To stay in a charming European area that is full of small bistros and traditional pastry shops, book a hotel in the neighborhood of Petit Champlain, such as the Hôtel Champlain Vieux Québec. In Petit Champlain, you can see some of the first houses built in Quebec City, or you can visit specialty stores like Charlevoix Pure Laine, a local wool accessory shop.
When Jasper Conran realised a lifelong dream to open his diminutive hotel in Marrakech, it heralded a new chapter in a city long beloved by designers. Yves Saint Laurent, Bill Willis and Madison Cox have all made their mark here over the years, but L’Hotel brings a new dimension, one that reflects the contemporary medina scene. Playful, Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moments catapult you, on arrival, from a dark and brooding hallway into a garden that unfurls around a turquoise pool, scented by figs. The interior, meanwhile, is as pared-back and calming as a Scandinavian cabin. Conran’s personal collection of antiques and curios is artfully gathered together as if this were always their rightful home, curated across the five bedrooms, a grand salon in a hundred shades of yellow and a cedar-wood bar flanked by candy-cane striped armchairs. Venetian glass mirrors glint like diamonds from a tadelakt wall the colour of jade, alongside a portrait of Hindu maharajahs; exquisite Syrian chests are inlaid with mother-of-pearl; four-poster beds are draped in snowy voile and scattered with rose petals. Service is attentive yet discreet – there are no rules – but guests should definitely don their prettiest outfits when dressing for supper. Bouchra, the household’s jolly resident matriarch, is a phenomenal cook and her jewel-like salads and fragrant chicken, prune and almond tagine will have you pestering her for the recipes. Sleep late, wallow in an orange-blossom bath, come down for breakfast at noon. This is a much-loved city residence that avoids the usual clichés. By Tara Stevens
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. 

Since starting out in 1993 with one lodge, Singita has grown into an outfit that is now responsible for a million acres in five wild regions across three African countries. But what still matters most is the desire to preserve that pristine land and the animals that live on it. Its turbo-smart lodges and camps are scattered across private concessions in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Sasakwa, set in 140,000 hectares on the border of the Serengeti National Park, is the grandest of them all. Built from stone, it’s like a stately Edwardian manor house, with elegant colonial-era style: polished parquet floors, Persian carpets, chandeliers, bookshelf-lined walls, enormous fireplaces and a mix of African collectibles and European antiques. The service is faultless, orchestrated by Frank Louw, who started out as the executive chef many years ago and has dozens of stories to share about Tanzanian staff rising up through the ranks. As well as an entire reserve to explore, there’s tennis, archery, biking, hiking and top-notch treatments in the spa. Diet-defying meals are served wherever you want them, always with a view. Wines are plucked from the best of South Africa’s vineyards. Ten guest cottages each have separate living rooms, enormous bathrooms and private plunge pools. As impressive as all this is, though, the greatest draw is the exclusive game viewing – in the middle of a privately funded reserve that’s as big as the Maasai Mara. It continues to guarantee the survival of the western corridor of the annual migration of a million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle. And year-round, it provides the ultimate luxury to the lodge’s high-flying guests: not having to share wildlife sightings with anyone else. By Jane Broughton

The people of Quebec City are hardy and quite used to the harsh weather that is typical in the long winter months. Rather than mope and complain they tend to turn lemons into lemonade, or rather snow and ice into sculptures and other works of art. The city holds a winter carnival every year, officially known as Le Carnaval de Quebéc. Despite the brisk temperatures that are experienced at this time, this carnival is as popular among travellers as events held in the summer months. In fact it is the largest carnival of its kind in the world, with more than one million people drawn to view the ice sculptures, take part in winter sports and attend parades and masquerade balls. Bonhomme, a stylised giant snowman, is the delightful official mascot. Those looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay in the deep winter months should head a few miles to the north of the city where the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, is open from January to March each year. The spectacular suites are carved out of the ice by artists and have to be seen to be believed.
The Jefferson, Washington, DC has been catering to Washington's most elite visitors since 1923, providing a taste of European luxury in the heart of the United States capital. The Beaux-Arts era reigns supreme here, with early 20th century paintings and sculptures lining the checkered floors. The Jefferson's elegant accommodations are appointed with Bose sound systems, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. (For a little more space, upgrade to a suite, which will come equipped with a coffee maker and, in some suites, balconies overlooking the Washington Monument.) Recent guests highly recommend making good use of the intimate on-site spa during your stay, and the in-house gourmet restaurants, Plume and The Greenhouse, earn particularly high praise, along with the on-site bar, Quill. Visitors also give props for The Jefferson's location, which is just a short walk from the National Mall.

