It’s not a Rorschach test. Don’t dwell too long on Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake’s uncommon structure sitting on a grassy patch in São Paulo’s refined Jardim Paulista neighbourhood. Is it a watermelon slice? An ocean liner? Step inside the gargantuan belly of a sunlit lobby, then spread out on one of the International Klein blue cushion couches to imbibe a glass of Champagne. More liquid satisfaction is found along The Wall, the lobby bar with its 60ft high stash of spirits (for bibliophiles, 300-plus titles hide alongside). Guests are sent on a sensory adventure, from the unlit lift and barely illuminated corridor to 95 white-on-white cabin-like guestrooms, where an oversized porthole window continues to play with a sense of scale even as an abundance of natural light flows through (highly effective blackout panels close it at the touch of a button). Most fun are those rooms running along the building’s elongated curve, featuring floors that could almost double as a skateboard park. Surround-sound speakers are hidden in headboards, and in the see-through bathroom is a tub with whirlpool jets; less hi-tech but highly coveted are the complimentary Havaiana flip-flops in the closet. Save your appetite for the plump pink salmon sashimi, spicy Amazonian cassoulet and Portuguese arroz de pato (duck rice) at Dijon-born chef Emmanuel Bassoleil’s rooftop Skye restaurant with its 360-degree metropolitan panorama and ruby-red lacquered swimming pool. Commandeer one of the white double daybeds and order Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, colour-coordinated with the pool with fresh strawberries and raspberries. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
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 recipient of numerous industry accolades, including Frommer's Exceptional and AAA Four Diamond awards, the No. 1 Best Hotel in New York City sits in the heart of lower Manhattan. Along with its desirable address, travelers also praise The Beekman's superb service, tasty cuisine and trendy vibe. Acclaimed American chefs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally have outposts here, and guest rooms and suites boast modern features like custom leather headboards, aged oak floors, curated artwork and bathrooms with Carrara marble accents. (Courtesy of The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel)


The No. 2 Best Hotel in Aspen sits in the heart of town, within walking distance of Aspen's boutiques, restaurants and ski slopes. Back at the hotel, travelers can soothe their aching muscles with a Rocky Mountain-inspired treatment at the spa. Additionally, guests have access to three on-site eateries and watering holes, including a modern American bistro, a cozy lounge and the Old West-themed J-Bar (a traveler favorite). Aspen influences are also on display in the property's guest rooms, which blend rustic decor (think: cowhide chairs and contemporary animal busts) with modern perks, such as plasma TVs and work desks. (Courtesy of Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort)
Like other properties near Park City, Utah, Montage Deer Valley appeals to winter sports enthusiasts. All guests staying at the No. 1 Best Hotel in Park City will have access to ski concierge services and ski-in/ski-out access in addition to a bowling alley, an outdoor swimming pool and a 35,000-square-foot spa, among other year-round amenities. Travelers can also grab a bite to eat at one of five on-site restaurants before retiring to their spacious accommodations, which offer walk-in closets, private balconies or patios, fireplaces and marble bathrooms with deep-soaking tubs and heated floors. (Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley)

It could be argued that the most significant thing about this hotel is its quite brilliant location, dominating the eastern border of Marion Square, just north of Calhoun and the line dividing old Charleston from new. But that would be missing the point. John Dewberry’s eight-year quest to turn a drab Sixties-era federal building into a modernist work of art – in a city that trades on Southern colonial quaintness – was nothing short of a smashing success. The Dewberry embraces its mid-century roots with class and charm, drawing on elegant geometries – clean, cool lines broken by intervals of density that allude to deep character without getting fussy – and a muted palette of dark woods, hammered copper, Mediterranean greens and blues. Rooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings and wide-frame views of the skyline (catch them too from the deep cast-iron soaking tub in the bathroom). The common spaces shine, with dark panelled wood and low leather seating and made for Daiquiri sipping. This is a hotel for grown-ups – but, being Southern, one that likes to have fun. The proof is in the Living Room bar, where the mixing is done in white jackets and the decor in dry wit. Anywhere else, The Dewberry might border on stuffy, but here, drowned in light from floor-to-ceiling windows that give through gossamer curtains onto Marion Square, it’s just right. By Brad Rickman
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This LEED Platinum-certified boutique property in Yountville, California, is dedicated to protecting the environment while providing a high-end experience for travelers. Not only does the No. 2 Best Hotel in Napa Valley place guests close to the area's vineyards and top-notch restaurants, it's also home to its own highly praised "field-to-fork" eatery, Lucy. Travelers also rave about Bardessono's rooftop pool, accommodations and spacious bathrooms. (Courtesy of Bardessono)
DH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von Simson
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