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As if the Pen didn’t already tower above the competition – and it has from the day it opened, right opposite Saks on Michigan Avenue, in 2001 – a $37-million renovation in 2016 took it way over the top. Bedrooms were always large for downtown Chicago but feel even more spacious now, thanks to clever ship-cabin cabinetry. Indeed, interiors have a yacht-like feel, in both the space-saving design and the burled wood and leather finishes. Even the entry-level rooms have a separate living area. With muted pale-blue and steel-grey tones, the palette nods towards Lake Michigan, while a wall-size, hand-embroidered rendering of a chrysanthemum refers to Peninsula’s Asian roots without feeling overly on-the-nose. But it’s the in-room tech that’s the true knockout here, with all sorts of ingenious smart-home conveniences. From the bathtub, one touch on the ‘Spa’ button will soften the lighting, stream in a not-at-all-annoying soundtrack and activate the do-not-disturb sign. Maybe you’ve encountered similar tech elsewhere; the difference here is that it actually works – and you don’t need a 15-minute tutorial to figure out the controls. While it’s very hotel-room-of-the-future, the Pen doesn’t feel brave-new-world impersonal: there’s a warmth and softness to the design that feels timeless and embracing. But try and tear yourself away to check out Green River for craft cocktails and Gibsons for steaks. Abundantly comfortable, smooth as hand-embroidered silk but never too sleek, the Pen is far and away Chicago’s top-dog hotel. By Peter Lindberg
This 21-room mansion-turned-hotel was the survey’s No. 1 winner among small city hotels, and it embodies that time-machine charm of the Holy City: fireplaces in every room, hors d’oeuvres and sherry in the lobby, and chocolate truffles on your pillow at bedtime. With so many seductive treats, readers also awarded the Second-Empire-style hotel a high ranking for romance. Meanwhile, with Southern-meets-global dishes like antelope country paté, cast-iron poulet rouge and sweet potato doughnuts, the on-site Circa 1886 restaurant helped the Wentworth win the gold medal for small-city hotel dining.
Spending the night at this place feels a bit like finding yourself in an Agatha Christie novel. Here you are, one of a group of strangers staying in an elegant mansion that’s laced with a sense of history and intrigue. Except there’s no mystery about why it’s so appealing. Every aspect has been meticulously thought through: the courtyard, the orangery, the library stacked with fantastic books and the living room in which to read them. There’s even a hammam in the basement. The name translates as ‘a home’, which is exactly what the 12-bedroom townhouse hotel feels like, though one, admittedly, conceived by one of the world’s great interior designers. Ilse Crawford has created the most exclusive place to hole up in the Swedish capital, precisely by not making it feel too exclusive. Yes, you have to buzz to get into the private garden to enter the hotel, but once inside there’s a wonderful mix of classic Scandi design and modern pieces, including a handsome brass bar cabinet by London craftsman Jack Trench. The atmosphere is relaxed and unfussy; guests are free to wander into the kitchen and chat to the chef. The location is great, in the heart of Ostermalm, the smartest neighbourhood in the city, but set away from the main roads. With incredible taste, warmth and no snootiness whatsoever, this hotel is a fusion of all that’s best about Scandinavia. By Stephen Whitlock
Year to year, we see our readers’ travel habits shift, as some destinations suddenly explode in popularity (hello, Portugal and Iceland) and others experience a cooling, perhaps due to geopolitical events or an unfavorable exchange rate. And this, of course, trickles down into our World’s Best results, particularly when it comes to ranking the top 100 hotels on the planet. But one thing remains a constant: the properties that make this selective list are all incredible ambassadors for their home countries, delivering intuitive service and luxury experiences that can truly make a vacation.
The charming and quirky Crosby Street Hotel is located in Manhattan's trendy SoHo neighborhood. Visitors sing this boutique property's praises, noting the beautiful and stylish rooms, the lovely views from the large windows and the staff's attention to detail. The Crosby Street Hotel is also home to some unique public spaces, such as a sculpture garden, a drawing room for relaxing with a drink or afternoon tea and the Crosby Terrace and Bar. (Simon Brown/Crosby Street Hotel)
The best hotels in Karon Beach take full advantage of their setting in this beautiful resort town on Phuket’s west coast. This lovely destination has the island’s third-longest beach and first most squeaky sand. There are plenty of activities available on the beach and many shops and restaurants behind it. Shaded by trees, it is one of the more picturesque shores on the island.
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.