1, Play at 3, guests can venture into neighboring resorts and enjoy their amenities and restaurants as well, with the exception of private areas of Laguna Villas and Platinum Suite which are only designated for those guests of Grand Sunset Princess. Splash around in the crystalline pools or unwind with a rejuvenating spa treatment during the day. After the sun sets finish your day off with live nightly entertainment.
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.
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.