Gold List

The Best Hotels and Resorts in the World: The Gold List 2024

Our global editors across four continents share their favorite places to stay and ships to sail.
The Best Hotels and Resorts in the World The Gold List 2024
Josun Palace

Consider Gold List the answer to the question our editors get asked more than any other: What are your favorite places to stay? Our 30th annual iteration of the world’s greatest hotels and cruises captures nearly a year’s worth of work: This collection of 75 resorts and hotels represents hundreds of hours of researching, scouting, and impassioned debating by our team of editors in seven cities across the globe. But more than that, it reflects our ongoing love affair with the places where we stay, which often become our gateways to entire destinations. Read on to inspire your next trip.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

See the full 2024 Gold List here.

Africa and the Middle East

Natelee Cocks/Bab al Shams

Bab al Shams – Dubai

Bab Al Shams reveals herself slowly, her sandstone exterior—an ode to traditional Emirati forts—half-hidden by spindly date palms and sand dunes. In a city that so often leans into excess, the grande dame of Dubai’s desert resorts works her magic with restraint.

For almost two decades, UAE residents have made the 45-minute pilgrimage from the city up Al Qudra Road—past outlandishly shaped man-made lakes, swirling cycle paths and endurance horse-racing tracks—to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and indulgent weekends at Bab Al Shams. The city may be creeping closer, but this is still the place we come to get away from it all. The resort’s much-photographed infinity pool, which drops off into a vast sandy expanse in a paradox of elemental opposites, is the draw for many. For me, it’s the quiet, which is all-enveloping and absolute. The resort comes into its own as the sun sets, the silhouettes of sand dunes framed in pinks and mauves; bamboo torches flickering along the perimeter and lanterns creating a play of light and shadow in outdoor passageways.

Now Bab Al Shams is fresh from a 10-month, no-holds-barred renovation, with new bragging rights as the first property in the Rare Finds Hotels & Resorts collection by the Kerzner group (Atlantis, One&Only). The exterior remains largely unchanged, the deep solid walls, arches, alcoves and geometric patterning lifted directly from the UAE’s vernacular architecture. But interiors have been transformed by a deft hand, the gilded ornamentalism that characterizes the country’s Arabesque-inspired resorts forsaken for a lighter touch. The lobby, once a warren of dimly lit, compartmentalized spaces, has been opened out and brightened up. In my terrace garden room, instead of dark woods and heavy upholstery, nods to tradition come in delicate mother-of-pearl detailing on arched mirrors, brass studs on cupboard doors and majlis-style seating in a corner nook. Teal accents flit from headboards and furniture piping to diamond-shaped mosaic tiles in the rain shower.

The hotel is unassuming, but not devoid of spectacle. At Al Hadheerah, a colossal open-air restaurant, nightly performances accompany the Arabian classic dishes: a belly dancer, whirling dervish, musicians, singers and even a re-enactment of a Bedouin caravan with camels and horses crisscrossing a bordering desert plateau. Cooking stations serve lamb salona and chicken biryani, and the spirited Egyptian chef de cuisine takes great delight in showing guests the underground contraption used to prepare his seven-hour slow-cooked lamb ouzi. More sedate meals are served at the Mediterranean-inspired Zala or Pan-Asian Anwā, a prime sunset spot.

Bab Al Shams remains loyal to her desert environment. In the newly opened standalone spa, home to male and female hammams carefully crafted from green-veined Cipollino Nuvolato marble, some treatments use De L’Arta, a locally grown skincare line featuring Tetraena qatarensis, a shrub found in abundance around the hotel. On a recent visit, a morning safari took us through Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, over powder-soft pale-yellow dunes, past camels feasting on desert grasses, regally horned Arabian oryx, skittish gazelles and the season’s first migratory flamingoes. Indian rollers flitted between ghaf trees and lizards scuttled off into hidden burrows. It was a reminder, as Bab Al Shams has always been, that there is immense natural beauty in the UAE, if you only stop to look. From $417.—Selina Denman

Dar Ahlam
Dar Ahlam

Dar Ahlam – Morocco

This rare palm-framed fantasyland near Ouarzazate, whose name translates from Arabic as “House of Dreams,” was conjured 20 years ago from the wild imagination of a Parisian creative. Thierry Teyssier re-envisaged the 200-year-old ochre kasbah and its rammed-earth ramparts to honor its Berber heritage with authenticity, elegance and an unrivaled romance. Spells at the hideaway are more magical than ever, with the handful of rooms in the North African castle joined by spacious suites at the edge of the Louis Benech-landscaped grounds. Teyssier’s past lives as a theatre actor and event planner keep him challenging traditional hospitality as a disrupter and storyteller: every soul-stirring scene is art-directed and choreographed to enchant, with delicate, tactile interiors, seductive scents and unexpected curios at every turn. Surrendering to Dar Ahlam’s rare rhythm is akin to participating in immersive theatre, with unprompted poolside pomegranate juices, candlelit Berber tents for secret suppers and personally addressed hand-penned scrolls or other gifts at bedtime. Guests can explore vast desertscapes by four-by-four, or let the staff plan a picnic in a villager’s vegetable garden. There is no lobby, restaurant or bar, just beautiful spaces unfettered by telephones, menus or minibars. Dar Ahlam’s emotive approach to hospitality has a precious respect for Morocco’s remote rural places, with the surrounding community deeply involved. This interdependence with the people of the area is a welcome lesson in how respecting geography and hyperlocal history cultivates a richer appreciation on both sides. From $1,730.Juliet Kinsman

Igor Demba/El-Fenn
Treal Cecile/Ruiz Jean-Michel/El-Fenn

El-Fenn – Marrakech

It’s easy to forget what a game-changer El Fenn was when it opened two decades ago on the edge of the medina with just six jewel-toned bedrooms, plumes of bougainvillea and a rooftop that felt like a fabulous house party. It stitched itself into the fabric of the Red City and redefined its aesthetic with color-clashing walls and lounges of thickly woven Berber and velvet fabrics; Moorish keyhole archways and orange trees. Like the best hotels, it has moved—and expanded—with the times. Co-owner Vanessa Branson, founder of the Marrakech Biennale and a certified Marocophile, has gradually bought up the crumbling neighboring riads to create a wondrous labyrinth of 13 interconnected buildings, three pools and 41 bedrooms in blush pinks, mustards and acid yellows. Some have zellige tiles, others hand-stitched camel leather floors and carved wooden ceilings, all offset with pop art and bright contemporary installations. Various sun-dappled courtyards lead to a new wood-carved annex, which references traditional Arabic motifs in the latticework and stained-glass windows. I recently stayed in one of the “cosy” rooms, behind an ornate cedar door. On a hand-plastered traditional tadelakt wall hangs a contemporary dot painting by Moroccan artist Abdelmalek Berhiss, while a timeworn mother-of-pearl iridescent chandelier dangles above the bed. It’s nearly impossible to tell old from new, a result of using local artisans, natural fabrics and upcycled furniture. The open-air, guest-only Colonnade Café is dotted with olive trees; its modern spiral staircase, which connects the ground-floor boutique with the sprawling spruced-up rooftop, is a monument to Marrakech’s contemporary mood. mood. Yet amid the rooftop’s pool, sunbeds, and pops of color, the old magic of Marrakech endures. From $366.Chloe Sachdev

Duncan Chard/Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf

Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf – Dubai

That there is still a spot on Dubai’s 99-acre Madinat Jumeirah estate that feels undiscovered comes as a genuine surprise, given that the resort, an Arabesque fantasy of four hotels on 1.25 miles of private beachfront overlooking the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024. But checking in to one of the newly refurbished Malakiya Villas at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf is like stepping into your own private kingdom. There are seven discrete two- and three-bedroom residences, including the 7,000 square foot Royal Malakiya Villa. Each has its own private plunge pool and terrace, and guests arrive via whisper-quiet abra rides through man-made tropical lagoons. Interiors are a swirl of soft grays and creams, leather, silk, and bouclé, offset by grand Impressionist-style artworks. In the master bedroom, the bed is so high and well-appointed that once you’ve clambered in, princess-style, you’ll be reluctant to kick back the linens to escape for breakfast. A cadre of butlers can be reached via WhatsApp 24/7 and will materialize with perfectly mixed cocktails or servings of jewel-like treats for afternoon tea. A royal affair indeed. From $521. —Clare Dight


Lolebezi – Zambia

The Lower Zambezi National Park has long been a pilgrimage for safari-goers seeking natural drama on water as well as land. So when this new lodge was opened in 2022 on a formerly wild 12-acre concession on the banks of the Zambezi River, conservationists’ eyes were firmly turned. Owned by Dubai-based businessman Irfaan Yousuf for his wildlife-loving wife Shahida and son Lole (hence the name), Lolebezi is surrounded by game—which can be seen from kayaks (keeping a watch out for monster crocodiles and irritable hippo), sundowner cruises, walks and game drives. Built in partnership with respected African Bush Camps’ founder Beks Ndlovu, the six suites and double-height living space were designed by South Africa-based Fox Browne Creative and Jack Alexander Studio to feel like an indulgent contemporary boutique hotel, with curvaceous banquettes alongside calabash-strung art installations; reed ceilings above opulent green Italian marble. Considering the remote location, the food is remarkably inventive and fresh. There might be an Indian tandoori feast in the evening, Ottolenghi-style vegan tapas for lunch and spirulina- and baobab-spiked juices at dawn. With an Africology and Healing Earth spa set among giant leadwood trees (and, sometimes, wandering lions), a glass-walled gym, games room and velvet-seated cocktail bar, this is the most glamorous camp in Zambia. An instant classic on the African continent. From $1,375. —Lisa Grainger

Elsa Young/Londolozi

Londolozi – South Africa

Even if you’ve never been, Londolozi exists in the imagination: a sprawling cluster of five thatched-roof safari camps, in varying sizes and shades of taupe and beige, built in an ancient riverine forest around waterfalls and tangled vines. Londolozi has been owned and run by the Varty family for nearly 100 years. The word londolozi comes from the Zulu language and means “protector of all living things”. Nelson Mandela, who recovered from imprisonment on Robben Island at the family camp, described it as “a dream I cherish for a model of nature preservation in our country”. The camps feel like deeply stylish African homes, layered in natural clay, khaki and sand-colored linens. Each has its own communal open-air lobby, with plunge pools and various rooms and suites attached. All have wide views across the bush or river, some are wrapped around ancient trees, others flanked by granite rocks. Like on most top-notch safaris, you are fed well here, from the sunrise treats at early morning pre-game drives to the big breakfasts and suppers. The Varty family have been spearheading the emotional wellness trend in Africa, offering multi-day wildlife wellness retreats which involve silent treks and life-coaching sessions. Beyond just a game lodge, Londolozi sees itself as a platform to restore and heal the land. With a jovial family ethos and unbelievable wildlife (you’re pretty much guaranteed to see the waddle of big beasts and furry creatures), this is one of the world’s best safari outposts. From $1,060.Chloe Sachdev

Jonathan Pozniak/Miavana by Time + Tide
Miavana by Time + Tide

Miavana by Time + Tide — Madagascar

“How do they do it?” I kept asking myself during my stay at Miavana, a private island hideaway just off Madagascar’s northeastern coast. Its extensive restaurant menus and top-shelf drinks list would have been impressive even if it had a traiteur on its doorstep, but given that it took me two flights and a helicopter-hop to reach its perch in the remote Levens Archipelago, the logistic puzzle this toes-in-the-sand operation requires is mind-boggling. As is the price—but that does buy you a stay in an enormous breezy beachfront villa with a barefoot Bauhaus-y design from bamboo and local sandstone, slicked up with licks of copper and jolts of turquoise. You’ll also have a private pool, of course, and a palm-hemmed beach as fine and white as powdered sugar right in front. Butlers fix poolside breakfasts, fresh coconuts and in-villa spa treatments at the drop of a hat, or help organize helicopter safaris to little-visited baobab forests and otherworldly rock formations on the mainland that culminate in lavish picnics. But for all this extravagance, the things that will stick with you the most are the ones you can’t put a price tag on: coming eye-to-beady-eye with a chameleon crossing the jungle floor in its jerky gait; having the on-site experts point out birds and gecko species you’ll find nowhere else on earth; and, if you’re lucky, spotting humpback whales from the helicopter before you’ve even checked in. The best things in life might be free, but Miavana adds a priceless dash of magic. From $3,787. —Chris Schalkx

Singita Sasakwa

Singita Sasakwa — Tanzania

Built in the style of an Edwardian stone manor house, overlooking the Serengeti, this safari lodge has had gold standards since it opened in 2007. Its elegant, antique-clad interiors ooze romance, adorned with crystal chandeliers and wingback chairs, Persian rugs and African artefacts by the acclaimed Cape Town designers Cécile & Boyd. From the clifftop infinity pool, there are views for hundreds of miles over the 350,000-acre Grumeti Reserve and neighboring Serengeti, land on which wildlife migrates to Kenya’s Masai Mara. Between the lodge’s wraparound verandas and plunge pools, birds flit, filling the dawn air with song. There are terraces and tree-shaded tables for long Mediterranean-style lunches; cosy sitting rooms in which to sip fine wines by a fire, and candlelit baths to wallow in beneath shooting stars. And, of course, there’s wildlife. Since Luke Bailes launched Singita in 1993 on his South African family farm, its mission has been to preserve Africa’s wilderness while enriching communities. In Tanzania, in part thanks to the deep pockets of the Grumeti Fund started by American philanthropist Paul Tudor Jones, Grumeti is home to creatures from big cats to tiny gem-colored birds that can be viewed from well-fitted vehicles, hot-air balloons or on foot with expert guides. As there are only five camps on the reserve (a sixth is due in 2024), safari experiences feel private, but there’s also a tennis court, pool, spa and boutique. This is a place you never want to leave, and to which many return, year after year. From $4,861. —Lisa Grainger

