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It's no wonder royalty, A-list celebrities, and athletes keep returning to the luxury Calistoga Ranch: It's in a class all by itself. Guests rent exquisite private lodges, set on a private 157-acre park-like property complete with hiking trails and a top-of-the-line restaurant and spa. Attention to detail carries over from room design to landscape planning -- all modules for the lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The property boasts plenty of activities, including outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, a fabulous fitness center, and wine tasting seminars. If guests decide to venture out for some reason, they can easily access downtown Calistoga and other towns with not only loaner bikes, but loaner Mercedes-Benzes! This property stands out as one of the most remarkable not just in Napa Valley but in the entire country.
Hotel Bel-Air offers lodgers a taste of respite and romance within easy commuting distance of top city sights. Guests appreciate the property's quiet atmosphere and superb customer service, while the rooms and suites win visitors over with bright, airy decor and tech-savvy amenities like in-room iPads. The spa, outdoor pool and on-site eateries are also popular at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air)
Big Sur is all about big views, and the Post Ranch Inn has become synonymous with the wild, dramatic beauty that is the Pacific Coast along California's Highway 1. The region's natural charms are reflected in the names of its 39 rooms - including Cliff House, Pacific Suite, Ocean House, Tree House, Mountain House and the Butterfly Rooms - and the spectacularly constructed recycled-redwood lodgings are designed to inspire awe. The Cliff Houses have glass-walled bedrooms and decks suspended over a 1,200ft precipice, with private, stainless-steel outdoor hot tubs from which to absorb that vast oceanic expanse. Surrounded by regal redwoods and oaks, the triangular Tree Houses are raised on nine-foot stilts, with dreamy views through the foliage to the Santa Lucia Mountains. Activities for energetic types include everything from morning yoga, meditation and guided nature hikes to the use of two clifftop spa tubs, an infinity pool and a private telescope. For foodies, the inn's Sierra Mar restaurant serves gorgeous dishes bursting with seasonal flavours, such as freshly picked strawberries with wild-mint blossoms, goat's cheese and pistachio purée. But the essence of any stay here is just whiling away the hours with someone you really like, letting time unspool in truly spectacular surroundings.
The Norman Foster-designed hotel on Sentosa Island is partly housed in colonial buildings, and the standing lamps, rugs, and 20th-century-style travel trunks in the lobby project old-world charm. Capella shows off a different side to Singapore—a beachy escape from the hustle and bustle of the business district and the shopping strips. It's one of the most expensive hotels here, but a little tranquility can be priceless.
John Steinbeck certainly chose a beautiful spot to hole up while writing his famous piece on Positano for Harper’s Bazaar in 1953. Positano was just a quiet fishing village then and he described the Sirenuse as ‘an old family house converted into a first-class hotel, spotless and cool’. While still spotless and cool, the summer villa is a lot more upscale these days, immaculately run with huge charm and a maniacal eye for detail by Antonio Sersale and his wife Carla. The handsome ox-blood red building is crammed with precious antiques (starting with a rare 18th-century palanquin in the reception hall), many of them collected by Antonio’s late father Franco, and the white bedrooms have tiled floors from Vietri and balconies with grandstand views. But it’s the small details – the cloth-bound copies of Steinbeck’s article and the pretty beach baskets in the bedrooms, the crisp Frette linens and Eau d’Italie bath goodies – that kick things to another level. Positano is a bit of a madhouse nowadays, but you can avoid it altogether, dreaming away the hours on the pool terrace, booking a massage at the Gae Aulenti-designed Aveda spa or hopping on the hotel’s boat for a spin. In the evening, guests gather in the Champagne & Oyster bar before moving on to La Sponda restaurant to tuck into tonnarelli pasta with lobster and saddle of lamb with artichokes to the sound of guitar and mandolin duo Franco and Andrea. By Nicky Swallow
A tricky business, the restoration of important old stuff. There are people who say that the Mona Lisa ought to be all bright and punchy and Instagram-ready and that 'The Night Watch' was actually The Day Watch. So what do you do about an ageing masterpiece like the Crillon? Nobody rushed to any conclusions. In the end, the refurb took four years and the hotel reopened in 2017 under the Rosewood brand. The Ritz, nearby, underwent the same process around the same time. But the two properties took divergent approaches: the Ritz to maintain the status quo, only more so, as it were; the Crillon to propel itself into the 21st century. In both cases, the results are exemplary. And if it is the Crillon whose name appears in capital letters in this list, it is in recognition of a moral rather than an absolute victory. A prize for bravery. The best of what was best of the Crillon has been thoughtfully preserved, while the best of what is new (the bar, the barbershop, L’Ecrin restaurant and the stupendous suites by Karl Lagerfeld) is gobsmacking in its boldness and daring. The Crillon has long been a sentimental favourite among the French. Something to do with all the beheadings that occurred outside the front door. Imagine what would have happened if Rosewood had, you know, got it wrong. By Steve King