After three decades, this wine-country pioneer, balanced on a hillside overlooking Napa Valley, remains a favourite. Even for jaded souls who think they've seen it all, the light-filled rooms - just 52 of them, mostly intimate, Mediterranean-style stucco cottages - are a delight. With French doors, private terraces and fireplaces, they're designed for comfort, privacy and relaxation. An olive grove shades the grounds, and a large sculpture garden makes for a pleasant walk to and from the main house, pool and Michelin-starred restaurant. Dinner on the patio is a must: choose from chef Robert Curry's seasonal menu - the excellent roast pork belly, kampachi sashimi and seared tuna with fava purée are standouts - and say yes to head sommelier Kris Margerum's thoughtful wine pairing. The massive spa has a central courtyard lined by hammam-style sauna and steam rooms, outdoor showers and hot and cold plunge pools. A leisurely afternoon here is a treat, not least because of the sunshine-soaked views.
A few miles inland from the Mediterranean, this 67-room hotel on the Costa del Sol is the elegant centerpiece of an ambitious real estate project that includes private villas and a top-rated golf course. Surrounded by impeccably landscaped grounds, the Finca Cortesin took its cues from traditional Spanish farmhouses—low, whitewashed, terra-cotta-tile-roofed, and built around interior courtyards that often have a Moorish decor. Take advantage of the complex's three restaurants, superb spa with an indoor saltwater pool (there are two outdoor pools), a high-tech gym with Med views, a hammam, and a Finnish-style snow room.
According to recent visitors, the best thing about the Trump International Hotel & Tower New York is the service, from its white-gloved bellhops to its personal 24-hour Trump Attaché service. Along with the attentive hotel staff, the spacious accommodations, the 6,000-square-foot spa and the world-class cuisine served at the on-site restaurants also earn praise from guests. This Trump property earns the No. 6 Best Hotel in New York City title for 2017. (Courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower New York)
This go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie Goodwin
Half an hour’s drive from Mérida, the state capital of Yucatán, Chablé began life as an 18th-century sisal hacienda, and many of its original buildings endure. The arcaded Casa Principal, its faded stucco the blue of a Madonna’s cloak, contains the bar and an enfilade of sitting rooms; the former machine house has been incorporated into the most ambitious of its four restaurants, which is under the auspices of Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil in Mexico City, ranked 11th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants; and a smaller building contains an immense library of tequilas. In case you feel the urge to atone for a surfeit of high living, the chapel of San Antonio, after whom the San Antonio Chablé estate was named, remains a house of God. Forty contemporary white-limestone-and-glass casitas are strung across the densely wooded 300-hectare estate, each with its own terrace, pool and hammock, and guests fall broadly into two categories: those who have come to explore the ruins of ancient abandoned Maya cities – Chablé is well placed for visiting Uxmal, arguably the greatest example of these on the Yucatán peninsula – and those who are here for the spectacular forest spa, where the pools are lined in tiles of petrified wood. Surrounded by jungle, a dozen treatment cabins are arranged around a cenote, a water-filled sinkhole which the Maya believed to be a portal to the underworld but guests are told is a fountain of wellness. It’s a place of such beauty and charm that even non-converts to traditional Maya healing rituals will succumb to the overall spirit and peace. By Claire Wrathall
This wine country hotel was constructed on a grand scale: triple-height ceilings, black-and-white marble floors, enormous chandeliers, wide verandas, and mountain views. The 16 extravagant suites are no less impressive: Layered with French and Asian antiques, fantastic local art, and Persian carpets, each has its own personality, from a girly boudoir in pink and lime green, to a palatial honeymoon suite in white marble. Guests dine alfresco during the day, while dinner is a theatrical event with candlelight, high-backed ruby banquettes, and local wines paired to the simple but well-executed menu.
The Burj Al Arab may well have been a showstopper when it slapped down in this city of ever-higher skyscrapers, but actually, the greatest thing about the seven-star sail is its bold architecture – and that’s best seen from one of the roomy hotel balconies opposite. The real insider’s choice among Dubai’s proud crown of Jumeirah hotels is the cooler, more understated Mina A’Salam. It is central to the mighty Madinat Jumeirah souk, with its canals and windtowers, home to two other hotels and secluded summerhouses popular with visiting starlets. Mina A’Salam is where every experienced bruncher in town comes on Friday. But hotel guests get to discover another level of service: cruising in a little abra boat for breakfast on the sun deck of the superb Pai Thai restaurant; being served up cold towels, flavoured crushed ice and fresh mango at the pool or beach club; drinking Champagne and feasting on seafood at Shimmers, the barefoot restaurant in the sand. Staying at the Mina A’Salam really does feel like you’ve made it in Dubai – it’s the hub of both its old and new worlds. By Becky Lucas
The winning U.S. hotel in the survey has a quintessential American spirit: located in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, it’s a four-star dude ranch where you can rustle dogies by day then reward yourself with duck confit, Wagyu steaks and a huckleberry trifle by evening, all with thoughtful wine pairings. As a result, the hotel also ranked at No. 3 in the U.S. for cuisine, and in the top 10 for its elegantly rustic design: cedar-lined log cabins, stone fireplaces and world-class Western art. Given its thorough menu of complimentary activities—including fly fishing, archery, skiing, and even horse-pulled skijoring—readers also ranked the high-end Triple Creek at No. 1 for being a solid value.
Built in 1851, the Maison du Fort is just a block away from the Citadel in Old Québec. The owner is willing to draw maps with highlights of the city for guests. Though it is located in the heart of the city, the surrounding neighborhood is quiet. As this is a converted residence, there are only a few rooms. This hotel is ideal for cat people, as there is a friendly resident cat named Oscar.
If you are travelling for vacation, figure out which attractions or landmarks you want to see and book a hotel that is within close proximity. Although hotels near attractions might cost a little more, you may find that spending those extra few dollars is worth the convenience. You can even find hotels that align with your interests. For example, if you are looking for a relaxing vacation, a spa hotel may be the perfect choice for you.
'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