‘Coûte que coûte’ goes the punning family motto of Sir Charles Coote, for whom the opulent Ballyfin estate was conceived in the early 19th century. ‘No matter the cost’ is how this loosely translates, proving as apt an adage in the 21st century as it was then. Many millions of euros may have been lavished on this stately pile in County Laois, both in its original construction and, more recently, its painstaking restoration. For the architectural historian, the house is a head turner – the culmination of Regency craftsmanship brought together in lusciously modelled plasterwork, scagliola in varying colours, stained glass and staggeringly intricate parquetry. For the sybarite, the house is a place of comfort and grandeur, not least in the Gold Drawing Room where walls are hung with lustrous silk and vast windows frame views of the 28-acre lake. Bedrooms are also decorated with rich fabrics and wallpaper, fine antiques, fresh flowers from the garden, art and books – a fabulous amalgamation of Anglo-Irish panache. New this year is Ballyfin’s 21st room and first standalone property: the tiny Gardener’s Cottage overlooking, to the rear, the walled gardens, which supply Ballyfin’s kitchen with organic fruit and vegetables. The grounds are made for strolling in the complimentary wellies, with grottoes and rockeries, a folly and a fernery, a rose garden and an aviary. There is no finer Irish-country house experience. By Pamela Goodman
Reachable only by boat or seaplane, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is located on a private island where wild key deer roam. It includes 30 luxurious suites, many with private oceanfront verandas. A favorite getaway for celebrities, it provides a secluded place to unplug from the world (use of technology is discouraged) and experience a romantic vacation in a lush, tropical environment.
Choose between lakeside cabins, which date back to the 1920s and ’30s, or the recently renovated main lodge: both channel a rich arts-and-crafts ambience, which helped the resort score well in the survey for its rooms. Readers were also coddled by the high level of service, like having griddle cakes and house-made preserves delivered in a basket to your cottage door each morning. No matter what kind of room you choose, the chances for carefree play abound: snowshoes and cross-country skis are available for guest use, and trails start right outside the lodge.
Our winning resort hotel is also our youngest, completed just one year ago in summer 2017. But the new 154-room lodge, with its prime lakeshore location, has already gained some loyal lifetime fans. One respondent said, “They are right on the shores of the gorgeous Lake Tahoe, surrounded by stunning views of snow-covered mountains. There are no other properties in the area that come close to the luxury accommodations and location.” The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe is ideal for a summer lake getaway, but it also garnered praise from ski vacationers: “I loved the cozy fireplaces that are in every room. The heated pool and hot tub was a big plus after long days skiing…I could spend the entire day there if it wasn't for the plethora of activities that awaited outside.”
Guest feedback was taken very seriously when andBeyond rebuilt its flagship camp in early 2018, in the same plum position in the Kichwa Tembo concession (more than 800 private hectares), bordering the Mara Triangle’s National Reserve. Which is likely why the duo who designed the original 20 years ago, Debra Fox and Chris Browne, didn’t make any unnecessary changes in the redo. Nothing was changed for the sake of change: vintage silver, crystal decanters, leather armchairs and extravagantly deep sofas were reused, recycled or reupholstered, while old-world maps and brass fittings were added. Kenyan-grown roses still give a homely touch. New to camp is a family suite, gin bar and safari boutique stocked exclusively with home-grown designer labels. The Mara Triangle is the sharp edge of Masai Mara safaris, and not just during migration season. On any given day, the open plains are thrumming with memorable sightings: a 40-strong herd of elephant, a week-old giraffe galloping clumsily after its mother, hundreds of zebra and antelope, a pair of black-backed jackals trotting through the long grass, and lions snoozing on a little-used track. Being in a private concession means guests can also go out on night drives, have silver-service bush banquets accompanied by deeply resonant Maasai chanting, and the chance to do a walk or trail run with a Maasai guide. Andbeyond is a top safari outfit, known for its highly designed lodges and camps throughout Southern and East Africa and its commitment to the care of the land and local communities. Now its exceptionally located big-hitter property is back, with even more space than ever. By Jane Broughton
Set in the Arashiyama district on the western side of Kyoto (an area frequented by Japanese nobles of years gone by), Suiran sits seamlessly on the jade waters of the Katsura river. The original buildings, which now house the restaurants and lobby, are constructed around beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, and sunlight-dappled pebble-stone pathways lead the way to the more modern low-rise buildings that house the rooms. Yukata-clad staff welcome you warmly with a hot towel and tea whilst discretely whisking your luggage off to your room, leaving you to enjoy the serene surroundings, bathed in light and soothed by the sounds of flowing water. Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose.
