This is our editors’ annual rhapsody on their forever-favorite hotels from around the globe. In this year’s incarnation, we went beyond places to stay, including a range of experiences we consider truly exceptional—cruises, flights, restaurants, bars, destinations—along with the deeply personal reasons why we love them. This was the stuff we daydreamed about in lockdown, and a few places we were actually able to visit—all that sustained us in a year of curtailed travel. Here, our favorite hotels and resorts in the world.

  • Londolozi
    Elsa Young/Courtesy LondoloziHOTELLondolozi, Sabi Sands, South Africa$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020This family-owned property is one of the oldest private concessions in the Sabi Sands—still considered the gold standard for safaris in South Africa. Simply put, there is no better place to tick off Africa’s most famous species in record time. The high density of leopards to be seen at close quarters is fact, not fiction. Choosing Londolozi opens up a choice of five individually run camps, primely positioned above a stretch of the Sand River, a magnet for all animals, especially in the dry winter months when other water sources on the reserve dry up. The magic ingredient is not just the quality and quantity of the game viewing or the elegance of the accommodation, but the Varty family and their enlightened approach to the healing power of nature and an unwavering legacy of doing good. These days, the charge is led by fourth-generation siblings Bron and Boyd. Suspend any preconceived notions of a typical safari to become hooked on the power of silent, meditative game drives or waking early to squeeze in a yoga class outdoors while elephants splash in the river below. Service appears impromptu, laid-back even, but don’t be fooled. It’s orchestrated with military precision behind the scenes to ensure every minute counts without making anyone feel rushed. A top-notch squad of guides will have the crankiest guest leaping enthusiastically off the four-wheel-drive to crouch in the dirt with their Shangaan tracker and discuss the freshness of paw prints. Offerings at the Healing House wellness center include wilderness walking and ancient forms of sound therapy—while courses to chart your life’s true purpose based on animal tracking and the annual self-transformation adventure retreat with guru Martha Beck add to Londolozi’s reputation for putting the soul into safari. Chalets from about $1,000 per person per night; —Jane Broughton
  • Angama Mara
    Courtesy Angama MaraHOTELAngama Mara, Great Rift Valley, Kenya$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  HOT LIST 2016  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020It’s hard to imagine how heady the views here are until you flop into one of the Fermob metal armchairs with a medicinal Dawa (a Kenyan Caipirinha) in hand. This unique location, 985 feet above the Maasai Mara’s plains, is so extraordinary it brought owner Nicky Fitzgerald and her late husband Steve out of retirement after decades spent running many of Africa’s most talked-about camps. Swahili for ‘suspended in mid-air,’ Angama Mara is a clever distillation of the couple’s lifetime experience, understanding what their guests really want: A picnic in the spot where scenes for Out of Africa were filmed, lunch in the kitchen garden, printing the day’s best shot in the photography studio, crafting in the beading gallery—or just staying slouched in their seat and staring in awe. The property is split into two camps of 15 glass-fronted tents, balanced on the rim of the valley. At sunrise, hot-air balloons float by; as the heat builds, eagles circle on the thermals. It goes without saying that the game-viewing is superior. Private access to the Greater Mara Conservancies means that in 10 minutes you’re by the river. During migration, the predator action of a wildebeest crossing is less than an hour’s drive away—close by East African standards. The fact that the staff village was built with the same attention to detail as the lodge is evidence of a thoughtful approach to taking care of the female-strong team so they can take care of the guests. The Angama Foundation’s active role in conservation, education and healthcare, and its support of small businesses, backs this up. There’s also a new exclusive mobile camp, providing all the up-close thrills of fly camping but with the elevated food and intuitive service of its sibling. This place will leave you speechless, just like the views. Tents from about $1,280; —Jane BroughtonMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
