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Best Hotels in the World 2019 Reader’s Choice Award

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Best Hotels in the World 2019 Reader's Choice Award 1

This meticulously resorted Victorian manse set on 34 acres of Scottish woodlands first made headlines in 2014, when it was acquired by none other than tennis star Andy Murray, who hails from this part of Perthshire. Yet you’ll find almost no trace of the pro here other than his fondness for this nook of the Highlands. Famed French chef Albert Roux runs the kitchen at Chez Roux at Cromlix, offering up elegant French-meets-Scottish food. There is also a whiskey room where guests can kick back and enjoy a number of different Scottish whiskies, as well as rooms for private dining. As with any Scottish estate, it’s all about the daytime activities. Cromlix offers tennis coaching on their own Wimbledon-grade courts (of course), loch fishing, archery, garden games, and falconry.

Not since the Vietnam War have the outdoor café tables immortalized in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American graced historic Lam Son Square. In 2015, Park Hyatt Saigon brought al fresco dining back to the neighborhood at Opera, one of two restaurants designed by Japan’s acclaimed Super Potato at the 245-room property. The Italian eatery offers the ideal vantage point to appreciate the capitalist vibe zooming through this city like the endless stream of motorcycles streaking past.

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.

There’s a lot happening at the Raffles Jakarta—but it’s still a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of this busy capital city. Sitting in Jakarta’s Golden Triangle, a monument- and memorial-laden area in the southern edge of the city center, the hotel hugs the upscale Lotte Shopping Avenue and the Ciputra Artpreneur Center, an art gallery and theater complex. Let the bellman in the spiffy getup take your bags and usher you in to the marbled lobby, which also pulls double-duty as an art gallery: Works by Hendra Gunawan, an Indonesian artist, line the walls with bursts of color in an otherwise glossy, cream-colored space. Other standouts include the Writers Bar—a spinoff of the hotel’s famous Singapore outpost—which celebrates Jakarta’s art, literature, and history, and the guest rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows.

Courtesy Mercer Hotel Barcelona

Rooms at the Mercer are bright, spacious, and impeccably laid out; some have even been built into an original Roman defense tower, translating to walls of gorgeous, centuries-old brickwork. The food here is equally superior, without being stuffy: you’ll find foie gras and caviar, yes, but also patatas bravas and beer. For the full five-star boutique experience, there’s no better bang for your buck in Barcelona.

Courtesy Archipelagos Hotel/Photo by Christos Drazos

Less than a quarter mile from the golden-sand Kalo Livadi beach, one of the longest on the island, the Archipelagos Hotel is about as idyll a retreat as you’ll find, despite sitting on one of Greece’s more popular spits of land. Take in a Cycladean sunset from your post on the pool deck, or, if you prefer, from the comfort of your room—designed like an amphitheater, many of the set-ups offer views of the region’s azure waters. Come breakfast, stake out the buffet, a princely spread of fresh pastries, breads, meats, cheeses, and dried fruit to sustain you for the day ahead—whether that means a hike up the isle’s rocky crags, or one parsing past issues of The New Yorker by the pool.

Courtesy Belmond/Photo by Tommy Picone

Two are indisputably better than one at the Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare, a dual-property entity sitting high above Portofino cove. Both halves carry with them a bit of history: the 670-room Hotel Splendido was once a 16th-century monastery known for withstanding attacks from Saracen pirates, while the other, 16-room “Mare” half sits on the piazzetta, a respite from the lively Ligurian harbor. Outside, fragrant bundles of wisteria and straight-backed juniper bushes flank its winding cobblestone walkways, while rooms mostly come with terra-cotta-tiled terraces where you can take your morning cappuccino—some offer up stunning panoramic views of the cove.

Jack Richmond/Courtesy Dunton Town House

Dunton Town House’s location couldn’t be better, on a pretty side street just down from Telluride’s main drag, and steps from the gondola. Though the facade looks like a classic painted clapboard B&B, the interior whisks you away to the Tyrol, with authentic Austrian fabrics and hand-carved wooden antiques. Only 10 people can stay at a time, so the Town House feels ultra-homey, with a mud room and family-style dining table, plus eclectic original art from the owners’ collection.

