There are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. Sydney. São Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve King
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People talk about old classics, but this one has roots dating back to the 11th century. Shipwrecked en route to Constantinople, a wealthy Italian family built the foundations of the Caruso on a limestone bluff above Ravello, a symbol of their power and good fortune to have escaped unharmed. And here, their high eyrie remained, withstanding the wars of the Middle Ages, neglected, repaired, neglected again, until 1893 when Pantaleone Caruso stepped in and turned it into a hotel. Belmond (then Orient-Express hotels) took over in 2000 and began a serious restoration: art historians were shipped in to unearth the building’s arcadian frescos, archaeologists arrived to uncover the original medieval foundations. Today, Old Masters hang in the marble corridors and the 50 bedrooms have been brought up-to-date, but not charm-crushingly modernised. They retain their original vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces and terracotta tiles, and have bathrooms stashed with bottles of Penhaligon’s. It has just opened Villa Margherita too, a two-bedroom retreat deep in the heady gardens. Guests feast on lunches of lobster, langoustine and truffles, or head down to the water to explore the craggy coastline on the hotel’s pretty wooden boat. It’s a place synonymous with seclusion, with its lemon-scented air and hanging gardens spilling down onto the Tyrrhenian Sea, stony nooks and quiet spots to sit and take in the dizzying views. And romance: it is said to be where Jackie Kennedy and Gianni Agnelli began their affair, where Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo and Virginia Woolf came to hide out. A truly brightening, timeless place. By Martha Ward
The Indian ethos that the guest is god rings true of many grand hotels in the country, yet the Oberoi likes to put its own spin on things. Rising like a great gilded cake from the western shores of Lake Pichola, magnificent Udaivilas is just the spot to wash up after a dusty Rajasthan road trip. This particular pleasure palace is a relatively recent arrival but, like the 18th-century mansions it overlooks, it was built to showcase the craftsmanship of the Rajput era: marble-carved lotus ponds; glittering thikri mosaics; delicate miniatures painted on pale gold walls hand-plastered with lime, crushed marble, egg white and tamarind. The spectacular Candle Room contains a dome set with thousands of pieces of mirrored glass. Udaipur’s busy market streets are only a few miles away, but Udaivilas has the luxury of space: 30 acres of what used to be the Maharana of Mewar’s hunting estate, with bird-filled grounds and views of the pretty lake and its floating mansions. All this grandeur could feel cold and overwhelming if it weren’t for the excellent staff. Guests are greeted off the motor boat by doormen with great twirling moustaches and within minutes everyone knows your name. Small, personal interventions include gifts of a metal-wrought tea light or beaded bag, say, left in your room alongside a handwritten note. In the most romantic city in India, this is the most spectacular place to stay. By Pippa de Bruyn
The No. 1 Best Hotel in West Palm Beach is a guest favorite thanks to its contemporary blue, yellow and white digs and secluded location in Manalapan, Florida. Situated on 7 acres, Eau Palm Beach offers water sports equipment rentals, fishing excursions and more for adventurous travelers, plus a spa and a fire pit for R&R-seekers. For those traveling with children, the resort features an unlimited drinks package for kids in addition to age-specific activities like scavenger hunts and video games. (Courtesy of Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa)
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. ... )
Proximity to all the attractions in Old Quebec of our interests. Comfortable, spacious room with ample storage; quiet, effective air conditioning. Nighttime silence despite location on the main street into the central location for street performers in front of the famous Hotel Frontenac and promenade overlooking the Saint Lawrence River. Helpful staff willing to haul our heavy suitcases up the steep and narrow stairs to our room.
