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
Enter one of the property's 62 rooms or 15 luxury suites and you'll experience what previous guests praise most about the Hazelton: ample space. Rooms here start off at 575 square feet and feature amenities such as Nespresso makers, Juliet or walkout balconies and 47-inch flat-screen TVs. The expansive bathrooms also come complete with TVs as well as L'Occitane bath products and separate soaking tubs and rain showers. The amenities outside of the rooms are also top notch. The hotel houses its own private screening theater with leather chair seating for 25 guests. Or pamper yourself with rejuvenating treatments at the spa. When you get hungry, try the hotel's ONE Restaurant that features dishes from celebrity chef Mark McEwan. ONE serves French and Italian cuisine that recent diners described as well priced for the quality. Plus, Yorkville's shopping and high-end dining options sit just outside the Hazelton's doors. Part of The Leading Hotels of the World, the property participates in the Leaders Club loyalty program.
The No. 4 Best Hotel in California is located on a quiet, carefully manicured property about 25 miles north of San Diego. A winner of multiple industry accolades, including AAA's Five Diamond Award and recognition on Condé Nast's Readers' Choice List, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa appeals to R&R-seekers who want to be pampered while on vacation. On-site facilities include an adults-only pool, a yoga pavilion and a spa with a menu of massages, facials and more. Visitors also offer ample praise for the resort's staff and the Mediterranean-inspired ambiance of the hacienda-style suites. (Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa and Rouse Photography)
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.
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.
This elegant Art Deco tower piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner – and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million-dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink in the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. No photographs. No phone calls – it says on the bottom of the menu firmly while maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes. The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favourite; the seared scallops with black leek and truffle sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots – in a city with a strong alfresco game – for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of LA and basking in that brilliant golden sunshine. By Mary Lussiana
Bold, crazy, ambitious, foolhardy, visionary – any number of adjectives could have been used to describe Australians Rory and Melita Hunter when they formulated their plan some 12 years ago to create a destination hotel on two tiny islands in the little-known Koh Rong archipelago, 20 miles off the coast of Cambodia. Yet the sublime result was Song Saa – the first opening outside of Siem Reap to rekindle an interest in travel to Cambodia after decades of oppression (their next project is 200-hectare Song Saa Reserve at Siem Reap). Nine of the 27 standalone villas (each with a private pool) are on stilted platforms over aquamarine water, the rest dotting the shoreline or tucked into the jungly interior of the larger island; the smaller island, linked via a wooden walkway, remains an unblemished nature reserve. But it’s Melita’s creative touch that really defines the look and feel of Song Saa: driftwood and bamboo from broken-up fishing boats and abandoned houses have been recycled into walls, floors and furniture. The Song Saa Foundation runs in conjunction with the hotel, championing health, employment and education among local communities, and tackles issues such as waste management and marine protection. So staying at this top-class island hideaway also means supporting social and environmental change. A meaningful blueprint for sustainable travel. By Pamela Goodman
The Ritz-Carlton Montréal lives up to the brand's reputation by providing sophisticated accommodations and superb service in a location that's well-suited for both business and leisure travelers. Set in downtown Montreal (within walking distance of Mont-Royal Park and the McGill University campus), this Ritz-Carlton earns high praise for its stylish guest rooms, decorated in neutral tones with bright pink accents. All accommodations come appointed with 47-inch LCD flat-screen TVs and bathrooms appointed with rain showers, flat-screen TVs and even toilets with heated seats. (Some suites also feature hardwood floors and marble fireplaces.) The property also houses a fitness center and a small pool, not to mention a garden and terrace. After a long day, you can satisfy your craving for gourmet French fare at renowned chef Daniel Boulud's restaurant, Maison Boulud. Yet despite all of these on-site offerings, it's the Ritz's impeccable customer service that impresses travelers time and time again. And thanks to Ritz's affiliation with Marriott, guests participating in the Marriott Rewards program and can earn or trade in their rewards points for extra perks.
Past guests find little to complain about at the Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver. Thanks to the convenient downtown location and the personable staff, recent visitors are quick to call this Shangri-La outpost their favorite Vancouver hotel. Accommodations are appointed with floor-to-ceiling windows, deep soaking tubs, free Wi-Fi and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. For total pampering, guests suggest heading to CHI, The Spa or unwinding by the outdoor pool and hot tub. Travelers also recommend grabbing at least one meal at MARKET by Jean-Georges for inventive, locally sourced Michelin-starred seafood dishes. Though the luxurious amenities cost a pretty penny, recent visitors say the experience is worth the splurge. You'll find the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver in central Vancouver, a few blocks south of Coal Harbour.
According to previous visitors, the No. 3 Best Hotel in Chicago offers a refined atmosphere and proximity to the shops, restaurants and nightlife of the city's Magnificent Mile. Inside this Travel + Leisure World's Best-awarded property, guests will find numerous facilities to take advantage of, including an indoor swimming pool, 24-hour fitness and business centers, a game-filled lounge for kids and the Allium Restaurant and Bar, which dishes up contemporary American cuisine. What's more, rooms and suites feature neutral color palettes with jewel-tone accents, Malin + Goetz bath amenities, flat-screen TVs and minibars. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and Peter Peirce)
Just one deep breath of the lobby's fresh scent and you're in vacation mode. You can find your place in the Waldorf's lobby among couples in artfully ripped jeans and Common Projects sneakers, hot-shot agents, and meticulously maintained ladies in Chanel, or head to your spacious room (the smallest at the hotel is a whopping 630 square feet.) But don't get too comfortable down there—the pool has one of the best views in L.A., complete with an impressive lunch menu.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is an icon in Los Angeles. The Pink Palace sits on 12 acres along a secluded section of Sunset Boulevard. Travelers say the customer service is just as legendary as the property itself, praising the hotel staff for being warm and welcoming upon arrival and the wait staff for being attentive through meal services. At the No. 3 Best Hotel in Los Angeles, guests can lounge around the palm tree-lined pool, book a massage at the spa or sample the cuisine (and keep an eye out for celebrities) at the infamous Polo Lounge. (Courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel)