Picture this: You’re in the middle of a tiled, two-story courtyard, where potted plants reach up toward archways, their emerald leaves a contrast to the salmon-colored walls. And that's just the view inside. Hacienda de San Antonio, set at the foot of the Colima Volcano in the midst of a 5,000-acre nature reserve, feels like Gatsby went to Mexico and never left. The estate is like an ornately designed cosmopolitan residence in the middle of nowhere, with a garden-facing bar and vaulted common rooms, where plush couches inspire shoulder-to-shoulder socializing.
The 5-pearl, 65-room Encantado sits in a secluded spot a few miles north of Santa Fe with great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Big, luxurious rooms are decorated in a modern Southwestern style, featuring concrete and wood floors, Native American-style rugs, and a color scheme of warm browns and oranges, as well as high-end extras such as radiant floor heating, wood-burning fireplaces, and private patios. The fine dining at Terra restaurant is rated highly, and the resort also features an outdoor seasonal pool, whirlpool, luxury spa, and even free rentals of a Mercedes Benz for the day.
There are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. Sydney. São Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve King
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.
While the Fairmont Pacific Rim features a long list of luxurious amenities, its downtown Vancouver location is what helps it stand apart from competitors. Set on the Coal Harbour waterfront, the hotel sits across the street from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal. Thanks to the hotel's location, recent guests say the views from the rooms and rooftop are spectacular. When you're not gazing out across the harbor, relax poolside in one of the private cabanas or by one of the cozy outdoor fire pits. For even more serenity, visitors recommend booking a treatment at the Willow Stream Spa. Continue the pampering at Botanist, which serves regionally sourced dishes. Craving a pick-me-up? Venture to giovane cafe + wine bar, which offers house-made pastries for breakfast and Italian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once you've refueled, retreat to your digs where you'll find a Stearns & Foster bed, an iPod docking station and an iPad2, which you can use to order room service and operate various controls in the guest room. Although this Fairmont's high-tech amenities are an added perk, according to recent visitors, it's the hotel's exceptional service that makes a stay here memorable.
With standout service and an excellent location, the Montage Beverly Hills is the epitome of luxury. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Los Angeles, the Montage Beverly Hills is just a short walk from Rodeo Drive's high-end stores. This hotel offers a 20,000-square-foot two-level spa, a rooftop pool surrounded by cabanas and guest rooms and suites that evoke old Hollywood glamour. Luxe touches such as complimentary Champagne on arrival and car service in a Rolls-Royce are just a few of the amenities guests love. (Courtesy of Montage Beverly Hills)
Located in Quebec City, 200 yards from Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Hotel Manoir Morgan has a terrace and rooms with free WiFi access. We were delighted with Manoir Morgan. It was a quiet oasis right in the heart of the busy historic area. The staff were all helpful and friendly and the rooms were very comfortable - huge beds! Windows opened when required and there was a Nespresso machine in the rooms. Breakfast next door was also excellent.
With its charming and peaceful streets, chic boutique hotels, and relaxed atmosphere, today’s Quebec City has certainly changed since its original incarnation as a defensive fort during the Revolutionary War. Today’s only invaders are peaceful and excited tourists, visiting what is often considered North America’s most European city. With cobbled streets, delightful architecture and a certain joie de vivre, Quebec City is often associated with French cities and towns.
This Russian River Valley boutique hotel was a big winner in the inn and small lodges category, perhaps because it embodies the ultimate wine-country escape: a Michelin-starred restaurant, an on-site winery, and tastefully homey rooms (some housed in a posh version of a barn). But even the down-home touches have a serious pedigree: the lobby offers a selection of help-yourself artisanal soap, and the outdoor s’mores pit features house-made marshmallows and Vahlrona chocolate. Even if you don’t normally seek out food on a stick, the hotel placed at No. 4 in the U.S. for dining.