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Ahilya Fort Devi Maheshwar

Ahilya Fort Heritage Hotel Maheshwar – India

In Madhya Pradesh, the state at India’s heart, this 18th-century sandstone fort on the banks of the Narmada River was restored by the descendants of Queen Ahilyabai Holkar, the monarch of the Maratha Empire. Since its partial conversion to a hotel by Prince Richard Holkar in 2000, it’s become a place to sink into the slower, spiritual side of India—on birdsong-filled terraced gardens over-looking the river or in the fort’s 250-year-old Ganesh temple, with its enormous bell suspended from an ancient champa tree. Nineteen rooms are scattered over six buildings and intricate maze-like ramparts. The vivid hues of Maheshwari saris enliven the calming palettes of whites and pastels. Today’s prince is intimately involved, designing and planting the hotel gardens and insisting on conscious hospitality, from strict rules around plastics and waste water to supporting the local Rehwa Society, which has revived the dying art of Maheshwari hand-weaving, especially for saris. Lunch salads from the organic garden and thali suppers are served in surprising nooks: in the garden, under a lush canopy of vines, or on a rounded rampart. The afternoon tea service, aboard a hand-poled wooden boat drifting along the river, is a treat. Unfailingly gracious staff can arrange magical excursions, from sunset and sunrise cruises to village walks, temple visits and riverside arti prayer ceremonies. Every morning, 11 Brahmin priests perform the ancient Lingarchan Puja, a Hindu blessing ritual, near the covered breakfast mandap—just one of many moments to treasure here. From $420. —Shunali Khullar Shroff

Courtesy Amanpuri

Amanpuri – Phuket

The original outpost of the globe-spanning Aman empire, this Phuket location was initially intended as a holiday home for Indonesian hotel guru Adrian Zecha. Eventually, he expanded the blueprint into a small boutique resort that opened in 1988. In the following decades, Amanpuri became a hush-hush haven for monarchs and supermodels, with yearly touch-ups and regular renovations (an extensive makeover finished last summer) constantly making it look as if it was brand-new. The hotel’s Thai temple-like pavilions have since been imitated by resorts all over Southeast Asia. But the ones surrounded by lush gardens and coconut palms here, accented with timeworn Buddhist antiques and fresh orchids, still feel like the real deal. During a recent project, the pavilions’ honey-hued interiors shed their low-slung ceilings to reveal the high-pitched teak wood beams that were hidden behind, while the rather poky old bathtubs in the mirror-clad bathrooms were replaced with newer models. The property frequently appears in Condé Nast Traveler’s Spa Guide, and for good reason: its Holistic Wellness Centre, which offers everything from crystal healing sessions to hi-tech IV infusions and medical check-ups, is one of Thailand’s very best. Despite the worldwide acclaim, the resort remains blissfully serene even during the high season, although scoring the best canvas-covered beach cabanas can turn into a game of musical chairs. Ask one of the hosts to try to reserve your favorite one. From $1,770.Chris Schalkx

Bawah Reserve

Bawah Reserve — Indonesia

Bawah is the largest of the six islands in this tiny archipelago. There are 36 suites, villas and lodges here, a line-up of restaurants and bars, walking trails through primary forest, open-air massages, an immaculate lawn tennis court, nature-immersed spas and a boutique. Singapore-based shipping magnate Tim Hartnoll was on a sailing holiday when he dropped anchor to discover these lush outcrops of islands and their sheltered lagoons. So began the journey to create a hideaway resort. Villas are over-water, some front the beach or are set back in the forest. Stone staircases lead to the sea, where the water is so clear that it’s possible to spy marine life without even putting on a mask. Sundowner cocktails are as wonderful as you might expect—there is The Grouper, a laid-back poolside bar, or up the hill, Jules Verne. Dining can be at Tree Tops in the canopy or on the beach at The Boat House. Guests can also opt for private dining at various spots around the islands. The spas offer daily massages (included in your stay) as well as traditional masks, scrubs, compresses and wraps using local ingredients, such as coffee, cocoa and raw honey. The property sits in the Anambas archipelago and is an 80-minute flight from Batam, an Indonesian island that’s a quick boat ride from Singapore. Many of Indonesia’s 17,000 plus islands have been smashed by overdevelopment, palm oil plantations, plastic waste and water pollution, which is why Bawah and its fierce environmental program feel so crucial. For principled eco credentials and a sense of lost world remoteness, there’s nowhere like Bawah. From $1,892.Michelle Jana Chan

Courtesy COMO Hotels and Resorts

COMO Uma Punakha – Bhutan

The COMO brand blends beautifully into this emerging, ecologically fragile Himalayan nation, with its overriding focus on wellness, sustainability, community and sense of place. The region of Punakha enjoys Bhutan’s balmiest climate, and it is to its Dzong fortress-monastery that the entire monk body migrates to escape the fierce chill of winter. The footprint of this rural hideaway is gentle: only 11 rooms. The low-slung structure, built like a local fortress, perches high on a river bluff, with double doors opening into a leafy courtyard. Each bedroom serves as its own mini retreat with yoga mats, local herbal teas and bath soaks. There are heart-stopping, floor-to-ceiling views high over Bhutan’s main river: the sedate, meandering Mo Chhu, flowing below terraced rice paddies and forests of pine. The decor is minimalist and sober, so as not to detract from the wild natural canvas in all its lush shades of green. The warmth comes from the texture of wood and stone, which is also the star of one of the signature treatments in the small spa: a bath, heated by fire-baked river stones that crack when they hit the water and release restorative minerals. The elemental theme continues in the restaurant, where a fire blazes in the wood-burning stove, acting as a cosy backdrop for warming dishes that headline local produce—from the buckwheat that goes into delicious pancakes and noodles to some of the nation’s many species of wild mushroom. From $730. —Catherine Fairweather

Hotel the Mitsui

Hotel the Mitsui — Kyoto

It’s a bold move to open a design-forward property in a city that has fully tied its identity to the past. Even bolder to build it on the exact site where the long-prominent Mitsui family had a residence from the late 1600s to the 1940s. But once you hear the storybook ending—how in 2015 the Mitsui corporation’s real estate arm bought back this beloved parcel of land—it makes sense. While the sleek André Fu–designed spaces break from Kyoto’s usual decor tropes, the past is everywhere. See, for instance, the 300-year-old wooden gate that once demarcated the original estate. There are subtle signifiers too: a long corridor with blond wood arches that echo the maze of torii gates at Kyoto’s famed Fushimi Inari shrine, a ceiling installation inspired by kimono fabric. But it’s the practical yet cosseting touches—the neatly folded pajama set that appears at turndown, the sprawling underground onsen—that will shape this next chapter of the Mitsui legacy. From $1,359. —Rebecca Misner

Josun Palace

Josun Palace – Seoul

In the past few months, a moody, romantic, retro aesthetic has swept TikTok, inspired by Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 film In the Mood for Love. An enterprising influencer could easily create a viral sensation in this vein by shooting at Josun Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel. Unlike the movie, which is set in Hong Kong in the 1960s, it is in Seoul and opened just a few years ago. But the hotel, set in a 36-story tower in Gangnam, has the same kind of stylized, cinematic glamour. I was there with my family, but as I moved through the gilt-and-green Korean and midcentury-modern-inspired interiors, taking in the sweeping city views, it was easy to imagine myself playing a role in a noirish story of star-crossed lovers or a twisty tale of international intrigue. Elevators whisked us to the 25th floor reception, where a phalanx of hotel staff was ready to address our every question and need, from how to get to the T Galleria department store to scoring a reservation at a nearby restaurant and a babysitter to watch the kids. Our room, though not enormous, was space enough for the four of us, with tasteful decor and an incredible bathroom. Day or night, the city vistas were riveting, the new Lotte World Tower looming on the horizon from rooms on the east side of the hotel. The sensation of hushed, cinematic romance gets turned up to 11 in Eatanic Garden, the hotel’s own Michelin-starred progressive Korean restaurant. Over the evening, a parade of delightful surprises by chef Son Jong-won emerged, like the kettle of barley tea nestled in a bouquet of flowers and the trio of playful bites atop colorful pedestals. Each dish came with a card that told its story. As we completed the meal, we felt we’d reached the end of a journey—just as when we checked out of the hotel, when it felt like the credits were rolling on this beautiful visit to Seoul. From $380. —Jesse Ashlock


Lunuganga – Sri Lanka

The late, great architect Geoffrey Bawa’s jungle home is reveling in a glossy new dawn. While this otherworldly estate on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast remains packed to the rafters with history, it’s now embracing modern comforts thanks to the home-grown Teardrop Hotels collection (also behind the Fort Bazaar in Galle Fort), which manages the property with the Geoffrey Bawa Trust. The meticulous work of the father of tropical modernism shines from every corner, with almost everything as he left it. Bawa spent 50 years curating this wonderland, originally an abandoned rubber plantation, creating his inside-outside spaces and furnishing them with Burgher antiques and objets from his travels. The jewel in the crown is the show-stopping garden, with emerald rice paddies alongside butterfly-shaped ponds and moss-covered Ming pots on manicured lawns. Spread across the house and garden, the 10 spacious bedrooms are unique and sublime: one a glass-walled pavilion framed by trees, another a former cowshed turned gallery. Teardrop’s Midas touch extends to the kitchen, marrying Sri Lankan plates with international dishes made from local produce: egg hoppers for breakfast, grilled fish for lunch and coconut and mustard fish curry for dinner. There’s a breezy veranda restaurant, but Bawa’s preferred lunch spot was under a jackfruit tree, with a salvaged temple bell dangling above. After opening batik artist Ena de Silva’s three-bedroom villa (another Bawa triumph) on the edge of the estate, the Geoffrey Bawa Trust has added a hilltop pool and unsealed the architect’s own bedroom, perhaps the biggest treat of all. From $387.Harriet Compston

Courtesy The Ritz-Carlton

Mandapa Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Bali

When the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company bought an area of untamed land more than 10 years ago, it purchased twice the amount it needed to add another jewel to Bali’s hospitality crown. The result is a sprawling hotel footprint across 25 acres surrounded by lush rainforest and rice paddies that dramatically cascade down hillsides. Luminous dragonflies buzz, butterflies flit their kaleidoscopic wings and doe-eyed frogs croak in the distance—rather than interfering with their surroundings, this property honors them. Forget rooms, there are 60 suites and villas here, ranging in size from substantial to palatial. Bathtubs for two are wrapped in rattan and scented with ginger-lily salts, large balconies offer panoramic views of the sunset-facing valley and villas have infinity pools. Days start with breakfasts of jewel-colored fruits and steaming Javanese coffee. Supper is served in Japanese Ambar Ubud Bar and Kubu at Mandapa, where Eka Sunarya delights diners over eight- and 10-course tasting menus that utilize all the landscape has to offer. Families are welcome, and little ones are catered for in the kids’ club, which favors activities in the open air over technological distractions. It’s just as well, as missing out on a treatment in the riverside spa would be nothing short of a crime. From $1,249.Lee Cobaj

Courtesy Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Photos don’t do Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental much justice. Rising to the upper floors of the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower, the 38th-floor lobby is like a gallery to the capital’s best angles. It’s the same in the rooms: No matter the category, the view is paramount from your tranquil retreat in the sky, as the frenetic financial district eases down below and, on cloudless days, Mount Fuji glistens in the distance. Comfort is prime here too. Beds are as supple as the sheets are slippery. And if you can’t find a perfect pillow on the extensive “pillow menu,” it’s not the pillow—it’s you. Room service can get expensive, but the menu itself is so long and varied (from macaroni and cheese to okayo don) that it’s worth a look. And yet, there are so many dining options on the property—from an actual pizza bar to haute Cantonese to a silver-lined French restaurant—that every in-house venue deserves a gander. For example, Sushi Shin by Miyakawa is perhaps the city’s most atmospheric sushi restaurant: A nine-seat L-shaped counter, made from a 350-year-old cypress tree, sits next to a floor-to-ceiling window that perfectly frames Tokyo Skytree. Dip sushi as the sun dips, too, and the city lights up by nightfall. If you care to step outside, the location is convenient. It’s just around the corner from famous kimono shops and hallmark department stores; and Ginza is a short stroll away. From $800. —Keith Flanagan

Peninsula Shanghai

This Art Deco landmark puts you right in the heart of China’s most fascinating city, and it’s a gorgeous embodiment of what Shanghai has always been about—a unique fusion of East and West, old and new, silken elegance and wild energy. The vibe in the rooms can be summed up as “stealth luxe”—subdued, though never dull; approximately 1920s in feel, though without a hint of pastiche. If you have the privilege of choice, aim for the best possible view of the skyscrapers of Pudong, on the opposite side of the river, which are lit up at night like a gigantic jukebox, pulsating with all the can-do energy of modern China. As for the hotel’s food and drink, its Michelin-starred Yi Long Court is widely held to be among the best Cantonese restaurants in the city. Sir Elly’s Terrace, on the 14th floor, has some of the finest views of any rooftop bar in the city. The Pen occupies a prime spot at the far end of The Bund, a mere eyelash of a street on the western bank of the Huangpu River and one of the most fascinating, glamorous, and confounding roads in the world. All of Shanghai is here and in the adjoining alleys. It is true that there are other hotels on The Bund and in the city, but the Pen is the Pen—and I brook no further argument. From $359. —Steve King

Giorgia Ascolani

Rosewood Hong Kong

To experience Rosewood’s flagship hotel is to see it as the essence of a resurgent Hong Kong. From its lavish interiors, courtesy of the refined hand of designer Tony Chi, to the staggering views of Victoria Harbor and the wealthy tastemakers that ebb and flow through its lobby, it is the embodiment of its heady hometown. Its towering presence is also more than just a stake in the ground for a spruced-up Victoria Dockside: It is the gateway to Hong Kong’s new cultural epicenter that’s crowned by the West Kowloon District, an ambitious 100-acre waterfront development just a couple of miles north. Peppered with museums and cultural centers, as well as some ritzy retail, this corridor has turned into a swarming hub for locals and travelers—exactly as Rosewood’s Cheng family intended. Still, the 413-room “vertical estate” does its very best to keep you indoors. If you can tear yourself away from the glossy lacquer and custom cashmere in your room, you’ll find an incredible swathe of restaurants—12 in total—including Chaat, a Michelin-starred Indian heavyweight. You’d do just as well to retreat to the cosseting cocoon that is the 40th-floor Manor Club, which operates like an ultra-exclusive private club, with its wraparound terrace, complimentary spreads through the day (everything from wonton soups to viennoiserie and top espressos), and staff that magically anticipate your every need. And if the city’s famed nightlife, reinstituted after the pandemic years, doesn’t lure you outside, join well-heeled locals at Darkside, Rosewood’s sultry new jazz bar that’s named for the old moniker for Kowloon (once considered a den of iniquity), where you can order a Gibson and slip into a Hong Kong state of mind. From $830. —Arati Menon

Soneva Jani
Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani – Maldives

On the fringe of a lagoon in Noonu Atoll, blanketed in racing-green jungle and ringed with neon-white beach, Soneva Jani is the second Maldivian island home of the visionary brand. It’s an unreal world, where children and adults alike trail about the jungly interior on bikes, hang in hammocks on Robinson Crusoe beaches, throw themselves down slides, splash about on technicolor reefs and watch dolphins race through iridescent baby-blue waters. The overwater villas have glass-bottom floors and pool decks with corkscrew slides, and the fantastical Den, just a year and a half old, is the largest kids’ club in South Asia. But it’s not just about embracing your inner child. Adult treats include The Gathering, on the north side, an overwater barn of restaurants, a library and wine cellar. Eating is taken seriously—from a meat-free outpost by Bocuse d’Or-winning Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren to the garden-set idyll So Local, as well a rotation of visiting chefs (2024’s include Tom Aikens and Jane Alty, co-owner of London Thai street-food hero The Begging Bowl). A treehouse-like Island Spa has egg-shaped rooms linked by walkways floating towards a yoga shala. Soneva Soul is the brand’s new, more ambitious approach to health. This year, it has launched three-, seven- and 14-day wellness journeys around foundational health, sleep, detoxing and anti-aging, using its magic blend of naturopathy, Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine alongside high-tech treatments such as platelet-rich plasma therapy and ozone therapy. Feeling well is at Soneva’s core—way beyond ditching one’s shoes on arrival. From $2,397.Lydia Bell

Song Saa Private Island

Song Saa — Cambodia

Like many of the world’s greatest private island retreats, southern Cambodia’s Song Saa has all the trimmings of a tropical fantasy: there are stilted wooden pathways snaking to overwater villas, and private-pooled hideaways burrowed in the thick jungle cloaking the island’s hilly spine. At breakfast, shoals of silvery fish shimmer like fine jewels in the glassy swell below my feet. And when the sun beams overhead, skinny palms leave shadowy patterns on the talcum-white sand hemming the snug, lounger-dotted bay. There’s only so much pool-lolling and beach-lazing I can handle, which can make castaway islands sometimes feel like a gilded cage. But Song Saa is different. A short boat-hop to nearby Koh Rong, the largest island in the eponymous archipelago, drops guests right into coastal Cambodian life for a fix of bustling fishing hamlets, coconut farms draped over low-slung hills and Buddhist temples with kaleidoscopic interiors. The Song Saa Foundation, which established the country’s first protected marine reserve in the coral-rich waters surrounding the island, is missioned to keep it that way: community outreach projects and a dedication to maintaining the environmental footprint at a minimum earned the island a B Corp certification in 2023. Cambodia’s coastal regions might be plagued by overdevelopment, but Song Saa’s blueprint for mindful hospitality delivers a glimmer of hope. From $1,022.Chris Schalkx

Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa

Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa — India

Located in the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taj Madikeri is set at the crossroads of Coorg’s wildlife sanctuaries. The hill town property falls under India’s historic Taj Hotels group, credited with opening the nation’s first luxury hotel—The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai—at the turn of the 20th century. Not a single tree was felled in its making. In fact, more were added, as dozens of trees that would otherwise have been cut down were brought in from outside the property. The 63 stand-alone cottages and villas—with more in the works—are well spaced across the steep landscape, each surrounded by greenery and panoramic views. The hotel has four restaurants and a bijou bar, and can organize open-air dining experiences across the property—from the forested Buddha Garden to the 101-candle-lit amphitheater encircled by a large lotus pond. Coorg’s waterfalls, highlands and lakes have led it to be called the Scotland of India, but even that title doesn't convey how special it is. Above all, savor daybreak here. As you listen to the soft patter of rain against subtropical fronds and the sweet schoolboy trill of a Malabar whistling thrush floating through the morning mist, the serenity of Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa simply sings. From $251. —Julian Manning

The Leela Palace

The Leela Palace Chennai — India

One of the originals of the Leela group, The Leela Palace Chennai is spot-on for so many reasons. For starters, it nails the location. Set in nearly five acres of prime seafront in the heart of the city, the hotel offers proximity to business and leisure destinations as well as the feeling of being away at a seaside resort. The designers have made every use of the setting and provided a significant number of sea-facing rooms. Restaurants China XO and Jamavar—the former serving Cantonese-focused fare and the latter dishes from India’s north and south—are easily among Chennai’s best. Even if gold isn’t your color and over-the-top opulence not your style, you’ll still love the thoughtful and impeccable butler service that has me returning time and time again. From $160. —Prasad Ramamurthy

The Siam
Michael Paul/The Siam

The Siam — Bangkok

Compared with many of its rivals, this Bangkok stalwart doesn’t have a location that’s wildly convenient: the postcard sights need a boat transfer, and most top tables are more than a 30-minute taxi ride away. But for me, and the legions of other loyal fans of this monochrome masterpiece by hotel guru Bill Bensley, that’s the point. Pitched up on a lush riverside plot in the hushed Dusit district, The Siam feels like a portal to a bygone Bangkok. Even though it opened a decade ago, it’s easy to imagine it as a plush playground for the city’s erstwhile big guns, the mid-century movers and shakers whose heirlooms—vintage Pan Am posters, tattered travel trunks and chipped ceramics—adorn the marble-floored hallways. I’d be hard-pressed to point friends to a lovelier lunch spot than the hotel’s Thai restaurant, set between the timeworn pillars of three ancient teakwood houses, where butlers in dressy black sarongs deliver the kind of classic Thai hospitality—lilting “sawadee ka” greetings and tables set with fresh orchids—that’s becoming harder to find. None of which is to say that the hotel is stuffy—there’s a tattoo parlor in the spa. An ongoing refurb is keeping suites and private-pooled villas looking fresh. And with the opening of a Jim Thompson homeware boutique in the wooden house the illustrious silk magnate helped procure for its former owners, things have come full circle. The Thai capital’s five-star hotel scene gets plusher every year, but this timeless beauty remains in a league of its own. From $618. —Chris Schalkx

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Australia and New Zealand

Jack Johns
Jack Johns

Kokomo Private Island – Fiji

My husband was still my boyfriend when we went to Kokomo Private Island, a villa-only resort on a lush and hilly speck of land in the bright, clear, reef-strewn waters of the Fijian archipelago. Often when we talk about the trip, we tell the story of how, when we turned up at the activity center to pick up snorkels and flippers, we were asked to rate ourselves as expert, intermediate, or poor swimmers. “Poor!” Tim said with enthusiasm, startling the hotel’s staff (and us) into gales of laughter. Fiji’s much-celebrated friendliness makes it easy to relax and be yourself—which, in Tim’s case, is a landlubber. Luckily there is something for everybody at Kokomo. While I ventured out with a resident marine biologist to swim with manta rays, Tim was happy to linger over a morning latte and an açaí bowl on the deck of the resort’s tropically elegant main restaurant. Afterward, we’d lounge around our more than 1,200-square-foot beachfront villa, read by the private pool, or snooze in a hammock strung between palms.

Our agendas converged right around happy hour, when our biggest struggle was choosing among idyllic spots to enjoy an umbrella-adorned sundowner with an ocean view. There were the chaises on our villa’s patio, of course, or there was Walker d’Plank, named for Kokomo’s owner, the Australian real estate billionaire Lang Walker: a casual Asian fusion restaurant helmed by Fijian chef Caroline Oakley and set on a series of ascending platforms overlooking rocky shallows and a vast Pacific sky tie-dyed coral and orange. There, amid the paradise vibes, a couple of pineapple and basil mojitos might naturally lead to a meal of wahoo tataki, pork dumplings, and prawn curry enlivened with peppers and herbs grown in Kokomo’s on-site 5.5-acre organic farm.

All of it—the delicious food, the manicured grounds, the tranquil spa, the choice between doing as much or as little as one pleases—is, of course, the product of careful consideration and constant labor. But one of Kokomo’s gifts to its guests is an unpunctured sense of ease and effortlessness. What a feat of hospitality that is, to be made to feel like everything is all right and that there are truly no worries, no matter how bad a swimmer one happens to be. From $2,200. —Maggie Shipstead

Arnhem Peterson
Arnhem Peterson/Silky Oaks Lodge

Silky Oaks Lodge – Australia

This spot overlooking the Mossman River in the heart of the lush Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, has been special ever since it opened in the 1980s. But its 2021 makeover by Baillie Lodges—the Australian brand that specializes in show-stopping properties in remote locations—has elevated it to a whole different level, with the help of Sydney design team Pike Withers. Many of the 40 suites resemble decadent treehouses of polished hardwoods, with stone bathtubs on forest-fringed terraces. The hero lodging is the two-bedroom, 3,400-square-foot Daintree Pavilion, a contemporary jungle hide with a tiered horizon pool and extensive decking to capture every possible perspective of the surrounding rainforest, which was recently returned to its original custodians, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. Everything here is geared towards total immersion in nature and culture—from tapping into local walking tours, on which Kuku Yalanji guides share ancient survival techniques, to Asian-inflected dinners in the soaring, cantilevered Treehouse Restaurant, high in the tropical canopy. At the Healing Waters Spa, the signature Ulysses face and body treatment features a mud bath and Vichy shower overlooking the rainforest. The spa is based on ancient ideas about the Mossman River as a life-giving force—reinforcing the sense that a deep connection to nature is everything here. From $650. —Kendall Hill

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Europe and the UK

Courtesy Badrutt's Palace Hotel/©KMU Photography

Badrutt's Palace – Switzerland

There are few places quite as iconic as this grande dame in St Moritz. Perched among the clouds at 6,000 feet, Badrutt’s Palace is set against a backdrop of craggy, snow-capped mountains with cascading views to the winding valleys and mirror-like lakes below. The hotel has, for years, been the go-to spot for those looking for a sophisticated Alpine escape (it opened in 1896) and it keeps going from strength to strength. At its core, it’s still the magnificent palace it’s always been, complete with turrets and twisting towers. But guests now have more choice to ensure that their stay features all their personal creature comforts. There are 11 restaurants, two bars, the oldest nightclub in Switzerland, a spa, a series of shops and, naturally, plenty of winter-sports opportunities. It’s mountainside glamor at its most extravagant, a palatial fairy tale hidden in the Swiss Alps and surrounded by endless landscapes for hiking, trekking, skiing and even lake swimming in the warmer months. From $794.Betsy Blumenthal

The Lobby at Claridge's

Claridge's – London

Founded in 1812, frequented by Queen Victoria and listed by 1878’s influential Baedeker’s guide as “the first hotel in London,” Claridge’s could easily rest on its storied laurels. But it has always kept ahead of the rest, enlisting the likes of Guy Oliver and Diane von Furstenberg for face-lifts over the decades to ensure it bestrides the classic and modern in a way few hotels manage. The lobby captures the art deco glamor of the Jazz Age, when flappers hobnobbed with royalty. Its checkered-floor expanse buzzes with an international motley crew of Hollywood stars, brides and business types catching up over zesty Ginger John cocktails in the 1930s-style Fumoir bar. The pick of the new suites is the Georgian, an impeccable meld of English heritage and subtle chinoiserie. There’s a Steinberg baby grand piano, silk de Gournay panels in the dining room and a kitchen with a 24-hour butler. The hotel’s expansion into the next door building created space for suites such as the Mayfair, where designer Bryan O’Sullivan (The Berkeley Bar) has ingrained modernity through scalloped mohair furniture in coral and pastel-green palettes. Claridge’s has also dug deep to impress guests with its subterranean spa. Designed by André Fu (the Maybourne Bar in Beverly Hills), its limewood and stone textures and dreamy peachy hues are the backdrop for bamboo- stick massages and Cryo Oxygen Shot facials. The pool ripples beneath a vaulted ceiling, surrounded by stone columns and cushy cabanas. Claridge’s is no longer the only show in town, but it’s with good reason that every other heritage hotel in London still sees it as the benchmark. From $1,060. —Noo Saro-Wiwa

