A short, cobblestoned walk up from Cusco’s central plaza sits an elegant hotel with ancient roots. The story of this Belmond all-suite property—which opened in 2012—is reflected in its décor: Original Inca stone walls from the building’s footprint give way to the colonial-era frescoes and gilded 17th-century décor of its private mansion days, while a small restored chapel and serene arcades reveals its time as a convent. Now, tucked-away terraces and gardens, bubbling fountains, and Cusco’s first heated pool encourage contemplation of another kind to guests of the 55 accommodations. With butler service included for all rooms, checking in and getting acquainted with your suite is a breeze. Despite the historic air, all the technology is up-to-date, so enjoy the in-room iPads, espresso/tea machines, heated bathroom floors, and pumped-in oxygen to help ease any altitude issues.
Manhattan? Like, so over. Food, fashion, music, art - it's all happening over the East River in Brooklyn. Of the clutch of hotels that have followed the wave, the 70-room Wythe, which opened in 2012, is the clear winner. This converted barrel factory is in Williamsburg, a five-minute subway ride from the island, and a hotbed of bars, restaurants and shops (Pies 'n' Thighs for Southern grub, Catbird for quirky jewellery). Owners Jed Walentas - scion of the New York real-estate family - Australian hotelier Peter Lawrence and Andrew Tarlow, who runs Brooklyn restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons, have kept things industrial inside, with exposed brick, mosaic and tiled floors, and beamed ceilings. Bedrooms are particularly minimalist, with polished concrete floors, king-size beds and Manhattan views from floor-to-ceiling windows in west-facing rooms. There's even a thwack of skyline from the little window in the walk-in shower. The hotel's rooftop bar, The Ides, does great cocktails and is a raucous spot in summer, but it's the ground-floor restaurant, Reynard, that is a must for its super-fresh, veg-laden dishes including fluke crudo with fennel and caraway, and grass-fed steak with beets, goat's cheese and watercress. The hotel has no gym of its own, but guests are given a pass to Chalk down the road, a haunt for bench-pressing local hipsters.
This was founded in 2001 by siblings Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, whose great-grandfather migrated from Italy and acquired a ranch and vineyards, building the house where Catherine still lives today. She and Joe are a constant presence, checking in with regulars at the restaurant and joining in afternoon wine tastings (including a knockout red-field blend from their own Lost & Found label). Their deep Sonoma roots translate into perks for guests at local wineries, restaurants and shops, whose owners invariably light up at their mention. And the pair’s enthusiasm percolates through to the easygoing attitude of the longtime staff. You’re as likely to get a great oyster shack or hiking trail tip from the parking attendant as you are from the concierge desk. Of the bedrooms, the newer ones at the quieter, wooded end of the hotel are best, with porches that feel suspended among the trees. Inside you’ll find a conga drum refashioned as a cocktail stand, a vintage ladder propped against one wall under the vaulted wooden ceiling. A double-sided fireplace faces both the bedroom and the Adirondack chairs outside on the porch. The inn’s restaurant has become a destination in itself: chef Steve Litke has a light touch with his Mediterranean-inflected menu, including a delicate Hokkaido scallop with Moroccan spices, and a thyme-scented trio of rabbit (applewood-smoked loin, confit of leg, roasted rack with mustard cream). But you can take the electric car out and head westward to the coast and have lunch at the inimitable Marshall Store, where Sonoma’s best oysters (raw and wood-fire-grilled) are served on wooden barrels along the shore of Tomales Bay. Family-owned and run hotels are now a rarity in California’s wine country, which makes this switched-on place so exceptional. By Peter Lindberg
Survey voters clearly don’t want to have to take a shuttle to the slopes. This 100-room hotel made the top 20 for location, since it’s just a few steps from Vail’s Gondola One. While the lobby has classic-ski-lodge stone and timber, rooms lean toward the contemporary, rather than the log-cabin vibe, with polished wood headboards and reserved earth tones. The après-ski scene is similarly elegant, with the signature scotch collection at Frost, the hotel bar. For another kind of après-ski, readers loved the hotel’s spa, which utilizes the Vail Valley’s indigenous pine, flowers, and herbs. They may have also felt relaxed by the prices. Despite its high-end setting, the Sebastian was the top U.S. ski resort in the survey’s value category.
On paper it shouldn’t work. An entire Puglian village, built from scratch. A reimagining of townhouses and a square, a colonnade of shops, villas dotted around the grounds, a little farm area with horses and chickens and rabbits. How could it possibly be anything other than pastiche? And yet… at the grand old age of 10, Borgo Egnazia has carved a name for itself as one of the loveliest places to stay in all of Italy. It is dreamily beautiful, the way the harsh Mediterranean sun hits the mellow tufu limestone from which the buildings have been honed, the shock of bougainvillea that has crept up every wall, the softness, the shadows, the dusky lanes between the hotel rooms. It is of course a hotel, but feels far from formulaic. Rooms are soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions and sun-trap terraces. They are retreats in themselves, some with their own little kitchens, others with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops. The restaurants are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls, and food made straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, aubergines, pasta made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. There is the sweetest children’s club you’ll ever stumble across, and a supremely cool beach hangout, and a spa that is mesmerising and magical. At night the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air. Sometimes a bonfire crackles in the central square. A deeply special place. By Issy von Simson
The story of this legendary escape began in 1965 when a British pilot and his American socialite wife built a large house above the sea near Porto Ercole and opened it up to guests. After it was bought by present owner Roberto Sciò in the 1970s, it became a magnet for a steady stream of international A-listers, as seen in the evocative, monochrome Slim Aarons images that hang in the bar. Fifty-plus years on, Il Pellicano is as alluring as ever, with a timeless quality that recalls those heady days – and it has a fiercely loyal following. Sciò’s designer daughter Marie-Louise has cleverly revamped the hotel without sacrificing its sense of history. The 50 airy bedrooms, divided between the main villa and six cottages hidden among olives and cypresses, have polished terracotta floors and a colour palette reflecting the surrounding land and seascapes. The retro yellow-and-white-striped beach towels are still laid out around the heated saltwater pool and along the famous bathing platform over the sea, but there’s a fresh feel to the place, too, with Fornasetti-inspired wallpaper, jazzy fabrics, a great spa and a boutique selling super-chic Eres swimwear. Lazy lunches of octopus salad and chilled local Ansonica roll on into pre-dinner Pelican Martinis whipped up by master mixologist Federico Morosi and suppers of risotto with pears and summer truffles on the candlelit terrace of the Michelin-starred restaurant. This is Tuscany’s most exceptional seaside retreat by miles. By Nicky Swallow
Tucked in the Virginia countryside amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland attracts travelers looking for a mix of activity and relaxation. There is no shortage of things to do here, from kayaking and golfing to horseback riding and stargazing. The property also has a spa, and hosts yoga and meditation classes. And guests appreciate the variety of accommodation options, too, with a traditional lodge, suites, cottages and even tree houses to choose from. (Courtesy of Primland)
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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