Built on the bones of an old temple (hence the name), this 142-room hotel is a haven for the hip and slightly edgy, and reflective of wider development in the Chengdu area. Designed by U.K. architecture firm Make, the hotel comprises two L-shaped halves separated by a verdant courtyard evoking Sichuan’s rice terraces. Rooms are minimalist and incorporate local materials (timber, bamboo, step stones) and architectural elements—ask if you can get one facing the courtyard. And while the hotel offers French bistro-style plates at its Temple Café and regionally inspired Italian fare at Tivano, head for the wood-lined Mi Xun Teahouse, whose design is inspired by Chinese medicine. With its vegan/vegetarian menu, it’s the hottest seat in the house—if you can get one.
To arrive here in the dark, through deserts and date trees and mountain passes, is to be greeted by a multitude of twinkling lights from the clear starry skies and from the dim lanterns that illuminate the stone houses. This far-flung hotel lies sandwiched between the dramatic Hajar Mountains and the warm seas off the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. Reimagined to form a traditional village, each villa has a private pool, reed ceilings, rough stucco walls and lamps suspended on ropes that reflect in the thick wood-framed mirrors. Outside, though, through the dense surrounding stands of palm, is a full-on luxe seaside hotel, with a pristine talcum-fine beach and a magnificent swimming pool set against a backdrop of towering pink peaks. Not surprising, given it’s a Six Senses, many people come here for the spa and its bespoke programmes of treatments and fitness. More unusual is the opportunity for adventure. Those who want maximum drama should paraglide, starting on a ledge 293 metres up at the top of the Zighy summit to float down over the bay. The food is worth the journey alone: Bedouin cooking at Shua Shack; wagu-beef fritters in the mountain-lair-like Sense on the Edge. Breakfasts of Arabic coffee and dishes such as akawi, labneh and zaatar-sprinkled pittas are excellent fuel for a morning of beachcombing for the cowrie shells that dazzle here – perfectly polished with a dusting of dark freckles. Six Senses is a growing group but what it does so brilliantly is stay rooted in the sense of each place and let the surroundings shine. By Mary Lussiana
Few hotels are as synonymous with their destination as La Mamounia. Frankly, if you don’t end up overnighting in one of this former palace’s tiled guest rooms, just behind the blush-colored walls of the medina, it’s almost as though you were never in Marrakech at all. That’s because this opulent, more-is-absolutely-more pocket of palm trees, landscaped gardens and fountains, where sultry lobby spaces and bars are draped in silks and dark velvets, has come to embody all those reasons we travel to Marrakech in the first place. Inside its hammam, a mosaic of blue, red and pine-green tiles, are cheery therapists who offer clay body wraps (head down early for a pre-treatment dip). By the utterly enormous pool, a flurry of bow-tied waiters rush between the Brits and French and, with increasing frequency, Russians and Turks, lying about all day long, with bottles of Moroccan rosé and surprisingly well-mixed Old Fashioneds, moving equally as swiftly between the languages. In the incredible bedrooms, the sweeping Moorish curves on the balcony doors are emulated in the archway to the bathrooms, themselves a symphony of tilework and gold-framed mirrors. All of this is accompanied by the 5 a.m. call to prayer carrying in as softly as a fragrance of jasmine, from the nearby mosque.
Who hasn’t dreamed of traveling like royalty, sleeping in some of the world’s most expensive suites, and eating in Michelin-starred restaurants? The time and money for that kind of trip can be tricky to come by, but it’s always good to be ready just in case the opportunity arises, right? We here at Oyster have been lucky enough to have visited thousands of hotels around the globe and across the states. The U.S. is known for having high standards when it comes to hotels, and hotels stateside offer some of the most decadent services around. So we’ve put together a list of the best luxury properties in the States for those planning a luxe trip -- and for those who just like to dream. Enjoy!