Michelle Chaplow/Cashel Palace Hotel

Cashel Palace – Ireland

This red-brick Palladian pile sits at the foot of the looming Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s most famous historic sites, with its Romanesque chapel, roofless cathedral and pencil-shaped round tower. The woodsmoke-scented entrance hall (log fires are lit daily) is bookended by black Kilkenny marble mantelpieces and wall-to-wall art that includes major names of Irish art history—Lavery, Jack B Yeats, Orpen—mostly copies of the owners’ private collection, with a few originals hanging strategically out of reach. There are 42 rooms and suites, outfitted in heavily textured fabrics, curtains zhuzhed up with pelmets and tassels. Best of all are the rooms with views over to the enigmatic Rock on the hilltop, which is atmospherically lit up at night. A slick spa is beautifully set at the edge of the restored gardens—look out for the centuries-old mulberry tree planted to mark Queen Anne’s coronation. Breakfast and afternoon tea are taken in the cream-walled room named after the monarch, where local products (jams, bacon and eggs) are the mainstay of the menu. The Bishop’s Buttery, the fine-dining offering, champions Tipperary produce in delicately plated dishes of Shepherd’s Store-cheese agnolotti and apples with caramel and Calvados. From $378. —Gráinne McBride

Auberge Resorts Collection

Domaine des Etangs, Auberge Resorts Collection – France

Domaine des Etangs proclaims itself to be in the business of “art de vivre” and, for once, the marketing blurb is on the money. The setting is the turrets of a 13th-century château reflected in a glassy lake, wrapped up in 2,500 acres of forest, ponds and meadows—posing pastures for sleepy herds of Limousin cattle. Seven Isabelle Stanislas-designed suites unfold in the main building, with more in six far-scattered cottages and a farmhouse. Rooms are filled with modern and antique furniture, while the bones of the building—stone walls, eaves, gargoyles—sing out. Art is taken seriously throughout. There’s a peaceful minimalist gallery, La Laiterie, harboring an Yves Klein, and the estate hosts everything from Olafur Eliasson pieces to Hergé’s Tintin illustrations. Eating well starts with the perfect crêpes and market fruits of breakfast, and restaurant Dyades’ locavore menu (noted in the Michelin guide) elevates the herbs, flowers, fruit and vegetables of the kitchen garden. Children are catered for in a laissez-faire way, with a playground and zip wire, tennis court floating on a lake and a beamed attic filled with games. My highlights were rowing across the lake with a picnic after too much rosé and walking with groundsman Jean-François Magnan, who spent his boyhood wandering the rain-green pastures and orchid-filled copses. Since 1986, the Domaine has been owned by the Primat family, which oversaw its refurbishment. In 2023, the French countryside hotel entered the Auberge Resorts Collection, and it’s clear that its spirit, graciousness, and slow pace remain gratifyingly unchanged. From $485.Lydia Bell

Mark Read/The Dorchester
Tina Hillier/The Dorchester

The Dorchester – London

Not to be outdone by arrivistes thudding onto the top-end scene, the Dorch has been shaking her tail feathers with the biggest refurb in three decades: public spaces supercharged, and two floors of new rooms and suites revealed. Penthouses and a rooftop remain under lock and key until later in 2024. The hotel where Elizabeth Taylor signed her Cleopatra contract in the bath remains out-and-out fabulous—but with a Pierre-Yves Rochon uplift. The Artists’ Bar sparkles with a mirrored ceiling, Lalique crystal pillars girdling the bar and Liberace’s mirror-ball-clad baby grand. This is the spot for caviar, native oysters and Petal Head cocktails (Stoli Elit vodka, kumquat, Aperol and passion fruit) served from a trolley. A hoard of London-centric art glints on the walls: Ann Carrington’s Elizabeth II silhouette in mother-of-pearl buttons, Sue Arrowsmith’s delicate silver leaf with coral branches. Martin Brudnizki’s Vesper Bar invites intimacy with its smoked glass and scalloped armchairs, and the spa (best for Dr Uliana Gout’s new medical-grade facials) is a pink girly haven. The Grill by Tom Booton, a fun slice of British culinary theatre, has a fresh menu: don’t miss the squid bolognese à la Koffmann, given the tick of approval by Pierre Koffmann himself. The new suites have the palettes of an English garden, in leaf green, rose, and heather. If Hôtel Plaza Athénée is the American fantasy of Paris, then this Park Lane dame’s new rooms are the American fantasy of Britishness—one we are happy to buy into. From $1,136. —Lydia Bell

Finca Cortesin
Finca Cortesin

Finca Cortesin – Malaga, Spain

The international luxury marques may be piling into Spain at breakneck speed, but none has yet achieved the status of the great Finca Cortesin. With 67 suites, Bali-esque pools, a Mediterranean-facing beach club, vast spa and top-brass golf course, it’s a paradigm of perfection on the cusp of Casares, a typical whitewashed town near Marbella. Finca Cortesin is more than the sum of its parts, but each part has been created by someone of significant talent. Javier López Granados is the big-vision CEO-owner who pulls it all together; Rene Zimmer the consummate managing director, who also helms new sister property Grand Hotel Son Net in Mallorca. Architects Roger Torras and Ignacio Sierra conceived this take on a classic Andalusian finca, which gleams sparkling white against the deep-blue Med and vivid flashes of potted geraniums. The sleek public spaces, filled to the rafters with antiques, were originally curated by the late, distinguished Portuguese decorator Duarte Pinto Coelho (after his death, the baton passed to exuberant Madrid-based antiquarian Lorenzo Castillo). Landscaper Gerald Huggan planted the perfumed and palm-studded gardens, replete with jasmine and wisteria. The inviting suites are the work of interior designer sisters Ana and Cristina Calderón, who dressed high-ceilinged rooms with bright pieces, color feature walls, vibrant bouquets and paintings. To dine with Lutz Bösing, chef at El Jardín de Lutz, is to take a masterclass in classic Spanish cuisine, especially seafood such as a rich mantis shrimp cream soup with lobster and basil. From $700. —David Moralejo

Four Seasons
Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace — Budapest

This is Budapest’s grandest hotel, a 1906 marvel of Secessionism (Central Europe’s take on Art Nouveau) that’s undergone an exceptional renovation: chandeliers and stained glass repaired and cleaned, mosaic tiles scrubbed, white stucco repainted. Its location couldn’t be better, on the riverfront, in the heart of buzzing Pest, looking across the Danube to hilly Buda and the medieval Old Town, and right by the famous Chain Bridge. Concierge Peter Buday and his team fizz with advice and information—about where to find the best bars, and other discoveries—though the area around the hotel is seething with interest: see opulent Gundel, the famous café and restaurant that opened in 1910; the smart shops of Andrassy Avenue, a broad boulevard modeled on the Champs-Élysées; the Franz Litzst museum; and the glorious Hungarian State opera house. From $466. —Adriaane Pielou

James Merrell/Gleneagles

Gleneagles — Scotland

This is a hotel that needs no introduction. An 850-acre estate set against the sprawling Scottish countryside, Gleneagles gained icon status pretty rapidly after it opened in 1924 and soon became known as one of the world’s loveliest hotels for golfing, relaxing, and exploring the bonny lands beyond. Home to three world-class golf courses (the King’s Course, Queen’s Course, and PGA Centenary Course), the hotel reached new levels of fame in 2014 when hosting the 40th Ryder Cup. Beyond golf, Gleneagles is much loved by an array of celebrities who flock to the estate to spend time in the great outdoors (the hotel offers falconry, fishing, shooting, archery and more) or kick back in the award-winning spa, with two indoor pools, an outdoor thermal pool, and 20 treatment rooms where guests can settle down for massages that use lotions and potions made with local ingredients and Scottish botanicals. From $726. —Lydia Bell

The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice

The Gritti Palace – Venice

If you were to enter The Gritti Palace without realizing it offered board and lodging, you might find yourself looking for the ticket counter. The ultimate grande dame in Venice is every inch a museum of the city’s decorative history, with its silk and damask wall coverings, acres of painted stucco and precious marble, and gilded ceiling beams from which Murano chandeliers hang like elegant jellyfish. It was only in 2013, when it reopened following a $38 million revamp, that The Gritti was able to square the wow of the guest experience with the wow of its antique splendor. (In the 1940s, when Ernest Hemingway penned his Gritti-set novel Across the River and Into the Trees, it didn’t even have en-suite bathrooms). You don’t need to book the airily magnificent Somerset Maugham Royal Suite to feel that you have joined the club; a not-so-modest, entry-level Deluxe Room will do just fine. It too is swathed in stylish Rubelli fabrics; it too feels like Casanova might be hiding in the wardrobe. The Gritti Terrace, with its views across gondola-infested waters to the great Salute church, is one of Venice’s finest breakfast spots, and the late-2023 arrival of executive chef Alberto Fol from Hotel Danieli is a local win. At the deliciously private Bar Longhi, happiness is pulling up a stool at the inlaid marble counter, asking head barman Cristiano Luciani to fix one of his moreish wild fennel martinis and channeling your inner Peggy Guggenheim. From $850. —Lee Marshall

Sue Callister/Hacienda San Rafael

Hacienda San Rafael — Seville, Spain

Black-and-white photographs of Hacienda de San Rafael show a handsome, solitary farmhouse slipping quietly into oblivion amid rolling fields of cotton and wheat in Andalusia’s agricultural heartland. That was before Kuky Mora-Figueroa inherited it and, with her English husband, Tim Reid, decided to breathe new life and purpose into its 18th-century bones. It was 1992 when the Hacienda first opened its doors as a hotel. Now, three decades on, it has mellowed and matured, blending into gardens of riotous color and scent, and quietly expanding from 11 to 20 rooms to include three thatched casitas and a pool villa. Although Mora Figueroa and Reid have handed the reins to their two sons, Anthony and Patrick, their imprint still defines the look and feel of the place, with an eclectic assortment of heirlooms and antiques mixed with travel treasures. Old-world, aristocratic, and grand is the first impression on approaching the Hacienda’s distinctive white and yellow façade, but guests are greeted like long-lost friends. The temptation is to stay put, curled up with a book by one of the four pools or snoozing in a shady corner of the garden, but Seville and Jerez are within reach and there’s a multitude of curated experiences on offer, from horse riding, hiking and bird-watching to sherry tasting in the region’s finest bodegas. Few pleasures can match the simplicity of an ice-cold glass of manzanilla sipped beneath the jacaranda tree at the front of the Hacienda, while the sun drops to the horizon. From $379. —Pamela Goodman

Heckfield Place

Heckfield Place – Hampshire, England

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Heckfield Place is your typically grand country-house hotel. There’s certainly enough of the usual elements to throw you off the scent: the sprawling grounds and manicured gardens, the impressive stately exterior, the sweeping staircase, and walls adorned with oil paintings. But all is not what it seems. For starters, there isn’t a hint of stuffiness or pomp. The team greet guests with a calmness that’s contagious, guiding you about the place with the kind of ease that never feels imposing. Even the uniforms, designed by cult clothing company Egg—all corduroy, linens and flouncy blouses—are refreshingly unexpected. Bedrooms are stripped back and country comfy without leaning too heavily into the more ubiquitous country-pile aesthetic—creamy oatmeals, subdued greens and pinks and yellows, not a sniff of chintz. And then there’s the food. Both Marle and Hearth, the two restaurants, are overseen by starry chef Skye Gyngell. There’s a farm-to-fork ethos, drawing heavily on the estate farm and kitchen garden for the menus. The latest addition is The Bothy by Wildsmith, a serene, two-floor oasis enveloped in the hotel’s gardens. Years in the making, it’s a deeply soothing space with a gorgeous pool and treatment rooms for hours-long sessions that might include diagnostic kinesiology or abdomen massages. The hot tubs on the deck overlook the grounds, where, in the summer months, you can take a walk around the estate with a picnic or enjoy a dip in the misty lake. In the winter, follow up a session in the waters with a cosy afternoon curled up by the fire in the living room—aim for 4:00 p.m. and wait for a homemade cake to magically appear on a platter before staff dutifully place fat slices on plates to enjoy as a piano tinkles in the corner. From $695.Sarah Allard

Hotel d'Inghilterra
Stefano Sca tà/Hotel d'Inghilterra

Hotel d'Inghilterra – Rome

Initially opened in 1845 as Hotel d’Angleterre, this place became a classic over the 170 or so years that followed. There are 80 rooms, though something about this Rome hotel makes it feel as if there are fewer. Some (the Balcony Suites) are recently renovated, all have restored antiques throughout. The bar is one of the best hotel drinking spots in the city (the cheerful staff are very good at what they do and take pleasure in applying novel twists to classic cocktails), and Café Romano is an all-day restaurant serving excellent regional dishes and, inevitably, a certain amount of comfort food for homesick travelers. The hotel couldn’t be more central and the service is exceptionally warm, enthusiastic and attentive. This is a place to book for its right-there-in-the-thick-of-it convenience and its particular quality—specific but difficult to pin down—of intimacy, courtesy and conviviality. From $657. —Steve King

Hotel de L'Europe
Hotel de L'Europe

Hotel de L'Europe – Amsterdam

In a city more known for its scene-y or slick design hotels, De L’Europe resides like a distinguished matriarch on the banks of the Amstel, overlooking the rippling waves—and tourist barges—of the river and higgledy-piggledy mustard-hued merchants’ houses. Once a 17th-century Renaissance-style inn on the site of former defense walls, the hotel has gradually gone upmarket under the ownership of the Heineken family since 1950. A Dutch-focused art collection peers from the walls, and a lobby draped in floor-to-ceiling bronze silks and tarragon velvets envelops guests with mirror-walled nooks that become gossipy corners at night, soft-lit by antique crystal chandeliers and fueled by cocktails that mix cumin seeds with coriander-infused mezcal. Rooms are bathed in light and provide a televisual view of the moving city. Warm-floored marble bathrooms come stocked with Diptyque products, and super-king-sized beds are framed by geometric headboards. As a result of the hotel acquiring the buildings next door over the years, the showstopper rooms are now the new ‘t Huys suites, overseen by creatives from the art and design world, such as Salle Privée and jeweler Bibi van der Velden, with more in the pipeline. One of the hotel’s biggest draws is Marie, the Côte d’Azur-inspired bistro, with perfect steak tartare and tarte tatin. For a blowout, the two-Michelin-starred Flore’s “conscious fine dining” offers such treats as North Sea crab with sour quince gel, chanterelle mushroom and walnut leaf. From $870.Jemima Sissons

Hotel du Cap Eden Roc
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc

Hotel du Cap Eden Roc – Antibes, France

The wisteria at the Hotel du Cap was planted the year the hotel launched. That was 1870, before a generation of restless pleasure-seeking writers and artists, including Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and Marc Chagall, turned the classic winter retreat into a summer playground, escaping Prohibition and societal strictures after the Great War.