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    Courtesy Maçakızı HotelHOTELMaçakizi, Bodrum, Turkey$$ |  GOLD LIST 2018, 2021In the 1970s Mick Jagger, Rudolf Nureyev, and their pals flocked to the sleepy fishing village of Türkbükü on the west coast of Turkey, lured by a boho B&B run by flamboyant host Ayla Emiroğlu. Thirty years later, her son Sahir Erozan had loftier visions, transforming the modest guesthouse into Maçakizi—74 rooms spread across four bougainvillaea-bright terraces on a sweeping site overlooking an aquamarine bay. Today the whitewashed hangout is a magnet for Istanbul’s soigné night-owls and well-heeled Europeans—you can see why the buzzing peninsula is often labelled the St.-Tropez of Turkey. Breakfast (pillow-soft sesame pide slathered with honeycomb) is taken late. By midday, rows of beach beds are strewn with Hermès sarongs and everyone seems to know each other. Stealth yachts and teak sailboats anchor for the night so their inhabitants can come ashore to feast on chef Aret Sahakyan’s virtuosic cooking: creamy calamari carbonara and delicate lamb manti (dumplings). It could be just another frou-frou designer resort. Yet Maçakizi is unlike anywhere else, because it has identity, personality, and a twinkle in its eye. This is all to do with the wonderfully charismatic Erozan, who flits between his many friends (Kate Moss is a regular), Cohiba clenched between his teeth, vodka on the rocks clinking. The white and taupe bedrooms are lovely but most of the action takes place outside: the beach deck, the breezy restaurant, the waterside bar for Bellinis. It has all the signatures you would expect from a cool independent hotel: a boutique stocking local designers (the Mae Zae bashed-gold earrings are hard to resist), a Bodyism gym and its own wonderful boat, Halas 71, a converted 1914 steam liner. Yet more than that, Maçakizi is simply a club you want to be part of. Doubles from about $350; —Jemima Sissons
  • The Nautilus Maldives
    Courtesy The Nautilus MaldivesHOTELThe Nautilus Maldives, Baa Atoll, The Maldives$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2020The goldness of the Gold List can be translated in many ways, from remote, rustic ranches to small but perfectly formed city hideaways. And, of course, the hotels that fall into the realm of “anything is possible.” The Nautilus is one of the latter: a no-expense-spared, what-you-want, when-you-want-it retreat. A full-blown escape from reality, where exquisite dinners of Peruvian-and Mexican-flecked teppanyaki can be eaten on the beach; where baths infused with petals, American Beauty–style, are drawn for you; where a private butler works like the very best Hollywood booker to fill days with nonstop delights, or leave them totally unscripted with nothing to distract from the jade of the water. You’ll be hard pressed to find any straight lines here—the whorl of the nautilus shell inspires everything from the elliptical curving staircases to the starlit swimming pool, where excellent on-the-house negronis are poured in the evenings. There are 26 villas, and the overwater ones have a distinct advantage over their land-based counterparts in the theatrical glass flooring, beneath which turtles play tag. Breakfast on a deserted sandbank, a boat ride away, is unforgettable. And for those tempted by activity, a spectacular world lies under the surface—from monochrome manta rays in nearby Hanifaru Bay to dive sites teeming with color. With so much new development threatening the Maldives, and countless glamorous stays, sometimes the well-loved old faithfuls seem the safest bet. But, occasionally, an unfamiliar kid arrives on the block, whispering fresh promises. Doubles from about $2,232; —Teresa Levonian ColeMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • Bujera Fort Udaipur India
    Henry WilsonHOTELBujera Fort, Udaipur, India$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021A magical toy fort for grown-ups to play in, Bujera is a pure evocation of a story from One Thousand and One Nights, but with better plumbing. And what a story this is. Not a thousand years old, as one might think on arrival at the Elephant Gate, before turning into the serene green courtyard, but a true labor of love by Brits Richard Hanlon and Trish McFarlane, who previously worked as an interior designer and a diamond broker, respectively. Neither had experience as hoteliers when they began this project in 2008 in a rural village with views of the city’s fairy-tale lake and the Monsoon Palace. Eat breakfast in your pajamas—an irresistible purchase from the hotel shop—and wander into the kitchen to see chef Jaswant Singh at work, armed with his River Cafe cookbooks; Serena Bass, the chef whose career was launched after cooking for Andy Warhol, taught Singh to make fried chicken and an exceedingly good chocolate sauce. There’s a library containing more than 2,000 books, a garden laid out to a David Hicks design, and a stately drawing room with antique furniture and a silver grand piano, with the lingering scent of wood smoke from the fireplace. Yet this is still India: spot the woman in a brilliant sari up a tree dusting leaves; a snake catcher on cobra call, arriving on a motorbike and leaving with the snake stuck on a stick dangling from the back; the news of a leopard on the village roundabout. You’ll want to stay for 1,001 nights. Doubles from about $160; —Victoria MatherMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • Raya Heritage Chiang Mai Thailand