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a pre-treatment dip). By the utterly enormous pool, a flurry of bow-tied waiters rush between the Brits and French and, with increasing frequency, Russians and Turks, lying about all day long, with bottles of Moroccan rosé and surprisingly well-mixed Old Fashioneds, moving equally as swiftly between the languages. In the incredible bedrooms, the sweeping Moorish curves on the balcony doors are emulated in the archway to the bathrooms, themselves a symphony of tilework and gold-framed mirrors. All of this is accompanied by the 5am call to prayer carrying in as softly as a fragrance of jasmine, from the nearby mosque. By Erin Florio
The golden rule of Bangkok: if it’s even remotely out of the way, don’t bother (a cab across town at rush hour could take as long as your flight over). The Siam is the exception. Although we’re not sure that Bill Bensley designed this low-slung and sleek urban retreat, on the north-east bank of the Chao Phraya river, as a destination in itself, it has certainly become one. It’s possible to spend a whole afternoon ogling the 16th-century Burmese Buddhas and vintage toy race cars displayed with particular flair from the hotel’s film room to its grand upstairs bar (owner Krissada Clapp makes weekly visits to local antiques dealer House of Chao, and tweaks the hotel’s collection almost daily). Located north of the Grand Palace and the hordes of flip-flop-wearing twenty-somethings streaming through the neon glow of Khao San Road, The Siam is a vitally tranquil place to return to after a day of tuk-tuk-ing between temples and haggling for silks at Chatuchak market. The gentle gurgle of water from stone fountains form a soundtrack for the sun-flooded courtyard, a profusion of palms and greenery; the enormous hammam-style spa, with its opulent marble pillars, does utterly resetting Reiki massages – though a soak in the clawfoot tubs in the teak-clad, Art Deco-style rooms does the trick, too. And early evening cocktails on the terrace, as the lights begin to flicker in the darkening skies on the other side of the moody Chao Phraya, can feel as though you’ve escaped the city entirely. To get back into the thick of it, though, the hotel’s river boat ferries guests towards that neon all day and night. Three years after opening, this is still Bangkok’s most accomplished urban hideaway. By Erin Florio
This was founded in 2001 by siblings Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, whose great-grandfather migrated from Italy and acquired a ranch and vineyards, building the house where Catherine still lives today. She and Joe are a constant presence, checking in with regulars at the restaurant and joining in afternoon wine tastings (including a knockout red-field blend from their own Lost & Found label). Their deep Sonoma roots translate into perks for guests at local wineries, restaurants and shops, whose owners invariably light up at their mention. And the pair’s enthusiasm percolates through to the easygoing attitude of the longtime staff. You’re as likely to get a great oyster shack or hiking trail tip from the parking attendant as you are from the concierge desk. Of the bedrooms, the newer ones at the quieter, wooded end of the hotel are best, with porches that feel suspended among the trees. Inside you’ll find a conga drum refashioned as a cocktail stand, a vintage ladder propped against one wall under the vaulted wooden ceiling. A double-sided fireplace faces both the bedroom and the Adirondack chairs outside on the porch. The inn’s restaurant has become a destination in itself: chef Steve Litke has a light touch with his Mediterranean-inflected menu, including a delicate Hokkaido scallop with Moroccan spices, and a thyme-scented trio of rabbit (applewood-smoked loin, confit of leg, roasted rack with mustard cream). But you can take the electric car out and head westward to the coast and have lunch at the inimitable Marshall Store, where Sonoma’s best oysters (raw and wood-fire-grilled) are served on wooden barrels along the shore of Tomales Bay. Family-owned and run hotels are now a rarity in California’s wine country, which makes this switched-on place so exceptional. By Peter Lindberg
Budget Inn Patricia Hotel C$ 63+ Hotel Ambassador C$ 79+ Cambie Hostel Gastown C$ 81+ Empire Landmark Hotel C$ 83+ Moda Hotel C$ 97+ Howard Johnson by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown C$ 99+ Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel C$ 109+ Ramada by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown C$ 111+ Best Western Plus Uptown Hotel C$ 112+ Executive Hotel Vintage Park C$ 123+ Coast Plaza Hotel And Suites C$ 123+ The Burrard C$ 128+ Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre C$ 132+ Hotel Belmont an Ascend Hotel Collection Member C$ 136+ Greenbrier Hotel C$ 136+ Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown C$ 139+ Best Western PLUS Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites & Conference Ctr. C$ 147+ Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown C$ 148+ Holiday Inn & Suites Vancouver Downtown C$ 151+ Sandman Suites Vancouver on Davie C$ 154+ Century Plaza Hotel & Spa C$ 156+ Park Inn & Suites By Radisson C$ 158+
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.
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