The spotless stuccoed Victorian façade; the fretwork shutters and balusters in Cambridge blue; the acres of white marble and wicker within; the emerald lawn with its picturesque little gazebo without... The original part of the Mandarin Oriental looks even more exotic today than it must have done when it first appeared on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River in 1876. Surrounded by the general mayhem of 21st-century Bangkok, the Authors’ Wing, as it is now known, epitomises a certain atmosphere of resolute calm and order. It strikes a particular note – bright and distinct – with which the other elements of the place are beautifully in step. This is all the more remarkable since it is such a big hotel: 400-odd rooms and suites, nine restaurants and bars, spread over several buildings on both sides of the river. It is also stylistically diverse, blending high Victoriana with traditional Thai elements and more hard-edged contemporary accents, particularly in the main modern tower. But its defining spaces pick up and enrich that original sweet note: the shamelessly opulent Michelin-starred restaurant Le Normandie, the much-loved and often-moved Bamboo Bar, the exceptional spa. This is a classic that still rings out loud and clear after all these years. By Steve King
Treat yourself at the legendary Fairmont Château Frontenac Quebec, Quebec City’s very emblem. One of the many things that make this legendary hotel so special is its ideal location on the promontory Cap Diamant which provides a breathtaking view of the St. Lawrence River and Old Quebec’s architecture. Its 611 rooms and suites combine a unique modern touch to rich European elegance. Le Château Frontenac is undoubtedly the best place to impress your guests during special events. Its renowned chefs offer a reinvented cuisine without flaws in any of its three restaurants. Texon the Seeing Eye dog welcomes you!
Set in the Arashiyama district on the western side of Kyoto (an area frequented by Japanese nobles of years gone by), Suiran sits seamlessly on the jade waters of the Katsura river. The original buildings, which now house the restaurants and lobby, are constructed around beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, and sunlight-dappled pebble-stone pathways lead the way to the more modern low-rise buildings that house the rooms. Yukata-clad staff welcome you warmly with a hot towel and tea whilst discretely whisking your luggage off to your room, leaving you to enjoy the serene surroundings, bathed in light and soothed by the sounds of flowing water. Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose.
'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
There’s a lot happening at the Raffles Jakarta—but it’s still a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of this busy capital city. Sitting in Jakarta’s Golden Triangle, a monument- and memorial-laden area in the southern edge of the city center, the hotel hugs the upscale Lotte Shopping Avenue and the Ciputra Artpreneur Center, an art gallery and theater complex. Let the bellman in the spiffy getup take your bags and usher you in to the marbled lobby, which also pulls double-duty as an art gallery: Works by Hendra Gunawan, an Indonesian artist, line the walls with bursts of color in an otherwise glossy, cream-colored space. Other standouts include the Writers Bar—a spinoff of the hotel’s famous Singapore outpost—which celebrates Jakarta’s art, literature, and history, and the guest rooms' floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Peninsula Beverly Hills earns a five-pearl rating, but as one of the best hotels in Beverly Hills, and perhaps in all of Los Angeles, that may be an understatement. Thanks to its attentive staff that discreetly caters to the rich and famous, its status as a luxury Hollywood destination has been steady since its opening in the early '90s. The dining is top-notch, the rooftop pool is an A-list playground, and the spa uses massage oils infused with diamonds. The 194 guest rooms have a floral decor that isn't for everyone, and the management may think it's too pedestrian to have in-room coffeemakers, but at these rates the lack of an Italian espresso machine seems like an oversight. On the plus side, a chauffeur and a Rolls-Royce come included with the rates.
Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.