The Taj Mahal Palace is a 1903, grey-and-white stone, red-domed wedding cake of a building that stands sentry over Mumbai’s harbor. When your taxi pulls up through the throngs of families and tourists who choke the roads near the Gateway to India arch and you’re ceremoniously welcomed by doormen in traditional silk kurtas, you have that pinch-me feeling of Wow, I’m really staying here? You’re in good company, as everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Barack Obama has spent the night here too. Because the Taj is such a landmark, there are tourists and locals who come and go from the hotel’s restaurants, shops, and bars, as well as the daily Heritage Walks around the property. But some parts of the hotel are off-limits to non-guests, so you quickly leave the bustle of the lobby behind. The Taj has the best pool in Mumbai, and a dozen restaurants, bars, and cafés, including Wasabi by Morimoto, Souk for Tagines, and Kraft Masala for Indian.

Originally the Royal Danish Embassy, designed in the late 1930s by the same architect as the city’s famed KaDeWe department store, Das Stue opened its doors as a hotel in early 2013. Spanish-born interior designer Patricia Urquiola has created a playful mix of old-meets-new, which has attracted a chic clientele. Das Stue occupies prime real estate in more ways than one: sitting on the edge of the Tiergarten, it’s a mere 1.6 miles from the famed Brandenburg Gate. Decor is modern but peaceful, with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows—many rooms have views of the park. When you need to relax after a day out sightseeing, head to the 260-square meter spa, which has a 14-meter long indoor pool and a Finnish glass sauna.

Jim Hensley/Courtesy Hotel Continental

The fourth-generation, family-owned Hotel Continental is one of the oldest and most established hotels in Oslo—but it’s not just its pedigree that makes it a notable stay. Located on the doorstep of some of the city’s main tourist attractions, including the Royal Castle, the parade street Karl Johan, the National Gallery, the waterfront, and the Aker Brygge neighborhood, it’s in a veritable hotbed of activity. The five-star spot caters to an accordingly upscale crowd, with plenty of business travelers in the mix, but there are also locals swinging by for pre-dinner cocktails at Bar Boman, the stylish hotel bar—so you won’t feel at all sequestered from the scene.

Just three blocks from the mighty Mekong River, surrounded by gilded Buddhist temples, and in the upscale heart of the city center, Villa Maly has a coveted address in Luang Prabang. The two-story house, awash with white paint and deep wood accents, feels like entering the home of your chicest Laoation friend—that is, if your friend were a grandson of a 19th-century Lao king. (And, actually, it was Prince Khamtan Ounkham who built the house in 1938, and prominent French nouveau details are a nod to the years he spent studying in France.) Belly up to the Maly Bar for cocktails and light snacks, or enjoy a D.I.Y poolside barbecue with marinated meats and vegetables; and don’t forget to make use of the hotel’s complementary bike rentals while you’re at it.

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A top-to-bottom refit of the Lambs Club, the historic thespian hangout in the heart of Midtown’s Theater District, by designer Thierry Despont has turned this actors’ den into a sleek 76-room hotel with Art Deco lines and ocean liner-inspired fittings that hark back to travel’s bygone era. Rooms are fitted with gorgeous steamer trunk–like wardrobes and desk-vanity combos in chocolate leather, while bathrooms come with wall-to-wall mirrors and rain showers stocked with custom Asprey amenities. Guests can find a break at the cozy Lambs Club Bar, hidden away above the lobby, and at the underground spa, with a clever “endless” lap pool and small gym—probably the only place on the property where you can let them see you sweat.

This is a hotel you might’ve dreamt of when you were little—though we doubt you were this imaginative. The place truly is a palace, though from the front, it’s tough to discern its size: You pull into a private, paved drive, with a fairly modest entrance, and a beautiful, if somewhat smallish lobby, and it’s not until you make it out to the back of the hotel that you realize its scale. Set on a hill overlooking the aquamarine (yes, actually aquamarine) waters of Lake Geneva, you’ll first notice the immaculately manicured gardens, the thin strips of outdoor pools, and the piqued tent tops under which people are taking their lunch al fresco. Hard to believe, but it only gets better from there.