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Secluded among 157 acres of ancient trees and burbling streams, this Northern California retreat got raves from readers for its leafy privacy. The 48 “rooms” are actually cedar-and-glass cabins with huge views of the woods, along with fabulous outdoor living rooms, “bath gardens” and outdoor showers. Given the spa’s mud baths and private mineral-soaking pools, the resort also scored well with readers for its stress-relieving potential.
To become a member of our Club you must have first made a booking at Best Hotels through your trusted travel agency, our website or over the phone. To do so, the first step is to enter your booking reference, which is the number you will find on your confirmation email. Then you can enjoy many advantages during your stay. You can also ask for a card in the hotel you have chosen to visit when you arrive. We will send one to your address so you can start to enjoy many benefits on your next stay.
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Rather than tucking the spa below the lobby, like some resorts do, this slopeside Jackson Hole lodge put its high-scoring facility on the rooftop, so you can gaze out at the mountains while you decompress. And while the 132-room hotel is lined with edgy regional art, it ranks well with families, perhaps because of its high percentage of studios and suites, which come with kid-friendly kitchens. Plus, it’s a short walk to the ski lifts, and less than a mile from Teton National Park. Readers also placed it in the U.S. top 10 for service: you can call upon 24-hour concierges to customize your activities, or ask the ski valet to tend to your gear and advise you on the best runs.
This is a great way to club your visit to a pilgrimage and also get a discount on your hotel stay. This offer lets you get up to INR 2999 off on a night across all participating destinations. You need to use the enclosed promo code in order to avail the discount. Some popular destinations across which you can get such discounts include Agra, Nanded, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Rameshwaram, Tirupati, Haridwar, Kottayam, Kohlapur, Shirdi, Ajmer, Manali, Trichy, Srinagar, and Ooty to name a few.
The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel can be found in New York's lower Manhattan neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. While the property's public spaces feature Old World details like Oriental rugs, rich wood paneling and a pyramidal skylight, this Thompson Hotels outpost's modern guest rooms and suites offer crisp white interiors with custom leather headboards, Carrara marble bathrooms, Asian-inspired lamps and hardwood floors with purple or blue accent rugs. In-room tech amenities include free Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs with digital video recorders. After you've settled into your accommodations, grab a bite in one of the two on-site restaurants. Acclaimed chef Tom Colicchio created Temple Court, the hotel's signature restaurant, which serves contemporary American dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meanwhile, the Keith McNally-affiliated Augustine restaurant, which opened in November 2016, dishes up brasserie-style meals. Or, if you'd like a light dinner alongside specialty libations, visit the Alley Cat lounge in the once-hidden cellar. You can also listen to DJs and musicians at this venue. Overall, past guests enjoyed the hotel's food, service and classic yet trendy vibe, though some complained that rooms could use more outlets and better lighting.
The Jefferson wins visitors over time and again with its sophisticated and traditionally decorated accommodations, impeccable service and award-winning cuisine. The hotel's location in downtown Washington is a highlight as well; guests are just a short walk from the White House, the National Mall and top-notch bars and eateries. The Jefferson is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Washington, D.C. for 2017. (Courtesy of The Jefferson, Washington, DC)
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)