A century later, the 1970s were another turning point for the Riviera landmark, when the Oetker family bought the villa after sailing past and catching a glimpse of the iconic property. Thus began a new, heady, unbuttoned denim-shirted era, when social boundaries were crossed around the legendary swimming pool, which had been blasted out of basalt and fetishized in society photographer Slim Aarons’ colored images. Royalty and rock stars mingled with writers, rogues, and reprobates. After the jazz and jet ages, came the dot-com bubble buzz, and the brief oligarchization of the pool. All these eras are now past.

These days, it is as it should be—“calme, luxe and volupté”—at the Riviera recreation ground and landmark hotel, where the outside world is kept very much at arm’s length. Hotel du Cap has closed only four times in its long 150-year history, most recently during the pandemic, but when I returned last year, the influencers were back in force, posing along the cushiony Grande Allée that rolls out towards the sea. It is pure Instagram gold, of course: a ceremonial catwalk 650 feet long, trumpeted on both sides with pines, that leads from the 19th-century Napoleon III classic mansion, past the flirty palms, to the party terrace of Eden Roc jutting over the water like the prow of a ship. It’s a place to see and be seen—and yet nothing feels more private, peaceful and like a hideaway than a day spent sequestered in one of the 31 cabanas with a bottle of Whispering Angel rosé. These simple, rustic shacks are the heart and soul of the estate, positioned on the rocky outcrops of the seaboard beneath the whispering Aleppo pines.

Other ways to spend the day include wallowing in the Dior Spa, honing that serve on one of five clay tennis courts (which are assiduously hosed down before breakfast) or visiting the beehives and birdhouses. In a corner of the 22 acres of mimosa- and wisteria-scented parkland, there’s even a pet cemetery where regular guests have buried departed companions.

Although the Hotel du Cap moves with the times, it never gives in to the vagaries of fashion, and remains a classic. Anatole France’s plaque at the entrance of the path to the cabanas sums up: “What will be is what was”. The hotel still subscribes to the cherished adage that in tumultuous times, living well is the best revenge. From $971. —Catherine Fairweather

Matthias Hamel/Hotel Imperial

Hotel Imperial – Vienna

At Hotel Imperial, get swept away in a fairytale whirl of 19th-century pomp and circumstance, the sort that could be soundtracked and choreographed by Baz Luhrmann, lit by chandeliers, with marble floors you want to slide across in your socks and a fleet of liveried footmen who will happily take those socks to be washed and pressed afterwards. It’s eminently approachable and just wants everyone to enjoy themselves. It’s all too lazy to reach for a Wes Anderson The Grand Budapest Hotel reference for this sort of hotel, but here the comparison is justified: Michael Moser, the hotel’s head concierge for 31 years, was the inspiration for Ralph Fiennes’ Monsieur Gustave in the film—and was even asked to appear in the film, but his duties prevented him. In the rooms, there are velvets and flock wallpapers and drapes assembled with the sort of maximalist aesthetic that would have Barbara Cartland reaching for her sunglasses. As for the food; the schnitzel is one of the best in town, so large you could drape it over your knees to keep warm in winter. Outside of the hotel, there’s a reason the Prince of Württemberg built his home here: the Imperial is right on the Ringstrasse, the imperial-era boulevard that encircles the historic centre of Vienna—so all the main sights are walkable. This is a neoclassical grande dame right in the waltzing heart of Vienna—as grand as they come but not above letting its hair down. From $350. —Rick Jordan

Giorgia Ascolani

Il Sereno – Lake Como, Italy

When it launched a few years ago in Torno, Il Sereno, Lago di Como caused a sensation. It was the first hotel in the area of Lake Como to be designed by a world-renowned architect—and Patricia Urquiola, the Spanish starchitect and a longtime resident of Milan, did a fabulous job. The hotel blends into its surroundings thanks to the “light” building, with its many windows awash with sunlight reflected by the lake. The garden, with around 183 varieties of plants, creates a gorgeous floral landscape that syncs up with the environment. Even the Brazilian quartzite heated infinity pool and the ashwood deck become one with the lake in a continuous line: harmony. From inside the hotel you can often glimpse the waters of the Lario, the other name by which Lake Como is known, an iconic part of Italian culture and the backdrop of Alessandro Manzoni’s 19th-century novel The Betrothed, where star-crossed lovers Renzo and Lucia manage to finally reunite and get married. Il Sereno’s lobby is elegant, soft, and welcoming, filled with the best of Italian design—furniture by Cassina, Moroso, B&B Italia—as are the 40 rooms, all with a view, and the exquisite vertical garden by Patrick Blanc. The delicious and simple (albeit Michelin-starred) food is courtesy of Raffaele Lenzi and features local freshwater fish and vegetables, served alongside sensational cocktails (even the alcohol-free ones). As if so much contemporary beauty were not enough, there’s still the wooden motorboat, a beautiful Riva, ready to take you around the lake or to Villa Pliniana, a 16th-century palace with another 17 bedrooms—a perfect setting for listening to the music of the villa’s beautiful grand piano while gazing upon the waters of Lago di Como. From $815. —Maddalena Fossati

Kempinski Ciragan Palace
Kempinski Ciragan Palace

Kempinski Ciragan Palace – Istanbul

There are certain hotels that look like they have been lifted straight from a film set, and this one, with its vast, marble-floored lobby, regal palm trees and flawlessly uniformed bellhops, has a serious Wes Anderson feel. Originally built by a 17th-century sultan, the Çirağan Palace Kempinski is an Ottoman-era imperial palace overlooking the glistening Bosphorus. Weave through winding corridors to delve into rooms complete with four-poster beds, tulip-patterned headboards, velvet armchairs, marble bathrooms and red-and-cream-striped wallpaper. The palace’s other areas are similarly decadent: there’s riverside fine dining with magnificent Turkish dishes at Tuğra, a centuries-old Ottoman arch and the original palace hammam, tucked away behind a large wooden door with floor-to-ceiling marble and ornate carvings. As well as being an imperial residence, the hotel also hosted parliamentary procedures, royal courts and beauty pageants, and even served as a playing field for the Beşiktaş football team. All in all, it’s a blissful, storied escape in the middle of one of the world’s most historical cities. From $542. —Lale Arikoglu

Lucknam Park
Lucknam Park

Lucknam Park – England

England isn’t short of vast, sumptuous country estates and perfectly fetching manor houses. But Lucknam Park peeps over the rest from lofty heights. This Grade II-listed pile—creamy stone dressed with creepers tangling down its tower like Rapunzel’s hair, best glimpsed from the melodramatic beech-lined driveway—has been around since the late 17th century, and operated as a hotel under its current ownership since the end of the 1990s. Staying here is a deeply reassuring reminder that, sometimes, the classics endure for a reason. Plump four-poster beds are covered in rich floral fabrics or set against wallpaper patterned like humbugs. Original sash windows welcome in West Country sunshine that glints off chandeliers; in the cosy bar, martinis are whipped up cheerfully by informal but expert staff; and the bikes and golf carts lined up at the entrance can whizz you around the estate at the drop of a hat. These are just some of the smart touches that elevate Lucknam Park from reliably traditional to top-of-its-game. Many come here—and repeatedly—for the restaurant (executive chef Hywel Jones’s team have worked to keep the kitchen’s Michelin star for 17 years and counting). But then there’s the 111Skin facials, the gloriously steamy indoor-outdoor pools, the horse riding, clay pigeon shooting, and archery. Whatever their poison, guests all appear at breakfast with the unfakeable air of those who are truly rested. There’s no other weekender in the country that does it quite like this. From $371. —Sarah James

Alex Macleod/Lundies House

Lundies House – Scottish Highlands

I’ve always loved the subtle sensations of a hotel waking up, but Lundies House takes it to another level. At the crack of dawn, a thin silver light drips over the masses of purple loosestrife flowers that wave against the big solid stones and sash windows of the old manse. Then, for hours, just the wind in the garden and curlews (curlews!) across the Kyle of Tongue: a pristine sea loch that unfurls in a vast façade beyond the house and the little village of Tongue on its eastern shore. Eventually, the distant clatter of someone lighting a fire comes from one of the sitting rooms followed by a padding off along slate flags into a kitchen where a chef is tuning the radio. Is this the most beautiful hotel north of Inverness? I’d say so, and go into a daze thinking about it. Tranquil Scandinavian design and bespoke Scottish cabinetry typify the properties across the 13 Scottish Wildland estates owned by Dane Anders Holch Povlsen, but Lundies is the jewel. Its launch four years ago, just before the pandemic, went somewhat unnoticed. The thick stone walls of the 1842 former clergy house (Reverend Lundie was an early resident) are gorgeously bolstering. Here you’re swaddled from the temperature shifts of Scotland’s rocky Highland coastline. A handful of bedrooms upstairs in a supremely lulling color palette, and a few more in what were steadings in a courtyard, make eight. On the ground floor of the main house are warm, communal areas equipped for restoration and relaxation. Lundies has achieved the holy grail of the small hotel: an atmosphere of an intimate country house that is as private or clubbable as the mood takes you. There are no enforced chats between guests, but no awkward silences either. The staff are present but not neurotically so. Lundies’ food is immaculately seasonal and local. Chanterelles like golden coins and crabs that taste of a bracing morning walk along the sand. In the kitchen I spotted homemade jars of gem-colored preserves: damsons, rowan bud vinegar, toasted hay and spruce. There’s a natural pool for swimming in a stream in the garden, and a luminous little dining room with walls hand-painted by a botanical artist in a shimmering dreamscape of midsummer blossom. When lit by candles it’s quite a thing to behold, especially after sitting around the massive iron fire pit at dusk in the courtyard, drinking Orkney gin and watching the summer’s second batch of swallows whirling in and out of the wood stack. From $566. —Antonia Quirke

Manolo Yllera/Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

Mandarin Oriental Ritz – Madrid

Mandarin Oriental knows that its Madrid outpost will forever be known simply as “The Ritz”—our Ritz, the one inaugurated with pomp by King Alfonso XIII in 1910; the one that welcomed Grace Kelly and Rainier of Monaco during their honeymoon; and the one where Mata Hari, Salvador Dalí and countless other stars caroused. After its remodeling and reopening in 2021, The Ritz is now even more Ritz-like than ever, thanks to Mandarin Oriental. Storied Madrid architecture firm Rafael de La-Hoz and French interior designers Gilles & Boissier (Baccarat Hotel New York) had the challenging task of reinventing the hotel while holding onto a certain spirit. The most striking detail was the recovery of the great glass vault of the Palm Court, the social heart of the building, which had been concealed for 80 years, and the opening of the enormous doors that connect, physically and emotionally, to the Museo del Prado (the great art gallery is so close you can almost touch it). But other magical corners abound. My favorites include The Beauty Concept spa, with its spectacular indoor pool, treatment cabins and fitness trainers; the timeless counter of the Pictura cocktail bar, where I’ve spent endless hours watched over by gilt-framed oils; Deessa, chef Quique Dacosta’s artistic restaurant, which has gained two Michelin stars in two years; and the rare oasis that is the hotel garden. To eat Dacosta’s paella here, under the city’s eternal blue sky, has become a defining Madrid experience at what remains a quintessential hotel. From $870. —David Moralejo

Francisco Nogueira/Palacio Principe Real
Francisco Nogueira/Palacio Principe Real