Courtesy Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces

Courtesy Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel

Just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, this 16th-century colonial-style mansion has been thoughtfully updated with intelligent oxygen enrichment systems, heated floors, and hot tubs in 43 suites. Wellbeing and cuisine are among the standouts here, but it’s not just about how you feel—it’s what you see, too. The hotel houses more than 300 pieces of art, including paintings from the Cuzco school, carvings, and sculptures, so make time to take a lap (or three).

This destination retreat is stylish and savvy—and in the mountainous Paro Valley of Bhutan. Intimate, with 29 guest rooms, the design melds Bhutanese craftsmanship with signature COMO amenities—especially centered around wellness. You’re in a prime location for hiking and exploring the natural wonders around you, not to mention trekking to visit nearby Buddhist temples. You can arrange a half-day hike to the Instagram famous Tigers Nest monastery, then come back to the spa’s bathhouse, where you have the pick of two Bhutanese hot stone bathhouses, steam rooms, a pool, gym and yoga studio, and treatment rooms for a range of spa services.

Courtesy Marriott International, Inc.

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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.

Those longing for the timeless elegance of Old World Europe need look no further than the Fairmont Hotel. Since its opening in 1897, this grand dame on the banks of Hamburg’s Inner Alster Lake has drawn travelers for its elegance, service, discretion, and attention to detail. (The hotel counts Maria Callas, Peter Ustinov, and Prince Heinrich of Prussia among its former guests.) Notable, too, are its spacious rooms, curated interiors, and two-Michelin star Haerlin restaurant. The hotel even has a “dog waiting room” for restaurant guests reluctant to part with their pooches—talk about service.

Dating back to 1745, this cream-and-pink former aristocratic palace is set on 18 acres of landscaped gardens—so, despite its location in the heart of Jaipur, the hotel itself is a sanctuary of sorts. Highlighting Rajasthani decor and miniature paintings, rooms are comfortable (many overlooking the gardens); though, because it’s staggered over many levels, guests should be mindful of the stairs they’ll likely need to climb and descend. Load up on Indian food at Cinnamon, where diners are treated to a nightly show with local dancers. If you’re not wowed by the Taj Jai Mahal Palace’s commitment to turning this hotel into a living museum, then check your pulse. What you make of it is up to you—whether it’s your launching point for exploring the city, only coming back after a long day on your feet, or if you prefer to spend an afternoon by the pool, followed by a run along the on-property jogging track.

Barbara Kraft/Courtesy One Only Cape Town

Cape Town’s only urban resort, One&Only has a prime Waterfront location next door to the Two Oceans Aquarium and is within strolling distance of the Water Shed, an indoor market filled with must-have local designer brands. Much more of a resort than a hotel, the overall impression is one of generous space and dramatic scale.

The chic, intimate modernist interiors of this hotel in Beacon Hill contrast with the exterior—a turn-of-the-century, ten-story Beaux Arts building of iron, limestone, and brick, capped with a copper cornice. The lobby has an original cage elevator, while individually designed rooms in taupes, creams, and espressos come with fireplaces, mahogany built-in cupboards, and contemporary canopied beds. The steak house Mooo… has a vaulted-ceilinged private dining room in the wine cellar. Take advantage of the fleet of chauffeured Lexuses for complimentary trips around downtown Boston.

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 modern Chinese plates at its Temple Café and regionally inspired Italian fare at Tivano, head for the wood-lined Mi Xun Teahouse, its day spa. With its menu inspired by Chinese medicine, it’s the hottest seat in the house—if you can get one.

Cusco’s architectural heritage of Incan stone walls topped with colonial white stucco is echoed in this 16th-century building on a square steps from the main plaza. With just 11 suites, La Casona has the intimacy of a private home, with a grassy courtyard encircled by rooms on two levels, though the building’s colonial charms come with smart modern touches such as iPods and iPod speakers. Inside, a grassy courtyard is surrounded by rooms on two levels. Owners Denise and Joe Koechlin have fussed over every antique- and craft-strewn square foot of the place, and exquisite pillars, retablos, and benches have been sourced from all over Peru, including Pre-Colombian textiles and murals. The excellent restaurant—don’t leave without trying the quinoa pancakes—delivers a generous helping of Andean hospitality.

