This is a hotel you might've dreamt of when you were little—though we doubt you were this imaginative. The place truly is a palace, though from the front, it's tough to discern its size: You pull into a private, paved drive, with a fairly modest entrance, and a beautiful, if somewhat smallish lobby, and it's not until you make it out to the back of the hotel that you realize its scale. Set on a hill overlooking the aquamarine (yes, actually aquamarine) waters of Lake Geneva, you'll first notice the immaculately manicured gardens, the thin strips of outdoor pools, and the piqued tent tops under which people are taking their lunch al fresco. Hard to believe, but it only gets better from there.
This South Carolina standout is truly a sanctuary. The resort's spacious accommodations include marble bathrooms, customized minibars and balconies with ocean views. The Sanctuary, the No. 2 Best Hotel in South Carolina, beckons to those looking to relax thanks to its abundance of amenities, including a spa, multiple pools, ample dining options and five golf courses. Aside from the property's facilities, the friendly employees bring visitors back year after year. (Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort)
Its central address – behind a curving stone entrance and spread over 49 floors above the high-end Pacific Place mall, off leafy Hong Kong Park – is reason enough to book here over the other top hotels that form the city’s skyline. But hands-down it’s the guest rooms and penthouses that really make the Upper House the place to stay in Hong Kong. Because it occupies what used to be serviced apartments, local guru Andre Fu made the rooms feel like someone’s home. Read: comfortable, calming. He did the unimaginable and designed them with real humans in mind. There’s a free, help-yourself minibar; light switches that can be easily found; and a bed so comfortable that guests ask about the make and model so they can order one back home. The same goes for the bathrooms, with their room-for-two tubs and plenty of natural wood and marble. There’s no spa or pool, but deeply pampering in-room treatments can be arranged. In the restaurant on the top floor, Gray Kunz’s Café Gray Deluxe, the lamb tagine is so tender there’s no guilt for skipping a chance to have dim sum and Hong Kong’s signature egg tarts. This showpiece for Swire Hotels’ House Collective (also in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu) is as slick and sophisticated as ever—an original design hotel that’s true to its label. By Ed Peters
A new breed of Las Vegas luxury, with 392 elegant rooms and some of Vegas' best service, the Mandarin Oriental is a quiet haven on the glitzy Strip. The hotel lacks the characteristic excess that many people come to Vegas for (including a casino), opting instead for a more restrained approach: a beautiful spa, two fine dining restaurants, a peaceful pool, meeting space, and the rarest of Las Vegas features -- serenity. But the convenient City Center location means easy access to all the excess you want.
Hotel Bel-Air offers lodgers a taste of respite and romance within easy commuting distance of top city sights. Guests appreciate the property's quiet atmosphere and superb customer service, while the rooms and suites win visitors over with bright, airy decor and tech-savvy amenities like in-room iPads. The spa, outdoor pool and on-site eateries are also popular at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air)
With a flotilla of boldfaced big-hitters hugging its sunny shores, Dubai isn’t exactly short of luxury digs. But what makes the newly opened Bulgari stand out is its location on its own seahorse-shaped manmade island, and its low-slung layout, a pleasing retort to the city’s ubiquitous canyons of skyscrapers. This is down to the group’s Milan-based architects, who anchored the hotel so it separates two bays: one an oh-so-quiet stretch of beach lined with villas; the other a super-smart marina with a sweep of restaurants and the Bulgari Yacht Club – a first for the brand. Structures are topped with layers of coral-like latticework; other marvellous textures that draw the eye include backlit green onyx, black granite and woollen Beni Ourain rugs from Morocco, picked out with covetable objects from B&B Italia and Flos. The city centre thrums on the other side of a 300-metre bridge, but with six bars and restaurants at the hotel, there really is no reason to cross it. La Spiaggia is a poolside crowd-pleaser that flips out wagyu beef burgers during the day, while in the evening, a Negroni from the oval Bulgari bar is a punchy aperitif for oysters and bottarga risotto at the neighbouring Niko Romito restaurant. The wow factor, though, is provided by the immense spa, with its ice fountains, hammam and an indoor pool – lined with a mosaic of real gold tiles, naturally – that has far-reaching views of the sea and the Dubai cityscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. The sense of contented wellbeing isn’t limited to the spa. In a land of hyperbole, this is understated perfection that thinks big. By Lauren Ho
