Music producer Chris Blackwell, who introduced the world to Bob Marley back in 1973, also founded this oceanfront island hideaway a few years later, based around the clifftop villa where Ian Fleming wrote all his Bond novels. In the decades since its reach has grown and grown. There’s no sign at the entrance, which is part of the low-key charm. It’s easy to see why many music and film stars make their way here: this is a sweet spot with a very independent flavour, a world away from the oversized all-inclusives, and more honed than Blackwell’s companion hotel, Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains. Couples tend to hole up in the wooden beach huts; families and friends take over the massive villas; industry bigwigs feel right at home in Fleming’s former house, which has three bedrooms and a personable, clued-in staff. There are a few nods to 007 – black-and-white photos of Bond in reception plus novels and films on loan – but GoldenEye is mainly about Jamaica, a sensibility found in the blazingly coloured fabrics, breezy breakfasts on the verandah with cups of Blue Mountain coffee, and heaps of tropical fruit. The sheltered bay for morning swims is just a few paces away across immaculate sands. It says everything that Blackwell still lives here (guests have been known to unwittingly roll up to his villa and ask for a drink, which is always obligingly provided). And why would he leave? He gets to enjoy a highly original hangout that is entirely of his making. This is that rare beast: a hotel that balances heritage and hip and gets away with it. By Nigel Tisdall
The Covent Garden Hotel might sit in the heart of theatre-land, but it’s no drama queen. It lets other divas in town take the curtain calls. Instead, this place goes for the slow burn, revealing itself subtly and demurely. But when it does, you realise it’s a beauty. Take the first-floor Drawing Room, lined in maple wood, shiny as toffee, which originally came from the now demolished League of Nations building near Trafalgar Square. Here too are delicately limbed parlour chairs with 18th-century needlepoint embroidery and a grand old writing desk, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and holding numerous little drawers that surely concealed secret notes over the years. The honesty bar just off the nook of a library is as well stocked as a house party, meaning that nightcaps can be as late as you like. Settle into the yellow and red sofa in front of the log fire, kick off your shoes (it’s not frowned upon) and soak up the elegant yet cosy surroundings. Just as lovely is the fourth-floor Terrace Suite, up among the rooftops and chimneys of London like a Mary Poppins eyrie. Parrots peck at blousy dusty-pink flowers on the linen upholstery of the sofa and over-sized headboard and purple and teal ikat-print curtains frame the windows. In the morning, watch the sunrise over the Shard from the little wooden deck. There’s a deep bathtub for soaking in, and lavender-and-eucalyptus bathroom lotions by RikRak (a bespoke Firmdale range) that smell so good you’ll be sniffing your arm for the rest of the day. Many new names have landed in London recently, but this trouper still holds its head up high. By Grainne McBride
Now a cozy boutique hotel, Hotel Nena is set within a two-story former estate—and a stay here does actually feel like you've just entered the home of a longtime friend. Rooms (there are just six) are beautiful, with thoughtful details like handpainted tiles in the bathroom, exposed stone walls and wooden beams, and even fireplaces. Nena’s Instagram-worthy rooftop pool offers expansive views of San Miguel de Allende and the bar, built around the trunk of an ancient tree, attracts guests and locals alike. Nextia, the on-site restaurant, serves modern Mexican cuisine and is considered one of the best restaurants in town.
Auberge aux Deux Lions is close to the most popular areas of the city without being in the heart of the action. This small, urban hotel is located in the Montcalm district and is not far from the old city. Certain rooms show off the stone walls from the oldest parts of the hotel, which date back to 1909. As this hotel is quite small, reservations are an absolute must, and the staff is willing to help with anything and everything, including a free walking tour of the city to help adjust to Québec City.
Enjoying a prime location in midtown Manhattan, The St. Regis New York puts guests close to the Big Apple's top sights, such as the Museum of Modern Art and Central Park. The No. 4 Best Hotel in New York City prides itself on its sophisticated setting and high level of customer service: Lodgers note the elegant interior throughout the property and the friendly staff members as highlights of their stays. (Courtesy of The St. Regis New York)
I did not know what to expect from Quebec City at first, but once I got there I fell in love with it. There isn’t that much to do there, but if you take a walk around Old Quebec you will know what I mean - the architecture and the atmosphere make it worthwhile. The city’s history is rich and there are quite a few museums that can show you that (such as the Citadelle and the museum of Civilisation). Even though the city’s winter is harsh, I do recommend visitors to check it out near Christmas time, the city is not as packed as NY city, and there is a very nice and cozy Christmas market that takes place at Old Quebec. Anyway if you have the chance go and take a look at Quebec City!
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In a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona Kerr
With elegant chalet decor and a host of amenities, the Landing Resort & Spa offers a luxury stay across from a private beach on Lake Tahoe and near Heavenly Village and the Stateline casinos. Its 77 stylish rooms have fireplaces, mini-fridges, Keurig coffeemakers, private balconies or patios (some with lake views), and luxurious bathrooms with heated floors and toilet seats. There's a restaurant that serves Greek and Californian fare and has a lovely patio overlooking the lake, though there are reports of slow service. For a dose of pampering, guests can head to the on-site spa, which has a sauna and steam room, and there’s also an outdoor pool with a hot tub. Rates are pricey, however, plus there's a mandatory resort fee covering the facilities and services like Wi-Fi and valet parking.
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
If you’re looking for a hotel near Ginza, then consider the Hotel Sunroute Shimbashi which is just a 7-minute walk away. Rooms come with free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, an electric kettle and an en suite bathroom with free toiletries. The front desk is open 24-hours, there’s free luggage storage, coin laundry, and some free drinks in the common area. The Shimbashi area has lots of great restaurants including izakayas which are open late. JR Shimbashi station is a 5-minute walk away while Haneda airport takes just 30-minutes to get to via the monorail.
I liked the owners of the hotel. The room was perfect, clean, and the bed was super clean and comfortable. The Breakfast was yummy, the best breakfast I had so far in all my travels. The host guided me to the best easy way to reach the attraction sites in Quebec city. Walking distance from the bus station to the hotel and from the hotel to old Town of Quebec and restaurants. Thanks for the great hosts ever. Will certainly come back to the same hotel next time.