Courtesy Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Years in the making, this is the first East Coast hotel for Pendry, the off-shoot brand from Montage. The hotel occupies the Recreation Pier, a landmark building in Fell’s Point, that was left empty for nearly two decades before reopening as the Pendry, thanks in part to a big investment from Under Armour’s Kevin Plank. While the “Rec Pier” serves as the frontispiece of the property—and houses the Andrew Carmellini Rec Pier Chop House restaurant and a small whiskey bar called The Cannon Room—the guest rooms are in the new-build addition on the old footprint of the pier, which 1) gives the place a bolted-together feel but also 2) supremely comfortable guest rooms that aren’t jig-sawed into a historic building. The Pendry’s probably one of the best places to stay in Baltimore right now—and if you’re coming for nightlife and dining, this is the perfect place to be.

A few miles inland from the Mediterranean, this 67-room hotel on the Costa del Sol is the elegant centerpiece of an ambitious real estate project that includes private villas and a top-rated golf course. Surrounded by impeccably landscaped grounds, the Finca Cortesin took its cues from traditional Spanish farmhouses—low, whitewashed, terra-cotta-tile-roofed, and built around interior courtyards that often have a Moorish decor. Take advantage of the complex’s three restaurants, superb spa with an indoor saltwater pool (there are two outdoor pools), a high-tech gym with Med views, a hammam, and a Finnish-style snow room.

Guests may be surprised to hear that this exquisitely restored 1835 palace, with all its courtyards and pageantry, wasn’t built for a queen—but rather, for the queen’s favorite handmaiden. Later on, it was used as a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, though it’s since comfortably taken its place as one of Rajasthan’s most luxurious hotels. Enjoy an evening of Champagne, moonlight, and candles in a private dining tent illuminated by flaming torches and pitched on the palace greens, and make sure you get to the Steam bar, which occupies a restored train.

Courtesy Starwood Hotels & Resorts/Photo by George Fakaros

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Building a hotel into the face of Santorini’s dramatic sea cliffs lends an immediate advantage: The location alone is enough to make it a showstopper. Happily, the 18-room Mystique lives up to its stunning site, and is well worth the step-filled trip it takes to get there. The free-form rooms, decorated in what might be called cave-art style (driftwood for headboards, a dining table and chairs that appear to be made of egg-shaped boulders), are carved directly into the cliff, and the views—toward the town of Fira—are magnificent.

This 32-room hotel may appear traditional thanks to its colonial facade, but guests know that the sleek Hotel Matilda is anything but: there’s a crazy video installation installed behind the front desk, and the hallways are lined with contemporary artwork. Once you get to your room, you’ll discover crisp white beds dressed with Egyptian cotton linens and adorned slate gray accents, and marble-clad bathrooms hstocked with Malin + Goetz products. The infinity pool and the rooftop bar, though, are the true standouts.

Courtesy The Norman Tel Aviv

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.

From the road, Ellerman House looks like a grand private residence (of which there are plenty in upscale Bantry Bay)—though you could very well call this an art gallery with a hotel attached, as every room and all available wall space is hung with original and rare art from the Harris family’s private collection. Over the years, owner Paul Harris has restored the old lady extensively, transforming the one-and-a-half acre garden into an indigenous showpiece—like a little slice of Kirstenbosch botanical gardens by the sea. You’ll experience the very best of everything South Africa has to offer, from food and wine to art, to the staggering natural beauty of mountain and ocean.

There are certainly more luxe options scattered around the Ngorongoro crater area. But Gibb’s Farm, with its colonial farmhouse on the wooded slopes of the crater, built by German farmers as a coffee plantation in 1929, wins hands down on history and character. (It’s so beloved that old African hands use it for their personal family holidays.) Its cozy cottages and lush, tropical gardens make the perfect antidote to days spent on a dusty game drive.

Courtesy Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo

This Belle Époque hotel was built in 1886 on land that previously belonged to Pope Leo XIII—and pedigree aside, there’s plenty to appreciate. Located near Casino Square, its design has a contemporary edge and a glass-domed atrium, and guests can enjoy excellent food throughout; try Yoshi, opened by Joël Robuchon, for Japanese delicacies in a secluded garden dining room. The spa is also top-notch, with a sauna, hammam, caldarium, ice fountain, and aromatherapy showers to round it out.