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.

When Indian hotels do opulent, they really do opulent. And every inch of this palatial spot in the calm, tree-lined boulevards of Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave is gilded, mirrored, plumped, embroidered and topped with not-a-petal-out-of-place flower arrangements (14,000 blooms are delivered daily). But while it channels the vibe of the grand residence of a globetrotting Maharaja – huge Murano chandeliers from Venice, hand-woven carpets from Turkey, intricate Rajasthani miniature paintings, sandstone elephant statues carved in Qatar (no wonder if cost hundreds of millions to build) – it was actually all brand spanking new when it opened in 2011, so also has a stealthy undercurrent of techie and green credentials. The 260 gold-hued rooms and suites are some of the largest in the city, treatments at ESPA spa draw on India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions and the whole hotel is stuffed with so much contemporary Indian art that there’s a dedicated guided walk to take it all in, past Seema Kohli’s layered storytelling canvases, Satish Gupta’s lotus murals and Laxma Goud’s bronzes. An army of ultra-attentive staff fall over themselves to open doors, take bags and present garlands. And at the restaurants (there are four, and two bars), the menus are equally extravagant: hand-cut black truffle fettuccine in black truffle sauce at Italian Le Cirque; lobster nerulli curry at Indian Jamavar; sashimi made with cuts direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market at Japanese Megu. A new species of grand hotel, and hugely influential. By Fiona Kerr


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
Reachable only by boat or seaplane, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is located on a private island where wild key deer roam. It includes 30 luxurious suites, many with private oceanfront verandas. A favorite getaway for celebrities, it provides a secluded place to unplug from the world (use of technology is discouraged) and experience a romantic vacation in a lush, tropical environment.
Closer to home, we saw familiar, boutique favorites, such as Vermont’s culinary mecca Twin Farms; Montana’s rustic-luxe Triple Creek Ranch; and Big Sur, California’s adults-only Post Ranch Inn — accessible again now that Highway 1 has recovered from last year’s mudslides — all make the list this year. C Lazy U Ranch, a family-friendly dude ranch in the Colorado Rockies, is making its World’s Best debut — and it managed to crack the top 100. “As someone who has been fortunate enough to travel to 86 countries, I can say that C Lazy U ranks at the very top of the list,” said one devoted fan. “The accommodations and activities are excellent.”
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.
Situated on the banks of the Chicago River and less than a mile from the shopping on The Magnificent Mile, The Langham, Chicago is a hit with recent travelers. Opened in 2013, the hotel impresses guests with its attentive service, quiet location and riverfront views. Occupying the first 13 floors of a 52-story landmark skyscraper, The Langham, Chicago boasts 316 guest rooms and suites. Accommodations are outfitted with soaking tubs and rain showers, 55-inch LCD TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi access. Past lodgers compliment the comfy beds and relaxing bathrooms and recommend booking a room with a river view to make the most of the hotel's location. When you're not relaxing in your room, you'll find plenty of other amenities at your fingertips. In addition to the Chuan Spa, the hotel also touts a health club and 67-foot-long indoor pool. Though many of downtown Chicago's top restaurants are within reach, previous visitors suggest giving the on-site restaurant, Travelle Kitchen + Bar, a try. As is the case throughout the property, guests say the service staff members at the restaurant are both attentive and friendly.
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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.
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