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Not since the Vietnam War have the outdoor café tables immortalized in Graham Greene's The Quiet American graced historic Lam Son Square. In 2015, Park Hyatt Saigon brought al fresco dining back to the neighborhood at Opera, one of two restaurants designed by Japan’s acclaimed Super Potato at the 245-room property. The Italian eatery offers the ideal vantage point to appreciate the capitalist vibe zooming through this city like the endless stream of motorcycles streaking past.
Over the years, guests here have included Elizabeth Taylor, Wallis Simpson, and the Shah of Iran. Winston Churchill used to rent two cabanas, one to paint in and one 'for naps'. Drinks, too, as during Prohibition spirits were served illegally here. Set in Surfside at the less-developed northern end of Miami Beach, this hacienda-style hotel has been brilliantly extended by Richard Meier, whose 12-story glass towers seem to float above the terracotta tiles of the original 1930s Mediterranean-style pantiled roofs, with interiors by fellow architect and designer Joseph Dirand. The cabanas now house part of the charming spa, where even the brushed-brass key pads on the lockers are a thing of beauty, as well as a handful of Cabana Studio bedrooms, each a pale-but-interesting essay in contrasting textures: canvas, rattan, and travertine. Of course, the restaurants are as much of an attraction: The Surf Club by superchef Thomas Keller opened its doors in summer 2018, and Le Sirenuse Miami comes from the owners of its namesake hotel in Positano. Densely planted with exotic palms, the latter evokes a cultivated jungle, a setting that is almost as memorable as Antonio Mermolia’s deft cooking, where the attention to detail extends to dyeing the ice over which they serve oysters the bluish-green of an iceberg. Try the Kumamotos, flown in daily from Washington state and dressed in a zingy citronelle emulsion. Spectacular is the word for the Surf Club ran a headline in the Miami Herald in November 1959. And so it is, nearly 60 years on. By Claire Wrathall
Foodies who are eager to enjoy Napa Valley's award-winning wineries and restaurants will love staying at Auberge du Soleil. This upscale property features a 15,000-bottle cellar and two eateries, both of which are helmed by Michelin-starred chef Robert Curry. After filling up on gourmet fare, travelers can enjoy complimentary yoga classes at the Japanese-style pavilion, go for a walk through the sculpture garden, unwind with a treatment at the spa or sip cocktails by the outdoor pool. The No. 1 Best Hotel in Napa Valley also boasts relaxation-focused extras, such as fireplaces and soaking tubs, inside its guest rooms. (Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil, An Auberge Resort)
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