Bruce Horak/Courtesy Birkenhead House

This sprawling cream-colored villa is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and the stunning vantage point is one of the hotel’s finest features: Hermanus is known for its rugged natural beauty, and Birkenhead House maximizes that in all directions. Hermanus is a lovely add-on to any South Africa trip, and this is the best hotel in the area by far. If you’re a serious whale watcher, it’s a no brainer: You can’t beat these views.

Courtesy The Royal Portfolio

This wine country hotel was constructed on a grand scale: triple-height ceilings, black-and-white marble floors, enormous chandeliers, wide verandas, and mountain views. The 16 extravagant suites are no less impressive: Layered with French and Asian antiques, fantastic local art, and Persian carpets, each has its own personality, from a girly boudoir in pink and lime green, to a palatial honeymoon suite in white marble. Guests dine alfresco during the day, while dinner is a theatrical event with candlelight, high-backed ruby banquettes, and local wines paired to the simple but well-executed menu.

A short, cobblestoned walk up from Cusco’s central plaza sits an elegant hotel with ancient roots. The story of this Belmond all-suite property—which opened in 2012—is reflected in its décor: Original Inca stone walls from the building’s footprint give way to the colonial-era frescoes and gilded 17th-century décor of its private mansion days, while a small restored chapel and serene arcades reveals its time as a convent. Now, tucked-away terraces and gardens, bubbling fountains, and Cusco’s first heated pool encourage contemplation of another kind to guests of the 55 accommodations. With butler service included for all rooms, checking in and getting acquainted with your suite is a breeze. Despite the historic air, all the technology is up-to-date, so enjoy the in-room iPads, espresso/tea machines, heated bathroom floors, and pumped-in oxygen to help ease any altitude issues.

Courtesy Accor Hotels/Photo by Chris Kewish

This former 17th-century convent mixes elements of its past (exposed wood ceilings, beautiful arched walkways) with modernity in a very graceful way: Rooms are either contemporary or colonial-style, and while the newer ones offer views of the pool or the Caribbean, colonial suites have antique furniture and overlook the Old Town or interior gardens. To play at being pious, check out Restaurant 1621, once the Clarist nuns’ dining room, which now serves French-inflected cuisine.

Courtesy Rosewood San Miguel de Allende

This 13-acre property, enviably sited in the centro, is without peer in a town that has its share of swank hotels. Portals and stone paths lead to tiered swimming pools, two-person cabanas, covered patios, and a tequila bar, and the 67 rooms are grand and outfitted with regionally sourced hardwood floors and Spanish colonial furnishings. Even a standard king, at an already-generous 535 square feet, comes with special treatment: A bubble bath lit by candles is drawn at turndown upon request.

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Filling the top floors of a 58-story financial district building, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong’s location is one of its strongest selling points: Its prime location, right at the heart of the city’s commercial center, means guests have easy access to high-end shopping and the Metro, plus, it’s just a quick walk to the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. As you might imagine, the cloud-level rooms, described by guests as large and luxurious, have perfect views of the Huangpu River and the city’s ever-evolving skyline.

Courtesy Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine

A two-hour drive north of Madrid will get you to this massive converted Baroque-Romanesque abbey surrounded by vineyards. Abadia’s aesthetic feels medieval—in a good way—with vaulted ceilings, thick stone walls, and a silent cloister, minus the drafty bedrooms, ash-littered fireplaces, and drab brocade curtains. In their place are bright and airy pieces of modern furniture accented by warm wood and soaring windows, plus a one-starred Michelin restaurant, Refectorio. Examine the peeling frescoes while you make your way through a prix-fixe menu that might include smoked cauliflower soup and roasted squab with an artichoke and olive confit.

The Norman Foster-designed hotel on Sentosa Island is partly housed in colonial buildings, and the standing lamps, rugs, and 20th-century-style travel trunks in the lobby project old-world charm. Capella shows off a different side to Singapore—a beachy escape from the hustle and bustle of the business district and the shopping strips. It’s one of the most expensive hotels here, but a little tranquility can be priceless.

Courtesy Hacienda de San Antonio/©Michael Gilbreath

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.