Palacio Principe Real — Lisbon

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why going through the gates to the garden of Palácio Príncipe Real feels quite so much like arriving home. On the face of it, this is an imposingly grand affair: a renovation of an exquisite 1877 pastel-pink home set around a soaring atrium; a garden oasis in Lisbon’s smartest quarter, where the Teixeira da Mota family once hosted legendary parties. And yet, from the red Renault 4 in the cobblestone courtyard to the proper English breakfast tea and borderline kitsch runner ducks around the place, there’s a cosy, unpretentious whimsy to life here. A lot of that comes from its English owners, Gail and Miles Curley, who rescued the tired building from an ugly office conversion in 2015, embarking on a challenging renovation just as Lisbon was starting to boom. They are charming, self-effacing hosts, clearly in love with their very personal project but wont to reference Fawlty Towers while making sure it’s nothing of the sort. One of 25, the garden room we stayed in is sublime, with ornate ceiling-height blue tiles and a roll-top copper bath next to the old fireplace. It looks out over a miniature Eden of palms, jacaranda, and lemon trees towards the Asian-style pool, lit up come evening as a chatty cocktail hour begins outside the main house. Now and then, Isabel Amaral, an etiquette coach who grew up here with her seven siblings, will drop by, wowed by the restoration, but perhaps not the only one for whom Palácio Príncipe Real feels like a homecoming. From $475. —Toby Skinner

Palazzo Avino

Palazzo Avino – Amalfi Coast

In any other setting it would be impossible to miss the lashings of marble, vaulted hallways and antique busts, yet all eyes point in one direction: to the horizon. Palazzo Avino, first built as a private home in the 12th century, has a fairy-tale vista across the Monte Avvocata valley and the yacht-speckled Bay of Salerno. Known as the “pink palace of Ravello”, it is run by sisters Mariella and Attilia Avino, who have infused the place with buckets of personality and style—right down to the hand-painted tableware designed by Mariella and the Mar-a-viglia white wine from their vineyard, La Cascinetta, served at the glam Lobster & Martini Bar. The decor is Poseidon’s palace by way of Moda Operandi, with pink shell tiles, glossy sea-foam-blue bathrooms, and chic scalloped headboards. Palazzo Avino doesn’t do straight lines: doorways are arched, ceilings domed, mirrors wavy, all mimicking the raggedly vertiginous coastline. Baroque terraces bursting with bubblegum-pink dipladenias lead down to the pool, where candy-striped parasols shade Dolce sliders, and homemade Sorrento lemonade arrives in colorful Marino glassware. The hotel’s beach club, 20 minutes away, is a sprawling cliffside hang-out, in 2023 taken over by Valentino, complete with red loungers and retro changing booths. The main restaurant, Michelin-starred Rossellini’s, is one of the most spectacular dining rooms on the Amalfi Coast, where waistcoated waiters serve plates of lemon ravioli by candlelight, and all is well with the world. From $645. —Charlotte Davey

Porto Zante

Porto Zante – Zakynthos, Greece

It’s the steps down to the stone-clad spa here that I remember most clearly. Perhaps because I was eight months pregnant, and hyper-aware, but mainly because they were straight from a fairy tale: so dinky and intriguing, paved into the hillside and bordered by lush Mediterranean foliage. I’d walk down them to a different treatment every day, as per the family-owned hotel’s advice—gradually unwinding, resetting, reviving, listening and watching the waves of the Ionian Sea through huge open windows. Porto Zante is ideal for a babymoon. The villas are vast, design-driven but ultra-comfortable, with a temperature-controlled pool and a personal concierge, who embraced us and said, “You are our babies now”. Few places in Europe are as private or have service levels to match this. Want to eat from the Japanese-Asian menu at Maya, but in the Greek-Mediterranean Club House so you can listen to the resident pianist? Done. Need some time out from your toddler but they’re resisting the kids’ club? The determined staff will have them giggling in no time. Keen to explore the surrounding sea and villages or nearby city? Itineraries can be arranged on the day, then adapted from the four-by-four or yacht. It’s no wonder that presidents, royals and cultural icons come here to disappear down those magical steps whenever they need to lighten their mental load. From $2,521. —Becky Lucas

Poseidonion Grand Hotel
Poseidonion Grand Hotel

Poseidonion Grand Hotel – Spetses, Greece

Looking across the water from Porto Heli to Spetses, the first thing you notice is the Poseidonion, jutting out like a vast, immaculately frosted cake above the shore. On opening in 1914, it was the first hotel in the Balkans with hot water, and was constructed with steel from Germany, wood from Romania and limestone from Bulgaria: only the best would do, whatever the cost. Years of decay followed, and there are stories of bathrooms collapsing down three floors into the lobby. But now, fully restored and extended by its owner, Emmanuel Vordonis, it is, once again, immensely glamorous and international. It has the feel of a very wealthy and adored Edwardian maiden aunt, taking a detour from the usual Côte d’Azur to enjoy instead the delights of a Greek island. There are rooms with sea views and garden views, pool suites, royal suites and a Tower Room—all in a classic pale palette that reflects the island light to such an extent that you have the suspicion, now and again, that you’re somehow floating. The seafood is excellent, and dining on the outside terrace you really feel the electricity, communal warmth, and humor of this very special island. From $750. —Antonia Quirke

Regina Isabella
Regina Isabella

Regina Isabella – Ischia, Italy

Ischia is a volcanic island of verticals—all cliffs, summits and hairpins—so to find a five-star resort on the waterfront is surprisingly rare. That Regina Isabella’s marina, little beaches, sunbathing platforms, and pontoons offer such easy access to clear, emerald-colored sea is an obvious sell, as are the four swimming pools and legendary thermal spa. Marinated in the essence and spirit of its 1950s heyday, the hotel captures the golden era of Mediterranean sophistication and dolce vita glamor. The style and atmosphere continue in 128 bedrooms spread across three different units and buildings, completed between 1956 and 1963. Some still have vintage dressing tables, bedsteads and the cherrywood marquetry of built-in cupboards, with modernist iron-railed Juliet balconies—such as the one in room 370, from which Elizabeth Taylor famously hurled Richard Burton’s clothes following an epic row. The hub and raison d’être of the resort is the spa with indoor thermal pools and extensive facilities, where you can go for a quick-fix facial or a non-surgical filler, or have a personalized program and complete wellness overhaul. The location, between cliff and sea, and on the edge of the charming, short-stroll-away town of Lacco Ameno, means you can also experience life in a vivid, former fishing community. Here is a hotel that can be all things to all people: a destination spa and starred restaurant, a restorative retreat with natural thermal hot springs, and an intimate, relaxed family resort. From $378. —Catherine Fairweather

Bernhard Winkelmann/The Ritz Paris
Vincent Leroux/The Ritz Paris

The Ritz – Paris

César Ritz opened this limestone bastion of French hospitality in 1898 and, in the course of running it, he and his wife, Marie Louise, who would take over the business, flipped the industry on its head. It was the first hotel in Paris with telephones, the first to offer private baths, and the first to install electricity throughout the property. It was also one of the first places in town where women could come without chaperones and meet friends for five o’clock tea. From the start, The Ritz Paris has been a Grand Siècle-style hotel with a modern soul and, much as in 1898, change is afoot. It’s said that when he was too ill to dine out, Marcel Proust had chicken and potatoes sent over from The Ritz Paris—now those hallowed kitchens are home to their first female head chef, Eugénie Béziat. Chef Béziat was born in Gabon to French parents and spent her childhood in Africa, so the flagship restaurant, Espadon, features dishes such as chicken yassa, a Senegalese speciality, and barbecued lobster with cassava semolina. Meanwhile, down a warmly lit hall is Bar Hemingway, named for the American novelist who scrimped for a cocktail a week at The Ritz. Last spring, longtime head bartender Colin Field (inventor of the Clean Dirty Martini, served with an ice cube of olive juice) stepped aside, and his protégé Anne-Sophie Prestail, has come in from the wings. From $2,163.Jo Rodgers

Schloss Elmau

Schloss Elmau – Germany

Some hotels stir emotions and soothe the soul in equal measure. Schloss Elmau—a sprawling sanctuary high up in the Bavarian Alps—is one such place. It could be the pristine air or the crystal-clear lakes. Maybe it’s the enormous rooms, sensationally comfortable beds or floor-to-ceiling windows with uninterrupted mountain views. Or possibly it’s the reassuringly weighty, boldly colored bathrobes that are given to each guest, including children, on arrival—perfect for darting across the vast lawn to the outdoor Nature Spa. Pursuits including wild swimming, e-mountain bike tours, yoga, concerts, talks, walks and much more keep bodies and minds active, while eight restaurants, ranging from family-friendly buffet style in La Salle to fine dining at Luce D’Oro, ensure that tummies are full. There are six spas (three for adults and three for families), heated outdoor infinity pools, steam baths and saunas, two slick gyms and a vast hammam. Philosopher Johannes Müller built the original property in 1916 as a place for people to discover the spiritual benefits of nature and music. Today, Dietmar Müller-Elmau, his grandson, runs the magical microcosm with a modern spin on its founding principles and stratospheric levels of comfort. Perfected over decades, this place invigorates the mind, body and soul. From $744. —Louisa Parker Bowles

Nelson Garrido/Sublime Comporta

Sublime Comporta – Portugal

Set among the pine forests and sand dunes of Comporta is Sublime, a boutique hotel with idyllic surroundings, first-class hospitality and an away-from-it-all atmosphere. Understandably, people associate Comporta with the late-sunset beauty of summer, but Sublime is welcoming all year round. In fact, the heated floors, freestanding bathtubs and private terraces feel utterly blissful during the colder months, should you wish to visit off-season. There are three restaurants: Sem Porta is the main affair and serves Algarve pink prawns, lobster rice and Iberian pork; Tasca da Comporta is a little more casual, focusing on small plates; and Food Circle is a chef’s kitchen in the middle of the property’s organic garden. There’s also a beach club, spa, and on-site herb and vegetable garden. From sunrise on your private deck to chef’s table dinners, everything has been delicately thought out—and you’ll remember the utter relaxation you felt here long after you return home. From $286.Abigail Malbon

Johanne Nyborg/Union Øye
Somon Sjøkvist/Union Øye

Union Øye – Norway

“It’s like something from a Scandinavian fairy tale,” I heard a guest saying on arriving at Hotel Union Øye in Norway’s Sunnmøre Alps. They had a point. The red and cream half-timbered exterior, with its decorative fish-scale roof and ornate lattice work, does conjure a storybook fantasy. Numerous writers thought so too. Karen Blixen, Henrik Ibsen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all loved this spot, as did other illustrious guests, from Queen Maud of Norway and composer Edvard Grieg to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who liked to turn up with his own bath in tow. So there’s history to the place, a sense of which oozes through its paneled interiors, up the sturdy pine staircase to the 24 bedrooms where flouncy wallpapers, heavy brocade and damask are blended with antique furniture and twinkling chandeliers to bring a museum-like quality. Old-world, Edwardian glamor you might call it, though it’s a tad spooky, too: lovelorn Linda, the resident ghost, has been known to make her presence felt. Fast forward to the 21st century and in come the Flakk family, keen environmentalists and pioneers of sophisticated travel experiences in Norway under their 62º Nord brand. They’ve awakened sleeping beauty from her slumbers and given her a serious overhaul, adding a cluster of new-build, old-style farmhouses with 14 further rooms, and a new conservatory restaurant and Palm bar. Hotel Union Øye now feels altogether younger and fresher, ready for the next generation of inspirationalists to explore the fjords and high mountains right on its doorstep. From $302. —Pamela Goodman

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Mexico, Central, and South America

Edgardo Contreras/Belmond
Edgardo Contreras/Belmond

Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel – Mexico

The babble of a courtyard fountain, a breeze that shoulders its way through stone arches: Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel is an unquestionably sensory experience. But the more elemental charms of this historical marvel, whose 17th- and 18th-century buildings are scattered across San Miguel de Allende’s Centro district, are only part of its allure; the rest it owes to the human touch. I arrived at my suite—a corner unit cleaved from a former mansion—to find my wedding portrait set into a carved tin frame; one afternoon, I returned to find textured strips of paper on my reading stack—bookmarks. Chef Alejandra Puente told me about her daughter as we contemplated fresh avocados at the local market, gathering up the bounty we would need for my private cooking class. This is hospitality at its finest. From $630. —Betsy Blumenthal


Cirqa, Relais & Chateaux – Arequipa, Peru

In Peru’s city of Arequipa—where colonial archways and bright white volcanic stone make the White City especially easy on the eyes—Cirqa is an extension of this unassuming yet elevated aesthetic. The 11-room boutique is set in a former monastery, which dates back to 1540 (the same year that Arequipa was founded), and that history whispers to guests at every turn: from the moment you knock on the discreet wrought-iron door to enter; as you are guided through dimly lit halls with barreled ceilings and candles flickering in the corners; and when you emerge into a hushed, light-filled courtyard, temporarily removed from the throbbing city center just outside Cirqa’s walls. The rooms, meanwhile, boast gaping arched windows, free-standing tubs in some, and soothing modern designs. Nothing here agitates. On the terrace, alpaca fur is slung over washed wood chairs, while over at the restaurant, crisp white wines are always being proffered, and Arequipeño flavors like crayfish and rocoto pepper play alongside fresh produce from the valley. But after a day of climbing nearby volcanoes or embarking on fascinating art history tours, nothing calls like that sapphire dipping pool in the courtyard, traditionally called pozas. Suffice to say, Cirqa is in a league of its own among Arequipa’s hotels—but very much in-line with its sister outposts from the same Peruvian team, which include five-star darlings Titilaka (in Puno) and Atemporal (in Lima). From $450. —Megan Spurrell