    Courtesy Raya Heritage, Chiang Mai, ThailandHOTELRaya Heritage, Chiang Mai Thailand GOLD LIST 2021There are no ornate rooftops at this hotel along the Ping river. It’s unlikely that sai oua sausage or khao soi soup, two beloved staples of local cooking, will appear on the menu. Time-worn Buddha statues? Virtually none. Yet no other hangout feels more rooted in place than Raya Heritage, where the typical temple-inspired teak-and-gold look has been eschewed for a straight-lined approach to let crafts take center stage. Terracotta brickwork. Woven reed baskets. Hand-loomed textiles. Jolts of indigo. It’s a celebration of the ancient culture of Lanna, the cross-border kingdom of which Chiang Mai was the capital some 700 years ago. Not Disney-fied but fresh and bright, it’s the sort of place where only your conscience holds you back from stuffing your suitcase with the hand-dyed throws or lacquered bamboo catchalls (with that in mind, Raya Heritage opened its Him Gong shop in 2019). But it’s not just the interiors that draw on the region’s cultural patchwork. At the restaurant, linen-clad waiters serve noodle salads from Burma, Chinese kung pao chicken, and Shan-style river prawns. The spa focuses on bone-cracking Burmese massages and a steam room uses a rare blend by a master herbalist from a nearby village. Excursions to meet artisans can be arranged, although the 33 rooms—some with private pools—are inviting enough to loll around in all day. This address is exemplary in a country that’s slowly starting to re-appreciate the richness of its crafts, offering a blueprint for Thai design without the tropes. Doubles from about $307; —Chris SchalkxMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
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    Photo by Stephen WaydaHOTELHoshinoya Bali, Ubud, Bali$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  HOT LIST 2018Bali has more than its fair share of next-level places to stay—from destination spas to dreamy beach hangouts and cliff top architectural wonders—by every big name in the business. So when Japan-based hotel group Hoshino Resorts splashed onto the scene in 2017, it knew it would have to do something different. It couldn’t have picked a more suitable plot, a 25-minute drive from the clutter of Ubud, on a hilltop amid rice fields and dense jungle. Rie Azuma, the architect behind all Hoshinoya properties, blended the simplicity of Japanese styling with local tradition, creating earthy-hued, low-slung structures bearing thatched roofs designed to fade into the lush surroundings. The clever layout means you can go for days without running into another guest. Quality is key here, and chef Junichi Sakamaki (formerly of a Michelin three-star in Tokyo) oversees the food. His nine-course menu is rooted in kaiseki but infused with Indonesian flavors. Outside, water trickles and tinkles everywhere, a reference to the moss-covered canals that irrigate the surrounding paddy terraces. Three long swimming channels connect the vast villas, which means everyone has their own slice of pool, and just like everywhere else in Bali, wellness is a core value. With its wafting incense and minimalist aesthetic, this just might be the island’s most zen escape. Doubles from $270; —Kat OdellMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
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    Courtesy Design HotelsHOTELZannier Hotels Phum Baitang, Siem Reap, Cambodia$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2020Set on 20 acres of lemongrass-scented land on the southwestern edges of Siem Reap, 25 minutes from the wondrous ruins of Angkor Wat, Phum Baitang looks as if it’s been torn from one of the great temple’s murals. A grand old farmhouse and 45 stilted villas are spread between tropical gardens and bright-green rice fields, resembling the most idyllic of rural scenes. But don’t be fooled by the outward simplicity: This is French hotelier Arnaud Zannier’s considered and expertly coordinated marriage of ancient Cambodian craftsmanship and contemporary design. You’ll want to run your hands over everything from the aged timber and smooth bamboo to the naturally dyed textiles, wrinkled bed sheets, stone bathtubs and antiques. The restaurants—Bay Phsar (Rice Market) and Hang Bay (Rice Shop)—use ingredients grown in the hotel’s gardens or supplied by local fishermen and farmers. Khmer delights include scallops with asparagus and tamarind sauce, pork ribs marinated in honey and star anise and crunchy-fresh vegetable spring rolls. Another temptation is the spa. Both the setting—a fantasia of monolithic stone, creeping plants, and candlelight—and the menu, which focuses on Cambodian therapies, such as moringa oil body polishes, coconut milk hair treatments and warm herbal compress massages, are seriously impressive. There are steam rooms, saunas, and a swimming pool, too—164 feet in length and clad with black stone—plus a bunch of fantastic eco initiatives. But Phum Baitang is more than the sum of its very stylish parts. There’s something about this spot, that makes your shoulders drop and heart rate slow the minute you cross the threshold. A retreat, not just from the usual crowds of Angkor Wat, but momentarily from 21st-century life, too. Doubles from about $354; —Lee CobajMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Skylark
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    Courtesy Mandarin Oriental Hotel GroupHOTELMandarin Oriental, Tokyo$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2018Drop a handkerchief in the lobby and three white-gloved pursers will rush to return it to you, greeting you by name when handing it back. This is Japan, tip-top service is a given, but nowhere does it better than the Mandarin Oriental. Here, on the top floors of a skyscraper in the financial district, stealth housekeeping staff whizz from room to room to wrap phone-charger cords into neat bundles with embossed Velcro straps, slide logoed cleaning cloths under reading glasses and garnish the in-room bonsai tree with a personal note. They fill the fruit bowl with those unblemished wonders—Fukuokan strawberries, peaches from Yamanashi—and leave sleep-inducing essential oils on the bedside table. The same level of attention extends to the 12 restaurants: three have bagged Michelin stars and all draw well-heeled locals, which says something in such a food-obsessed city. There’s excellent sushi, of course, served on a counter hewn from a 350-year-old hinoki cypress; a funky molecular tapas bar with all the bells and whistles; and a pizza counter with Bib Gourmand credentials. But it doesn’t matter what plate you have in front of you—it’s all fantastic, and the views everywhere, of an infinite forest of towering glass and steel, backdropped by Mount Fuji on a clear day, are reason enough to book a table. The bedrooms shed any stuffiness during a 2019 refurb in favor of fresh textiles by Reiko Sudo and a wrapping of washi paper, granite, and lacquered wood. It’s the sum of these parts, and the absence of stiffness, that makes this place stand out high above the competition. Doubles from about $289; —Chris SchalkxMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • The Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong
    Courtesy The PeninsulaHOTELThe Peninsula Hong Kong$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2018, 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020Over the course of its 93-year history, this classic has always stood tall. From its opening, billed as “the finest hotel east of the Suez,” through the World War II Japanese invasion, to a 30-floor tower extension in the mid-1990s, recent pro-democracy protests, and the trials of COVID-19, it has never once closed its doors. And these doors reveal a bedazzling Hong Kong in all its international glory. A bronze lion sculpture and matching drawing decorate the gold-trimmed lobby, and Roman-inspired columns frame the harbor-view swimming pool. There are ancient Chinese therapies in the spa and futuristic Philippe Starck design at Felix bar—on a Sunday, senior bartender Johnny Chung Kam Hung, who’s been here for more than 60 years, might even be shaking the drinks. Ask him to tell you about the time he learned how to make a screwdriver from Clark Gable. The restaurants cross the globe, too: Spring Moon for silver baskets of delicate dim sum and hard-to-find sesame-toffee apples; Gaddi’s for fine French cooking; and Swiss dining room Chesa, which serves gooey fondue to loyal locals inside what looks like the workings of a cuckoo clock. The effortless blend of traditional and tranquil, cool and cosmopolitan, continues in monochrome rooms decked out with the kind of stealth tech NASA might envy and special little touches that are not easily forgotten: lacquered boxes of soap to take home, telescopes to gaze in wonder at Victoria Harbor. May these doors always remain open. Doubles from about $614; —Lee CobajMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Skylark
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    Courtesy COMOHOTELCOMO The Treasury, Perth, Australia$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  HOT LIST 2016  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020Perth was built on land that has been inhabited for millennia by the Whadjuk Noongar people, who observe six seasons, rather than the less nuanced American four. Perhaps the loveliest of these is djilba, the season of conception, which corresponds with the mass blooming that transforms much of Western Australia into the most magnificent display of wildflowers on earth. A different kind of rebirth occurred with the opening of COMO The Treasury in 2015, which occupies a group of 19th-century government buildings in the city center. The area thrums with commerce during the day, but, after-hours, clumps of spinifex grass tumble down Barrack Street and St George’s Terrace, past empty skyscrapers, on and on into the vast desert beyond. Or rather, they did, until The Treasury threw open its doors—of which there are no fewer than 11 at street level. And the joint has been jumping ever since, packed with locals and guests alike. The expansive ground and lower-ground floors house several of the best restaurants, cafés, and bars in town—though those in the know take the lift to the roof for a table at the world-class Wildflower. The conversion was masterminded by the late Kerry Hill, a Perth-born architect famous for his work with Aman hotels. His trademark light touch is everywhere; the 48 bedrooms are radiant, pale and serene. The subterranean spa, in what used to be the colonial administrators’ vaults, is an unlikely setting for treatments by COMO’s much-admired wellness brand, Shambhala, named after its flagship property in Bali. It’s a glorious hangout whatever the season. Doubles from about $442; —Steve KingMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • Raes on Watego Byron Bay Australia
