The 100 Best Hotels in the World - 2020 Fodor's Finest Hotel Awards
There are two schools of thought when it comes to choosing a hotel. In one corner, there’s the crowd who firmly believe that travel is about the destination and a hotel is but a utilitarian device—a place to lay your head and hang your coat. And, in the other corner, there’s the crowd who expects—or even insists —that a hotel is an integral part of their travels; that it personifies, or even heightens the sense of place, whether it be in Arkansas or Zimbabwe. This list of Fodor’s 100 best hotels in the world is tailored for the believers of the latter philosophy. But, we hope it inspires those who lodge in the former, too. After all, this isn’t just a list of expensive accommodations (yes, the Four Seasons makes multiple appearances and we’ve included the St. Regis Abu Dhabi, which has a suite that’ll cost you a whopping $40,000 per night), but of hotels that make the effort to give their guests an experience. Miami’s gorgeously tropical Life House Little Havana regularly has rooms under $100, and Berlin’s minimalistic and uber-trendy Michelberger Hotel has them at $125. You don’t have to spend much to roost well. RELATED: See which hotels were chosen as last year's Fodor's Finest Obviously, a list like this—one that doesn’t include a hotel in every country or every city—may not be applicable to your 2020 travels. But we hope it makes you curious about what a hotel can be. The best hotels, whether they’re on this list or not, aren’t just for sleeping—they’re enchanting and inspiring. They immerse themselves with the unique magic of a destination (and all destinations have their own unique magic). So, to the utilitarians, we ask: why not make the place you lodge a reflection of the place you’re exploring?
WHERE: Wellington, Canada
In Prince Edward County, along the shore of Lake Ontario, The Drake Devonshire is like a hip summer camp for adults where instead of arts and crafts and archery lessons, there are craft cocktails, lakeside massages, and pilates. The funky, well-styled hotel is warm and welcoming, and lakefront dining on steak tartare with grilled treviso or caesar salad with pickled corn is well above ordinary. You’re well-equipped for charming excursions, with a choice of exploring nearby Wellington Beach, or the area’s wineries, art galleries, fishing outposts, and golf courses.
Fogo Island Inn
WHERE: Newfoundland, Canada
On this rare, distant corner of the earth, you’ll be in awe of the dramatic surrounding elements: the vast, tumultuous North Atlantic and the rocky shores of Fogo Island, where this hotel is carefully perched upon long stilts. Inside what appears to be a stack of off-white shipping containers, rooms are surprisingly open and airy, with floor-to-ceiling views of the natural surroundings. Beyond the hotel’s private art gallery, the whole space feels impeccably and artistically designed, with wood-burning stoves and ample use of raw, natural materials like wood and wool. Amid all the luxury, the hotel dedicates itself to investing profits back into the Fogo Island community.
ALEX FRADKIN/Fogo Island Inn
Glacier View Lodge
WHERE: Jasper National Park, Canada
At first glance, the experience at Glacier View Lodge is all in the name (the vistas of the surrounding icefield, glaciers, and snowy alpine peaks are breathtaking) but there’s much more to a stay at this luxury lodge inside Jasper National Park. The vibe here is chalet-chic—the lounge especially feels like a sophisticated ski lodge—with plenty of hygge vibes, natural light, and killer views of the incredible surroundings. The all-inclusive experience treks you through the icy wonderland of the park with the best guides and none of the hassle. A real “Canadian” dining experience includes hearty breakfasts and three-course dinners (with dishes like Atlantic salmon and tea-smoked duck breast) overlooking the Athabasca Glacier.
Glacier View Hotel
Hotel William Gray
WHERE: Montreal, Canada
Nestled unassumingly within Old Montreal—a neighborhood still preserved in cobblestone and charm just steps away from the St. Lawrence River and the city’s historic port—Hotel William Gray is known for its sweeping terraces and intimate courtyards, of which there are plenty. Don’t miss the onsite restaurant, Maggie Oakes, where herbs from the living wall are incorporated into dishes. Rooms are large and comfortable with modern baths enclosed in glass and sophisticated, contemporary decor elsewhere. The decadent spa is a plus, as are coffee and pastries from Cafe Olimpico (an outpost of the local favorite).
Nimmo Bay Resort
WHERE: Mackenzie Sound, Canada
On a remote southern edge of Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, “intertidal” cabins at Nimmo Bay sit stilted along the water, and guests can literally feel the ebb and flow of the tides underneath them. Inside, cabins have white clapboard walls, supremely comfortable beds, and oriental carpets with just the right amount of wear to give the digs a feel. Bathrooms and other amenities don’t skimp on modernity, however, and activities range from guided hikes and boat tours to paddleboarding or kayaking among the sunbathing seals. Perhaps the resort’s best feature is an intimate, familiar atmosphere, owing to the fact that it’s small and family-owned (no corporate resort vibes here), and everything is done with a touch of personal care.
Jeremy Koreski/Nimmo Bay Resort
WHERE: Taupo, New Zealand
Minutes from Huka Falls along the banks of the Waikato River, this stately lodge is a romantic, worry-free stay, with a breakfast, cocktail hour, and five-star dining experience that are all included in the price. Private hedged gardens, oversized modern fireplaces, and chandeliers; rolling manicured lawns; and jewel-toned interiors all make up this immaculate property, with attentive, warm service that’s quite literally good enough for the Queen of England (and a whole slew of other royals and celebrities who have graced the impressive guest list here). The hotel curates exceptional experience packages, which are just enough to pry you from your comfortable leather chair: private helicopter tours of nearby volcanoes, fishing for trout that you’ll later watch the chef prepare for you, guided art gallery tours, and cultural expeditions led by the Maori people.
supplied by Huka Lodge
Lon Retreat & Spa
WHERE: Point Lonsdale, Australia
The astounding beauty of this peninsula—200 acres of land between rocky hills and ocean beaches—creates an experience that is luxurious and unique. Here, seven multi-roomed guest suites are laid out with extreme care, providing plenty of privacy and quiet, each designed with a different vibe and showcasing natural elements of the amazing property. At this adults-only retreat, privacy especially comes in handy at the spa, where you’ll be soaking in an oversized, bowl-shaped tub of locally-sourced mineral water, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and unspoiled views.
Paramount House Hotel
WHERE: Sydney, Australia
In Sydney’s hip Surry Hills neighborhood, this fun hotel is a hub for local creatives and visitors who want a glimpse into the lives of Sydney’s most fashionable residents. Rooms here have a repurposed feel, with recycled building materials and construction, but they’re also cozy—the type of room that feels great to come home to after a long day of sightseeing. Comfortable beds are outfitted in linen sheets and Seljak recycled wool blankets, while the shower and sink are stocked with Aesop products. The mini bar is stacked with hyper-local snacks and drinks. A movie theater, a rooftop health club with free yoga classes for guests, a semi-hidden basement bar, and a cafe serving quintessential Australian breakfast staples (and a killer flat white) round out the offerings at this boutique hotel that’s much more than a place to stay.
WHERE: Wellington, New Zealand
This design-forward hotel has an eye for the glitzy and millennial, with plenty of metallic and gold-lacquered accents, mirrored surfaces, and blocky black-and-white decor. Rooms are spacious and accommodating, while the lobby resembles a contemporary art gallery with sophisticated lighting and museum-grade pieces. Every meal is an eclectic, fancy tea party at Hippopotamus–perhaps QT Wellington’s most raved-about feature—a restaurant enshrined in crystal chandeliers, mismatched parlor chairs, and looming stuffed peacocks—that serves a killer nouveau French menu. Take the fun decor, warm atmosphere, and attention to detail, and add the fact that you’re right along the harbor near Wellington’s best shops and museums, and you’ve got the perfect city stay.
Courtesy of QT Hotels & Resorts
WHERE: Malolo Island, Fiji
Guests are ushered via speedboat or helicopter to this island resort of white sands, clear blue waters, and starry night skies, where spacious villas enclosed in private gardens have private pools. But it’s not all island hideaway here. There’s a wide range of activities, food and drink outlets, and day trips to choose from. Surf the reef breaks with the resort’s skilled instructors or indulge in all kinds of watersports; tour the gardens and farms and learn about the island’s many sustainability efforts; make visits to nearby small villages or other islands; or indulge in the creative, holistic treatments at the sprawling spa.
Six Senses Fiji
King David Jerusalem
WHERE: Jerusalem, Israel
Located atop a hill in the center of Jerusalem, the historic King David Hotel casts its gaze over a spectacular panoramic view of the venerable Old City and Mount Zion. Built in 1929, the hotel’s regal interiors are dark and luxurious, as ancient Assyrian, Egyptian, Phoenician, and Greek art and architecture influence the design. The palatial green and cream lobby, adorned with pillars, is steeped in a legacy both victorious and tragic. As the most revered hotel in Jerusalem, the King David has been hosting heads of state, royalty, diplomats, and celebrities for decades, and the presence of these powerful and influential people lingers within the hotel. Dark wood, rich golds, marbled bathrooms, old-world accents, and retro color palettes eschew modern styles in favor of the traditional. Exceptional amenities include a stunning swimming pool surrounded by a lush, serene garden and the marvelous culinary experience at one of Jerusalem’s highest-rated fine dining establishments, La Regence.
Courtesy of Dan Hotels
Magic Camps is like a traveling boutique hotel caravan that sets up bespoke, private tent camps throughout the great dunes of the Omani Desert. Experiences are customized for each group depending on interest in exploring the dunes, coast, and water oases around Muscat and the rest of Oman. Guest tents exude atmosphere, with hanging pendant lights and candlelit lanterns, fluffy towels and rich Bedouin textiles, and real furniture and beds. Groups take camel rides to their remote camp locations, where they enjoy starry nights over the dramatic expanses of desert, and a local dinner cooked over a hot fire. In the spirit of leave-no-trace (that also adds a degree of enchantment), the camp is whisked away once your trip is over as if it were never even there.
Karim Hesham Photography, via Magic Arabia/Facebook
Mandarin Oriental Doha
WHERE: Doha, Qatar
Qatari heritage (and fantastic hospitality) meet with a trusted international brand at this Downtown Doha hotel, falling in line with the city’s upward trend towards the modern and global. Drama and elegance abound at the Mandarin : bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling marble and spacious round tubs, walls of decadent wrought-iron latticework, and a dining room that seems carved out of white sand. Near the Souq Waqif, Islamic Art Museum, and other main attractions, the Mandarin is reasonable for business (with great professional service and attention to detail), but there are additional touches—in style, comfort, and dining outlets—that make it a great introduction to everything Qatar has to offer.
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Doha
The Ritz Carlton, Al Wadi Desert
WHERE: Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Imagine a large Ritz Carlton in the middle of the Bedouin Desert—but with no traces of run-of-the-mill, big-box brand vibes. Instead, design and culture at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi borrow from the Bedouins and the Moors, with lavish touches everywhere and the option to book a multi-roomed, tented villa with a private swimming pool oasis. There are an array of dining and imbibing options: the Farmhouse restaurant lets in the most dramatic swaths of desert light and colors; at the cavernous Moorish lounge, sampling tapas and cocktails while tucked into low tables is an intimate and romantic experience. The best activities here are at the fully-equipped equestrian center, where guests can take riding lessons, arrange a camel caravan, or take off into the desert via Arabian horse.
Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
The St. Regis Abu Dhabi
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Towering over Abu Dhabi, the St. Regis is everything you could ever want in a five-star hotel, starting with the sweeping double staircase in the lobby, hewn from marble and lit by chandeliers. Everything about the hotel is over-the-top elegance (which is an oxymoron everywhere in the world except Abu Dhabi). Rooms in the 48-story tower are draped in plush fabrics with high-tech enhancements and sparkling marble bathrooms—and with this kind of height, you’ll get amazing views of the city and the Persian Gulf, just across the street. While city chain hotels can often feel stuffy and corporate, the St. Regis also appeals to vacationers, with plenty of dining options (including an incredible breakfast buffet spread) and a private connected beach club with what feels like acres of pools and plenty of sunloungers along a quiet and clean stretch of sea. But the crowning jewel of this property is the famous suspended suite—the kind of place Liberace might have lived if he were also a Bond villain. The three-bedroom penthouse has 360-degree views, a private screening room, a two-story library, a dining room, and an ensuite spa.
Courtesy of St. Regis Abu Dhabi
WHERE: Maasai Mara, Kenya
Perched on a cliff overlooking the spectacular landscape of Kenya’s Maasai Mara, this incredible lodge offers one of the world’s most elegant safari experiences. Tented suites fan out along the cliff, making spectacular views (and even some elephant spotting, if you’ve got good eyesight) possible from your deck, your bed, or even the clawfoot bathtubs. The suites are designed in a more modern and stylish way than you’ll find at other safari lodges—there are no stacks of antique cameras or piles of Hemingway books or anything that evokes Dr. Livingstone. Instead, you’ll find the vibrant reds of traditional Maasai textiles, colorful woven furniture, and beauty products by Africology. It’s hard to want to leave your room here, but the wilderness beckons. At Angama Mara, you can plan on daily game drives to see the Big 5 and other spectacular African creatures, beautiful picnics in improbable places, and best of all, a warm and welcoming staff that will make you fall in love with Kenya and Angama Mara.
Courtesy of Angama Mara
Azura Benguerra Island
WHERE: Benguerra Island, Mozambique
Off the coast of Mozambique, Azura Benguerra Island combines great service, natural seclusion, and local culture for a heavenly five-star experience. Mozambique’s first eco-friendly resorts, with its dramatically peaked thatched roofs, lies inside Marine National Park, and here you can explore or relax among the pristine, untouched coastlines. This idyllic sanctuary was designed by—and with the goal of giving back to—the local community, and beachside villas come with private infinity pools, canopy king beds, and outdoor showers. Beyond the white beaches and sky-blue water, the friendly staff and touches of local art and culture go far to make the experience here so worthwhile.
Azura Benguerra Island
WHERE: Ouarzazate, Morocco
Dar Ahlam is a hotel unlike any other. Hidden in the remote foothills of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, this hotel feels like it was conjured from Aladdin or One Thousand and One Nights . You can tell it’s something special before you even set foot in the door: It’s located down a dirt road with no signage and impossible to find on your own, but you’ll know you’ve arrived when you’ve crossed a dry riverbed and woven through a herd of goats, and suddenly a kasbah appears before you. Inside, dark, candlelit hallways lead you to the reception area, a cozy living room full of books and a fireplace, where tea is always available. The hotel is gorgeous in that timeless Moroccan style—antique furniture, carved wooden details, and richly-colored tiles decorate the uniquely designed rooms, while a gorgeous pool creates the feeling of an oasis. It’s a peaceful and quiet place, but inherently fascinating, with a rich history and hidden rooms and corners begging to be discovered. You could spend a night here or spend a month here and lose track of time, basking in the wonder of this luxurious and mysterious place.
WHERE: Okavango Delta, Botswana
Come to Little Mombo for the wildlife, but stay for the pampering—like the decadent brunch laid out for you after a day of exploring the bush, and a workout facility perhaps unlike any other hotel gym in the world, where you can imagine yourself outrunning the zebras or lions while actually spotting some from your treadmill. Resources here are dedicated to nature conservation, including a project to reintroduce rhinos to Botswana. The camp is fully outfitted (there’s dining facilities, a lounge, and pool), but with only three intimate tents, wilderness far outnumbers civilization here—and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
One&Only Nyungwe House
WHERE: Nyamasheke Nyungwe Forest Reserve, Rwanda
There’s truth in a name: nowhere else in the world is quite like the One&Only Nyungwe House, a five-star, all-inclusive hotel on the edge of Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park, surrounded by the misty mountainous rainforest and the rolling fields of a working tea plantation. Aside from superior accommodations—modern takes on lodge-chic decor, a full spa, and infinity pool—the true gems here are the uniquely cultivated experiences offered by the resort. Choose from a dozen trail hikes; a guided trek in search for chimpanzees, birds, and colobus monkeys; or a nocturnal nature walk. Take a helicopter tour, a visit to a local community, or an educational stroll through the chef’s garden. A serene combination of luxury and rare natural wonder, Nyungwe house is the type of once-in-a-lifetime splurge that is totally worth your while.
One&Only Nyungwe House
Riad L Orangeraie
WHERE: Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech has no shortage of chic places to stay, from sprawling luxury resorts to historic hotels to cozy riads. But there’s something special about L’Orangeraie. Hidden on a side street in the Medina, this hotel doesn’t look like much from the outside. But inside, you’ll find a burst of color, with extravagantly decorated rooms situated around a small pool and a rooftop restaurant serving unbeatable breakfast. It feels both ancient and contemporary here, with decor from Morocco and other parts of Africa. Each of the rooms is exceptionally decorated in jewel tones and rich fabrics—it’s Moroccan maximalism in a tiny package. While you could spend thousands on a hotel here, at under $200/night L’Orangeraie delivers a truly stylish Moroccan experience at a fraction of the price—leaving you more money to go shopping nearby in the Medina.
WHERE: Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The Shipwreck Lodge, on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, is for those desiring a totally unique aesthetic experience: Instagrammable travel where the experience is actually as phenomenal as the photos. Here, small wooden houses shaped like ships (or rather, shipwrecks ) dramatically dot the remote expanses of dunes, and guests experience luxurious, intimate details like wood-burning stoves, fresh-baked goods, and adventurous led excursions among the dunes, water, and Cape fur seal populations. It’s hard not to overstate just how unique and remote the experience inside the park is, and how much you’ll appreciate the care that went into establishing this well-appointed stay among the rough natural elements of sand, wind, and sea.
The Silo Hotel
WHERE: Capetown, South Africa
Set right atop Cape Town’s Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa, which has been heralded as one of the most influential museums on the continent, The Silo Hotel is a poster child for adaptive reuse. London-based Heatherwick Studio transformed the city’s former grain silo complex, which operated from 1924 to 2001, into a stunning hotel that’s at once ultra-modern yet historic, glamorous yet industrial. While retaining elements of the raw-looking concrete structure, the 28-room property appears decidedly contemporary, if not futuristic, with glowing geometric windows that glisten and glow come nightfall. Inside, the boutique address features an exclusive rooftop pool, two restaurants, the endlessly Instagrammable Willaston Bar, and a spa—not to mention more than 300 pieces of contemporary African artwork from luminaries such as Mohau Modisakeng and Frances Goodman. The Silo Hotel even has its own secret gallery, dubbed The Vault, where the hotel displays rotating exhibitions from up-and-coming African artists.
Courtesy of The Royal Portfolio
Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel
WHERE: Aswan, Egypt
The Cataract Hotel is a rare gem—an over-the-top marble-filled palace draped in velvet and lit by brass chandeliers that is somehow full of warmth and character. This historic hotel feels like hallowed ground, and for many, it is. Countless politicians, dignitaries, and royals have spent time here; most notable (sorry, Winston Churchill) is Agatha Christie, whose writing desk is on display in the lobby. This is where she spent months drafting Death on the Nile , a murder mystery that takes place aboard a cruise (and even has some scenes at the hotel). Though over 100 years old, the hotel is still comfortable and glamorous after a recent restoration—ask for a Nile-facing room for incredible views from your balcony.
Insider Tip: The best time to experience this hotel? After a Nile River cruise with Extraordinary Journeys.
Old Cataract Hotel
Victoria Falls Hotel
WHERE: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Distant rumbles of the falls, warthogs scampering across rolling lawns, high tea on breezy verandas…The Victoria Falls Hotel effectively transports guests to the golden age of exploration. Long the hotel of choice among royalty and celebrities alike—and the halls are flanked by old photos to prove it—this grand dame dates back to 1904 when Zimbabwe was known as Southern Rhodesia. Adding to the experience, you can walk to the famous falls an easy 10 minutes and explore in myriad ways—be it by foot, kayak, or zipline. And after you’ve experienced the Natural Wonder of the World? Relax with English-style afternoon tea or a G&T at Stanley’s Terrace while savoring views of Victoria Falls bridge, or pull on your Sunday best for a seven-course degustation menu at Livingstone Room.
The Victoria Falls Hotel
Casa de Uco
WHERE: Mendoza, Argentina
Nestled in the heart of Argentinian wine country and framed by the Andes Mountains, this peaceful and sprawling modern estate overlooks the property’s own organic vineyard. The modern boutique hotel of stone, wood, and marble, complete with an outdoor pool, offers many area-inspired activities: paragliding or biking through the mountains, tasting wines, or horseback riding through the vineyards. Meals here consist of choice cuts of meat, grilled over an open fire and paired with vegetables fresh from the property’s organic garden.
Courtesy of Casa De Uco
WHERE: Cartagena, Colombia
One of the oldest buildings in the city and once a private mansion for aristocratic nobility, Casa Pombo is now a contemporary fairytale stay: an architectural maze-of-a-palace filled with a network of swimming pools and terraces, high ceilings, stone archways, and marble floors. Bedrooms are cavernous apartments with sleeping lofts, lavish seating areas, and private terraces or poolside decks. While inside this peaceful kingdom, it’s hard to believe that the best of Cartagena waits just outside its doors—with many of the city’s great restaurants and sights a quick few blocks away.
WHERE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A stay at this modern, intimate villa is like visiting the mansion of a friend with very posh taste. The decor is minimal and tony, with the finest mid-century modern furniture and contemporary art inside; the outdoors include a rooftop terrace, garden, and other well-designed spaces. Rooms have sleek modern bathrooms and balconies with views of the lush surrounding forest, the coast, and nearby Sugarloaf Mountain. Perhaps even more luxurious than the hotel itself is the unique location on a hilltop surrounded by forest, the perfect peaceful—but convenient—retreat between the city and popular nearby beaches.
Courtesy of Design Hotels
Fasano Las Piedra
WHERE: Punta del Este, Uruguay
Hotel Fasano sits near the Punta del Este coast in an elegant building overlooking a vast horizon and rugged landscape—a world far, far away from the resorts and hotels you’ll find closer to the beach. The large outdoor pool, set in a natural rock garden, sets the tone of the resort, one of luxury beckoning nature, a melding of modern design and untamed natural elements. The grand estancia—with tennis courts, a golf course, and a supreme equestrian center—appears ultra-modern, but the interior is that of a sophisticated but rustic farmhouse, with stone floors and homey, communal spaces.
Courtesy of Hotel Fasano Punta del Este
WHERE: Punta de Lobos, Chile
Wood, stone, and low-lit fireplaces blend into the vast natural surroundings at this rugged-yet-refined surfer shack —complete with rock climbing, skate and surf instruction, and an in-hotel Patagonia store. Relaxing in the barrel soaker hot tubs, among dreamcatchers and gorgeous sky and water views, feels like you’re at the edge of the world. At the sharp restaurant, you’ll dine on local quinoa, spices, and hand-caught rockfish, served with fine wines from the Colchagua Valley. Nearby, the Commune of Pichilemu is home to five Chilean national monuments and the region’s acclaimed Punta de Lobos surfing beach.
Courtesy of Hotel Alaia
Hotel Parque Quilico
WHERE: Chiloe, Chile
On Chiloe Island, off the coast of southern Chile, you’ll find whimsical accommodations made for the characters in a fairy tale. At Hotel Parque Quilquico, the sheep roam free on the grounds and grass grows wild on the rooftops. The hot tub could pass for an extraordinarily oversized wine barrel. Wooden cabin-like guestrooms house crisp, silken linens accented with indigenous textiles, and standalone villas rise over the mountain on stilts, an ode to the local palafito houses. But while you might come for the charming rustic-elegance of the Quilquico, you’ll stay for the sunset views overlooking farmland, wetlands, and forests that meet the placid Dalachue Channel, all enjoyed with a glass of locally-sourced wine drunk on your private balcony.
Courtesy of Hotel Parque Quilquico
Luxurious furnishings, meals courtesy of one of La Paz’s most talked-about restaurants, custom art by Bolivia’s foremost contemporary artist—it’s easy to forget you’re technically camping. Kachi Lodge is the first property of its kind—a permanent luxury property located directly on top of the Uyuni Salt Flats. The camp is made up of six private domes and one large “common area” dome, all of which have been outfitted with beautiful, carefully considered furnishings. During their stays, guests can choose from a range of excursions (including visiting the giant cacti of Incahuasi Island during the dry season or paddling a canoe across the salar during the rainy season) that truly can’t be had anywhere else in the world.
Courtesy of Amazing Escapes
WHERE: Quito, Ecuador
High above the world on a serene private reserve, Mashpi Lodge lies in the mountainous rainforest only about 100 kilometers from Quito. This modern creation seems to emerge out of light and air, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout overlooking the misty, canopied forest where you’ll spend your days adventuring. The lodge houses fewer than 50 guests, with friendly, personalized service and nature guides to take you through the unique world of flora and fauna outside. The two-story dining room is surrounded by glass walls; here, the kitchen and bar celebrate all of Ecuador’s diverse ingredients and culinary influences.
WHERE: São Paulo, Brazil
Palacio Tangara is the way to feel like royalty (on a relatively modest budget) while staying in Sao Paulo. Tucked deep inside Parque de Morumbi (Burle Marx Park), this architectural behemoth has a remote feel, palatial rooms, a Jean Georges restaurant (with a Michelin star), indoor and outdoor pools, and saunas and steam rooms. Dinner at the award-winning restaurant is a memorable experience, but the bar—the atmosphere, friendly service, and well-mixed cocktails—and the generous breakfast are unsung heroes.
Courtesy of Oetker Collection’s Palácio Tangará
WHERE: Lake Titicaca, Peru
There’s a sacred hush to this private peninsula on Lake Titicaca, where land and water melt into each other, and private beaches and acres of wilderness provide for an experience that is often described as magical. During the day, between stunning sunrises and sunsets along the lake, thoughtful excursions take you to explore the area: Aymara culture on the Uros Floating Islands, legendary Pre-Incan treks, local dances, marketplaces, festivals, and a choice of watersports at the resort’s own boathouse.
American Trade Hotel
WHERE: Panama City, Panama
On the coolest corner of Panama City’s Casco Viejo neighborhood, The American Trade Hotel sits surrounded by colorful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. The first Central American outpost of the stylish Ace Hotel brand, this hotel flawlessly merges historic design details with an undeniably hip aesthetic. With white wood-paneled walls and plenty of natural light, rooms are surprisingly minimalist, bright, and airy, with fluffy white bedding and mid-century-inspired furniture. It’s the coolest place to stay in Panama City, but it’s also so much more than a hotel. The lobby cafe is one of the prettiest you’ll find, with tiled floors and a long white bar in a light-filled atrium where you can order coffee, snacks, and cocktails. Danilo’s Jazz Club, one of the best bars in the city, hosts local and international acts in a setting that feels like it’s from another era.
American Trade Hotel/ Facebook
WHERE: Tulum, Mexico
You wouldn’t necessarily expect such urban, loft-like rooms at a beachside resort, but Casa Malca’s sleek minimalism and artsy combination of indoor/outdoor spaces vibe well among the trendy restaurants, hot nightlife, and scenic natural surroundings of Tulum. Palapa-covered day beds, pools, and outdoor lounges (with chaises and oriental rugs) merge with the cavernous, concrete-walled rooms indoors, all with views of the gardens or ocean. It’s all incredibly swank—from the modern art sculptures and chandeliers to the Keith Haring-smothered walls of the bar—especially for those wanting to feel part of the in-crowd at this hip Mexican destination.
courtesy of Casa Malca
WHERE: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Rising from the shores of Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands and nestled between the villages of Santa Catarina and San Antonio is this gorgeously colorful palazzo. What was once a private estate is now this 15-room Relais & Chateau boutique property that exudes understated, old-world luxury. Perched on a hillside, just about every room has sweeping views of the lake and the ancient volcanoes that lurk in the far distance. Each room is uniquely lovely and individually curated with regional antiques. In the midday humidity, find respite at the two swimming pools. Both have sweeping views of the grand scenery—there’s no better place to embrace the laziness this weather necessitates than poolside at this stunning resort.
WHERE: Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
This cliffside castle, towering over the ocean, was once the private estate of billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, the driving force and creative mind behind Cuixmala’s ecological biosphere reserve and luxe resort property. Boasting many a celebrity stay, the main building is simply palatial, with decor and architecture of Mesoamerican, Indian, and Moroccan influences. Open-air bungalows are private, scaled-down versions of the big casa’s impeccable architecture. Cuixmala’s biodynamic, organic farm focuses on preserving the local environment—and on serving up delicious, plant-forward food in their visually stunning farm-to-table restaurant, La Loma.
Davis Gerber/Cuixmala and Hacienda de San Antonio
Isla Palenque Private Island Resort
WHERE: Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama
On a private tropical island in the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama, this resort is 400 acres of uninterrupted, unspoiled natural wonder. There’s a vibrant energy at this remote retreat reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe—one of the owner’s inspirations in the island’s development. Just like your favorite fantasy adventurers, you’ll spend time here exploring the island; hiking and foraging in the jungle; and whale watching, paddle boarding, and kayaking along the island’s seven beautiful beaches. Beachfront villas, with outdoor soaking tubs and plenty of lush garden privacy, come with binoculars, personal yoga supplies, and day beds and hammocks for easy lounging.
Isla Palenque, Cayuga Collection
WHERE: Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala
Not far from the Mayan wonders of Tikal in the northeastern corner of Guatemala is La Lancha, one of a handful of properties owned by legendary film-maker, wine-maker, and all-around raconteur Francis Ford Coppola. This is the second year this property has appeared on our list and for good reason—it’s pure magic. When you cross through the gates it’s as though you’ve wandered into a secret, blissful world. You’ll stand beneath the shade of the jungle, hear the roar of the howler monkeys, see the gorgeous design curated by Sofia Coppola and the shimmering beauty of Lake Petén Itzá in the distance—suddenly, your soul will be wrapped in joyful serenity. The hotel is not only quite beautiful, but the staff is truly kind. It may sound a cliché, but it’s true that they go out of their way to make their guests feel like a part of a family—and unlike your regular family, you probably won’t want to hightail it away from them after a few days in the jungle.
La Valise Mexico City
WHERE: Mexico City, Mexico
In the chicest neighborhood in the coolest city in the world, La Valise is a diamond in the rough, hidden in plain sight behind an unmarked door. The hotel has no lobby, no restaurant, and no bar. It’s just three rooms, each on its own floor and each with a distinctive personality, decorated with one-of-a-kind art and antiques. The rooms are huge, with kitchenettes, living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms (some even with a bathtub). It’s the kind of hotel that immediately feels like home–but not your home. It’s the home of somebody with major panache. The type of person who might throw a dinner party attended by famous poets, artists, and dancers. A hotel like this encourages guests to integrate with the community–although a breakfast of fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, pastries, and coffee is delivered every morning, you’ll have to venture out into Roma Norte for the rest of your meals and discover the sights, sounds, and flavors of one of the most stylish neighborhoods in the world.
La Valise Mexico
WHERE: Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
At this laid-back boutique hotel on the beach, it’s more local surfer vibes than over-the-top luxury, but with stays in breezy jungle casitas that have private decks, hammocks, and open-air rain showers, comfort is still a priority here. Days at Latitude 10 are spent boogie boarding, riding cruiser bikes into the charming town of Santa Teresa, taking cooking classes, practicing yoga, or reading in a hammock by the pool. Down-to-earth local food at the beachfront restaurant features ceviche, rice and beans, and homemade tortillas you can learn to make yourself.
WHERE: Guerrero, Mexico
This environmentally-conscious resort is a peaceful retreat amidst an otherwise busy beach of commercial buildup. Perhaps the most special stays here are in the nest-like treehouses: private bamboo-roofed guest cottages, perched on six-feet-high platforms among the palm trees. Lodging is a dream, but you’ll really stay for the yoga, meditation, and massage services that are all top-notch. Farm-to-table local food at the restaurant comes with good service and a healthy spin. The resort practices initiatives in permaculture, water conservation, solar paneling, and more, earning themselves a few big green leadership awards in recent years.
WHERE: Holbox, Mexico
If you’ve seen a photo of Punta Caliza, either on the cover of a magazine or on Instagram, you might assume that this exquisite hotel on an island in Mexico costs thousands of dollars a night. Punta Caliza’s swanky minimalist architecture belies its warm and welcoming nature. At under $500 per night during high season, this family-run hotel is relaxed and low-key. Its defining feature is the famous pool, designed in a way so that each of the handful of rooms has direct pool access–with water literally lapping at the walls. You’ll come for the pool, but you’ll stay for the resident dogs (tiny whippets wearing winter coats even when it’s 80 degrees), homemade daily breakfast (have you ever tried huevos motuleños? It’s now your favorite food), and minimalist, eco-friendly design (we love a thatched roof!). Although the hotel isn’t directly on the beach, it’s just a short walk to the hotel-owned beach club with free lounge chairs and an auxiliary bar with only the essentials for an afternoon in the sun: tequila, margaritas, beer, chips, and salsa.
COMO Parrot Cay
WHERE: Turks & Caicos
On a private island in Turks and Caicos, sprawling wooden decks littered with daybeds and lounge chairs overlook miles of pristine white-sand beaches. Private villas, bathed in sunshine and full of natural wood decor and white linens, have their own pools and come with personalized butler service. There’s a little bit of everything at Como Parrot Cay, with an emphasis on relaxation: holistic spa treatments and secluded beach walks; jaw-dropping sunsets and private beach dining; themed entertainment nights and local live music; and Mediterranean, Caribbean, or Southeast Asian-inspired meals at one of the property’s open-air restaurants. On top of its attention to detail and great service, Como takes sustainability seriously, with measures to preserve the area’s natural wonders, wildlife, and coral reefs.
Courtesy of COMO Hotels and Resorts
El Blok Hotel
WHERE: Vieques, Puerto Rico
On the tiny island of Vieques, which is part of Puerto Rico, El Blok is an architectural gem. Made entirely of concrete, the hotel is both naturally cooling and hurricane-proof, with geometric cut-outs that cast interesting shadows in the rooms. Situated between the ocean-front town of Esperanza (the drinking and dining hub of the island) and Sun Bay beach, El Blok’s prime location means you won’t have to hop in the car or call a taxi when you want to go exploring. The colorful yet sparse rooms are decorated with eclectic photographs, and each room has a balcony overlooking the island. The restaurant is one of the best on the island, serving internationally-inspired grilled seafood and meat dishes along with craft cocktails in a chic, candlelit setting. Don’t miss the rooftop sunset concerts–the perfect chance to mingle with locals and meet new friends.
The Island House
You’ll find this grand estate tucked along a bay on the west side of Nassau Island, a convenient location that’s still remote enough to be peaceful. Despite its towering, grand demeanor, the Island House is family-owned, and delivers a personalized, intimate experience, surrounding guests in pristine shades of white, tropical greens, and sun-faded wood tones. While you can easily arrange excursions to go swimming with pigs, kayaking, or touring the area’s art galleries, everything you need is on-site: private beaches, two restaurants (a choice of Southeast Asian or Mediterranean menus means you’ll never get bored), squash courts, spa, dance studio, generous wine market, and an art-forward movie theater.
This Dominica resort caters to the active traveler in search of off-the-beaten-path luxury. Spread out over steep seaside cliffs, just approaching this spacious, eco-friendly resort is an exciting trek; but yoga, diving, and visits to local farms will round out your adventurous experience. Inside the treehouse-like accommodations are polished teak interiors, bamboo furniture, and partially outdoor rain showers with earth-friendly bath products. Unwind after a day’s hiking with dinner of freshly-caught seafood or with massage services in treetop privacy, surrounded only by the sights and sounds of the sea and jungle.
Courtesy of Jungle Bay
Refined Balinese-style beach huts with four-poster canopy beds, wooden decks, and private plunge pools overlooking the sea—as well as a no-children policy—make Laluna perfect for a romantic getaway. On the remote southern end of Grenada, the vibe here is playful and unpretentious, but an infinity pool (with a breathtaking view) and onsite spa add touches of luxury. Superb beaches, chartered sailboats to neighboring islands, and Italian-Caribbean food in a thatched roof restaurant by the water create an experience that is laid-back yet once-in-a-lifetime unique.
Courtesy of Laluna
Le Sereno Hotel
WHERE: St. Barthelemy
Hurricane Irma may have devastated St. Barth’s, but the owners of Le Sereno took it as an opportunity to rebuild. After a year-long renovation, the intimate resort on the Grand Cul de Sac—a protected marine reserve home to a colony of sea turtles—is back and better than ever. Thirty-six rooms and suites done up in natural wood and stone surround the central pavilion, which features a pool overlooking the sea, a spa, a boutique, and an Italian restaurant that serves delicious pasta and spritzes. Guests can borrow glass-bottom kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and snorkeling gear, or work with the concierge to arrange activities like windsurfing and yachting trips to the island’s most remote beaches. It’s exactly the kind of place you want to retreat to after a night of partying at the island’s hotspots.
Le Sereno Hotel, Villas & Spa/The Leading Hotels of the World
Mandarin Oriental Canouan
Less developed than St. Barth’s and more low-key than Mustique, Canouan has a reputation as the island where “billionaires go to escape the millionaires.” The tiny island has just 2,000 residents and one luxury resort. Formerly the Pink Sands Club, the property was recently reflagged as Mandarin Oriental’s first Caribbean resort. As part of the refurbishment, they’ve added sleek new patio villas and are working on building a group of stone villas. Guests spend their days sunbathing on the beach, indulging in fresh pasta at L’Ance Guyac, yachting over to the Tobago Cays, and getting relaxing spa treatments at the Balinese-style standalone spa.
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Canouan
Petit St. Vincent
WHERE: St. Vincent & the Grenadines
This small boutique resort, surrounded by tropical forest and serene beaches, sits on a 115-acre private island in the Caribbean Sea. Here, personal service is at your beck and call—simply raise a flag up the pole outside of your private villa—but on an island purposely free of cell service or WiFi, there’s always the option to be left completely alone. And if you’re looking for extreme privacy, go ahead and book the entire island just for your party. Both the stone cottages and larger villas have generous wooden decks, teak interiors, and open floor plans. Wide glass doors and windows entice guests outside to lounge in the sun or enjoy a beach barbeque while sipping from an excellent choice of vintage wines.
Courtesy of Petit St. Vincent
WHERE: Negril, Jamaica
The Caribbean isn’t known for the deluxe overwater bungalows of the South Pacific or the Maldives, but Jamaica has something even better: At Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, individual hotel rooms are built into the cliffs overlooking the clear azure waters of the Caribbean. Each thatched-roof cottage has its own private water access, making the sea the center of attention at this stylish slice of paradise. And although the setting is drop-dead gorgeous, this hotel would be beautiful anywhere. Everything is open-air, from the check-in and lobby to the bar serving fresh fruit juices to the lounge where you can play board games and sip rum punch. The restaurant is one of the best in town, with creative takes on Jamaican staples like jerk chicken, seafood curry, and more. This is the hotel you’ll forever be comparing other Caribbean hotels to.
Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort
WHERE: St. Lucia
On a former sugar plantation in the Val de Pistons mountains, you’ll find these restored historic buildings, washed in white, overlooking the sea. Amidst the expanse of rainforest, rocky cliffs, and sugar mill ruins, find personal plunge pools, refined butler service, and customizable dining menus you can enjoy privately in your villa or out on the beach. Aside from the rainforest spa, select activities at Sugar Beach include tennis, deep-sea fishing, and whale and dolphin watching. The large main house is for socializing over sunsets and champagne, beachfront dining, and relaxing in the large pool and great room.
Courtesy of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort
WHERE: Galle, Sri Lanka
This property dates back to the 1700s, when it was first a Dutch colonial residence; since then, it has remained a historical fixture in Galle—much like the fort it resides within, and the other, more official landmarks surrounding. Today, it has been refined and refurbished as a luxury Aman location, with plenty of elegant touches to make it special—like its original teak floors dating back more than 300 years. A stay here still feels like one at a stately colonial compound, with well-tailored antiques and period pieces making up its decor; a swimming pool enclosed within its lush gardens; and a chamber-like spa with plunge pool, sauna, and on-site Ayurvedic healers.
Capella Ubud, Bali
WHERE: Bali, Indonesia
Deep within the Bali forest are elegant tents with ornately-carved wood walls and romantic, 19th-century European touches like copper tubs, canopied beds, and antiques from the owner’s eclectic personal collection. Under the painted panoramic ceiling of the Mad Lange dining tent, you’ll snack on seasonal Ubud dishes; other times, you’ll want to enjoy the elegant set up of a private picnic. The Capella Ubud organizes a range of Balinese cultural experiences, from art and meditation to jungle treks and coffee and chocolate tours, making it more of a full experience than simply a hotel, perfect for the adventurous couple also seeking luxury.
Capella Ubud, Bali
WHERE: Cauayan Island, Philippines
Tucked into a lush seaside cove and flanked by Palawan’s signature dramatic cliffs and pristine clear waters, the Cauayan Resort is a remote location celebrating the best of the natural Philippines. Days are dreamy here: mornings spent diving or snorkeling in El Nido, trekking up the grand cliffs for a view, or swimming or kayaking with sights of wildlife; afternoons unwinding at the seaside spa or enjoying cocktails, fresh juices, and dinners beachside; nights relaxing in your personal villa—along the beach, or stilted upon the ocean or lagoon—stretching out on the wooden deck or soaking in the sunken tub.
Cauayan Island Resort
Como Uma Paro
In a largely untouched corner of the world nestled in the Himalayas, Como Uma Paro’s location is choice: the setting is both restful and rural, and an easy jumping-off point for exploring monasteries, museums, and the city of Paro. Yoga, meditation, and Himalayan hikes are popular here, as are the organized Shambhala retreats and spa treatments in the hot stone bathhouses. The round dining room, with panoramic views, centers around the stunning traditional Bhutanese fireplace; throughout this refined hotel, the decor is elegant and traditional, with clean lines of white linens, wood beams and plenty of natural light.
COMO Hotels and Resorts
Four Seasons Koh Samui
WHERE: Koh Samui, Thailand
On a remote tip of Thailand’s Koh Samui Island lies the Four Seasons Koh Samui, a series of elegant villas tucked into the hillside and surrounded by rainforest. There’s plenty of room to enjoy the outdoors, but villas here are anything but rustic, with dark wood floors and classic decor, wooden decks with daybeds, and private infinity pools—all with open-air construction and sweeping views of the Gulf of Thailand. Socialize at the large poolside bar in the main building, or book a select family-sized villa, ideal for a sophisticated group getaway, with an option for a private retreat experience that includes an on-call butler and in-villa chef preparing afternoon cocktails, exquisite dinners, and beach barbecues. If you ever decide to leave your beachside sun lounger, there’s much to explore on the island: a fisherman’s village and historic town, lush rainforests and coconut groves, serene Buddhist temples, and miles and miles of pristine beaches.
Four Seasons Koh Samui
Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka
WHERE: Tokyo, Japan
OMO5 is all about taking its guests off the beaten path. While the hotel is conveniently located near the Yamanote railway line for easy access to the rest of Tokyo, the hotel is dedicated to helping guests seek out the best that Otsuka (a quieter, out-of-the-way neighborhood that’s not typically central to tourists’ Tokyo experience) has to offer. Guided tours can be easily arranged with OMO Rangers that show guests where to find local bars, restaurants, and other hidden gems. OMO5’s playful approach to hospitality is also reflected in its signature YAGURA rooms, which cleverly combine traditional Japanese touches (like tatami mats) with unique designs (like the lofted bed space) for the grown-up-yet-stylish pillow fort experience you didn’t know you needed.
WHERE: Sumba, Indonesia
The series of thatched-roof structures that make up the Nihi Sumba blend in, rather than compete, with the natural surroundings of sweeping sea, tropical forest, and beach. There’s a more diverse choice of lodgings here than at the typical island resort: multi-roomed villas (with infinity pools) perched high above the trees, oceanfront abodes with secluded gardens, and design-forward mini manors with outdoor living rooms and tubs are just some of the select accommodations. Fresh ingredients abound in the kitchen here, from the catch of the day at the beachfront sushi bar to the organic garden vegetables at the open-air restaurant, where you’ll also enjoy social barbeques on the weekends.
WHERE: Agra, India
There are few hotels in the world with a location as stunning as the Oberoi Amarvilas. In the dusty town of Agra, this lush and majestic property welcomes you to a different world, where the throngs of tourists and honking car horns disappear and you’re left with a paradise—and an incredible view of the Taj Mahal. At sunrise, at sunset, in the middle of the day or night, the iconic pearlescent dome of the Taj Mahal can be seen from every guest room at this luxe palace. And if you happen to be truly rich and famous and staying in one of the top-floor suites, you can even see the Taj from the bath or shower. But even without the view, this hotel is special. A dramatic fountain with multiple pools greets you as you approach the royal-looking abode, where inside, a massive chandelier hangs from a golden dome. Outside, multilevel terraces, pools, and gardens all offer different views of the Taj, while the sophisticated bar and inventive restaurant Espahan make this not just the most luxurious hotel in Agra, but also the most delicious. It might be hard to leave this place for your 5 a.m. sunrise tour of the Taj, but trust us—it’s worth it.
Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
PuShang Hotel & Spa
WHERE: Xiamen, China
On Xiamen Island in the South China Sea, the new PuShang Hotel & Spa is a marvel of modern design. Minimalist rooms are impeccably designed with sleek furniture and crisp linens. Even basic rooms are outfitted with deluxe round soaking tubs and spacious bathrooms. Not a single thing is out of place at this hotel, where every square inch feels thoughtfully curated. The spa at PuShang takes up an entire wing of the hotel, with an old-meets-new approach to wellness. It’s inspired by ancient traditions but updated for the modern traveler. Guests can get an introduction to Tai Chi, indulge in a scrub or wrap, or swim at the mirror-like outdoor pool. Ask for a room facing the marina for views of turquoise water beyond the bustling city.
PuShang Hotel and Resort/ The Leading Hotels of the World.
An iconic building with a long history, Raffles Singapore was restored to much of its original grandeur when it reopened in the early ’90s and went through another three years of restoration beginning in 2017 (renovations completed on August 1, 2019). British captains, international literati, and WWII allied refugees all make up Raffles’ storied past, and many guests and day tourists still flock here for the historical significance alone—and for the famous Singapore Slings at the handsome bar. Luxurious updates to its sunny suites, well-appointed spa, and elegant dining outlets make staying at this architectural marvel a unique—if not pricey—experience in Central Singapore.
Images courtesy of Raffles Singapore
The RuMa Hotel and Residences
WHERE: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A city-stay that’s elegant and understate d, The RuMa Hotel is a surprisingly secluded oasis within Kuala Lumpur’s hectic downtown, combining homey ambiance and modern design, global influence, and traditional warmth—all with a superb designer’s touch. Tailored rooms often have sweeping city skyline views, with gold, marble, and dark wood accents throughout the spacious building. On the sixth floor, you’ll find the spa, gym, and 25-meter outdoor pool and deck; on the mezzanine, enjoy delicious Malaysian cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant, which serves three-course lunches, dinner, and decadent Sunday brunches featuring stick rice, bao, and various specialty cakes and pastries.
The RuMa Hotel and Residences
WHERE: Kurashiki, Japan
The small Japanese village of Kurashiki, with its weeping willows and meandering canals, may be off-the-beaten-path, but it’s one of the most romantic cities in the world. So it’s befitting a town so beautiful that it should also be the home to a hotel this remarkably glorious. The Ryokan Kurashiki is a charming traditional experience that also provides all the comforts of modernity, all set within a lovingly converted complex of industrial buildings that were erected two centuries ago. With only eight rooms and a private co-ed onsen, this is a quiet and peaceful world where you’ll often be more comfortable lounging and dining in a robe and slippers than anything you brought from home. And speaking of dining—the restaurant, a Kaiseki wonderland, is so superb that should Michelin ever wander into this region of Japan, surely it would be granted a star or two.
WHERE: Jaipur, India
You’ll find royal-grade respite at Samode Haveli, a boutique hotel inside the colorful, buzzing city of Jaipur. Built in the 19th century as a manor for a member of the royal court, the hotel still sports some of its original details like frescoes and palatial inner gardens—with extra opulence and modern comforts layered on over the years. Rooms are large and luxurious, as are the inner courtyards, pool, and drawing rooms; the modern amenities are nice, but the rambling Indo-Saracenic architecture and ornate decor, done up in the traditional Jaipuri hues of pink, set the old-world ambiance that truly makes the experience.
Mr. Yadavendra Singh
Shinta Mani Wild
WHERE: South Cardamom National Park, Cambodia
On the way to Shinta Mani Wild, you’ll need to make an important decision: Would you prefer to arrive by zipline, Jeep, or helicopter? A dramatic entrance is just the beginning of this grand adventure in remote South Cardamom National Park in western Cambodia. Opened at the end of 2018, the luxury 15-tent camp came to life at the hands of resort designer Bill Bensley and Cambodia-based hospitality company Shinta Mani, as part of their mission to protect a 350-hectare wildlife corridor that’s home to endangered animals such as Civet cats. At Shinta Mani Wild, no two days are the same: ask your “Adventure Butler” to arrange anything from anti-poaching excursions with Wildlife Alliance rangers to river kayaking, foraging walks, butterfly walks, cooking classes, or a bit of jungle trekking.
Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild
St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
WHERE: Dhaalu Atoll, Maldives
Arriving from above via sea plane, St. Regis Maldives appears out of the blue (or ocean-bright azure), much like a spaceship landed in the middle of the sea. On a private atoll and pristine coral reef, the dramatic curvatures of this resort’s modern design make it visually stunning; its remote, exclusive location gives it even more allure. With a private lagoon full of marine life and six restaurants to choose from, the St. Regis is a private island and well-rounded, indulgent experience that leaves little else to be desired.
St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
WHERE: Trondheim, Norway
This 1870 landmark recently underwent extensive renovations that seem to have only added to its levels of luxury and grace. The suites are spacious, bathrooms decked out in marble (with freestanding brass tubs), and hotel dining destinations include a cavernous wine cellar and bar, brasserie, and afternoon tea in the sky-lit atrium. At the romantic Speilsalen restaurant, you’ll make your way through six or 10 courses of Norwegian delicacies. Here, there’s the option to dine inside private dome-enclosed chambers, like opulent little greenhouses, and then to wander over to the Palmehaven for live orchestral music. There are practicalities at the Britannia as well, if you’re into that sort of thing: meeting rooms, a modern fitness center, spa, heated pool and sauna, and a Trondheim location that can’t be beat.
Courtesy of Britannia
WHERE: Mallorca, Spain
The cr eators of the Cap Rocat Hotel took great pains to maintain the architectural integrity of this grand former fortress while transforming the interiors into comfortable, stylish lodgings. The result is an incredibly distinct experience inside a national landmark, with cavernous guest rooms outfitted with private rooftop terraces, canopy beds, and finely patterned textiles. Along the bay and about 30 minutes from Palma, this rambling estate is its own private world amid acres of preserved landscape and maze-like grounds, with two restaurants and a saltwater swimming pool. You’ll spend your time here exploring every romantic nook and cranny, from the best swimming spots to the most jaw-dropping sunset views and everything in between.
Courtesy of Cap Rocat
Covent Garden Hotel
WHERE: London, England
Chic and charming, Covent Garden has the right amounts of sophistication and quirkiness. The building, once a 19th-century French hospital, is tucked onto a cobblestoned street in the posh West End shopping and theatre district; cozy parlor areas and impeccable afternoon English tea service are a respite here after exploring. It’s all in the details when it comes to the Covent Garden decor: there’s a playful design spirit that brings fun to more traditional elements, and dramatic touches of maximalism—like the almost ceiling-high upholstered headboards on every bed, decked out in whimsical, busy patterns, with matching (or power-clashing) wallpapers and curtains.
WHERE: Stockholm, Sweden
In the same camp of design concepts like wabi-sabi and hygge , the Swedish term lagom refers to perfection in simplicity; everything in its right place. Such it is at Ett Hem, a boutique hotel inside a stately brick house in Stockholm’s elegant Ostermalm neighborhood. Here, minimal, refined antiques and decor provide just the right amount of welcoming comfort–comfort spent relaxing in front of the fireplace, enjoying a cocktail in the brick-walled courtyard, or sampling from the kitchen’s seasonal menu at the wide communal farm table. Just outside Ett Hem’s doors are Michelin-starred restaurants, gorgeous residences, and some of the poshest walking tours you’ll take of Stockholm.
Courtesy of Ett Hem, Stockholm
Four Seasons Lion Palace
WHERE: St Petersburg, Russia
In a 200-year-old palace, the Four Seasons has created a hotel that defines classic royal luxury. At first glance, it’s hard to believe this hotel is only five years old: a grand marble staircase, sparkling brass chandeliers, and a light-filled lobby with vaulted ceilings feel timeless. But on careful inspection, you’ll find modern conveniences too—a spa with a sauna, steam room, and heated pool; a sleek and snazzy sushi restaurant; and a bar menu full of craft cocktails perfected by a mixologist. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, but without sacrificing any comfort. The location is unbeatable, with sumptuous silk-draped rooms overlooking St. Isaac’s Cathedral, just around the corner from the State Hermitage Museum.
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg
Hotel Chateau du Grand-Luce
WHERE: Loire Valley, France
Imagine a 19th-century French castle came up for sale and you not only had the funds to purchase it, but also to refurbish it with the highest quality fabrics, antiques, and custom-made furniture money can buy. That pretty much sums up the Hotel Château du Grand Lucé, which opened in June in the picturesque Loire Valley—a favorite of French kings and aristocrats since the Renaissance. Each of the 17 rooms is completely unique, though many have pillows made of vintage Hermès scarves and wallpaper featuring archival prints. The Baron’s Suite is adorned by original Chinoiserie murals by Rococo artist Jean-Baptiste Pillement, whose work has only survived here, in the Louvre, and at Versailles. Guests can enjoy gourmet French fare at Le Lucé, sip Champagne on chairs from Versailles in the bar, wander the extensive gardens, and take a dip in the fountain-turned-pool.
Adam Lynk Photography
Hotel de Russie
WHERE: Rome, Italy
A favorite haunt of actors and rock stars visiting Rome, the Hotel de Russie is a tranquil oasis just off the busy Piazza del Popolo. Rooms and suites are elegantly understated, the spa uses organic products made in Italy by Irene Forte (the daughter of the owner, Sir Rocco Forte), and the staff is at the top of their game. But the best reason to visit is to savor an aperitivo at the Stravinskij Bar and a meal at the Jardin de Russie, both of which occupy a secret courtyard surrounded by a lush garden. If the setting doesn’t instantly put you at ease, a cocktail from the list of 15 Martini variations will.
Rocco Forte Hotels
WHERE: Paris, France
You can barely toss a stone on Paris’s Right Bank without hitting a storied grand dame hotel. But cross to the bohemian Left Bank and there’s only one. The Hôtel Lutetia opened its doors in 1910 and was soon the preferred hangout for a roster of artists, writers, and politicians that reads like a Jazz Age who’s who. Ever the favored meeting place of chic Parisians, its closing in 2013 for a four-year, top-to-toe renovation was a blow. It was worth the wait. Now one of the city’s most fabled hotels is also one of its most stunning. With miles of snowy marble, sumptuous Art Deco-inspired interiors, and the most up-to-date amenities in everything from its spa (with pool), elegant guestrooms, piano bar, and gastronomic brasserie helmed by Michelin three-star chef Gérald Passédat, the Lutetia is a luminous star in the Paris hotel firmament.
Courtesy of Hôtel Lutetia
Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam
WHERE: Amsterdam, Netherlands
When you walk through the front door of Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam, you’ll find a grand piano whimsically suspended above the entry hall, a great introduction to this beautiful hotel that’s a series of darling Instagram moments. From the portholes in the bathrooms to the greenhouse hallway and the kinetic sculptures in the garden, everything about the stylish maze of art-adorned hallways, hidden game rooms, gold- and jewel-toned accents that make up the hotel is delightful. Its decor is surpassed only by the Pulitzer Bar’s ambitious cocktail menu and the divine dishes at their onsite restaurant Jansz. Don’t forget to book one of the hotel’s legendary canal cruises with champagne and canapés.
Courtesy of Pulitzer Amsterdam
WHERE: Puglia, Italy
With its signature Trulli roofs, expansive white walls, and views of the Adriatic Sea, it’s hard to miss the romance of Puglia—but why not experience it poolside, on a small family farm, surrounded by private olive groves? The settin g of Masseria Moroseta is homey yet stylish, where minimalist decor is met with an abundance of Apulian hospitality, fine wine, and cuisine. The chef is a master here, and small groups of guests can even take cooking classes, creating locally-inspired four-course meals from ingredients grown in the property’s garden. An intimate atmosphere—met with impeccable style and reasonable prices—make this a dreamy stay.
Salva Lopez/Masseria Moroseta
WHERE: Berlin, Germany
Minimalism is the word these days when it comes to modern hotel decor, but often this style can come across as lazy and drab. A great minimal-chic hotel, like Berlin’ s Michelberger, delivers clean lines and stylish backdrops, and a general atmosphere that feels casual and chic, energetic and artsy. The mood here is young, with decor based on utilitarian practicality and well-sourced secondhand and vintage gems. The inner courtyard, laden with patio furniture and picnic tables, is usually abuzz with hip groups of guests, as is the bar and restaurant, where the food is healthy and hearty.
Courtesy of Michelberger Hotel
Naxian on the Beach
WHERE: Naxos, Greece
Naxian is more of a dreamscape than a hotel (an adults-only one, at that), where white stone, bleached wood, and other natural fibers blend into the surrounding sea and wild coast. Suites with their own private jacuzzis look out onto the Aegean Sea. You can spend your days riding bikes into the nearby town of Naxos or partaking in a variety of water sports, but perhaps the best activity here is lounging on the nearby beach—the quietest on the island—while the attentive staff brings by glasses of fine wines and light Cycladic snacks.
Courtesy of Naxian on the Beach
Pera Palace Hotel
WHERE: Istanbul, Turkey
With plush interiors in shades of red and pink, palatial grand rooms, and chandeliers of blown Murano glass, it’s pure old-world opule nce at the Pera Palace Hotel, a historic Istanbul landmark, once a popular respite for Orient Express passengers and legends like Agatha Christie, Great Garbo, and Ernest Hemingway. Fast forward to the present, where contemporary visitors enjoy luxurious lodgings, sweeping balcony views, and an underground spa and sauna. The hotel’s style and grandeur are at their best in the Kubbeli tea saloon, the Orient bar and terrace, and the pretty-in-pink patisserie. The Pera loves to pay homage to its past honored guests; there’s a museum room open to tour and dedicated to Atat ü rk, founder of the Turkish Republic.
Courtesy of Pera Palace Hotel
Skalakot Manor Hotel
WHERE: Hvolsvöllur, Iceland
Skálakot farm, which has been in the same family for seven generations, is a pastoral paradise. On the grounds, fluffy sheep are raised, tiny horses roam to and from the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, and gold-red sunsets sink over the surrounding highlands at dusk. The luxury Skálakot Manor was built as an extension of the family’s home and land. Furnished with modern Nordic details, the dining and lounging areas feel like they belong in a Scandinavian Hogwarts. Rooms are equally cozy, yet spacious and elegant. You’ll never want to leave the hotel, except to ride the Icelandic horses bred here, or to step onto your room’s balcony to see the Northern Lights.
Nicole Heiling Photography
WHERE: Tbilisi, Georgia
Innovative design meets stunning original architecture at The Stamba Hotel, a former publishing house from the 1930s. Beckoning a contemporary age for Tbilisi—one that is modern and hip, but with aspects of old-world grace—the hotel creates light and airy communal spaces for its visitors by stripping down to its foundation in many places, bearing original columns, windows, and plenty of exposed brick. The open-air cafe—with its green leather booths, bubblegum-pink U-shaped bar, and stunning crystal chandelier—is one of the hotel’s best attractions. Guest rooms are filled with floor-to-ceiling windows and bookshelves of literary gems, but the real pièces de résistance here are the freestanding, gold-plated brass bathtubs.
Courtesy of Adjara Group
WHERE: Elkhorn, Wisconsin
You may not have heard of this Wes Anderson-like camp property, but many big and trendy brands—like Anthropologie, Warby Parker, and Crate and Barrel—have used its vintage-inspired rooms stocked with antiques (from felt pendants to cozy Pendleton plaid blankets) and its whimsical grounds that feature a teepee and a treehouse, for photo shoots and design collabs. At the hands of a Chicago advertising couple, this former mobster hideaway (1930s), family-friendly lake resort (1950s), and Latvian priests’ church camp (1960s and 1970s) has been made uber-cool, with accommodations spread out over cabins and cottages. Archery and taxidermy never looked so enticing. Stays are bookable via Airbnb, including these side-by-side cabins.
WHERE: Marfa, TX
Perennially cool desert artist’s enclave Marfa, Texas, boasts one of the trendiest hotels you’ll find nowhere near an airport. Film buffs will know The Hotel Paisano as home to James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor while they filmed the movie Giant (but if you want to stay in either of their rooms, be sure to book way ahead). Fans of classic, Old Hollywood glamor will know The Paisano for its rustic charm, rare movie memorabilia, cozy rooms, and reputation as the place to see and be seen in fashionable Marfa. Hungry Marfans know it as home to one of the best restaurants in town. But if you’re dining at Jett’s Grill, be prepared to settle in. Service, like life here, is a little slower than in the big city, but the meals are well worth the wait.
Courtesy of Hotel Paisano
The Hoxton Williamsburg
WHERE: Brooklyn, New York
New York is famous for tiny hotel rooms, and The Hoxton has embraced (and perfected) the trend wholeheartedly. Miniature rooms here are impeccably decorated with Dusen Dusen fabrics, industrial-chic bathroom fixtures, and bookshelves curated by notable Brooklynites. The Hoxton feels like a mix between a hotel, a private social club, and a co-working space with a lobby that has become a popular meeting spot for locals. The excellent ground floor restaurant and bar is an impeccably-designed millennial fever dream and the outdoor rooftop bar has views of one of New York’s hippest neighborhoods.
Insider Tip: The Hoxton brand started in London. The Williamsburg location was their first hotel in the United States, and they now have Portland and Chicago locations open with Downtown L.A. on the way.
Courtesy of The Hoxton Williamsburg
Life House, Little Havana
WHERE: Miami, FL
Inspired by the Cuban heritage of Little Havana, these tropical, retro digs make you feel like you’ve discovered a truly local Miami—one that’s heating up. Surrounded by a growing number of restaurants and bars, Life House Little Havana is within easy reach of salsa nights at Ball & Chain, scoops of homemade ice cream at Azucar, speakeasy cocktails at Los Altos, and bites from Chef Michelle Bernstein at Café La Trova. It also delivers what other Miami hotels don’t: a boutique experience on a budget. For under $100 per night in the summer (shocking, we know!) you can stay in seriously cool adult bunk beds complete with their own wooden staircase, get cozy at the rooftop bar and community living room, grab vegan food at Parcela restaurant, and lie in hammocks in the lush courtyard. It all makes for the ultimate hideaway in the center of the Magic City.
Courtesy of Life House, Little Havana
Los Poblanos Historic Inn
WHERE: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Things are homey (and homemade) yet completely refined on this organic farm near the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque. No two rooms are the same in the classic, hacienda-style house, but all are warm and inviting, and the surrounding lavender fields, roaming alpaca and peacocks, and outdoor saltwater pool make for an idyllic setting. Dining and drinking would be all about atmosphere if the food weren’t also so delicious. The menu here is seasonal: dishes like grilled rack of lamb with mole rojo, pork pibil ravioli, and ribeye ranchero, blend local flavor with choice ingredients and elevated culinary skill. You’ll want to take home the house-made lavender bath products in your room—and much more curated, thoughtful goodness in the farm’s generous gift shop.
Courtesy of Los Poblanos
NoMad Los Angeles
WHERE: Los Angeles, CA
A hotel that’s one part Italy, one part New York, shaken up and poured into a historic building in Downtown Los Angeles—and the result is exquisite. The NoMad brand is one of the best and most exciting in the business, and the L.A. property, which opened in 2018, is a beautifully stylish escape from the madcap streets of the city’s Historic Core. Not only is it elegantly designed, but the cuisine, courtesy of Daniel Humm of New York’s three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, is stunning. Also stunning are both the Giannini Bar, which will make you feel like you’re in Rome, and the Coffee Bar, which will make you feel like you’re in Venice. The rooftop is a perfect city escape, complete with views, dining and drinking options, and a pool that’s topped off with a replica of the gaping maw of the Orcus monster of Bomarzo’s Mostri Park.
Parker Palm Springs
WHERE: Palm Springs, CA
Palm Springs is Hollywood’s desert playground, and the Parker is a key player at this longtime hip destination—both full of nostalgia for Palm Springs’ glory days and a beacon of contemporary fun. By fun, we mean: martinis and croquet, the chicest lemonade stand you’ll ever meet, “Yacht Club” spa treatments, and multiple pools with divine cabanas. Style at the Parker is very much the kitschy-but-chic mid-century design we’ve come to associate with the area, and there are touches of a real velvety grandeur— in places like the wine bar and supper club—that transport guests back to Old Hollywood.
Courtesy of Parker Palm Springs
WHERE: New Orleans, Louisiana
This 1920s luxury apartment building reopened as a boutique hotel in 2016, and the new Pontchartrain embraces all things weird and wonderful of both its past glory and its thriving, hip present. Funky green plush and leather furniture, floral wallpaper, and an abundance of plants nod to the building’s previous style, whereas kitschy pop art, lively dining outlets, and modern amenities give it a proper revamping. You’ll be fighting off locals for brunch spots at Jack Rose, where the Southern menu is refined—but drinking champagne from the “cham-bong” is, well, not so much—and for city views at Hot Tin, the rooftop bar dedicated to Tennessee Williams (once a guest at the former residence). The hotel’s location in the Lower Garden District can’t be beat: front windows look out onto St. Charles Avenue, home to the city’s most historic (and scenic) streetcar line, and an essential section of the parade route during Carnival season.
Courtesy of the Pontchartrain Hotel
The Ranch at Rock Creek
WHERE: Philipsburg, MT
This horse ranch and fishing lodge provide luxurious, top-notch accommodations in the middle of Big Sky country, where lodging options include (but aren’t limited to) canvas glamping cabins with wood stoves, oriental rugs, feather beds, and barrel hot tubs with private decks. At the lodge, decked out in wooden accents, oversized leather chairs, and animal hides, you’ll dine on local delicacies like Montana grass-fed beef. It’s an all-inclusive experience here; given the season, this includes skiing, horseback riding, archery, yoga, fishing, hikes with master naturalists, or a weekly summer rodeo.
Courtesy of The Ranch at Rock Creek
San Francisco Proper
WHERE: San Francisco, CA
Stylish by any city standards, interiors at this flatiron building are done up in busy patterned textiles and wallpaper and filled with well-placed, unique items that make it feel more like a study in interior design than a hotel. In everything—from the art on the walls to the cocktail menu—you’ll find little nods to the local radius and its history. Spend plenty of mornings in the plush seating areas of The Proper Hotel’s art-filled lobby; at night, see-and-be-seen on the rooftop among the crowds of hip imbibers at Charmaine’s with the glittering lights of San Francisco in the backdrop.
Courtesy of Proper Hospitality
WHERE: Detroit, Michigan
The Shinola Hotel is masterfully curated and designed at every level, from outlet branding to especially-crafted Shinola products throughout the hotel (and the option to let a personal Shinola stylist pick out what products are right for you)—to small, thoughtful touches in decor in its welcoming public spaces. Large rooms are high-ceilinged and well lit, with chic, art deco vibes, and sleek architectural touches. Dining options seem to include all one could ever crave, with a beer hall, a fried-chicken-and-biscuit restaurant, evening cocktail bar, and an Italian pizzeria with a wood-fired oven.
WHERE: Greenport, New York
On the rocky shores of Long Island’s North Fork, this low-key hotel is much more than meets the eye. Recently converted from a roadside motel to a chic year-round destination worthy of magazine covers, this seaside hotspot is a design-lover’s dream. Designed by Studio Tack, the hotel has simple and stylish waterfront rooms, a restaurant with impressive views (and a seafood-focused seasonal menu), and a piano bar that feels straight out of the 1950s. While Sound View is a destination on its own, it’s also the perfect home base for exploring the wineries and farms of the North Fork or restaurant-hopping your way through the town of Greenport–arguably Long Island’s best dining destination.
Courtesy of Sound View
WHERE: Nashville, TN
The Thompson is big on all that matters in Nashville: music, food, and friendly local charm. This trendy hotel is popular with a cool crowd, but won’t alienate those who don’t play in a band or wear bespoke clothing. The decor is hip, but nothing over the top; perhaps the best feature is the rooftop bar, with sweeping views of downtown and local craft beers on tap. With understated, mid-century-modern decor, hardwood floors, and a location that pulls you into the heart of Music City, the Thompson’s mission is to make you fall in love with Nashville—and it succeeds.
Courtesy of Thompson Nashville
WHERE: North Adams, Massachusetts
A stay at this updated motor lodge is a perfect country weekend getaway, where everything is just as charming as you imagined in your head. Rooms are rather sparse, letting the setting do its own work, with clean, modern design surrounded by forest and natural light. The Berkshires location combines the right mix of culture and outdoors: there’s a clear resurgence of arts and culture in the town of North Adams—without anything being too fancy or overly trying—and there are mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and scenic drives nearby and ripe for exploring.
WHERE: Portland, Oregon
This downtown Portland spot (minutes from the Portland Art Museum and Roseland Theater) is full of charm and friendly faces. The hotel is both a reliable base and a hip, artsy compound, embracing Portland’s natural wonder and good style, with lush garden wallpaper and mid-century-modern furniture. The restaurant pays homage to the chef’s Texas hometown with a menu of nourishing, unpretentious snacks and carnivorous Southern comforts. As far as amenities go: the Good Coffee is better than good, the beauty products are bespoke and organic, and there are Peloton bikes in the fitness room.