Giorgia Ascolani

Copacabana Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

The first time, I came for the beach. I was tracing a palm-fringed world of cold beers and hot swimsuits, beach volleyball, tan lines and pristine sands, 3,000 miles around the Brazilian coast. Copacabana was where I began. For glorious Brazilian beaches, Copacabana is ground zero. But the last time—and there were many visits in between—I came just for the hotel, the elegant Copacabana Palace. It was the hotel that created this place; that made this strip of sand famous and helped to conjure the idea of the beach as central to Brazilian identity. When the Copacabana Palace opened a hundred years ago, it occupied an unheralded neighborhood, amid modest houses and fishermen’s shacks. Until then, Rio de Janeiro had been centered on the old downtown areas of Centro and Castelo, and the 19th-century mansions of leafy Santa Teresa. But a new age of leisure arrived in the post-war years. Sunbathing was suddenly a thing, and Coco Chanel made having a tan fashionable. Designed by French architect Joseph Gire, the Copacabana Palace adopted the elegant art deco lines of the grand hotels of the French Riviera. A Parisian dancer, Mistinguett, reputed to have the most beautiful legs in the world, arrived for the hotel’s inauguration, and suddenly everyone’s gaze turned south to Copacabana, to the new hotel and to the glorious beach that was its doorstep. A century on, the Copacabana Palace is still a Rio icon, bestriding the Avenida Atlântica on that incomparable bay. The style is classic opulence: vast chandeliers, acres of marble and Brazilian hardwoods; a sanctuary among the city’s endless partying. But this is Brazil. The Palace may be grand, but it is also fun. It pulls you into a cheeky Brazilian embrace: comforting, perhaps, but always a little flirtatious. At breakfast overlooking the famous pool, beautiful and lively Brazilians are all around. Ken Hom is the storied chef behind Michelin-starred Pan-Asian restaurant Mee, though my favorite is the Cipriani, an elegant Italian that would impress in a top Roman hotel. There is a rooftop tennis court, and, across the avenue on that famous beach, hotel staff attend guests with umbrellas and loungers, cold towels, and sun lotion. Around the hotel’s centenary, it is still impossible to think of Rio, or that famous beach swooning round the bay, without the Copacabana Palace. From $441.Stanley Stewart

Explora Patagonia

Explora Patagonia National Park – Chile

Explora’s lodge in Patagonia National Park, set in remote southern Chile’s Chacabuco Valley, is the best way to see this still-pristine and untouristed swath of wilderness. There’s access to miles of amazing hiking trails, gin-bottle blue glacial rivers and lakes, and ample opportunity to spot the native wildlife thriving on this government-protected parkland sustained by ecotourism. That the lodge is supremely chic, with excellent food and the most enthusiastic, kind, and knowledgeable guides makes it a true treasure. The room decor is exactly right for the location, simple but so beautiful with wide-planked floors, beamed ceilings, wood-framed windows, and built-in armoires. Colors are neutral and echo the surroundings rather than compete with them—stone gray throw blankets and pillows, beige armchairs, white walls–and artwork is at a minimum—maybe a tasteful landscape photograph in a simple black frame. It’s all very understated and elegant without feeling at all overthought or precious. The main lodge is the heart of the property and where the casual reception desk, sweet bar, dining room, and lounging spaces are. It’s where you meet your guide in the morning, gather for a beer or a pisco sour after a trek, read before dinner, and take all of your meals. Food and drinks are all-inclusive here, which makes everything easy and stress-free. For such a small lodge, the food is stellar. Like with the decor, it’s about quality and attention to detail—nothing flashy but everything extremely well executed. From the general manager to the guides and the chefs—everyone is warm, professional, and extremely capable. From $920. —Rebecca Misner

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US, Canada, and the Caribbean


1 Hotel Hanalei Bay – Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai's 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay has all the ingredients you might want to cook up a truly magical Hawaiian getaway—a swimmable beach right out front, a legendary surf break a short paddle away, a stunning main pool (and a sleek adults-only one), great onsite bars and restaurants, a cute town nearby for exploring, and easy access to excellent hiking. But what makes this property truly stand out in an archipelago dotted with luxe oceanfront resorts is that it’s also a legitimate wellness destination, with cutting-edge medi-spa offerings as well as serious fitness and mind/body programming. Guest rooms are a study in neutrals—sand-hued walls, reclaimed teak ceilings and furniture with rope and reed accents. Potted plants live in woven baskets and stag ferns are mounted on the walls, dried grass skirts are hung like pieces of art, the bathroom walls are lined with lava stone, and the island’s seafaring history comes through in the most subtle of ways—sconces that almost resemble fishing nets, or a single conch shell displayed on a shelf. The service on-site is casual but professional, and everyone from the concierge to the person helping you get set up at the pool is incredibly friendly and more than happy to share their favorite spots around the island. As for the Bamford Wellness Spa, I'm not exaggerating when I say the treatments are transcendent. Menu highlights include treatments that incorporate native Hawaiian medicinal plants like kava and noni, massages on a quartz bed (it’s like lying in warm sand while getting your kinks and knots worked out), and floats in the sensory deprivation tank, where you lose track of time and space in the best way possible: A single 60 minute session can be the equivalent of four hours of REM sleep. From $1,200. —Rebecca Misner

Courtesy Arizona Biltmore

The Arizona Biltmore – Phoenix

Once you’re at the Biltmore, there’s no need to really leave. You’re here to be here, though the surrounding desert landscape and Piestewa peak in full view behind the main lawn deliver the “you’re in Arizona” memo. For a hotel with over 700 rooms (amazingly, it doesn’t feel like it), each manages to feel classically luxurious without steering into the cold or cookie-cutter. Plush beds, desertscape artwork, and bulbous ceramic lamps all over make the room feel both set in the Southwest and tony enough for a Waldorf. For a resort where you plan to stay on-site most of your time, the food has to deliver—by and large, it does. McArthur’s serves reliable American classics, though Renata's Hearth with its smoke-inspired menu is the place to dress up and dine at after a long day in the sun. You could come here just for the spa, where they lean into astrology, crystals, and chakra opening in a big way, resulting in massages and body work that are just that much more interesting than the usual offerings. There are unsurprisingly a ton of families here thanks to family-friendly features like connecting rooms, activities and areas just for children (such as the very popular kids’ pool), and the ease with which parents can take turns escaping for a yoga or pickleball class (it’s a very big place). That said, no matter how great the spa treatments are, nothing can melt away stress like flinging yourself down the waterslides—don’t write them off as just for kids. From $299. —Megan Spurrell

The Breakers Palm Beach

The Breakers Palm Beach – Florida

For a good part of a century, Palm Beach has been a winter magnet for those attracted to a luxurious oceanfront getaway. And undoubtedly the most recognizable fixture within that pull is The Breakers, a 534-room beachside hotel that presents itself less as a resort and more like a palace—at least that’s what my children said on a recent stay. The majestic narrative is in part due to the grand architecture that emulates 15th-century Italian villas, inclusive of gilded and fresco ceilings hand-painted by Florentine artisans. But if you think The Breakers is stuck in the past, then just take in its annual $30 million reinvestment fund that has given way to contemporary additions like HMF, a vibey lounge named after the property’s founder, railroad and oil tycoon Henry Morrison Flagler, that serves sexy cocktails. The Breakers leans into its Florida feels with a waterside area that’s home to four sparking pools, a private beach, and enough palm trees to populate a rainforest. Guest rooms, marked by neutral shades that deliberately play second fiddle to the view of either turquoise blue ocean or verdant gardens, match the resort’s comfortable sophistication, with linens that feel as decadent as the legendary Sunday brunch. From $1,090. —Nila Do Simon

Casa Cipriani

Casa Cipriani – New York City

This New York hotel is a Cipriani property, so it’s luxury to the max, but in that effortlessly chic Italian sort of way. Picture it: presidential suites featuring cashmere-covered walls by Loro Piana Interiors—that’s the sort of luxurious detail you’ll find in every nook and cranny of the guest rooms at Casa Cipriani. The sheets on the bed are from the 150-year-old luxury linen house Rivolta Carmignani based in Macherio, just outside of Milan. Prior to check-in guests can choose between Italian cotton or Italian linen. It’s hard not to fall completely under the spell of the hotel from the minute you step into your room or suite. Maybe it’s the Art Deco light fixtures or artwork on the wall. Maybe it’s the jazz playing softly in the background, or the way the setting sun hit the lacquer furniture and the shiny brass knobs. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about the guest rooms at Casa Cipriani are the private terraces. The spacious private terraces. Be sure to request a river-facing room because there’s really nothing like this view anywhere in town: Next to the hotel, you’ve got the Staten Island Ferry pulling in and out of Whitehall Terminal; that’s Governor’s Island straight ahead, and beyond that, Brooklyn. To your right, you’ve got the Statue of Liberty. But there’s also so much going on inside Casa Cipriani that no one would blame you if you spent your entire stay on the premises: the Club restaurant, the Jazz Café, the Pickering Room, the Promenade Bar, and the Living Room. On top of all that, the hotel service is attentive but not at all intrusive. They truly make you feel like you’re the most important person in the room, and who doesn’t want to feel like that for a few nights? From $800. —Lauren DeCarlo

Courtesy of The Charleston Place

The Charleston Place – South Carolina

Since opening in 1986, The Charleston Place has garnered praise for its architectural sleight of hand. Hidden behind a row of diminutive and colorful 19th-century storefronts lurks the Holy City’s largest hotel: a behemoth at 434 rooms, with upper floors deliberately set back to render them invisible from street view, preserving the intimate scale of the city. At ground level, good-natured jacketed greeters swing open double glass doors to usher you into gleaming marble hallways lined with high-end boutiques and galleries, culminating in a grand central lobby. Locals know it well: They lounge here after church on weekends, listening to live music before heading in to the Palmetto Café for its stupendous brunch spread; or they gussy up for special occasion dinners at the hotel’s award-winning Charleston Grill. Over the decades, the hotel has cemented an excellent reputation, first as an Orient Express property and then part of the Belmond collection, but it now boasts the distinction of being locally owned. Charleston resident Ben Navarro, the billionaire and visionary behind Beemok Hospitality Collection, made headlines in late 2021 when he purchased the property and launched a no-expenses-spared restoration and rejuvenation of what was already a beloved Charleston icon. Uppermost rooms reach enviable heights by Charleston standards, affording views to the glimmering harbor beyond, just one reason this hotel towers above its peers. From $350. —Allston McCrady

Jason Frank Rothenberg/Chateau Marmont

Chateau Marmont – Los Angeles

I grew up in LA and we all knew the stories: Jim Morrison jumping off the roof during a wild night; Lindsay Lohan racking up a $40,000 bar tab and forgetting to pay. West Hollywood’s secretive Francophile-inspired institution has been the domain of Eve Babitz, Anthony Bourdain, Hunter S Thompson, Lana Del Rey and even an annual Beyoncé and Jay-Z Oscars afterparty. In a city that is notoriously sprawling and decentralized, it is the beating heart of off-duty Hollywood, and the washed-up starlet most fun to drink with. Whether you’re peeking over your sunglasses at the infamous palm-shrouded pool or sipping something heady in the lobby bar, with its moody Old Hollywood lighting, you are a someone here—everyone is. In my room, the stationery on the desk is printed with, “In Residence: Megan Spurrell”. There’s also an ashtray beside a menu that says “No Smoking”. When you’re a guest here, you have free rein. You get priority rights to the restaurant’s garden (unless Sofia Coppola books it out, which she did when I was there), and if you want to enjoy the pool after checking out, ordering fries while eavesdropping on industry folk, the concierge will hand you a brass key for access. Maybe I didn’t swing from a chandelier at a Leo DiCaprio get-together, but my old friends and I did get to pretend we didn’t notice the comedian Fred Armisen at the next table. From $595. —Megan Spurrell

Courtesy Eden Rock

Eden Rock St Barths

You can become a little numb to beauty in St. Barts, but even after having been on island for days, I think I squealed when I pulled into Eden Rock. It’s just so perfect—so chic, so glamorous, but in this easy, island-appropriate way. It’s the type of place that just being there makes you feel like the most glam, sun-kissed version of yourself. The hotel is almost entirely surrounded by calm, gin-bottle blue water that’s heavenly for a swim. There’s a diving platform a little ways out, and you can take out rafts and paddle around the point, and there’s a reef if you want to snorkel. The rooms are lovely and elegant, with a subtle Carib-meets-nautical vibe, at once bright and airy. When it comes to the food, rockstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is in charge of the menu at the main restaurant, and the resort’s breakfast spread is insane in scope and quality; don’t miss it. Sure, you could have a delightful breakfast by your private pool, but the people-watching here is too good—you’d be missing an opportunity if you stayed in. It’s a pretty diverse crowd in some ways, but the common denominator, to tell it straight, is money. This place is not cheap, but it’s one of the rare hotels that is absolutely worth it. The setting is unparalleled and the food, service, and design are top of the top. There is no way you’ll go and not dream (maybe nightly) about going back—it’s that special. From $1,554. —Rebecca Misner

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver – Canada

Nicknamed the Castle in the City, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver feels grand at every step, and in fact boasts royal roots: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later dubbed the Queen Mother) were among the first visitors, and their stay marked the property’s ceremonious opening back in 1939. Some 80 years later, an extensive five-year renovation to the tune of $75 million was completed on the downtown Vancouver property, and with it came Fairmont Gold, a hotel within a hotel. For guests who book a Gold room or suite, check-in takes place on your own floor (9 or 14), and a full breakfast is available just inside the private lounge, which in my case was roughly six steps away from my room. Ceramic pots of delicious fresh salmon were among the offerings I scooped up each morning before padding back to my room, coffee and meal in hand (I had to WFH—work from hotel; otherwise I’d have sat down in one of the lounge’s many banquettes or tables). While there is plenty of great food to be had around the city—and in the lobby at the always-bustling Notch8 Restaurant and Bar—there was a much-appreciated ease to having afternoon tea, evening hors d’oeuvres, or the aforementioned morning meal so accessible, and I imagine even more so for families traveling together. The grandiose hotel’s Art Deco–influenced aesthetic leans into deep blues and bronzes, with marble and velvet accents—a look that carries into the rooms too. Left in place after the renovation was much of the building’s original woodwork, crown moldings, and built-in decorative fireplaces that keep the hotel’s historic feel alive and well. More modern (and welcomed) touches I made use of during my restful stay: Le Labo bath products, an in-room Nespresso maker, the 24-hour gym and sauna, and an indoor pool open year-round. From $240. —Madison Flager

Giorgia Ascolani

Farmhouse Inn – Sonoma, California

While it’s tempting to paint Sonoma as a sleepy, indie sweep of California wine country, the truth is, the county is every bit as—if not more—booming than neighboring Napa. It’s got Michelin-starred restaurants, shiny new tasting rooms, and big-name hotels cropping up on the regular. But to try a little of that sweet Sonoma of yesteryear, there’s no better place for it than Farmhouse Inn. Located near the Russian River—and within easy driving distance to charming Healdsburg, as well as some of the region's best vineyards—this 25-room property feels delightfully laid-back and intimate. There’s a lovely, recently refreshed spa, a charming little swimming pool, and the most beautiful gardens, especially if you come in late spring or early summer when the roses are going off. There’s a natural, easy elegance to the property, and its ethos feels in-step with Sonoma’s winemaking and farming roots. The Inn has five different room categories, and all are beautiful with a country-chic look; bright and airy with white wainscoting, pillowy bedding, and haute-rustic touches that might include a personal welcome message on small blackboard (the type you see at an honor-system farmstand offering fresh eggs), a fireplace, and comfortable overstuffed chairs. The Farmhouse Restaurant occupies a beautiful space—like the most elegant version of a convivial farmhouse dining room—and offers an ever-evolving chef’s tasting menu with hyper local ingredients paired with, naturally, a stellar regional wine list. All in all, Farmhouse Inn looks and feels like a classic New England country charmer—with California wine-country street cred. From $595. —Rebecca Misner

Giorgia Ascolani

Four Seasons at the Surf Club – Miami

In the quiet residential enclave of Surfside, ensconced between the skin-revealing glitter of Miami Beach proper and the buttoned-up flash of Bal Harbour, the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is a timeless and all-welcoming, new-fashioned take on old-school glamor. Opened in 2017, the hotel builds upon the illustrious circa 1931 beach club that hosted America’s most distinguished throughout the mid 20th century, including Gary Cooper, Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, and Elizabeth Taylor, for fashion-forward parties, beach soirees, and alcohol-fueled overnights—epic enough to enshrine The Surf Club into Florida cultural history (and merit a standalone Assouline coffee-table book). Today, the beachfront legend continues with the resurrection of The Surf Club to its full Mediterranean Revival architectural glory, now enveloped by a series of three, 12-story modernist glass-framed towers. In 72 of the 77 guest rooms and suites in the new towers, glass balconies give way to soothing interiors by famed Paris-based creator Joseph Dirand, delivering design studies in midcentury modern updated for the present day, underscored by juxtapositions of travertine–finished spaces, clean-lined-yet-curvaceous hybrid furnishings, and tastefully gilded accents. (A similar style prevails in the five lower-level Ocean Bungalows, which occupy architect Russell T. Pancoast’s beach cabanas of yore.) The restored historic building oozes vintage glam from all corners, down to the black marble check-in desk (where a fully stocked complimentary Champagne cart awaits upon arrival) and Lido Restaurant and Champagne Bar, the Club’s former ballroom thoughtfully transformed into a drop-dead gorgeous, local-frequented Italian hotspot. From $1,500.Paul Rubio

Brandon LaJoie/The Greenwich NY
Brandon LaJoie/The Greenwich NY

The Greenwich – New York City

For one of my first visits to New York as a teenager, a family friend offered to host me for the weekend. I didn’t know him that well, but I heard the words “Manhattan apartment” and conjured visions of leather armchairs and silk rugs, parlor palms and walnut desks, and artwork sourced from far-flung travels. My grand expectations didn’t meet reality—but they do here at The Greenwich Hotel. This exquisitely designed property in Tribeca opened its doors in 2008, but feels like it’s been part of the city’s fabric for much longer. Perhaps it’s the hotel’s lived-in aesthetic textures: Not one of its 87 rooms, suites, and penthouses looks like another, all furnished by your chicest, most well-traveled uncle. In the guest rooms, there are Savoir beds, hand-made and cloud-like; in the bathrooms, Carrara marble and Moroccan tile; in the lobby, terra-cotta floors modeled after those in a 14th-century Italian palazzo; in the spa (featuring, in my humble opinion, the best indoor pool in Manhattan), timber that once held up a 250-year-old farmhouse in Japan—all of it undeniably luxe yet somehow unpretentious. Or maybe it’s The Greenwich’s rep: One of the owners is the actor Robert De Niro, who grew up nearby; paintings by his father, the abstract expressionist Robert De Niro Sr., add colorful drama to the hotel’s walls (childhood photos of both Bobbys, found in some guest rooms, are delightful Easter eggs). Or it might be the service: polished and friendly, familiar in a welcome way. With its thoughtful design and hospitality ethos, The Greenwich Hotel can’t help but echo the old Italian American saying: When you’re here, you’re family. From $975. —Matt Ortile


Meadowood – Napa, California

There are a lot of excellent places to stay in Napa Valley, but Meadowood has been the veritable heart of this region for over 60 years, and it shows. In a nutshell, it feels marvelously, authentically, singularly Napa—from its 36 guest rooms and suites designed by locally based, globally renowned architect Howard Bracken, to its impressive wine center spotlighting the area’s best vineyards, and a spa that taps into the area’s centuries-old legacy as a wellness destination. The guest rooms and suites have a sort of chic barn feel. They aren’t at all rustic–clean lines, a sea of white and neutrals–but the wainscoting and high, beamed ceilings do give fancy farmhouse energy. Cottages and suites all have private porches, and though they are open-planned and airy, the fireplaces, soaking tubs, window seats and comfy sofas keep things cozy. The spa is a real highlight and should not be missed. The space is soothing—low-lit with a big fireplace and deep sofas in the entry area. The vibe is welcoming and a true continuation of the resort’s aesthetic (rather than some minimalist, antiseptic annex, which is often the case), with lots of neutrals and dark grays, olive-hued tones, and organic materials. As far as restaurants go, there’s the Terrace Café—alfresco and open only to guests of the resort and club members—that serves light, local fare. While I was there, I had an excellent ceviche-and-quinoa bowl at the all-day spot Forum. The menu is seasonally inspired (so menu items rotate), leans locally sourced, and has excellent vegetarian options as well as, not surprisingly, a stellar wine list. Like most places in this wildfire-prone part of the state, landscaping on-site is kept to mostly native or drought-tolerant plants that don’t require a huge amount of water (to help prevent fires, the property has sheep and goats to eat the growth). In the wake of the Glass Fire, the property has replanted 2,300 trees and has additional reforestation efforts planned. The resort leans into sourcing locally (wine, food, spa ingredients) and hiring locally. As such, the staff is warm, helpful, and knowledgeable. The quality of service is high but not so formal and fussy—it may be Napa, but this is, after all, California. From $900. —Rebecca Misner

Round Hill Hotel and Villas

Round Hill Hotel and Villas – Montego Bay, Jamaica

It’s easy to imagine that very little has changed at this 1950s-era resort since John F. Kennedy absconded to Cottage 25 to chip away at his inaugural address and Oscar Hammerstein wrote The Sound of Music while taking in the killer ocean views. The green-striped awnings shading vast terraces and the interiors’ cream-colored paneling offset by dark wood, along with the tea and sandwiches served at four sharp every afternoon, enhance that caught-in-time feeling. That in recent years Ralph Lauren had a major hand in the design is a delightful nonsurprise, with a playful preppiness on display at every turn, like the bar with its deep booth benches upholstered in navy and white stripes and photos of bygone guests, like Warren Beatty, covering the walls. From $875. —Charlie Hobbs

Thompson Seattle

Thompson Seattle

Designers and building buffs love the Thompson chain’s focus on architectural details, and its Seattle location, which debuted in 2016, doesn’t disappoint. With an angular glass exterior by local firm Olson Kundig and modern-yet-friendly furnishings throughout, the hotel has quickly earned a reputation as Seattle’s most stylish stay. Dividing the lobby from handsome all-day restaurant Conversation Kitchen & Bar, a floating staircase signals that this is a hotel for Dwell-reading design fans who lust over notebooks from Leuchtturm1917 and midcentury chairs. Just ahead, an arc-necked floor lamp peeps over a pine green, velour wrap-around sofa—creating a well-lit spot to relax with your morning coffee or wait for a friend. For floor-to-ceiling windows that, on the west side of the building, make you feel like you’re floating over the Puget Sound, grab a Water View room. It can run more than $100 extra, but it’s a dazzling effect you don’t want to miss. Throughout, rooms are sharply furnished and understated, with dark woods, navy accents, and stately pin-striped duvets. In the summer of 2023, the hotel unveiled a pair of 1,000-square-foot penthouse suites designed by the local firm Haus + Home, which beautifully translate the hotel’s vibe into a minimalist-luxe urban loft living experience. In addition to the priority service that comes with a penthouse reservation, the suites have large kitchens and lots of appealing details, from the record player and wine fringe to the local art and band posters. On warm evenings, flocks of locals head to rooftop bar The Nest to share vodka-and-Courvoisier punch served from copper flamingos or to sip on locally brewed beers. If The Nest is full, score one of the sleek barstools downstairs at Conversation, a good restaurant that churns out excellent cocktails.On top of all that, the Thompson has the friendliest staff in town. With an uncanny ability to remember every guest who books one of the hotel’s 152 rooms, the concierge crew always comes through with first-rate dining recs and offers to make reservations. Between the epic design details, the dizzying views, and the dangerous amount of good drinks flowing from its two bars, the Thompson offers one of the most delightful stays in Seattle. From $269. —Jessica Voelker

White Elephant Nantucket

White Elephant Nantucket

Nantucket's hotel scene has grown up quite a bit over the past few years, with exciting new boutique offerings (Faraway, Life House) making waves and drawing younger, more trend-setting travelers to the brahmin island than ever before. But the most tried-and-true hotel here is one of the oldest: the harborside White Elephant, a historic inn-and-cottages resort that masters classic New England chic whilst keeping up with the times. Case in point, the resort just celebrated its 100th birthday with a complete top-to-bottom renovation of the 54-key hotel and 11 on-site cottages, including a new artist-in-residency program and airy interiors paying homage to the island's basket-weaving and seafaring heritage. Cerulean textiles, brass elephant-head door knockers, wood-and-leather armchairs, and marble accents compliment the ocean and white caps just beyond your window (or spacious seating area and balcony, if you spring for a suite). The serene great lawn and Brant Point Grill make up perhaps the most spacious stretch of waterfront dining on the island—perfect for a hearty lobster-leaning breakfast, or a perfectly balanced cocktail and raw-bar spread if you're just visiting to take in the bobbing sail boats and passing ferries. And it's all mere steps (or a complimentary bike pedal, all of about three minutes) from all the cobblestones, climbing roses, and summer crowds in town—something that, on this historic and well-loved island, you really can't beat. From $375 —Shannon McMahon

Courtesy XV Beacon

XV Beacon – Boston

Located in Beacon Hill just steps from the Massachusetts State House and the bustling financial district, XV Beacon (say “Fifteen Beacon” if you’re talking about it) is a transportive paradise of serenity and relaxation. The vibe is sexy—lots of dark-stained woods, crimson accents, and antique furniture—but the ethos is entirely Boston. With only seven guest rooms per floor, XV Beacon has a distinctly residential feel, and rooms are spacious but still intimate. The fact that each one comes with a personal fireplace speaks to the level of luxury and coziness here. Every detail feels special, from the Frette linens and the one-of-a-kind commissioned artworks to the cashmere throws and the pillow menu. And there’s no better way to unwind after a day of meetings or hiking the Freedom Trail than with a soak in the white-marble tub, a feature of some rooms. Looking for food and drink? Mooo.... (three O’s, four periods) on the first floor takes the best parts of steakhouses (grass-fed beef, a killer dessert list, a solid brunch) and distills them into something that works for a boutique hotel of this scale. Not too keen on getting dressed up for dinner? Don't worry; the entire menu can be delivered directly to your door. And with only 63 rooms, the hotel offers a degree of attention and service you generally don’t find at Boston’s larger hotels. Staff is used to making check-in and check-out seamless and offering personal touches throughout the stay. Every detail of the experience feels tailor-made to this hotel, right down to the custom fragrance that welcomes you the moment you step into the lobby. From $495. —Todd Plummer

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Best Cruise Ships in the World: Gold List 2024

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