Tucked among 12,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland tied for first place among U.S. hotels for both its design and rooms. The LEED-registered property is both smart and whimsical: the stone fireplaces and exposed beams came from indigenous materials, but readers were most dazzled by the treehouse-style cabins and the Celestron-equipped observatory. Readers also ranked it in the top 20 for service, thanks to a committed team of concierges, and an app that lets you schedule do-not-disturb timeframes, choose a pillow or request wine and truffles. Readers also gushed about the ridge-top golf course, designed by renowned architect Donald Steel.
This will stop even island regulars in their tracks: on the way to breakfast when they see baby sharks swimming right there in the shallows; passing the giant, gnarling, Tomb Raider-esque banyan tree near the tucked-away spa; at sunset when the pool becomes a mirror for the sky and the only colours that exist in the world are orange and blue. Amilla is a minimalist and clean-lined version of the Maldives, with low-rise buildings in a white wood the same shade as the flour-fine sand. Nothing pokes above the palm trees, even the treehouses high up in the canopy (for those who prefer to fall asleep to the sound of birdcall rather than waves) cleverly blend into their surroundings. Being in or near the water is what it’s all about: the snorkelling is sensational and the house reef is home to a coral-lined underwater chimney where hawksbill turtles, triggerfish and guitar sharks schmooze. But there’s also a knockout spa where trainers from hit London outfit Bodyism lead guests through a gym session to get hearts racing and then brilliant therapists from Bhutan calm them back down again. All is mellow and fairy-lit when it gets dark and everyone seems to be wearing something floaty. Among the half dozen restaurants, Japanese Feeling Koi, set right out over the ocean, is a highlight: reef-fish ceviche with pomegranate; crispy crab roll with green-tea powder. Amilla has some of the most knockout villas in the archipelago. Any which way, it’s a very fun, very glamorous place to stay. By Grainne McBride
The Ritz-Carlton Montréal lives up to the brand's reputation by providing sophisticated accommodations and superb service in a location that's well-suited for both business and leisure travelers. Set in downtown Montreal (within walking distance of Mont-Royal Park and the McGill University campus), this Ritz-Carlton earns high praise for its stylish guest rooms, decorated in neutral tones with bright pink accents. All accommodations come appointed with 47-inch LCD flat-screen TVs and bathrooms appointed with rain showers, flat-screen TVs and even toilets with heated seats. (Some suites also feature hardwood floors and marble fireplaces.) The property also houses a fitness center and a small pool, not to mention a garden and terrace. After a long day, you can satisfy your craving for gourmet French fare at renowned chef Daniel Boulud's restaurant, Maison Boulud. Yet despite all of these on-site offerings, it's the Ritz's impeccable customer service that impresses travelers time and time again. And thanks to Ritz's affiliation with Marriott, guests participating in the Marriott Rewards program and can earn or trade in their rewards points for extra perks.
Occupying prime real estate on Chicago's coveted Magnificent Mile, The Peninsula Chicago combines Hong Kong's cosmopolitan flair with the Windy City's Midwestern charm. Travelers describe the guest rooms as comfortable thanks to their creamy color palette and plush furniture, not to mention their modern techie touches, like a bedside remote command station that controls the lights, television and room temperatures. Meanwhile, the renowned Peninsula Spa is in a class by itself: earning The Peninsula Chicago many accolades from health and leisure magazines. Another honorable mention goes to the afternoon tea served in the lobby bar, which visitors say is a nice and welcome touch. During your stay, guests recommend making time for the tasty Cantonese dishes served in the Shanghai Terrace restaurant. However, for many travelers, it was The Peninsula Chicago's friendly service staff that convinced them to stay here again.
