This legendary hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side has a highly developed sense of noblesse oblige. The Carlyle opened inauspiciously in 1930, the year after the Wall Street Crash, and its lobby retains the original black-and-white tiled floor designed by Dorothy Draper. The lift operator knows each guest's name and room number, handy should you return late and a little squiffy. And each room has a proper key: no troublesome cards or spooky 'iris recognition' here. The bedrooms themselves are generously sized - at least for New York - while the tower suites are positively vast and very beautiful, with pale beechwood parquet floors, Chinese cabinets, onyx lamps and silk-cushioned fauteuils, as well as heart-stopping views of Central Park. Refreshment is never far away: tea is served in the Ottoman-styled Gallery, cocktails in the Bemelmans Bar (the bar of the Upper East Side) and lunch or dinner in the Carlyle Restaurant, which is decorous without being sedate. And music is inherent at the Carlyle, whose first tenant was composer Richard Rodgers. In its public rooms and suites there are 14 baby grand pianos, and Woody Allen still plays jazz clarinet every Monday night, six months of the year, at the ground-floor Café Carlyle. But in the end, the Carlyle's brilliance lies in its understatement. The fire instructions say, 'Remain relaxed'. Here, at what is still New York's grandest hotel, it's hard to do anything else.
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'If we want things to stay as they are,' Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, 'things will have to change.' Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve King
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The 50 individually designed rooms at this boutique hotel within the White City (a Tel Aviv neighborhood known for its collection of Bauhaus buildings, as well as for art galleries and designer boutiques) are spread between two historic townhouses—23 and 25 Nachmani Street, respectively—which are divided by a fragrant citrus garden. There’s a rooftop infinity pool, a 1940s-style Library Bar, a formal French-Mediterranean brasserie, and an excellent Izakaya-style Japanese restaurant—so you won't want for activity (or sustenance) while you're here.
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Often referred to as the USA's best small hotel, this 20-suite Relais & Châteaux property - with cottages and outbuildings anchored by a 1795 New England farmhouse - sits in 300 acres of breathtaking wildflower meadows, pine forests, lakes and orchards. Its sophisticated style is the result of a long and fruitful relationship with the cream of NYC's interior-design world. In the 1990s, the original owner, Hawaiian newspaperman Thurston Twigg-Smith, commissioned designer and one-time Warhol apostle Jed Johnson to work his magic on the first 15 rooms. Cue chinoiserie toile pelmets, hand-carved ravens atop barley-twist bedposts and a trompe-l'oeil tented ceiling. Johnson's rooms are still marvellous, but when Twin Farms added another five bedrooms in 2005, plus spa treatment rooms, architect Peter Bohlin (known for his Apple stores) and interior designer Thad Hayes were called in. Their suites - such as The Aviary, with its Douglas-fir panelling, shag rug and buttoned-leather headboard, all in orange - are as luxurious as Johnson's, though less zesty. As delightful as the rooms are, the farm-raised, seasonal food (veal with butternut-squash purée in winter, grilled halibut and prawn gnocchi in summer) from chef Ted Ask and pastry honcho Christopher Wilson possibly tops it all. There's also access to deserted hiking trails, private ski slopes, fly-fishing, the Out of the Woods Spa and a 20,000-bottle wine cellar.
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Enter the polished marble hall, take in the view down the Grande Allée that bisects its gardens, scented with the roses they cut to decorate the bedrooms and cooled by what F Scott Fitzgerald called its ‘deferential palms'. The Mediterranean lies beyond, and your spirits cannot but soar. Can there be a lovelier place for breakfast than the terrace of its mansion-like main building, all pale pink stucco, slate mansard roofs and oeil-de-boeuf windows? Or a more flirtatious spot for a coupe de Champagne than the starlit, ocean-liner-like roof terrace of the waterside Eden-Roc restaurant? Or a smarter arena in which to show off your trapeze skills than the swings, rings and rope ladders suspended over the sea, just beyond the heated saltwater swimming pool? Its chintzy bedrooms will never win prizes for innovative design or modernity. There may be Wi-Fi and phones, but a retro panel of bells on the bedside tables still summons your valet, femme d’etage or room service. And yet, in spite of all this – or, more likely, because of it – there’s nowhere else on earth quite like it. Hence the eternal allure that ensures the top-floor rooms of its century-old seaside annexe, Eden-Roc, shielded both from public gaze and waterborne paparazzi, remains the A-list’s lodging of choice during the Cannes Film Festival. By Claire Wrathall
If the altitude of Cusco lays you low, El Convento will provide pumped-in oxygen to your room, along with its other amenities. The namesake convent dates to the 1500s and archeological ruins are maintained on property. Décor continues the old-new pairing, with stylish rooms and public areas lined with stone arches, while weavers in the courtyard give demonstrations and must-have textiles are available for purchase.
Tucked in the Virginia countryside amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland attracts travelers looking for a mix of activity and relaxation. There is no shortage of things to do here, from kayaking and golfing to horseback riding and stargazing. The property also has a spa, and hosts yoga and meditation classes. And guests appreciate the variety of accommodation options, too, with a traditional lodge, suites, cottages and even tree houses to choose from. (Courtesy of Primland)