Centara Grand Beach Resort, a large, almost fairy castle-like five-star resort on the north tip of Karon Beach is a dream beach destination.With top-of-the-line facilities, fabulous design, great facilities and a wide range of accommodation choices Centara Grand is definitely one of the leading Phuket Beach Resorts.From the tinkling manmade double waterfall adjacent to Centara Grands lobby to the wonderful swimming pools and water games, to the wide open Andaman Sea right by the resort, you could say that this resort thrives on water.But theres much more to it than mere H20: It seems that Centara Grand beach Resort wants to excel in every department and it does so in its international-standard Spa Cenvaree; the excellent Italian restaurant Mare; the many wonderful aquatic attractions; and the resorts innovative kidsclub with its transferable privileges to other Centara resorts. Read More...
The Jefferson wins visitors over time and again with its sophisticated and traditionally decorated accommodations, impeccable service and award-winning cuisine. The hotel's location in downtown Washington is a highlight as well; guests are just a short walk from the White House, the National Mall and top-notch bars and eateries. The Jefferson is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. for 2017. (Courtesy of The Jefferson, Washington, DC)
Bold, crazy, ambitious, foolhardy, visionary – any number of adjectives could have been used to describe Australians Rory and Melita Hunter when they formulated their plan some 12 years ago to create a destination hotel on two tiny islands in the little-known Koh Rong archipelago, 20 miles off the coast of Cambodia. Yet the sublime result was Song Saa – the first opening outside of Siem Reap to rekindle an interest in travel to Cambodia after decades of oppression (their next project is 200-hectare Song Saa Reserve at Siem Reap). Nine of the 27 standalone villas (each with a private pool) are on stilted platforms over aquamarine water, the rest dotting the shoreline or tucked into the jungly interior of the larger island; the smaller island, linked via a wooden walkway, remains an unblemished nature reserve. But it’s Melita’s creative touch that really defines the look and feel of Song Saa: driftwood and bamboo from broken-up fishing boats and abandoned houses have been recycled into walls, floors and furniture. The Song Saa Foundation runs in conjunction with the hotel, championing health, employment and education among local communities, and tackles issues such as waste management and marine protection. So staying at this top-class island hideaway also means supporting social and environmental change. A meaningful blueprint for sustainable travel. By Pamela Goodman
In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
Today the guns are silent, but the walls remain and enclose a charming Old Town that makes Quebec City one of the most visited cities of its size in Canada. The architecture and atmosphere buzz with a romantic and historic feel, making visitors almost believe they have left North America. Opened in the late 19th century, the Chateau Frontenac was conceived as one of the original Canadian Pacific Railroad’s grand luxury hotels, constructed throughout the Canada. With its imposing design, substantial height and bulk and copper roofs it certainly is incredibly grand. Even those who are not staying at the hotel are advised to at least have a drink or two at the bar, so as to experience this Quebec City and Canadian icon. Art lovers should head for the Musée national des Beaux-arts du Québec. Situated in a striking modern building just a bit beyond the Old Town’s walls, it features the very best of contemporary and historical art from Quebec and temporary exhibitions of international works.
This 24-acre resort offers panoramic views of the beach and Maui's Kapalua Bay. Visitors can spend their time with activities that range from snorkeling and zip lining to Hawaiian luau and 'Ulalena shows. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Maui is also home to two golf courses, an infinity-edge pool, multiple tennis courts, a spa and several restaurants. (Courtesy of Montage Kapalua Bay)
With its charming and peaceful streets, chic boutique hotels, and relaxed atmosphere, today’s Quebec City has certainly changed since its original incarnation as a defensive fort during the Revolutionary War. Today’s only invaders are peaceful and excited tourists, visiting what is often considered North America’s most European city. With cobbled streets, delightful architecture and a certain joie de vivre, Quebec City is often associated with French cities and towns.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is an icon in Los Angeles. The Pink Palace sits on 12 acres along a secluded section of Sunset Boulevard. Travelers say the customer service is just as legendary as the property itself, praising the hotel staff for being warm and welcoming upon arrival and the wait staff for being attentive through meal services. At the No. 3 Best Hotel in Los Angeles, guests can lounge around the palm tree-lined pool, book a massage at the spa or sample the cuisine (and keep an eye out for celebrities) at the infamous Polo Lounge. (Courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel)