Best hotels in the world

Best hotels in the world

  • THE BEST HOTELS IN EUROPEUKTHE KENSINGTON, LONDONSomething of an unsung hero of the London hotel but one of the loveliest places to stay in the capitalThough hardly a secret, it is surprising that more people are not raving about this handsome hotel set in Victorian buildings in elegant South Kensington. It’s quintessentially English, with excellent food and service; the bar, too, is impeccably sleek and takes its cocktails seriously. It has some of the most charming and comfortable public spaces (that sequence of sunlit sitting rooms along the Queen’s Gate side) of any small hotel in the city, and two of the loveliest suites, the Knightsbridge and the Brompton, which can be connected to become a single mega-apartment. Apart from which, what is there to recommend the place? Well, there is the endlessly diverting art on the walls, which displays an eclectic mixture not only of periods and genres but also of seriousness and whimsy. And then there are the camellia-motif carpets, extending in all directions once you ascend above the ground floor. These ought to be frightening but are, on the contrary, delightful, so perpetually spring-like they cannot but put a spring in your step. The Kensington was the first Doyle Collection property to launch in London (followed very closely by the Marylebone; the Bloomsbury, the most recent arrival, was also an instant hit). Yet it is, if not the best, then the warmest and cosiest, the most genial and the most versatile, of the lot. By Steve KingBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Kensington hotel reviewThe Kensington hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Kensington hotel review
    CLARIDGE’S, LONDONPrecariously close to old-fashioned hotel perfectionHave you ever noticed how those lovely old revolving doors at Claridge’soffer practically no resistance? They seem almost to spin themselves around at your approach, as if to draw you in, like a welcoming whirlpool. Once inside, the splendour swirls all about you in a blur of chequered marble tiles and soft chandelier light. Straight ahead, there is the bustle of the Foyer and Reading Room; a little off to one side, you might detect the reassuring rattle of cocktails being vigorously shaken in the Fumoir and expertly stirred in the Bar; round the corner, a sculptural arrangement of spectral white branches stands stock-still and silent in the middle of the Michelin-starred Fera restaurant like the remnants of some enchanted forest, just willing you to book a table for later that evening. Claridge’s is usually described as Art Deco in style, but this is only approximately correct. Most of the building predates the Art Deco moment and most of its life as a hotel has of course followed it. And while it does, undeniably, possess the impeccable manners, the aristocratic good looks, the sybaritic heart and the sequinned soul of a Twenties flapper, collaborations with designers such as Thierry Despont, Diane von Furstenberg and David Linley have introduced more contemporary qualities as well. Claridge’s is not one thing but many, at once impossibly grand and irresistibly cosy, both a glorious throwback and as perfectly fresh as a daisy. By Steve KingBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Claridge’s hotel reviewClaridge’s hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYClaridge’s hotel review
    COVENT GARDEN HOTEL, LONDONA neighbourhood pad in London’s theatre-landThe Covent Garden Hotel might sit in the heart of theatre-land, but it’s no drama queen. It lets other divas in town take the curtain calls. Instead, this place goes for the slow burn, revealing itself subtly and demurely. But when it does, you realise it’s a beauty. Take the first-floor Drawing Room, lined in maple wood, shiny as toffee, which originally came from the now demolished League of Nations building near Trafalgar Square. Here too are delicately limbed parlour chairs with 18th-century needlepoint embroidery and a grand old writing desk, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and holding numerous little drawers that surely concealed secret notes over the years. The honesty bar just off the nook of a library is as well stocked as a house party, meaning that nightcaps can be as late as you like. Settle into the yellow and red sofa in front of the log fire, kick off your shoes (it’s not frowned upon) and soak up the elegant yet cosy surroundings. Just as lovely is the fourth-floor Terrace Suite, up among the rooftops and chimneys of London like a Mary Poppins eyrie. Parrots peck at blousy dusty-pink flowers on the linen upholstery of the sofa and over-sized headboard and purple and teal ikat-print curtains frame the windows. In the morning, watch the sunrise over the Shard from the little wooden deck. There’s a deep bathtub for soaking in, and lavender-and-eucalyptus bathroom lotions by RikRak (a bespoke Firmdale range) that smell so good you’ll be sniffing your arm for the rest of the day. Many new names have landed in London recently, but this trouper still holds its head up high. By Grainne McBrideBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Covent Garden Hotel reviewCovent Garden Hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYCovent Garden Hotel review
    LUCKNAM PARK, BATHA big-hitting Cotswolds estate that sweeps you off your feet with its sheer strength of characterAmidst the noise and bluster of so many new British hotel openings, with their sushi chefs and foraging sessions, shiny sit-up-and-beg bicycles to borrow and pristine racks of Hunter wellies, it is worth remembering the enduring classics that are well-loved for a reason. Lucknam Park has serious pedigree. It is deliciously, reassuringly old fashioned. The deeply pretty Georgian manor house, all honeyed Bath stone, sits at the end of an avenue of sky-high beech and lime trees, surrounded by exquisite gardens like a Jane Austen film set. In the grounds there’s a personable cottage for weekending families, a world-class equestrian centre and a serious cooking school. But you don’t have to whip up your own supper. Chef Hywel Jones (who has retained his Michelin star for a 14th year) plates up exquisite food in his eponymous restaurant. That in itself is a reason to stay. As are the roaring fires, the panelled libraries, the swagged four-poster beds and the moody oil paintings. Yet it’s not stuffy. A purposeful drive in recent years to make the place feel less formal has resulted in a cheery bounce in the staff’s step, a raising of chatter levels to almost a hum in the evenings and a relaxed atmosphere where you can wear your robe down to the ESPA spa and back again without feeling like a terrible slob. Eagle-eyed guests will spot the curious Greek elements dotted around – the urns in the bathroom, the Acropolis paintings in the dining room, the Hellenic motif on the plates. The owners also have Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens in their stable but this country retreat feels resonant and rooted, delightfully British to the core. By Issy von SimsonBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Lucknam Park hotel reviewLucknam Park hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYLucknam Park hotel reviewBILL PHELPS
    HECKFIELD PLACE, HAMPSHIREOne of the most exciting British country-house hotels to have opened in the past 21 yearsEvery so often a game changer comes along. Six years later than scheduled, this country-house hotel finally opened in September 2018, an 18th-century manor whose estate is vital to its very core. The land has been enthusiastically pressed back into service – albeit with a new, biodynamic twist – both as bountiful supplier and as a playground for anyone staying here. A river and arboretum planted by 19th-century head gardener William Wildsmith unfold beyond the Georgian pleasure garden, rolling into crop fields and farm pastures which guests are encouraged to explore. There is further acreage inside: a private dining room, drawing and morning rooms, a leather-clad screening room. Designer Ben Thompson’s layering of soft colours, texture and assiduously polished antiques with contemporary craftsmanship has created a refined earthy feel. Of the 45 bedrooms, six are suites, including the bold Ochre Room with its chocolate marble bathroom, the sleek off-white Panelled Room, and the Long Room, with a log fire and its own terrace. Skye Gyngell, formerly of café-turned-Michelin-star-sensation Petersham Nurseries, heads up its two restaurants: Marle and casual, brick-clad Hearth. She brings the farm-to-fork ethos in evidence at her London restaurant Spring but here in her rural domain, the ingredients (peach leaves, perhaps, for subtly flavoured ice cream) can be plucked to order from a walled orchard yards, not counties, away. In the absence of your own stately pile, this estate’s return to authentic, productive life is the closest you can get to lording it up. By Sally ShalamBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Heckfield Place hotel reviewHeckfield Place hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYHeckfield Place hotel review
    SOHO FARMHOUSE, OXFORDSHIREFrom the Soho House stable – they say it’s the country retreat for people who would never otherwise go the country 
    This was always destined to be the Ferrari of farm holidays, coming as it does from Soho House, which specialises in hotels top-loaded with glamorous naughtiness. Even so founder Nick Jones must be surprised at how enthusiastically his tribe has taken to tractor life. In December 2018, it adds 40 Piglets, dinky billets shaped like pig arcs, and 10 proper rooms built into the walled kitchen garden, to the original 40 clapperboard cabins, set along a river engineered to sashay through the place like a supermodel. The Waltons meets Will.i.am moodboard certainly inspires guests to feel as carefree as Huckleberry Finn: rough-wood finishes, homespun fabrics, woodburners and (this is Soho House after all) bath tubs on the balcony, with modesty curtains. This farmyard has fire pits and fancy sofas, the Main Barn is cavernous, with vast steel-framed windows, a statement bar, low-slung Chesterfields and an atmosphere other hoteliers wish they could bottle. There’s a 25-metre beauty of an infinity pool cantilevered over a lake, fabulous Japanese cooking at Pen Yen as well as Soho House’s winning comfort food, and the chance to witness grown-ups giggling like kids as they wobble about on Foffa bikes, the preferred mode of transport. Of course, it’s all about the little touches: the barman in the roaming milk float who fixes doorstep G&Ts; the vase of wildflowers from the room carefully stowed in the boot of your car with your cases as a goodbye keepsake. A game-changing, ground-shaking hotel that’s now become rooted in the British countrysideBy Susan d’ArcyBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Soho Farmhouse hotel reviewSoho Farmhouse hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYSoho Farmhouse hotel reviewIRELAND
    BALLYFIN, COUNTY LAOISFor unabashed gilt-framed grandeur, nowhere in Ireland can beat this country-house original‘Coûte que coûte’ goes the punning family motto of Sir Charles Coote, for whom the opulent Ballyfin estate was conceived in the early 19th century. ‘No matter the cost’ is how this loosely translates, proving as apt an adage in the 21st century as it was then. Many millions of euros may have been lavished on this stately pile in County Laois, both in its original construction and, more recently, its painstaking restoration. For the architectural historian, the house is a head turner – the culmination of Regency craftsmanship brought together in lusciously modelled plasterwork, scagliola in varying colours, stained glass and staggeringly intricate parquetry. For the sybarite, the house is a place of comfort and grandeur, not least in the Gold Drawing Room where walls are hung with lustrous silk and vast windows frame views of the 28-acre lake. Bedrooms are also decorated with rich fabrics and wallpaper, fine antiques, fresh flowers from the garden, art and books – a fabulous amalgamation of Anglo-Irish panache. New this year is Ballyfin’s 21st room and first standalone property: the tiny Gardener’s Cottage overlooking, to the rear, the walled gardens, which supply Ballyfin’s kitchen with organic fruit and vegetables. The grounds are made for strolling in the complimentary wellies, with grottoes and rockeries, a folly and a fernery, a rose garden and an aviary. There is no finer Irish-country house experience. By Pamela GoodmanBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Ballyfin hotel reviewBallyfin hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYBallyfin hotel reviewSPAIN
    SOHO HOUSE BARCELONANew to the scene, pocket-sized and seductive, already buzzing and as fun as a packet of sparklersThe arrival of Soho House in this city two years ago caused a fluttering of hearts among cool-hunting locals and the numerous digital nomads for whom this group has become an essential part of the global landscape. Housed in a handsome, 19th-century townhouse in the Gothic Quarter that once belonged to the wealthy Mandri family, it is bursting with original details rescued by architect Hector Restrepo Calvo and given new life by the in-house design team: modernist hydraulic tiles and polished parquet floors; vaulted red-brick ceilings hung with brass petal lanterns like something from a Gaudí-inspired fantasy. But the details couldn’t be more English – hot-water bottles in cable-knitted cosies in the bed-side cabinet, Burleigh porcelain for a proper cup of tea, chintzy velvet sofas to sink into – combined with carefully considered touches such as the ready-mixed Negronis in the mini-bar. The gym is so bright and lovely you might actually use it, the Cowshed spa is a spoiling urban retreat and travellers who love a quiet night can hunker down in the 36-seat, racing-green cinema. The whole place buzzes, day and night, as the city’s movers and shakers linger over coffee while scrolling through their social-media accounts, or sip Lady A rosé and eat sweets from a free giant dispenser. The Catalans have made this modern-British institution their own. By Tara StevensBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Soho House Barcelona hotel reviewSoho House Barcelona hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYSoho House Barcelona hotel reviewMALLORCA
    SANT FRANCESC HOTEL SINGULAR, MALLORCAMallorca has really come of age in the past decade – here’s one of its most stylish townhouse hotelsRetaining its neoclassical splendour yet introducing mischief and modernity, art curator Nuria Ferrer Klein – the owner’s mother – has perked up this 19th-century mansion’s ancient coffered ceilings and paved courtyard and gallery by using a smoky charcoal-grey hue. Bespoke contemporary canvases by trailblazing artists Guillem Nadal and Josep Maria Riera i Aragó are an arresting sight in the otherwise serene lobby. In the former stables, the snug Quadrat restaurant serves up convincing yet edgy Mediterranean dishes such as scarlet-shrimp socarrat rice. Hollywood stars and the hotel’s savvy regulars head for the private garden, or chow down on sushi served by the pool on the rooftop terrace, the largest in town. While common spaces are filled with chequered stone tiles, soft grey textiles and sofas, bedrooms cut a dash, some with frescoed ceilings, French oak flooring and bold chandeliers. Set in the city’s twisty-turny historic quarter, the hotel can sort inspired concierge-curated diversions, including gin making at a local distillery – but if that’s too taxing, the barman can easily rustle up the real deal here instead. Sant Francesc sums up what makes Palma so alluring in the first place – that intersection of old and new imbued with a playful spirit. This is Palma’s most self-assured though understated address. By Anna NicholasBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Sant Francesc Hotel Singular reviewSant Francesc Hotel Singular reviewPLACES TO STAYSant Francesc Hotel Singular reviewFRANCE
    LES FERMES DE MARIE, MEGEVEAlpine game-changer that put Megève back on the mapThis pioneering, chalet-style hotel was built from scratch in 1989 out of old timbers salvaged from Savoyard farmhouses. It was the brainchild of local couple Jocelyne and Jean-Louis Sibuet, who went on to create a mini-empire of small, interesting properties scattered across the Alps, LyonProvence and St Barth’s. Along with all that gorgeous pine – sloping beamed ceilings, slated wood terraces, four-posters and open fireplaces – comes comfort: a cosy mix of textures and muted shades from silvered cow-skin rugs and creamy flannels to soft wool plaids and deep leather sofas, plus the occasional baroque carved antique. ‘The Italian influence is part of the Savoyard heritage,’ says Jocelyne, who handpicks every interior detail. This is not the place for party animals: unlike Courchevel, the bling-free, laid-back attitude here draws a mix of young couples with children and an international crowd of ski enthusiasts who would rather sip local Génépi with friends than gyrate to a thrumming bass. After a stint on the powdery slopes, have lunch on the terrace of Le Restaurant Alpin and order the divine four-cheese fondue – worth every liver-blasting calorie. Dinner is an equally hearty affair: black-truffle pasta with local ham and Beaufort sauce, followed by blueberry pie. Those who aren’t die-hard ski bums can work it off in the heated indoor pool at the Pure Altitude Spa, where signature treatments are packed with Alpine berries, botanical extracts and anti-aging mountain edelweiss. It’s a rustic-glam hotel that has considerably upped the style stakes in MegèveBy Lanie GoodmanBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOW
    HOTEL DE CRILLON, PARISParis’s best-loved palace hotel has been utterly transformedA tricky business, the restoration of important old stuff. There are people who say that the Mona Lisa ought to be all bright and punchy and Instagram-ready and that ‘The Night Watch’ was actually The Day Watch. So what do you do about an ageing masterpiece like the Crillon? Nobody rushed to any conclusions. In the end, the refurb took four years and the hotel reopened in 2017 under the Rosewood brand. The Ritz, nearby, underwent the same process around the same time. But the two properties took divergent approaches: the Ritz to maintain the status quo, only more so, as it were; the Crillon to propel itself into the 21st century. In both cases, the results are exemplary. And if it is the Crillon whose name appears in capital letters in this list, it is in recognition of a moral rather than an absolute victory. A prize for bravery. The best of what was best of the Crillon has been thoughtfully preserved, while the best of what is new (the bar, the barbershop, L’Ecrin restaurant and the stupendous suites by Karl Lagerfeld) is gobsmacking in its boldness and daring. The Crillon has long been a sentimental favourite among the French. Something to do with all the beheadings that occurred outside the front door. Imagine what would have happened if Rosewood had, you know, got it wrong. By Steve KingBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Hôtel de Crillon reviewHôtel de Crillon reviewPLACES TO STAYHôtel de Crillon review
    HOTEL DU CAP-EDEN-ROC, ANTIBESAn emblem of hyphenated hotel-world majesty, of sun-struck Riviera grandeurEnter the polished marble hall, take in the view down the Grande Allée that bisects its gardens, scented with the roses they cut to decorate the bedrooms and cooled by what F Scott Fitzgerald called its ‘deferential palms’. The Mediterranean lies beyond, and your spirits cannot but soar. Can there be a lovelier place for breakfast than the terrace of its mansion-like main building, all pale pink stucco, slate mansard roofs and oeil-de-boeuf windows? Or a more flirtatious spot for a coupe de Champagne than the starlit, ocean-liner-like roof terrace of the waterside Eden-Roc restaurant? Or a smarter arena in which to show off your trapeze skills than the swings, rings and rope ladders suspended over the sea, just beyond the heated saltwater swimming pool? Its chintzy bedrooms will never win prizes for innovative design or modernity. There may be Wi-Fi and phones, but a retro panel of bells on the bedside tables still summons your valet, femme d’etage or room service. And yet, in spite of all this – or, more likely, because of it – there’s nowhere else on earth quite like it. Hence the eternal allure that ensures the top-floor rooms of its century-old seaside annexe, Eden-Roc, shielded both from public gaze and waterborne paparazzi, remains the A-list’s lodging of choice during the Cannes Film FestivalBy Claire WrathallBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc hotel reviewHotel du Cap-Eden-Roc hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYHotel du Cap-Eden-Roc hotel review
    LA RESERVE PARIS, FRANCEThe arrival of La Réserve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was room in Paris for at least one more atmospheric hotelYou’re unlikely to meet a milder, more softly spoken gentleman than Michel Reybier, owner of the La Réserve portfolio of properties. Yet if his hotels are anything to go by, it’s safe to say that passions of Byronic intensity rage beneath his soberly suited breast. Consider La Réserve Paris, the most beloved address in the French capital for fashion editors and the go-to for regular visitors to the city who want to feel like they’re staying in a private mansion. It has only 40 rooms in a fine hôtel particulier designed by Baron Haussmann for Napoleon III’s half-brother the Duc de Morny in 1854. Its position, on a quiet, tree-lined street moments from the Place de la Concorde, is propitious. Then you cross the threshold and – ka-boom! – it’s an explosion of colour and texture in the best way imaginable. There’s brocade taffeta, velvet drapes and silk wallpapers in the richest shades of emerald and ruby. No crevice has gone ungilded. The very walls inside the lifts are covered in cuir de Cordoue so supple you’ll have to resist the urge to place your cheek against it. The views and sense of space are staggering (larger suites face the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower) but Reybier, stealthy sybarite that he is, has ensured that even the smaller courtyard-facing rooms are no less sumptuous. They, too, come amply stocked with choice vintages of Château Cos d’Estournel. It so happens that Reybier owns that great Bordeaux estate as well. Try it. The claret is divine, though no more intoxicating than the hotel itself. By Steve KingBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our La Réserve Paris hotel reviewLa Réserve Paris hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYLa Réserve Paris hotel reviewITALYDAN KULLBERG
    GRAND HOTEL A VILLA FELTRINELLI, LAKE GARDAPeerless, polished brilliance in the face of endless newness all aroundDH Lawrence penned a love letter about it, Mussolini held court during the war, Churchill was moved to get out his watercolours and his memory lives on in the ancient resident cat of the same name that slinks around picking up titbits of the Michelin-starred food. This peachy-pink palazzo on the still waters of Lake Garda has been stealing hearts since the 1890s, and at the turn of the millennium, it was opened as a hotel, the loveliest in all of Italy. But what makes it so special are all the non-hotel bits: the exquisite antiques everywhere, the silver photo frames filled with black-and-white family shots, the engraved tumblers of fresh roses, the deep bath tubs, and the circus-striped umbrellas by the charcoal-grey slick of swimming pool. Helicopters land on the pristinely manicured croquet lawn and return guests arrive to a fanfare of hugs and kisses, pats on backs. They come here to feast like kings at night on plates of tortellini carbonara, spend the day lolling fatly by the pool watching the ducks and the windsurfers pootle past, and sleep outrageously well under frescoed ceilings in beds made up with crisp, scallop-edged Frette linen. Steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the garden, and early mornings are particularly magic, the silvery pale ethereal light drifting across the lake. The feel of the place is old-school, spick and span, timeless, a bit matronly – and for anyone who likes a bit of Great Gatsby-style cosseting, it’s a dreamy retreat. By Issy von SimsonBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli hotel reviewGrand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYGrand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli hotel review
    h3]CASTELLO DI VICARELLO, TUSCANY[/h3]
    A remote, rooted retreat of the highest orderThis go-slow country retreat might just be the most romantic hotel in Italy. The Baccheschi Berti family bought it in 1980 after growing tired of their gallivanting life in Milan, going on to restore the sprawling 12th-century castle into an under-the-radar escape. Each of the eight suites is gorgeous; some with rustic spiral staircases, others with enormous freestanding tubs beneath wood-beamed ceilings, gorgeous velvet upholstered armchairs and endless little corners for reading and gazing at the enduringly bucolic views. This is, after all, the family’s home, and old photographs are displayed among curios gathered from their travels: little taxidermy birds and well-thumbed volumes of Architectural Digest on antique wooden tables. The airy flagstone kitchen isn’t a restaurant; rather, it’s a place for guests to gather around long wooden tables. Instead of menus, the day’s freshest farm-to-fork ingredients sourced from the estate are cooked up: wild boar, eggs scooped from the chicken coop and freshly baked cakes made of windfall apples from the trees outside. Everyone is encouraged to poke their head in for an impromptu cooking lesson throughout the day – or perhaps mix a blood-orange Negroni from the honesty bar. The land around here is made for exploring, with gentle hiking trails, streams and two pools tucked into the hillside; one carved from cooling marble, the other beside the newly built spa gazebo overlooking stands of olive trees. Among all the big castle renovations and hamlet reimaginings on the Tuscan hotel scene, this is a smaller, completely personal, utterly spoiling alternative. By Sophie GoodwinBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Castello di Vicarello hotel reviewCastello di Vicarello hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYCastello di Vicarello hotel review
    BELMOND HOTEL CARUSO, AMALFI COASTA triumph of painstaking restoration, with one of the most incredible filmic settings of any hotel in ItalyPeople talk about old classics, but this one has roots dating back to the 11th century. Shipwrecked en route to Constantinople, a wealthy Italian family built the foundations of the Caruso on a limestone bluff above Ravello, a symbol of their power and good fortune to have escaped unharmed. And here, their high eyrie remained, withstanding the wars of the Middle Ages, neglected, repaired, neglected again, until 1893 when Pantaleone Caruso stepped in and turned it into a hotel. Belmond (then Orient-Express hotels) took over in 2000 and began a serious restoration: art historians were shipped in to unearth the building’s arcadian frescos, archaeologists arrived to uncover the original medieval foundations. Today, Old Masters hang in the marble corridors and the 50 bedrooms have been brought up-to-date, but not charm-crushingly modernised. They retain their original vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces and terracotta tiles, and have bathrooms stashed with bottles of Penhaligon’s. It has just opened Villa Margherita too, a two-bedroom retreat deep in the heady gardens. Guests feast on lunches of lobster, langoustine and truffles, or head down to the water to explore the craggy coastline on the hotel’s pretty wooden boat. It’s a place synonymous with seclusion, with its lemon-scented air and hanging gardens spilling down onto the Tyrrhenian Sea, stony nooks and quiet spots to sit and take in the dizzying views. And romance: it is said to be where Jackie Kennedy and Gianni Agnelli began their affair, where Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo and Virginia Woolf came to hide out. A truly brightening, timeless place. By Martha WardBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Belmond Caruso Ravello hotel reviewBelmond Caruso Ravello hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYBelmond Caruso Ravello hotel review
    JK PLACE CAPRI, ITALYLike a straight-backed mansion designed to be a shiny and fresh as a ship at seaThe Italian townhouse hotel redefined. The attention to detail here is painstaking, from the discreetly attentive service to a stylish marine colour scheme that might have appeared on a Thirties racing yacht (Tuscan designer Michele Bonan famously checks each hue under various lighting conditions before approving it). This nautical theme is appropriate for a hotel that rises like the upper decks of a liner above the Mediterranean, with views across to SorrentoNaples and Vesuvius. Among its competitors, only Punta Tragara enjoys a similar reach-out-and-touch rapport with the sea. Capri Town, and the air-kissing aperitivo joints of its celebrated chicane of a square, La Piazzetta, are just 10 minutes away on the hotel’s shuttle. But you’d be surprised at just how many guests never take up the offer. The satisfyingly large swimming pool is difficult to tear yourself away from, and as evening approaches, signature cocktails such as the JK Spritz (a gingery variation on the Venetian classic) have a way of appearing, accompanied by inventive nibbles that ease guests into dinner on the restaurant terrace. This Capri outpost has more of an unashamedly food focus than its sister hotels in Rome and Florence, and Neapolitan chef Eduardo Estatico’s menu is light, seasonal and also playful – don’t miss his Cucciolone, a popsicle variant on the classic pastiera pie of Estatico’s home town. If the Italian dolce vita is all about living the good life with class, style and confidence, JK Place Capri must be the cult’s high temple. By Lee MarshallBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our JK Place Capri hotel reviewJK Place Capri hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYJK Place Capri hotel reviewADRIANO BACCHELLA
    LE SIRENUSE, POSITANOA legend even along this coast full of legends, a classic that is even more than the sum of its partsJohn Steinbeck certainly chose a beautiful spot to hole up while writing his famous piece on Positano for Harper’s Bazaar in 1953. Positano was just a quiet fishing village then and he described the Sirenuse as ‘an old family house converted into a first-class hotel, spotless and cool’. While still spotless and cool, the summer villa is a lot more upscale these days, immaculately run with huge charm and a maniacal eye for detail by Antonio Sersale and his wife Carla. The handsome ox-blood red building is crammed with precious antiques (starting with a rare 18th-century palanquin in the reception hall), many of them collected by Antonio’s late father Franco, and the white bedrooms have tiled floors from Vietri and balconies with grandstand views. But it’s the small details – the cloth-bound copies of Steinbeck’s article and the pretty beach baskets in the bedrooms, the crisp Frette linens and Eau d’Italie bath goodies – that kick things to another level. Positano is a bit of a madhouse nowadays, but you can avoid it altogether, dreaming away the hours on the pool terrace, booking a massage at the Gae Aulenti-designed Aveda spa or hopping on the hotel’s boat for a spin. In the evening, guests gather in the Champagne & Oyster bar before moving on to La Sponda restaurant to tuck into tonnarelli pasta with lobster and saddle of lamb with artichokes to the sound of guitar and mandolin duo Franco and Andrea. By Nicky SwallowBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Le Sirenuse hotel reviewLe Sirenuse hotel reviewLe Sirenuse hotel reviewNATASHA LEE
    AMAN VENICEThis relative newcomer wins out for its insider location, intimate size and proper Italian aristo experienceIn a city awash with much-loved legends – the Cipriani, the Danieli, the Gritti Palace – it takes something special for a newcomer to turn heads. But Aman, which splashed down here in 2013, as ever, had a trump card: Palazzo Papadopoli. Not only is this 16th-century confection right on the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge – which guests whizz under in the hotel’s glossy Riva to arrive at the palazzo’s jetty flanked by cerulean bricole – but it has also been home for the last two centuries to the Arrivabene family. Proper Venetian aristocracy, the current count and countess (Giberto and Bianca) still live here with their five children in a sprawling apartment at the top of the building. Beneath it, the first-floor piano nobile – redesigned, along with the whole of the palazzo, in the early 19th century by master of rococo Michelangelo Guggenheim – is a breathtaking, silk-draped, gilded space lit by enormous Murano glass chandeliers. The 24 bedrooms have been slotted into many of the palazzo’s original spaces, so they are all unique. But the opulence does not compete with Jean-Michel Gathy’s minimalist B&B Italia furniture. The Clooneys settled on the Alcova Tiepolo room, with precious frescoes above the bed and a hand-painted Chinoiserie sitting room, for their wedding night. Outside are two private gardens – another rarity in Venice – one of which butts up against the canal’s edge, and soon to be home to a teppanyaki restaurant. This is hands down the most splendid hotel in Venice. By Fiona KerrBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Aman Venice hotel reviewAman Venice hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYAman Venice hotel reviewROBERTA VALERIO
    BORGO EGNAZIA, PUGLIAEven prettier now than when it opened a few years ago as the prettiest hotel in the MediterraneanOn paper it shouldn’t work. An entire Puglian village, built from scratch. A reimagining of townhouses and a square, a colonnade of shops, villas dotted around the grounds, a little farm area with horses and chickens and rabbits. How could it possibly be anything other than pastiche? And yet… at the grand old age of 10, Borgo Egnazia has carved a name for itself as one of the loveliest places to stay in all of Italy. It is dreamily beautiful, the way the harsh Mediterranean sun hits the mellow tufu limestone from which the buildings have been honed, the shock of bougainvillea that has crept up every wall, the softness, the shadows, the dusky lanes between the hotel rooms. It is of course a hotel, but feels far from formulaic. Rooms are soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions and sun-trap terraces. They are retreats in themselves, some with their own little kitchens, others with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops. The restaurants are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls, and food made straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, aubergines, pasta made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. There is the sweetest children’s club you’ll ever stumble across, and a supremely cool beach hangout, and a spa that is mesmerising and magical. At night the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air. Sometimes a bonfire crackles in the central square. A deeply special place. By Issy von SimsonBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Borgo Egnazia hotel reviewBorgo Egnazia hotel reviewBorgo Egnazia hotel review
    IL PELLICANO, TUSCANYAn Italian coastal classic, yet fresh as a popsicleThe story of this legendary escape began in 1965 when a British pilot and his American socialite wife built a large house above the sea near Porto Ercole and opened it up to guests. After it was bought by present owner Roberto Sciò in the 1970s, it became a magnet for a steady stream of international A-listers, as seen in the evocative, monochrome Slim Aarons images that hang in the bar. Fifty-plus years on, Il Pellicano is as alluring as ever, with a timeless quality that recalls those heady days – and it has a fiercely loyal following. Sciò’s designer daughter Marie-Louise has cleverly revamped the hotel without sacrificing its sense of history. The 50 airy bedrooms, divided between the main villa and six cottages hidden among olives and cypresses, have polished terracotta floors and a colour palette reflecting the surrounding land and seascapes. The retro yellow-and-white-striped beach towels are still laid out around the heated saltwater pool and along the famous bathing platform over the sea, but there’s a fresh feel to the place, too, with Fornasetti-inspired wallpaper, jazzy fabrics, a great spa and a boutique selling super-chic Eres swimwear. Lazy lunches of octopus salad and chilled local Ansonica roll on into pre-dinner Pelican Martinis whipped up by master mixologist Federico Morosi and suppers of risotto with pears and summer truffles on the candlelit terrace of the Michelin-starred restaurant. This is Tuscany’s most exceptional seaside retreat by miles. By Nicky SwallowBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Il Pellicano hotel reviewIl Pellicano hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYIl Pellicano hotel reviewSWEDENKATE MARTIN
    ETT HEM, STOCKHOLMSomething new for the Swedish city – an ultra-stylish townhouse hotel, small in scale but big on luxurySpending the night at this place feels a bit like finding yourself in an Agatha Christie novel. Here you are, one of a group of strangers staying in an elegant mansion that’s laced with a sense of history and intrigue. Except there’s no mystery about why it’s so appealing. Every aspect has been meticulously thought through: the courtyard, the orangery, the library stacked with fantastic books and the living room in which to read them. There’s even a hammam in the basement. The name translates as ‘a home’, which is exactly what the 12-bedroom townhouse hotel feels like, though one, admittedly, conceived by one of the world’s great interior designers. Ilse Crawford has created the most exclusive place to hole up in the Swedish capital, precisely by not making it feel too exclusive. Yes, you have to buzz to get into the private garden to enter the hotel, but once inside there’s a wonderful mix of classic Scandi design and modern pieces, including a handsome brass bar cabinet by London craftsman Jack Trench. The atmosphere is relaxed and unfussy; guests are free to wander into the kitchen and chat to the chef. The location is great, in the heart of Ostermalm, the smartest neighbourhood in the city, but set away from the main roads. With incredible taste, warmth and no snootiness whatsoever, this hotel is a fusion of all that’s best about ScandinaviaBy Stephen WhitlockBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Ett Hem hotel reviewEtt Hem hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYEtt Hem hotel reviewNORWAYROBERTA VALERIO
    THE THIEF, OSLOOne of its kind in the Norwegian capital – determinedly modernist with the best harbour views in townRemember when some places used to call themselves art hotels, for the sake of a few second-rate daubings on the walls? Well, this opened in 2013, a key player in Oslo’s waterside reboot, and has the sort of collection many urban galleries would kill for. There’s a genuflecting bronze by Antony Gormley outside by the revolving doors, a Julian Opie animation in the lift, and you’ll spot pieces by Warhol, Richard Prince, Niki de Saint Phalle and Tony Cragg dotted around the public spaces. The Thief is the work of Petter Stordalen, who drives a biofuel-powered Ferrari and has banned bacon in his hotels for sustainability reasons. It straddles the water on the reclaimed islet of Tjuvholmen, a sheeny-shiny place of glinting bridges and newbuilds, many of which are home to small independent galleries – though the big-hitter is the neighbouring Astrup Fearnley, from where much of the hotel’s artwork is borrowed. The spa and pool are accessed via a secret underground tunnel – locals come for the Sauna Guss experience, inspired by Dr Kneipp’s immune-system-boosting methods, with a dip in the icy Oslofjord followed by a sauna using essential oils. Rooms are clad in touchy-feely textures, golds and greys, with picture windows to slide wide open for gulps of Nordic sea air from the harbour below. (Two of the biggest rooms were designed by Lee Broom and Peter Blake, riffing on Fifties and Sixties London – a cubist coffee table here, a geometric-patterned sofa there.) The rooftop restaurant was recently revamped, British chef David Taylor has fun with regional ingredients (scallops, turnips, monkfish, lamb neck) at the FoodBar restaurant, the bar has helped up Oslo’s cocktail game (try the Michael Jackson and Bubbles – rum, banana cordial, green tea, Champagne, in a ceramic monkey head). London-born Dominic Gorham is the personable go-to chap for guests, taking it to the stage to MC regular unplugged music sessions. It’s a 15-minute walk from the town centre – this is a city for striding out, along the Aker Brygge waterfront, over the glacier-like Opera House and up for more sculptures in the hillside Ekeburg park. The Thief’s new art collection is set to arrive soon, along with a sister hotel in town, Amerikalinjen. Oslo’s overflowing oil wealth meant this was a city that never bothered itself unduly with drawing visitors, but that’s changed and it has a fresh international outlook – this is the best place to feel you’re part of that. By Rick JordanBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Thief hotel reviewThe Thief hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Thief hotel reviewCYPRUS
    ANASSA, CYPRUSA big, serious hotel, as cleverly pitched for families with free-wheeling children as it is for couples on the hunt for sunshine and downtimeOne of the curious things about the Anassa is how tricky it is to parcel up and present. Capturing the wholeness of the place, framing its splendid size, its weighty elegance, its thrilling solidity, is challenging. It is so much more than the sum of its parts: a cracking hotel, which is at once back-straighteningly smart and also effortless. Diamonds and flip-flops. Exquisite sashimi and sticky-sweet ice-cream cones. As on the button for peace-seeking grown-ups as it is for half-term and school holiday hijinks. And because of the reliable balminess of the weather, it’s as delightful in early May as in mid-October and all the months in between. The imposing, traditional Greek Cypriot-style buildings, with their terracotta-tiled roofs, whitewashed walls and periwinkle-blue shutters, spill down to pools and rolling lawns that in turn tumble onto the beach. There is space, endless space everywhere, and wide-eyed views of the scoop of Chrysochou Bay for scuba diving straight off the shore. Hushed dinners at Asian-leaning Basiliko are followed by weekly torchlit grilled-swordfish barbecues and local folk suppers in the chapel courtyard under blousy branches of bougainvillaea. The rooms are classic and calm, pale linens, a jaunty nautical stripe, muslin curtains, and at night, with the windows flung open, all you can hear is the lick of sea on sand. After a week of sleeping, swimming, feasting and spa-ing everyone leaves feeling properly rested for the first time in months. Which is why they come back again and again. By Issy von SimsonBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Anassa hotel reviewAnassa hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYAnassa hotel reviewDENMARK
    HOTEL SANDERS, COPENHAGENDanish mid-century chic meets British colonial design in this hotel in the heart of the Danish capitalAn instant modern classic when it opened in late 2017, The Sanders has a sense of drama in its bones. The name is derived from ‘Alexander’s’, after its owner, Alexander Kølpin, who for many years was one of Denmark’s leading ballet dancers. Leaving the stage, he rejoined the family hotel business but wanted to have a project to call his own. To say the resulting property is ‘good’ is like saying Swan Lake is a ‘nice bit of choreography’. Sanders is impeccable, with a seemingly three-fold secret to its success: extraordinary attention to detail, warm and inviting design, and staff who pride themselves on making guests feel at home. Many hotels have concierges with whom you can have a brief conversation when you return at the end of the day. But how many, the next morning, have already prepared a map for a place you’d mentioned you might visit – and laminated it, in case of rain? Style-wise, it blends colonial-era comfort – wicker chairs, a beige-and-white colour scheme, an abundance of artworks on the walls – with some Left Bank charm and a huge dollop of Danish hygge (there’s a fireplace in the bar, after all). Like so many of the very best hotels, it has made itself a part of the fabric of the city. Locals stop in at the French-style bistro for weekend brunch, grab a quick coffee on the street outside, or come for an evening drink. Remarkably for a new arrival, the place feels old-school, perhaps because there’s no focus on fashion or trying to be painstakingly of the moment, but rather on service, style, and comfort, which it delivers with curtain-call-worthy aplomb. By Stephen WhitlockBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWGREECE
    PERIVOLAS, SANTORINIA complete original and unlike any of the dozens of imitators that have sprouted all over SantoriniThere are plenty of hotels on Santorini with giddying views – the most desirable places to stay teeter on the rim of a 300-metre cliff that plunges into the flooded volcanic caldera. But none have the spare, ethereal bone structure of Perivolas. Rooms are sculpted from brushed concrete, pressed into arched doorways and barrelled ceilings with the builders’ bare hands. Bright hits of pink and purple – a sprig of bougainvillaea, a heap of floor cushions – bring the cool white interiors and black volcanic walls into sharper focus. This fierce purity defines every detail at Perivolas, a family dream that materialised in the early 1980s and is still run with great passion and precision by the Psychas clan. The line-up here is scant but special: a hushed restaurant beside a pool almost indistinguishable from the blue horizon, where the chef cures, smokes and ferments local ingredients into artful yet unfussy dishes; and a small, soulful spa streaming with natural light. It takes confidence to leave so much out of a five-star hotel, but Perivolas defines luxury differently than most hotels on the island – or anywhere else for that matter. One of the things that draws devotees back season after season is the fact that time seems to stand still here. Sure, discreet additions might appear, such as the purpose-built gym, lap pool and yoga studio last year. But while the rest of Santorini is engaged in an unseemly scrum for more tourist dollars, life at Perivolas remains blissfully unhurried, unflashy and yes, unspoiled. By Rachel HowardBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Perivolas hotel reviewPerivolas hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYPerivolas hotel reviewICELANDENRIQUE MENOSSI
    DEPLAR FARM, ICELANDThe sublime natural beauty of Iceland’s remote Troll Peninsula is matched by the stealth-luxe of this most un-farmlike of farmsThis isn’t your typical farm. It’s owned by Eleven Experience, the Colorado-based high-end adventure-travel outfit that is one of the most interesting of its kind in the world right now. It has two helipads, an indoor-outdoor, swim-through geo-thermally heated pool, a bar with a pool table and drumkit, and a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows, modern art and sweeping views. In fact, there’s really nothing typical about Deplar, among the mountains on Iceland’s remote Troll Peninsula, a place of severe beauty. It’s got some of the best heli-skiing and fishing right at its doorstep. You can roll out of bed and chopper up to the top of a snow-covered volcano which, in all likelihood, no one has ever skied before, zipping through fields dotted with tiny horses that look like toys and finishing your run on the Arctic beach, where, if you do not mind the chill, you can simply kick off your skis and go fishing (then hightail it to the spa to recuperate in a flotation pod). It’s the sort of trip that confers bragging rights back home, from a company that understands such hyper-adventurous yet modern-luxe impulses perfectly. It has an expanding empire of properties and boats in North America, the Caribbean and Europe devoted to these fast/slow, winter/summer outdoorsy pursuits. But Deplar Farm is a standout. The air is pure, the snow powdery and in the summertime the salmon-rich rivers flow clear, fast and free. By Steve KingBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Deplar Farm hotel reviewDeplar Farm hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYDeplar Farm hotel reviewTHE BEST HOTELS IN ASIA
    INDIAUMAID BHAWAN PALACE, JODHPURThe largest, most magnificent, most dramatic, most otherworldly palace in the land.Rajasthan isn’t exactly lacking in grand heritage hotels, but there are at least two reasons to visit this property above all others. First, a section of it is still home to the former Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family (one of the largest private residences in the world) and second, for the extraordinary scale of the imposing architecture and the 26 acres of precisely manicured grounds. High on Chittar Hill, overlooking the Blue City, this golden-coloured sandstone pile has operated as a hotel since 1971, but it was the arrival of Taj Hotels in 2005 that elevated the service to match its royal setting. Art Deco interiors unfold over ornamental latticed stonework, artfully lit carved pillars, a sweeping marble staircase, exotic frescos and a neck-aching, 105-foot-high cupola. There are some pretty spectacular rooms – such as the Maharani Suite with the original bath carved from a single piece of pink Italian marble – but choose a Royal Suite for terrazzo flooring, original palace artwork and grand bathrooms leading to private balconies that frame views of the peacock-speckled gardens. A morning workout in the marble squash courts will justify a lazy afternoon in the subterranean spa, and then dinner of spice-laced Jodhpuri murgh in Risala restaurant. To stay here among the old-world opulence is to really get a flavour of Jodhpur’s gilded glory. By Lauren HoBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel reviewUmaid Bhawan Palace hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYUmaid Bhawan Palace hotel review
    THE LEELA PALACE, NEW DELHIAn almighty monument in fine white marble and soaring ceilings in a city that’s already full of such stuff, and as grand as all get-outWhen Indian hotels do opulent, they really do opulent. And every inch of this palatial spot in the calm, tree-lined boulevards of Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave is gilded, mirrored, plumped, embroidered and topped with not-a-petal-out-of-place flower arrangements (14,000 blooms are delivered daily). But while it channels the vibe of the grand residence of a globetrotting Maharaja – huge Murano chandeliers from Venice, hand-woven carpets from Turkey, intricate Rajasthani miniature paintings, sandstone elephant statues carved in Qatar (no wonder if cost hundreds of millions to build) – it was actually all brand spanking new when it opened in 2011, so also has a stealthy undercurrent of techie and green credentials. The 260 gold-hued rooms and suites are some of the largest in the city, treatments at ESPA spa draw on India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions and the whole hotel is stuffed with so much contemporary Indian art that there’s a dedicated guided walk to take it all in, past Seema Kohli’s layered storytelling canvases, Satish Gupta’s lotus murals and Laxma Goud’s bronzes. An army of ultra-attentive staff fall over themselves to open doors, take bags and present garlands. And at the restaurants (there are four, and two bars), the menus are equally extravagant: hand-cut black truffle fettuccine in black truffle sauce at Italian Le Cirque; lobster nerulli curry at Indian Jamavar; sashimi made with cuts direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market at Japanese Megu. A new species of grand hotel, and hugely influential. By Fiona KerrBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Leela Palace New Delhi reviewThe Leela Palace New Delhi reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Leela Palace New Delhi review
    THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS, UDAIPUROf all the Oberois this is the mothership, right on the lake and wonderous to beholdThe Indian ethos that the guest is god rings true of many grand hotels in the country, yet the Oberoi likes to put its own spin on things. Rising like a great gilded cake from the western shores of Lake Pichola, magnificent Udaivilas is just the spot to wash up after a dusty Rajasthan road trip. This particular pleasure palace is a relatively recent arrival but, like the 18th-century mansions it overlooks, it was built to showcase the craftsmanship of the Rajput era: marble-carved lotus ponds; glittering thikri mosaics; delicate miniatures painted on pale gold walls hand-plastered with lime, crushed marble, egg white and tamarind. The spectacular Candle Room contains a dome set with thousands of pieces of mirrored glass. Udaipur’s busy market streets are only a few miles away, but Udaivilas has the luxury of space: 30 acres of what used to be the Maharana of Mewar’s hunting estate, with bird-filled grounds and views of the pretty lake and its floating mansions. All this grandeur could feel cold and overwhelming if it weren’t for the excellent staff. Guests are greeted off the motor boat by doormen with great twirling moustaches and within minutes everyone knows your name. Small, personal interventions include gifts of a metal-wrought tea light or beaded bag, say, left in your room alongside a handwritten note. In the most romantic city in India, this is the most spectacular place to stay. By Pippa de BruynBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Oberoi Udaivilas hotel reviewOberoi Udaivilas hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYOberoi Udaivilas hotel reviewJAPANKARYN MILLET
    AMAN TOKYOAn irresistible combination of hard-edged icy calm and soft fibrous warmthThere are few cities in which space is at such a premium as Tokyo. Which is why, when Aman opened its first urban resort in the city’s Otemachi business district, it delivered this sensational architectural masterpiece by Kerry Hill with acres of room at its heart. From the moment you step out into the 33rd-floor reception, there’s an overwhelming sense of calmness and light. Above a cavernous atrium walled in white washi rice paper rises like a giant shoji lantern; in front of it is a soothing Zen rock garden; and beyond floor-to-ceiling glass walls are views over twinkling buildings, the treetops of the Imperial Palace garden and – a rarity in Tokyo – big stretches of sky. The 84 bedrooms, built using a soothing combination of pale camphor woods, dark stone and white washi paper, all deliver minimal fuss and maximum comfort. Hi-tech touches are discreetly hidden so Japanese details can take centre stage: a deep furo soaking tub; a solitary work of calligraphy; a table decorated with a traditional teapot and a home-made dessert adorned with an exquisite edible flower. Within the two-storey, stone-clad spa is a 100ft pool to do laps in while looking out over the skyline, yoga and Pilates rooms, and therapists delivering tailor-made spa journeys (a soothing remedy to jetlag). The food tastes like it’s been made with ingredients just delivered to the kitchen – whether that’s rustic spaghetti alla puttanesca at Arva Italian restaurant, delicate Japanese egg-rolls served in lacquered bento boxes or made-to-order sushi with a shot of fine sake at the long Hinoki bar. Private excursions – in a sparkling black Mercedes with a white-gloved chauffeur – couldn’t be more polished, perhaps to Mount Fuji or going for a lesson with a master calligrapher. The ultimate Japanese cocooning urban retreat for those who want space to soak it all in. By Lisa GraingerBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Aman Tokyo hotel reviewAman Tokyo hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYAman Tokyo hotel reviewCHINA
    THE UPPER HOUSE, HONG KONGThis cuts a new template for Hong Kong hotels, defining design and service as art and delivering both with tremendous panacheIts central address – behind a curving stone entrance and spread over 49 floors above the high-end Pacific Place mall, off leafy Hong Kong Park – is reason enough to book here over the other top hotels that form the city’s skyline. But hands-down it’s the guest rooms and penthouses that really make the Upper House the place to stay in Hong Kong. Because it occupies what used to be serviced apartments, local guru Andre Fu made the rooms feel like someone’s home. Read: comfortable, calming. He did the unimaginable and designed them with real humans in mind. There’s a free, help-yourself minibar; light switches that can be easily found; and a bed so comfortable that guests ask about the make and model so they can order one back home. The same goes for the bathrooms, with their room-for-two tubs and plenty of natural wood and marble. There’s no spa or pool, but deeply pampering in-room treatments can be arranged. In the restaurant on the top floor, Gray Kunz’s Café Gray Deluxe, the lamb tagine is so tender there’s no guilt for skipping a chance to have dim sum and Hong Kong’s signature egg tarts. This showpiece for Swire Hotels’ House Collective (also in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu) is as slick and sophisticated as ever—an original design hotel that’s true to its label. By Ed PetersBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Upper House hotel reviewThe Upper House hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Upper House hotel review
    THE OPPOSITE HOUSE, BEIJINGBeijing’s original design-driven hotel stirs up playfulness with a deep sense of zenThe building’s textile-clad façade and verdant latticework by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma creates a palpable sense of calm – ideal for meditating on the deeper cultural meaning behind contemporary Chinese artworks in the atrium, such as Beijing Memory No. 1 and No. 2, Li Xiaofeng’s wearable cheongsam and military breastplate covered in Ming and Qing-dynasty porcelain shards, and ceramicist Fiona Wong’s ghostly, lace-like White Wings. There’s also a 20ft-high Chinese apothecary chest of 6,000 drawers in the lobby, and the multilingual staff shuffling around in all-black outfits further add to the art-gallery vibe. More straightforward are the 99 open-plan guestrooms finished in oak wood and Turkish sandstone, with Japanese-style furo soaking tubs and powerful overhead rain showers. The complimentary ‘maxi-bar’ features craft brews from the nearby Arrow Factory and bottles of orange-flavoured Arctic Ocean soda, the nectar of any Beijing childhood. A decade after the hotel opened, the Sanlitun area surrounding the House has blossomed. Cross the street to Dover Street Market, where you’re likely to spy staff nipping out to pick up niche items at pop-up events. Follow the scent of date wood back to the hotel’s Jing Yaa Tang restaurant: cumin-laced lamb skewer and fiery kung pao chicken from a cage-free farm south of Beijing deliver just the right amount of anticipation while the master roaster glazes your duck with his secret combination of osmanthus, honey, vinegar, molasses and crushed dates. Order an Old Peking as nightcap, made with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, Mancino Vecchio vermouth and finished in a cloud of date wood smoke – the only type used by serious Beijing duck roasters. By Cynthia Rosenfeld[button url=”https://prf.hn/click/camref:1100l4voT/destination:https://www.expedia.co.uk/Beijing-Hotels-The-Opposite-House.h2191786.Hotel-Information?siteid=100704″”]Book this hotel on Expedia now[/button]To find out more and check availability, now go to our Opposite House reviewOpposite House reviewPLACES TO STAYOpposite House review
    THE PENINSULA SHANGHAIA unique fusion of East and West, old and new, silken elegance and wild energyThere are other cities that possess a comparable crackle and fizz, a similar quotient of what Martin Amis once referred to as ‘italics in the air’. New York, naturally. Tokyo. London on a good night. SydneySão Paulo. But nowhere else on earth does confusion, complication and contrariness quite like Shanghai. Here is a place that is neither completely Chinese nor wholly Western; where foreign-ness has been courted, embraced, shunned and then courted and embraced again; where unobstructed expansion and unpredictable change are the only constants. These qualities are quite thrillingly visible to the naked eye. The best vantage point from which to take them in is this hotel, at the northernmost end of the Bund, directly across the Huangpu River from the dense forest of skyscrapers that has lately popped up in Pudong. Any room in particular? No – practically all have excellent views. Otherwise Sir Elly’s rooftop terrace bar is perfect, especially in the evening. With its understated opulence – muted silks and vivid Art Deco flourishes – the hotel mirrors the hybrid aesthetic of the city itself, cosmopolitan, polyglot, at once nostalgic and contemporary. Shanghai may not have looked so good or felt so energised since its first period of explosive growth in the 1920s. And nowhere else allows you to savour its beauties and ironies in such fine style as the Pen. It embodies much of what made this beguiling, elusive, maddening city great – and still does. By Steve KingBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Peninsula Shanghai hotel reviewPeninsula Shanghai hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYPeninsula Shanghai hotel reviewTHAILANDANDREW ROWAT
    THE SIAM, BANGKOKGardens and villas unfolding down to the Chao Phraya River, antiques, art and orchids in every directionThe golden rule of Bangkok: if it’s even remotely out of the way, don’t bother (a cab across town at rush hour could take as long as your flight over). The Siam is the exception. Although we’re not sure that Bill Bensley designed this low-slung and sleek urban retreat, on the north-east bank of the Chao Phraya river, as a destination in itself, it has certainly become one. It’s possible to spend a whole afternoon ogling the 16th-century Burmese Buddhas and vintage toy race cars displayed with particular flair from the hotel’s film room to its grand upstairs bar (owner Krissada Clapp makes weekly visits to local antiques dealer House of Chao, and tweaks the hotel’s collection almost daily). Located north of the Grand Palace and the hordes of flip-flop-wearing twenty-somethings streaming through the neon glow of Khao San Road, The Siam is a vitally tranquil place to return to after a day of tuk-tuk-ing between temples and haggling for silks at Chatuchak market. The gentle gurgle of water from stone fountains form a soundtrack for the sun-flooded courtyard, a profusion of palms and greenery; the enormous hammam-style spa, with its opulent marble pillars, does utterly resetting Reiki massages – though a soak in the clawfoot tubs in the teak-clad, Art Deco-style rooms does the trick, too. And early evening cocktails on the terrace, as the lights begin to flicker in the darkening skies on the other side of the moody Chao Phraya, can feel as though you’ve escaped the city entirely. To get back into the thick of it, though, the hotel’s river boat ferries guests towards that neon all day and night. Three years after opening, this is still Bangkok’s most accomplished urban hideaway. By Erin FlorioBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Siam Bangkok hotel reviewThe Siam Bangkok hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Siam Bangkok hotel review
    MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOKOne of the finest examples anywhere on earth of a grande dame that knows exactly how to grow old gracefullyThe spotless stuccoed Victorian façade; the fretwork shutters and balusters in Cambridge blue; the acres of white marble and wicker within; the emerald lawn with its picturesque little gazebo without… The original part of the Mandarin Oriental looks even more exotic today than it must have done when it first appeared on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River in 1876. Surrounded by the general mayhem of 21st-century Bangkok, the Authors’ Wing, as it is now known, epitomises a certain atmosphere of resolute calm and order. It strikes a particular note – bright and distinct – with which the other elements of the place are beautifully in step. This is all the more remarkable since it is such a big hotel: 400-odd rooms and suites, nine restaurants and bars, spread over several buildings on both sides of the river. It is also stylistically diverse, blending high Victoriana with traditional Thai elements and more hard-edged contemporary accents, particularly in the main modern tower. But its defining spaces pick up and enrich that original sweet note: the shamelessly opulent Michelin-starred restaurant Le Normandie, the much-loved and often-moved Bamboo Bar, the exceptional spa. This is a classic that still rings out loud and clear after all these years. By Steve KingBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Mandarin Oriental Bangkok hotel reviewMandarin Oriental Bangkok hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYMandarin Oriental Bangkok hotel reviewCAMBODIACHRIS SCHALKX
    SONG SAA PRIVATE ISLAND, CAMBODIAFar-flung, rooted in best-practice conservation, this is the most talked about hotel in CambodiaBold, crazy, ambitious, foolhardy, visionary – any number of adjectives could have been used to describe Australians Rory and Melita Hunter when they formulated their plan some 12 years ago to create a destination hotel on two tiny islands in the little-known Koh Rong archipelago, 20 miles off the coast of Cambodia. Yet the sublime result was Song Saa – the first opening outside of Siem Reap to rekindle an interest in travel to Cambodia after decades of oppression (their next project is 200-hectare Song Saa Reserve at Siem Reap). Nine of the 27 standalone villas (each with a private pool) are on stilted platforms over aquamarine water, the rest dotting the shoreline or tucked into the jungly interior of the larger island; the smaller island, linked via a wooden walkway, remains an unblemished nature reserve. But it’s Melita’s creative touch that really defines the look and feel of Song Saa: driftwood and bamboo from broken-up fishing boats and abandoned houses have been recycled into walls, floors and furniture. The Song Saa Foundation runs in conjunction with the hotel, championing health, employment and education among local communities, and tackles issues such as waste management and marine protection. So staying at this top-class island hideaway also means supporting social and environmental change. A meaningful blueprint for sustainable travel. By Pamela GoodmanBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Song Saa hotel reviewSong Saa hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYSong Saa hotel reviewTHE MALDIVESMICHAEL PAUL
    AMILLA FUSHI, THE MALDIVESWith amazing Beverly Hills-like villas, this is a deeply ambitious hotel full of big-hittersThis will stop even island regulars in their tracks: on the way to breakfast when they see baby sharks swimming right there in the shallows; passing the giant, gnarling, Tomb Raider-esque banyan tree near the tucked-away spa; at sunset when the pool becomes a mirror for the sky and the only colours that exist in the world are orange and blue. Amilla is a minimalist and clean-lined version of the Maldives, with low-rise buildings in a white wood the same shade as the flour-fine sand. Nothing pokes above the palm trees, even the treehouses high up in the canopy (for those who prefer to fall asleep to the sound of birdcall rather than waves) cleverly blend into their surroundings. Being in or near the water is what it’s all about: the snorkelling is sensational and the house reef is home to a coral-lined underwater chimney where hawksbill turtles, triggerfish and guitar sharks schmooze. But there’s also a knockout spa where trainers from hit London outfit Bodyism lead guests through a gym session to get hearts racing and then brilliant therapists from Bhutan calm them back down again. All is mellow and fairy-lit when it gets dark and everyone seems to be wearing something floaty. Among the half dozen restaurants, Japanese Feeling Koi, set right out over the ocean, is a highlight: reef-fish ceviche with pomegranate; crispy crab roll with green-tea powder. Amilla has some of the most knockout villas in the archipelago. Any which way, it’s a very fun, very glamorous place to stay. By Grainne McBrideBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Amilla Fushi hotel reviewAmilla Fushi hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYAmilla Fushi hotel reviewFRENCH POLYNESIA
    THE BRANDO, FRENCH POLYNESIARemote, ultra-polished island hideaway with smart eco-credentials – a love song to the South PacificAt first sight, Tetiaroa looks like a trick of the light, almost an aberration: it has a sci-fi glow. A pale blue of such luminosity, the remote, entirely private French Polynesian atoll’s water can be seen from outer space – astronauts orbiting the earth have enquired what it was. You leave from Tahiti (30 miles away, but it might be 3,000) and descend in a private six-seater directly into the Technicolor incandescence: a four-and-a-half-mile lagoon surrounded by a subterranean wall of living coral reef and circled by 12 cute green islands. Just one is used for the hotel’s 35 villas, the others solely occupied by frigate birds and ancient pandanus trees and honey bees. Tahitian royalty once lived here through the summers, prettifying their daughters for marriage, feeding them giant sea snails and sweet potato. All the islands are hemmed by white sand and shallow water rippling with baby fish. In deeper water are coral cathedrals for giant clams with mouths full of an algae in a trippy neon. The one-, two- and three-bedroom villas are decidedly more lustrous than the usual desert-island design in glass and ironwood, slate and silk. Each is set super-secretively in its own grounds, with a stretch of lonely white sand backed by dense trees. Your lazy eyes catch the occasional bright jags of oleander, jasmine, hibiscus and golden trumpet. Some guests stay put; some congregate at Bob’s Bar by the lodge’s restaurants (there are three, including a tiny new Japanese) and talk about the actor Marlon Brando, who bought Tetiaroa in 1967, having sailed past whilst scouting for locations for Mutiny on the Bounty (he even helped to develop the innovative 100 per cent renewable-energy seawater air-conditioning system here). A species of tilapia in the natural pond near the spa likes to gobble mosquito larvae: you won’t be bitten here. Best are the late afternoons, with the lulling sound of the Pacific crashing against the distant reef, waiting for the dusk, when the sky turns through the softest pastels into a stupefying heliconia red. By Antonia QuirkeBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Brando hotel reviewThe Brando hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Brando hotel reviewTHE BEST HOTELS IN AUSTRALASIA
    AUSTRALIAHALCYON HOUSE, NEW SOUTH WALESNext-generation bolthole making a destination of this sleepy NSW surf townAt this hotel on the pandanus-lined beachfront of Cabarita, the signature cocktail made with local Ink Gin changes from deep blue into shades of dusty pink. It completes the photographic panorama of navy and white sun beds, oversized sun hats and bronzed pool boys. It’s here, in this lazy coastal pocket halfway between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, that the linen-clad set come to kick back on long, hot summer days. Among the 21 rooms by Brisbane designer Anna Spiro, no two are the same. Each is a revision in Sixties eclecticism, with brass fixtures, antique memorabilia and dark wood furniture whimsically combined with a Mediterranean sensibility of patterned floor tiles, starched linens and wall panelling. Bathers migrate from the pool to dinner at Paper Daisy, the hotel’s restaurant helmed by Noma alumnus Ben Devlin, to try flavours of the surrounding landscape. For breakfast there are kefir pancakes with macadamia cream, passionfruit and berries, and lunches of prawn sandwiches with iceberg lettuce and avocado. A Moroccan-accented day spa with a domed hammam-style steam room was added in 2017. But it is perhaps general manager Mauro De Riso, with his charming sense of Italian hospitality, that stands out as the greatest investment made by owners Elisha and Siobhan Bickle. This boutique seaside bolthole etches a new, more sophisticated vision of the Australian lifestyle of surf, sun and sand on to the scene. By John HannanBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Halcyon House reviewHalcyon House reviewPLACES TO STAYHalcyon House reviewNEW ZEALANDKARA ROSELUND
    KAURI CLIFFS, MATAURI BAYRemote, brilliantly balanced championship lodge for really getting to grips with the wide-open landscapeLong before the influx of American billionaires preparing for the apocalypse by constructing mega-million-dollar retreats in the remotest reaches of New Zealand, there was the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs. American hedge-fund billionaire Julian Robertson created this hotel on a 6,000-acre working sheep farm set above the Pacific Ocean. For golfers, it offers the round of a lifetime. Created by late, great course designer, David Harmon, 15 of the 18 holes look out across the ocean, while six play alongside cliffs which drop 200 metres into the sea. Tee-offs require blind hits of faith across coastal chasms. But Robertson’s vision was hardly limited to golfers. There’s a day spa built within a native forest, and sunset barbecues on Friday evenings on the property’s pink-sand beach; more formal suppers are served inside the main lodge, which is designed to feel like a traditional farmhouse (albeit one which requires guests wear jackets for dinner). A farm-to-table ethos rules the kitchen, fresh produce from the sea and surrounding farms dictates daily changes to a menu regarded as northern New Zealand’s finest. Spacious rooms are neutral-toned and comfortable – fancy elements would be negated by the elevated views out to the Cavalli Islands. Those seeking even more space should try the 4,200-square-feet Owner’s Cottage, and then wander around the property, through ancient Kauri woodland, and down trails onto deserted white-sand bays where orcas and whales pass by. By Craig TansleyBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Kauri Cliffs hotel review
    Kauri Cliffs hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYKauri Cliffs hotel reviewTHE BEST HOTELS IN NORTH AMERICAMUSTIQUE
    THE COTTON HOUSE, MUSTIQUEThe only hotel on the island, and yet still punching above its weight‘Nothing worked, but we didn’t care,’ Princess Margaret recalled of her holidays here in the late 1960s. Back then this former sugar mill and cotton warehouse was a little hotel where guests dined on canned spaghetti. Now it’s a romantic 17-room bolthole beloved by young couples, families with small children and anyone in dire need of some hardcore downtime. Set beside Endeavour Bay, it has a style that is colonial-meets-contemporary, the centrepiece of which is an airy Great Room, created by Parisian designer Tristan Auer, and which every Tuesday hosts a boisterous, not-to-be-missed cocktail party that almost the whole island attends. Breakfast of jerked eggs and smoked lionfish is served on the veranda, with a view across parrot-green lawns to the small and lovely beach. Water pistols are thoughtful provided to keep sneaky birdlife at bay while you tuck in. Couples can hole up in one of the three colourful cottages, or in a room within earshot of the crashing waves; families can spread out in the huge suites set in the tropical gardens. The island stretches over three miles, and many guests rely on golf carts to see its crowd-free beaches and exhilarating coastal trails, and for a run to Basil’s Bar, newly revamped by Philippe Starck, where a dance under the stars is almost obligatory. Like the rest of Mustique, the hum of glamour at The Cotton House is soft and low rather than high-pitched, making it one of the most charming island hangouts around. By Nigel TisdallBOOK OUR GOLD LIST HOTELS WITH EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Cotton House hotel reviewCotton House hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYCotton House hotel reviewUSA
    THE DEWBERRY, SOUTH CAROLINAEven if you don’t overnight in the midcentury-mod inspired rooms, you’ll want to pop in for a Negroni at the brass lobby barIt could be argued that the most significant thing about this hotel is its quite brilliant location, dominating the eastern border of Marion Square, just north of Calhoun and the line dividing old Charleston from new. But that would be missing the point. John Dewberry’s eight-year quest to turn a drab Sixties-era federal building into a modernist work of art – in a city that trades on Southern colonial quaintness – was nothing short of a smashing success. The Dewberry embraces its mid-century roots with class and charm, drawing on elegant geometries – clean, cool lines broken by intervals of density that allude to deep character without getting fussy – and a muted palette of dark woods, hammered copper, Mediterranean greens and blues. Rooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings and wide-frame views of the skyline (catch them too from the deep cast-iron soaking tub in the bathroom). The common spaces shine, with dark panelled wood and low leather seating and made for Daiquiri sipping. This is a hotel for grown-ups – but, being Southern, one that likes to have fun. The proof is in the Living Room bar, where the mixing is done in white jackets and the decor in dry wit. Anywhere else, The Dewberry might border on stuffy, but here, drowned in light from floor-to-ceiling windows that give through gossamer curtains onto Marion Square, it’s just right. By Brad RickmanBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Dewberry Charleston hotel reviewThe Dewberry Charleston hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Dewberry Charleston hotel review
    FOUR SEASONS HOTEL AT THE SURF CLUB, MIAMIA breath of elegant air in the otherwise gung-ho Miami sceneOver the years, guests here have included Elizabeth Taylor, Wallis Simpson, and the Shah of Iran. Winston Churchill used to rent two cabanas, one to paint in and one ‘for naps’. Drinks, too, as during Prohibition spirits were served illegally here. Set in Surfside at the less-developed northern end of Miami Beach, this hacienda-style hotel has been brilliantly extended by Richard Meier, whose 12-story glass towers seem to float above the terracotta tiles of the original 1930s Mediterranean-style pantiled roofs, with interiors by fellow architect and designer Joseph Dirand. The cabanas now house part of the charming spa, where even the brushed-brass key pads on the lockers are a thing of beauty, as well as a handful of Cabana Studio bedrooms, each a pale-but-interesting essay in contrasting textures: canvas, rattan, and travertine. Of course, the restaurants are as much of an attraction: The Surf Club by superchef Thomas Keller opened its doors in summer 2018, and Le Sirenuse Miami comes from the owners of its namesake hotel in Positano. Densely planted with exotic palms, the latter evokes a cultivated jungle, a setting that is almost as memorable as Antonio Mermolia’s deft cooking, where the attention to detail extends to dyeing the ice over which they serve oysters the bluish-green of an iceberg. Try the Kumamotos, flown in daily from Washington state and dressed in a zingy citronelle emulsion. Spectacular is the word for the Surf Club ran a headline in the Miami Herald in November 1959. And so it is, nearly 60 years on. By Claire WrathallBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club reviewFour Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club reviewPLACES TO STAYFour Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club reviewKRIS TAMBURELLO
    SUNSET TOWER, CALIFORNIAAn Art Deco concoction that’s part of Hollywood historyThis elegant Art Deco tower piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner – and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million-dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink in the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. No photographs. No phone calls – it says on the bottom of the menu firmly while maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes. The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favourite; the seared scallops with black leek and truffle sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots – in a city with a strong alfresco game – for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of LA and basking in that brilliant golden sunshine. By Mary LussianaBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to our Sunset Tower hotel reviewSunset Tower hotel reviewSunset Tower hotel review
    THE ST REGIS NEW YORKA New York institution that channels the city’s glamorous past like not other, steps from Fifth Avenue buzzEven the most unaffected New Yorkers can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia when passing through the gilded revolving doors of the St Regis to be promptly greeted by a gentleman with white gloves and a smile. The sense of the city’s golden era lingers in that lobby, where shining chandeliers warm the pale walls to create a necessary calming counter to the crush of cabs and suits in Midtown Manhattan. It’s precisely the atmosphere John Jacob Astor IV sought to capture when he opened this 18-storey, Beaux-Arts landmark at the turn of last century. Today, there’s more Michael Kors than mink in the King Cole Bar, though the order hasn’t changed: ignore the lengthy cocktail list and go for a note-perfect dry Martini or a Bloody Mary, the house speciality, and fall into conversation with the bankers in from Boston sitting at the bar. For those who do stay on for a Martini or three more, it’s nice to know that your suite is just an elevator ride away. It may be done up in lipstick-ruby wallpaper or blue velvet curtains and striped white walls, with classic pieces such as silk-stitched loveseats and oil paintings to resemble that glamorous pied à terre everyone fantasises about. A New York institution that channels the city’s glamorous past like no other, steps from the Fifth Avenue buzz. By Erin FlorioBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The St Regis New York hotel reviewThe St Regis New York hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe St Regis New York hotel review
    THE CARLYLE, NEW YORKA living legend that’s New York at its brightest, most sparkling, most elegant self, witty, worldly and nostalgic 
    ‘If we want things to stay as they are,’ Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa famously wrote, ‘things will have to change.’ Anyone who knows and loves The Carlyle will want things at this Upper East Side institution to stay as they are, while also understanding that a certain amount of tweaking is, alas, necessary. Designer Tony Chi, who did such a fine job at The Carlyle’s sister property, Rosewood London, is currently overhauling 80 percent of the hotel’s 190 rooms. The first of these will become available in early 2019. Renovations here have always been a fraught business, not least because, as well as being a hotel, it also contains 50 or so privately owned apartments spread across its 35 floors, making it impossible to do the whole place up all at once. Thus some rooms are florid and chintzy; some are 1920s time capsules; some are slick and steely; and still others are something in between. Broadly speaking, they get better the higher the floor. Plus, you get to spend more time in the elevators —not an activity to enjoy in everyday life, but this is not everyday life. The ones at The Carlyle are the stuff of legend, as much admired as the astounding Dorothy Draper lobby or Bemelmans Bar. Imagine if you had been there when Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs all piled in (true story). You would have been in awe. Not of them, of course, but of the real superstar – the unflappable, icy-calm, white-gloved Carlyle elevator operator. By Steve KingBOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to The Carlyle hotel reviewThe Carlyle hotel reviewPLACES TO STAYThe Carlyle hotel review
    KIMPTON LA PEER HOTEL, CALIFORNIAA buzzy hangout in West Hollywood’s happening Design DistrictThis West Hollywood hangout confirms that boutique group Kimpton has the design chops to rival the NoMads and Firmdales of the hotel world. In large part that is down to the bold aesthetic of the interiors by Gulla Jónsdóttir, a West Hollywood resident who channelled the lava fields and waterfalls of her native Iceland with a frosty grey-and-black palette in the guestrooms and lobby, with leather walls, bulbous light fixtures and a collection of Saba sofas. Bright blooms from star florist Eric Buterbaugh undercut the heaviness of it all. Things perk up outdoors, where a sun-flooded bar that’s already a hit with the cool kids of West Hollywood wraps around the small swimming pool. Artworks from graffiti pieces by Retna to a topographical installation of the city are on display behind the front desk.Even the walls of the lift are covered in floral murals by Japanese graphic artist and Apple collaborator Kahori Maki. Staff may let you ride it all the way to the top to peek at Jónsdóttir’s nature-inspired wood, metal and stone furniture in the 1,400-square-foot penthouse. As West Hollywood continues its reinvention as a design district, Kimpton La Peer is a worthy anchor of it all.BOOK THIS HOTEL ON EXPEDIA NOWTo find out more and check availability, now go to Kimpton La Peer Hotel, Los Angeles hotel review
WhatsApp chat