At first sight, Tetiaroa looks like a trick of the light, almost an aberration: it has a sci-fi glow. A pale blue of such luminosity, the remote, entirely private French Polynesian atoll’s water can be seen from outer space – astronauts orbiting the earth have enquired what it was. You leave from Tahiti (30 miles away, but it might be 3,000) and descend in a private six-seater directly into the Technicolor incandescence: a four-and-a-half-mile lagoon surrounded by a subterranean wall of living coral reef and circled by 12 cute green islands. Just one is used for the hotel’s 35 villas, the others solely occupied by frigate birds and ancient pandanus trees and honey bees. Tahitian royalty once lived here through the summers, prettifying their daughters for marriage, feeding them giant sea snails and sweet potato. All the islands are hemmed by white sand and shallow water rippling with baby fish. In deeper water are coral cathedrals for giant clams with mouths full of an algae in a trippy neon. The one-, two- and three-bedroom villas are decidedly more lustrous than the usual desert-island design in glass and ironwood, slate and silk. Each is set super-secretively in its own grounds, with a stretch of lonely white sand backed by dense trees. Your lazy eyes catch the occasional bright jags of oleander, jasmine, hibiscus and golden trumpet. Some guests stay put; some congregate at Bob’s Bar by the lodge’s restaurants (there are three, including a tiny new Japanese) and talk about the actor Marlon Brando, who bought Tetiaroa in 1967, having sailed past whilst scouting for locations for Mutiny on the Bounty (he even helped to develop the innovative 100 per cent renewable-energy seawater air-conditioning system here). A species of tilapia in the natural pond near the spa likes to gobble mosquito larvae: you won’t be bitten here. Best are the late afternoons, with the lulling sound of the Pacific crashing against the distant reef, waiting for the dusk, when the sky turns through the softest pastels into a stupefying heliconia red. By Antonia Quirke
The Château Frontenac is not only a National Historic Site of Canada, but it is also recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world. The hotel is situated right on the St. Lawrence River and with walking access to Old Québec. There are three restaurants inside the hotel, including a wine and cheese bar as well as Champlain Restaurant. Standard guest rooms are furnished in traditional chateau fashion and can offer superior views. The deluxe rooms have been recently renovated. The staff is committed to making your experience in this legendary hotel memorable in all the best ways.
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.”
The No. 1 Best Hotel in Utah places powder hounds right next to the slopes of Deer Valley Resort, offering lodgers ski-in, ski-out access. But it's not just a winter escape. A large outdoor pool, kayak and canoe routes and more than 300 miles of accessible hiking trails keep the Montage Deer Valley in season all year long. And aside from the plethora of on-site activities, the courteous and helpful staff is another major reason guests say they return to this luxury retreat. (Courtesy of Montage Deer Valley)
Back when this hotel opened in 1995, there were few places in the Maldives to rival it. Landing here by seaplane felt like arriving at an escape cast out at the edge of the world. These days, neighbouring lights are aplenty, but this pristine paradise still feels wild enough to instil excitement. The groundbreaking barefoot ethos created by husband-and-wife owners Sonu and Eva Shivdasani ensures immediate surrender. Explore the island by bike, stopping to bob, chat, and giggle in the warm ocean for hours. Seventy rustic, thatched-roof villas, each hidden in the jungle shade (no stilts over water here) are designed with pared-back simplicity: natural tones, soft textures, lots of driftwood. Each comes with the softest organic sheets, huge daybeds, private pools, hammocks, and a sound system on which to blare out Nat King Cole. There’s snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing trips, and treatments in the spa (tension-soothing massages with lemongrass oil, rose-crystal lymphatic facials, a touch of Ayurveda). At the forward-thinking art studio, wine bottles are upcycled into sculptures. Food is central, with enough sushi to sink a ship, epic make-your-own salad bars, addictive egg appam, an ice cream parlour, a cheese room, and the new Out of the Blue restaurant, with slides straight into the sea. No wonder everybody here is beaming. One of the first luxe–but–laid-back hotels to open in the Indian Ocean, Fushi still delivers on fresh, cool charisma. By Daisy Finer
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)
According to previous guests, The Peninsula New York lives up to its promise of providing a "perfect respite from the city that never sleeps." Situated on Fifth Avenue by the Museum of Modern Art, the No. 6 Best Hotel in New York City features 235 rooms and suites with neutral color schemes, free Wi-Fi access and marble bathrooms. This historic property, which originally opened in 1905 as The Gotham Hotel, is also home to an award-winning spa, an indoor pool and a rooftop bar with Manhattan panoramas. (Courtesy of The Peninsula New York)
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.
The 5-pearl, 65-room Encantado sits in a secluded spot a few miles north of Santa Fe with great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Big, luxurious rooms are decorated in a modern Southwestern style, featuring concrete and wood floors, Native American-style rugs, and a color scheme of warm browns and oranges, as well as high-end extras such as radiant floor heating, wood-burning fireplaces, and private patios. The fine dining at Terra restaurant is rated highly, and the resort also features an outdoor seasonal pool, whirlpool, luxury spa, and even free rentals of a Mercedes Benz for the day.
Situated in star-studded Beverly Hills, the No. 5 Best Hotel in Los Angeles features a full-service spa, a rooftop pool, complimentary car service and the French-focused Avec Nous eatery, among other amenities. Inside this Viceroy outpost's suites, guests will find custom Italian furnishings, Venetian glass mirrors and modern touches, such as Nespresso coffee makers, free Wi-Fi access and bedside USB ports. Plus, additional perks like dog beds and welcome treats are available for guests with pets, and families have access to loaner strollers, cribs, hooded towels and more. (Courtesy of Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills)