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Around the World in 40 Stays

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1. The Mercer

New York, New York
Originally built for John Jacob Astor, this Romanesque revival building in the heart of busy Soho houses André Balazs’ high-style Mercer hotel, a favorite of the fashion and design set. The 75 rooms and suites, designed by French design superstar Christian Liaigre, offer a sophisticated retreat from city life.

TIP: Rooms 607 and 608 both have working fireplaces, a terrific addition on chilly fall New York days.

2. The Point
Upper Saranac Lake, New York
Step back in time at this former Rockefeller great camp, nestled in the verdant Adirondack Mountains, and savor rustic-chic elegance (communal black-tie dinners, roaring fireplaces, elaborate picnics, water-skiing, hiking) at its finest. Ask for anything at any hour of the day or night at The Point, and the super-attentive staff will satisfy your every whim. 
3. The Oberoi Udaivilas

Udaipur, India
The grandeur of the Raj lives on at this wedding-cake-like confection in Udaipur, with its stunning architecture, glittering courtyards and views of the historic City Palace rising from Lake Pichola like some marvelous, dome-topped mirage.

TIP: For a romantic evening, reserve a candle-lit dinner by The Oberoi Udaivilas’ Spa Pool, with its vistas of the shimmering lake, the palace and the Aravali mountains. If you’re willing to spend the bucks, the hotel can finish off the multicourse dinner with a magnificent fireworks display.

4. Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle

Chiang Rai, Thailand Camp out in one of the 15 tents at this remote resort (the crossroads of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos), where guests may trek through the jungle atop elephants while enjoying Four Seasons’ signature level of service.

TIP: Four Seasons’ Tent Number 15, the Elephant Tent, faces west and has postcard-perfect sunset views overlooking the elephant-bathing pond.

5. Hotel Bel-Air

Los Angeles, California
Nestled in the heart of LA’s leafy Bel Air neighborhood, the estatelike Hotel Bel-Air pairs glorious gardens (swan-filled ponds, courtyards with tinkling fountains, a tucked-away pool) with traditional interiors and ultraromantic al fresco dining.

TIP: Frequent hotel guest Oprah Winfrey favors Suite 150 with its two bedrooms and elegant terrace. 

6. Singita Lebombo Lodge

Kruger National Park, South Africa
Take in the eye-popping assortment of wildlife (lions and leopards, oh my!) that inhabits Kruger National Park from Singita Lebombo Lodge’s stilted suites, which pair luxe, contemporary décor with spot-on service and amenities.

TIP: Book a massage on your deck overlooking the local hippo population swimming in the nearby N’wanetsi River. The rooms closest to the dam have the best views of the action. 

7. the g Hotel

Galway, Ireland
Designed by much-touted milliner (and Galway native) Philip Treacy, the g Hotel bursts with whimsical touches and splashes of jewel-toned colors. Retreat at the ESPA at the g spa and enjoy the heated loungers and bamboo garden.

TIP: Named for the supermodel and close friend of the designer, the Evangelista suite has an ornate oyster bed.

8. Hôtel de Crillon

Paris, France
Overlooking the famous Place de la Concorde, the historic Hotel de Crillon sits steps from the Champs-Elysées and the terrific shopping along the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Expect spot-on service and grand public spaces paired with chic rooms overlooking the heart of the city (or the plant-filled courtyard).

TIP: Marie Antoinette studied piano here, and President Woodrow Wilson stayed here during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. 

9. Hotel Habita

Mexico City, Mexico
Cutting-edge architecture and design set the scene at this intimate, boutique hotel in the heart of Mexico City’s hopping Polanco neighborhood. Take in the views from the 5th-floor pool or the buzzing rooftop bar at Hotel Habita.

TIP: During the city’s annual contemporary art fair in April, an artist “reinterprets” the hotel’s décor. This past year, for instance, the hotel was filled with graffiti. 

10. The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
This legendary American resort has attracted generations of visitors to its mineral-filled waters and eye-popping décor by interior design icon Dorothy Draper. At The Greenbrier, the list of activities goes on and on—golf at the Old White course, tennis, riding, croquet, a tour of an historic, secret bunker and more.
11. Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa
Interlaken, Switzerland
Dating back to 1865, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa overlooks the Swiss Alps and offers sumptuous dining (try the Swiss-only cooking at Jungfrau Brasserie), stellar spa services (deluxe ESPA treatments within the 60,000-square-foot spa) and endless activities (hiking, skiing, shopping).
12. Burj Al Arab

Perhaps the glitziest hotel in this Emirati state, the sailing ship-like exterior of the Burj Al Arab towers above the Arabian Gulf, with enough glitz and glam to put Vegas to shame. Suites are massive and dolled up with jewel-toned furnishings. Watch the sun set over the gulf from the Burj’s rooftop Skyview Bar.

TIP: Suites come with full-sized Hermès toiletries, so you can bring some French flair home with you.

13. Blakes Hotel

London, England
A favorite of the celeb set, designer Anouska Hempel’s relaxed-chic Blakes Hotel mixes far-flung décor with an intimate setting in South Kensington. 

TIP: Design aficionados will feel at home in the Blakes’ suites, each with its own décor (from white-on-white simplicity to jewel-toned glamour).

14. La Mamounia
Marrakech, Morocco
One of the world’s most famous hotels (remember Doris Day in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much?), La Mamounia reopens this fall after a multiyear renovation overseen by French design superstar Jacques Garcia. Situated within the walls of bustling Marrakech, La Mamounia is an oasis of calm thanks to its lush gardens and air of civility. 

TIP: Sir Winston Churchill, a regular visitor to La Mamounia, called it “the most lovely spot in the whole world.” You can even stay in the Churchill suite.

15. Cocoa Island
South Malé Atoll, Maldives
Wake up to the sound of lapping waves as you luxuriate in your elegant, overwater bungalow at Cocoa Island. Go diving or windsurfing, take a yoga class or simply kick back on the impossibly white strands circling the island. Come sunset, dine on the fresh-plucked seafood at the resort’s come-as-you-are restaurant overlooking the idyllic setting.
16. Al Bustan Palace

Muscat, Oman
Backed by the rugged Hajar Mountains, the dramatic, Vegas-worthy Al Bustan Palace InterContinental Muscat sits among 200 acres overlooking the Gulf of Oman. Minutes away is downtown Muscat, with its Jalali and Mirani forts and the colorful souk, overflowing with spices and Omani hand-hammered silver objets.

TIP: Book one of the 50 suites and sample the exemplary Butler Service, whether it’s for a drawn bath or a poured cocktail.

17. Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli

Gargnano, Italy
Facing gorgeous Lake Garda, the historic Villa Feltrinelli has welcomed everyone from the famous (D. H. Lawrence) to the infamous (Mussolini lived at the villa during World War II). Savor the extreme luxury for yourself in any of the lake-facing suites or stand-alone cottages. We’re mad for the exuberant bathrooms with their heated marble floors and soaking tubs. Plus, the public spaces—including the library and intimate bar—are stunners.

TIP: Treat yourself to a massage in the villa’s terraced orchard overflowing with hundreds of plump lemons. 

18. Park Hyatt Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan
Famed for its appearance in the film Lost in Translation, the Park Hyatt personifies contemporary style and clipped service paired with stellar views of Tokyo. The 52nd-floor New York Grill hovers over the city far below.

TIP: Book #4907, a corner room with the best angle to see Shinjuku (modern Tokyo) on one side and the Meiji Shrine (authentic Tokyo) on the other.

19. Stone House

Little Compton, Rhode Island
Savor the elegant strands lining the shore before retreating to this historic inn that perfectly pairs the historic and the cutting edge to dramatic effect: Soak away those work-a-day cares in the luxurious bathrooms or imbibe a martini while supping in the minimalist-chic Pietra restaurant. 

TIP: Al fresco yoga classes overlook the Stone House’s stunning rocky coastline.

20. Amangani
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The famed Amanresorts’ first American outpost (Aman-goers are so brand loyal they are known as “Amanjunkies”; Amankila in Bali is also a stunner), Amangani mixes rustic luxury with a soothing, Asian-inspired sensibility. Come winter, head for the slopes before relaxing in the pool overlooking the soaring Teton mountains or enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride while wrapped in plush blankets. 
21. The Opposite House

Beijing, China
Old and new come together harmoniously at this slick hostelry, with its soaring atrium and low-slung furnishings in the heart of the Village at Sanlitun mixed-use development. The 99 rooms are open and airy with vast windows and spalike bathrooms.

TIP: Room #620 at The Opposite House has the best vistas, thanks to its view of lush foliage (a rarity in concrete-clad Beijing).

22. Cuixmala

Cuixmala, Mexico
Nestled within a 25,000-acre wildlife preserve with one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, Cuixmala mixes luxe villas and casitas in an otherworldly setting. The former private estate of legendary Sir James Goldsmith, Cuixmala now attracts globetrotting glitterati who relish the myriad activities—from horseback riding to tennis—before settling down to spectacular meals from the resort’s organic farm.

TIP: The Torre villa sits on high ground for a commanding view of the preserve and coastline. It even has an infinity pool where guests can soak up the view while enjoying evening margaritas. 

23. Cape Grace

Cape Town, South Africa
Situated on Cape Town’s busy waterfront and backed by Table Mountain, Cape Grace serves as an elegant, breezy retreat in the heart of the city. Each room features a unique design, many with views of the ships bobbing in the harbor. Soothe away your cares with a body treatment or massage at the hotel’s spa.

TIP: Charter the Cape Grace’s 56-foot private yacht, Spirit of the Cape, and take a sunset tour while sipping champagne and downing oysters.

24. Çiragan Palace Kempinski

Istanbul, Turkey
With its incredible views across the Bosphorus to Asia, the Çirağan is the perfect place to enjoy Istanbul’s East-meets-West chic. Relax poolside, then enjoy an al fresco dinner in the former palace. As night falls, sip a cool cocktail outdoors in the lush gardens and watch the massive tankers ply the waters as the Bosphorus Bridge changes color, thanks to a dramatic lighting scheme.

TIP: The hotel’s ballroom, located on the second floor of the palace building, was once the Piano Room of Ottoman Sultan Murat the 5th. 

25. Claridge’s
London, England
Perfectly situated in the heart of Mayfair, Claridge’s mixes Edwardian-era architecture with theatrical, art deco-driven interiors. Step inside and enter a posh world where the classic cocktails flow like water. Rooms are spacious and equally Hollywood set-worthy. Book well in advance to savor Gordon Ramsay’s sparkling fare in the superstar chef’s eponymous lobby-level restaurant.

TIP: The hallways and staircases at Claridge’s are wide and spacious enough to allow ladies wearing wide-skirted ball gowns with crinolines to walk two abreast.

26. The Biltmore Coral Gables

Coral Gables, Florida
Seemingly plucked from the center of Seville, Spain, and plunked down in Southern Florida, this 1920s-era landmark is the antithesis of Miami’s South Beach thanks to its Old World sensibility. Enjoy a round of golf or relax in the soothing spa before lingering over a multicourse affair in the hotel’s elegant dining rooms.

TIP: The Biltmore houses the largest hotel pool in the United States, an Esther Williams-worthy confection that holds some 700,000 gallons of water.

27. Twin Farms

Barnard, Vermont
Imagine a collection of gorgeously decorated cottages nestled in the mountains of Vermont (complete with a private ski resort) paired with top-tier cooking, endless activities (hiking, tennis, reading) and an anything-goes, relaxed attitude (Cocktails and canapes at 2 a.m.? No problem!), and you will have conjured up the almost-mythical Twin Farms resort.


Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this winter, the boundary-pushing ICEHOTEL sits high above the Arctic Circle and beckons global nomads seeking a splash of authentic cool. Created from blocks of ice and snow, the hotel exists between December and April, taking on a different shape each year. It offers accommodations for 100 and has a bar and a chapel.

Every year the ICEHOTEL’s Absolut Icebar attracts stylish folks who mix and mingle while sipping vodka, sitting upon furnishings crafted entirely of ice culled from the Torne River.

29. Longitude 131°

Uluru, Australia
Camping was never so stylish as at this luxury eco-friendly resort’s tented digs looking onto Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the heart of the Australian Outback. After exploring nearby attractions such as Walpa Gorge, dine under the stars and sip Australian wines.

TIP: All of the luxury tents at Longitude 131° have unrivalled views of the giant Ayers Rock formation. Raise the blinds and watch Uluru at sunrise as the sun hits its flanks.

30. Hotel Fasano

São Paulo, Brazil
The grand era of travel circa 1930 comes to life at this smart hotel smack in the center of São Paulo’s stylish Jardins neighborhood. The 91 rooms at Hotel Fasano look onto lush gardens, and public spaces feature antique furnishings that lend the hostelry a comfortable, cool atmosphere. The rooftop offers terrific views of the hustle and bustle far below, as well as a heated pool and massage rooms.

TIP: Settle in at the decidedly cozy Baretto bar in the lobby and sway to the bossa nova sounds as you sip the hotel’s signature dry martini.

31. Six Senses Hideaway Ninh Van Bay

Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
Impressive vistas of the South China Sea and the boulder-festooned hillsides set the scene at this heavenly retreat, accessible only by water. Accommodations are spacious and contemporary with swimming pools carved out of the bare rock.

TIP: Six Senses’ Water Villa #5 is built out over the water and features an infinity pool cut into a boulder. The Hilltop villas offer the best sunrise views.

32. Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island, Michigan
Explore the charms of car-free Mackinac Island from the historic Grand Hotel, with its expansive porch and color-filled rooms. The throwback quality of this quintessential American resort harkens back to a more gracious, BlackBerry-free era. Plus, it’s the perfect spot to get away with the kids.

TIP: Request a west-end bridge-view room for the dramatic sunset views. And be sure to find out when the Grand Hotel’s historian will be lecturing—the stories are fascinating.

33. Little Whale Cay

Berry Islands, Bahamas
For the ultimate escape, book this elegant private island and luxuriate in style. Enjoy the numerous activities—from water sports to a massage—while the 13-member staff attends to your every whim. Take over the pink-clad main residence of Little Whale Cay while your pals reside in the two guesthouses, and you can spend the days on the 93-acre isle running into each other only at dinner.

TIP: The staff puts on amazing scavenger hunts that are wonderful for adults and children alike. And be sure to sip cocktails by the lighthouse as the sun sets. 

34. King Pacific Lodge
North Vancouver, Canada
Situated within the Great Bear Rainforest on Princess Royal Island, King Pacific Lodge raises the bar in eco-friendly luxury: Accessible only by seaplane, the lodge floats next to a stand of old-growth forest and works hard to limit its carbon emissions. There are no phones or televisions, but soak away the hours in the deep tubs after a day of outdoor adventure.

TIP: When dining on the day’s fresh catch of salmon or sashimi, request a tokkuri (a small ceramic decanter) of Bakuhatsu Musume sake, which is produced by lodge owner and media mogul Hideo Morita of Sony fame. 

35. San Ysidro Ranch
Santa Barbara, California
Recapture the romance at this elegant cottage community tucked into the Montecito foothills high above Santa Barbara. The 41 cottages at San Ysidro Ranch are each unique and feature overstuffed furnishings that call for languid mornings in front of the fireplace. Dine on the restaurant’s deck overlooking the ocean, with twinkling lights dotting the coast.
36. Raffles Hotel
The grande dame of the Singapore hotel scene, Raffles (a National Monument since 1987) is a throwback to a bygone era, albeit refreshed for a new generation. Mix colonial charms with stellar service and the formula is a winner.

TIP: Circa 1910, the Singapore Sling was invented at the hotel’s Long Bar, where you can throw your peanut shells right on the floor.

37. Jade Mountain
Soufrière, St. Lucia
Equally romantic and unusual, architectural wonder Jade Mountain features such standout accommodations as the Sun, Moon and Star sanctuaries with open-air floor plans and spacious infinity pools with views of the majestic Pitons. You may choose to never leave your oasis, especially since the resort offers in-room spa services. 

TIP: At Jade Mountain, linger over a champagne-mango cocktail on the Celestial Terrace, the resort’s highest point, overlooking the dramatic Piton Mountains and the sea.

38. Faena Hotel + Universe
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Wonderfully stylish and chic, the Faena attracts a design-minded jet set thanks to its buzzing scene and high-concept rooms and public spaces. The hotel’s Pool Bar is especially crisp and inviting.

TIP: Enjoy the sizzling tango performances in the hotel’s El Cabaret, a favorite of BA’s see-and-be-seen set.

39. Prestonfield

Edinburgh, Scotland
Situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh, historic Prestonfield will quickly transport you far from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Royal Mile, thanks to the hotel’s manicured gardens (complete with peacocks that strut and stroll about the lawns) and magnificent, unique rooms that seem plucked from a design book. For a real treat, dine in the exceptionally decadent Rhubarb restaurant.

TIP: Book the owner’s suite: Hidden up a stone turret staircase, it boasts fantastic views of the gardens in three directions. It’s just like staying in your own private mansion.

40. The Peninsula Hong Kong
Hong Kong
The legendary Kowloon-situated Peninsula faces dazzling Victoria Harbour, its palatial rooms floating high above the hotel’s historic 1920s-era base. Savor even more impressive vistas from the hotel’s slick Philippe Starck-designed, top-floor Felix restaurant as you look toward Victoria Peak.

TIP: The hotel’s fleet of 14 chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantoms will whisk you around town in high style. 

To quote George Bernard Shaw, “The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a refuge from home life.” Indeed, hotels are the ultimate refuge, offering escape from our day-to-day physical experience. They transport us to jeweled palaces, cutting-edge skyscrapers and beachside aeries. Hotels allow us to reinvent our existence, spend quality time with the kids, rekindle romance, seal a deal, linger in the bath, forget the housekeeping and stay up late ordering room service and catching up on movies that have come and gone. With that elusive idea of “escape” in mind, we came up with a selection of the world’s unique hotels—40 far-flung properties that offer a sense of “refuge.” Of course, this is just a taste of the many one-off hostelries that span the globe, but with some luck, our list will serve as a catalyst to inspire you to wander, enjoy and reflect.

—Jason Oliver Nixon

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

Swiss services
This is definitely one of the best list I've found. Congratulations on this great work, lots of destinations to choose from.
2/5/2014 10:33:01 AM

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