Opened in 1844 and operated by the same family ever since, this property has hosted the likes of Joan Miró and Plácido Domingo. Set in a garden near the Bahnhofstrasse shopping drag (Zurich’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue), the hotel looks right onto Lake Zurich and the Alps—but that’s not the only nice view. Inside, rooms tastefully mix Art Deco, Louis XVI, and Regency styles, and are individually decorated in neutral tones with red, purple, and teal accents—though, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a room with a balcony on the water. Rive Gauche is a chic Mediterranean restaurant, while the seasonal Rive Gauche Terrasse is a popular open-air spot for chilled cocktails on warm summer nights. If you’re really keen to splurge, the Michelin-starred Pavillon is worth the indulgence.

Dook/Courtesy The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa

The coastal road between Camps Bay and Llandudno is a conservation area, so it’s undeveloped—just fynbos-covered mountains to one side, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the other. Until you round a curve in the road and catch your first glimpse of the Twelve Apostles, named after the Twelve Apostles mountain range that runs parallel to the coast, that is: Built into the contours of the mountainside, there’s a lot of hotel packed into its relatively small footprint. The rooms are flamboyant, old-school glamour, either facing the sea or the mountains.

Courtesy Starwood Hotels & Resorts

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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.

You can bet that just about every detail at this palatial hotel, which took more than three years and 1,200 master craftsmen to build, aims to please. Each of the 53 individual three-story riads has a mini courtyard (with a canopy that automatically unfurls if rain is detected); a dazzling living room and bedroom with silk-covered walls; and a private rooftop terrace with a fireplace and heated plunge pool. If you do decide to leave your room, (though, you very well may not) try one of the two superb restaurants, La Grande Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Française (both overseen by chef Yannick Alléno from Paris’s Le Meurice), as well as the indoor-outdoor La Table, which serves a formally presented breakfast and lunch—by white-gloved staff.

Courtesy Taj Hotels & Resorts

At this palatial 32-acre hilltop estate, there’s an art to the first impression: Because cars aren’t permitted beyond the front gate, visitors arrive at reception in a golf cart or, for VIPs, a horse-drawn carriage. In lieu of a formal check-in desk, a standard bearer greets guests by militarily clicking his heels before leading them under a shower of rose petals and into the former ruler of Hyderabad’s neo-Palladian palace. The rest of the experience is no less impressive, with museum-quality reception rooms furnished in late-Victorian style, gleaming with burnished wood and leather, and a gracious garden courtyard with trees and fountains is flanked by two wings housing most of the 60 rooms. (Just beyond one of the wings, the suites faithfully decorated in a grand Edwardian manner surround a smaller, star-shaped courtyard.)

Courtesy COMO Hotels and Resorts

At the far reaches of the Punakha Valley, on the Mo Chu River in central Bhutan, is this COMO retreat. The 11-room hideaway gives harried guests views of terraced rice fields, the temple of Khamsum Yuley Namgay, and snowcapped Himalayan peaks. The restaurant Bukhari, so named for the traditional Bhutanese fireplace, might be the best place to savor these vistas. Park yourself on the outdoor terrace, preferably by a smoking, standing fireplace, for a seasonally driven dinner made with local organic ingredients—red rice, hand-ground buckwheat flour, apple cider vinegar, and hand-moulded farm cheese.

This gorgeous property is located inside an old ceramics factory in the heart of Mexico’s Puebla, set between brightly painted colonial homes and storefronts. Beautifully restored into a luxury hotel, the Cartesiano does a brilliant job of fusing old and new, knowing exactly where to preserve and where to introduce modern features—the annex, which has whole walls impressed with colorful, hand-painted ceramic tiles that were produced by the century-old factory, visible from the rooftop pool, is just one such example.

Courtesy Leading Hotels of the World

Like New York’s Waldorf-Astoria or the Queen Mary 2, there are few surprises at this gracefully aging hotel. It does just about everything right—a standard kept since 1923—while making guests feel like they’ve stumbled into a le Carré novel. Rooms have Arabesque tiling and hammam–inspired baths; and many overlook the broad, palm-studded gardens and massive, lap-ready pool. The Churchill Bar, named for the hotel’s most famous guest, is an impossibly dimly lit place for an evening negroni; by day, guests decompress in the small but beautiful spa.

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