This pioneering camp of 10 elegant, khaki-green Rajasthani tents marooned on a grassy island on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans has remained a standout hit for years. Here the intermittent rustling of the mokolwane palm trees is often the only sound breaking the utter silence. Lunar-like, the pans stretch for thousands of kilometres in all directions and are littered with fossils and Stone Age artefacts. Founded by fifth-generation safari operator, explorer and naturalist Ralph Bousfield, in memory of his crocodile-hunting late father Jack, the camp is a place to be adventurous and also educated. The guides are all long-standing experts in their fields, from zoology to palaeontology, and walkabouts are led by a resident bushmen clan. Jack’s is big on the classic, old-school East African safari experience, with Persian rugs, paraffin lanterns, brass fittings, mahogany campaign furniture, antique four-poster beds and raucous, communal dining in a mess tent. But it’s the choice of experiences, some dictated by the dramatic seasonal changes to the landscape, that ultimately thrill the most. In the dry season, meerkats and brown hyena are the unlikely stars of the show and zooming across the pans on quad bikes is obligatory. After the summer rains, lush grasses attract migrating herds of zebra and flamingos in their thousands. At any time of the year, it’s a photographer’s dream. Those who get to camp out under the stars near Kubu Island can consider themselves members of an elite club. By Jane Broughton
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.
After a massive renovation in 2009, this boutique reopened, and regained its place among DC's elite hotels. It's not as famous as the Hay-Adams, but its subtle blend of technology (TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic housekeeping buttons) and colonial charms (intimate library, working dumbwaiter) are second to none. All that's missing is T.J. himself. (Oh wait, no.Here he is. ... )
If you’re looking for a hotel near Ginza, then consider the Hotel Sunroute Shimbashi which is just a 7-minute walk away. Rooms come with free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, an electric kettle and an en suite bathroom with free toiletries. The front desk is open 24-hours, there’s free luggage storage, coin laundry, and some free drinks in the common area. The Shimbashi area has lots of great restaurants including izakayas which are open late. JR Shimbashi station is a 5-minute walk away while Haneda airport takes just 30-minutes to get to via the monorail.
Set in 60 acres and within a scrim of fluttering white birches, majestic balsam firs and organic farms, Hidden Pond in southern Maine offers 'rustic' with a difference. Forget soggy tents and mouldy camp shacks, this place has 36 stunning one- and two-bedroom clapboard cottages beautifully orchestrated by some of the state's top designers. The 20 one-bedroom bungalows have vaulted ceilings, gas fireplaces, outdoor rain showers and sleek bathrooms; the 16 two-bedroom options also have proper kitchens. After checking in at the Arts and Crafts-style lodge, head to the pools, trails and beaches for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, biking and hiking. Yummy Continental breakfasts are delivered to the cottages by golf cart, cocktails are served at the Back Porch Bar, and light meals at the family-friendly Sand Bar Grill and Farm Bar. But supper at the main restaurant, Earth, is something special, with fresh handmade pasta and wood-oven pizzas as well as diver scallops, swordfish or crispy duck, served in an outdoorsy setting (there's a nightly bonfire, and the restaurant walls are made from trees that were felled to clear the site). None of which should be an excuse to miss dining in the local seafood shacks and at famous restaurants such as the nearby White Barn Inn, sometimes frequented by George and Laura Bush, who live in the area.
Canada’s Québec City is a prime destination for all kinds of visitors. It’s charming, with one of the most famous old town districts in North America. For gourmets, there are restaurants spanning from traditional French to classic Italian cuisine. Though it’s possible to experience Québec City in one day, staying at least one night offers the opportunity to experience beautiful views of the city. For the best Québec experience, try one of these 10 best hotels.
Years in the making, this is the first East Coast hotel for Pendry, the off-shoot brand from Montage. The hotel occupies the Recreation Pier, a landmark building in Fell’s Point, that was left empty for nearly two decades before reopening as the Pendry, thanks in part to a big investment from Under Armour’s Kevin Plank. While the “Rec Pier” serves as the frontispiece of the property—and houses the Andrew Carmellini Rec Pier Chop House restaurant and a small whiskey bar called The Cannon Room—the guest rooms are in the new-build addition on the old footprint of the pier, which gives the place a bolted-together feel but also supremely comfortable guest rooms that aren’t jig-sawed into a historic building. The Pendry is probably one of the best places to stay in Baltimore right now, and if you’re coming for nightlife and dining, this is the perfect place to be.
'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