    Courtesy Raes on WategoHOTELRaes on Watego, Byron Bay, Australia$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021It’s rare to find a beach scene that sizzles with year-round energy. Ibiza, Capri, even Mykonos, shift down a gear when cashmere replaces the kaftans. But this Spanish Mission-style hotel from the 1960s, on a little pocket overlooking Wategos Beach, manages to maintain its fizz throughout the seasons. With unconfirmed whispers that Salvador Dalí designed either the garden or pool, and that Liberace once played the piano, there’s always been a mythical glamour embedded here. But since Raes reopened in 2017, having been revitalized by interiors mastermind Tamsin Johnson, everyone from stars and billionaires to fresh-from-the-sea surfers and low-key locals come to rub shoulders. With its seven supersized rooms, smooth curves, grand columns, acres of chunky marble, and spa with sweet-smelling Santa Maria Novella products, it could be mistaken for an opulent Italian palazzo, but the smiley waiters in their candy-colored stripes serving filet-o-fish burgers in the pocket-sized outdoors Cellar Bar will jolt visitors right back to Australia. It’s the creative touches that really make the place stand out: a shell sconce here, a handwoven rattan piece there, but done in a refined, considered way, steering clear of kitsch. Nothing feels stuffy and drop-ins are welcome; there are early-morning lines at the coffee cart in the driveway. And for those who haven’t made a reservation at the breezy restaurant upstairs, staff will always happily try to squeeze them in. For all its splendiferous grandeur, this gorgeous hideout manages to keep a very Byron vibe. Doubles from about $630; —Chloe Sachdev
  • Rosewood Little Dix Bay
    • Courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay/KEN HAYDEN PHOTOGRAPHYHOTELRosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  HOT LIST 2020  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2020When Little Dix Bay opened in 1964, it was to a glittering three-day party of New York’s elite. The host was Laurance Rockefeller (grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller), whose dream was to create a smart hideout based on the simplicity of a beachcomber lifestyle. An early advocate of conservation, he imagined the hotel blending into the landscape. Fast-forward to today—after an eye-watering, multimillion-dollar rebuild—and that philosophy remains unchanged, despite the addition of every convenience and a fleet of boats for easy access to neighboring islets. Arrival by catamaran from the airport on Tortola shows off the wide bay where hawksbill turtles feed, the half mile of powder sands, and the gardens throughout which 80 guest rooms are scattered. But the heart of the property remains the Pavilion, whose irregular conical roofs have withstood every hurricane for 57 years. It’s home to an open-air bar and its display of 107 rums, as well as two of the three restaurants—and this is where Rockefeller’s founding principle is most tastily expressed, in produce from Little Dix’s own farm and other local ingredients conjured into Caribbean curries and seafood pots. As pioneers of eco-chic hospitality go, this grande dame has lost none of her mojo. Doubles from $1,440; —Teresa Levonian ColeMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Skylark
  • Belmond Cap Juluca
    Richard James Taylor/Courtesy Belmond Cap JulucaHOTELBelmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020Rainbows appear frequently on Anguilla, more so than anywhere else in the West Indies, which is why locals call it Rainbow City. So it comes as no surprise that Linda and Charles Hickox called their hotel Cap Juluca, named after the rainbow spirit of the indigenous Arawak people. It gained a loyal following throughout the 1980s and ’90s; guests were seduced by the private villas dotting the shore—it’s the only place to stay on this mile-long stretch of pristine sand. When Belmond took the reins in 2017, the group knew it was on to a good thing. What it didn’t bank on was the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma just a few months later. But a top-to-bottom renovation has seen the hotel restored to its former glory, and new spaces have been seamlessly integrated with the charm of the original. Greco-Moorish architecture in open-air living rooms and palm-lined terraces neatly frames views of the bay. At Maundays Club, turquoise mosaics lining the pool reflect the ocean, while the tables under the arches at Pimms restaurant are so close to the water’s edge that the red snapper could almost leap right onto the plate. And Rottet Studio’s design sees local heritage reflected on every surface, from the stone quarried at cliffs where petroglyphs left by the Arawaks were uncovered to the chairs that showcase traditional weaving styles. Every detail is considered here. Not exactly a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but not far off. Doubles from about $750; —Catherine MartinMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Skylark
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    HOTELCobblers Cove, Barbados$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021Alan and Lady Elizabeth Godsal were ahead of their time. When the couple purchased a mansion on the Caribbean coast in 1968 with the intent to turn it into a hotel, little did they know that the property’s color of choice would become today’s hottest shade. Now overseen by their son Hugh and his wife Sam, Cobblers Cove is filled with millennial-pink accents, from the retro, candy-cane-striped pool umbrellas to the ’40s-style main building dubbed The Great House, where afternoon tea is served. There’s nothing ostentatious about the set-up, located on a skinny stretch of platinum beach (although sadly this part of the ocean is choppy, making it challenging to go for a swim). With 40 bedrooms, the place is not especially large—two-story cottages flank The Great House in a wide U-shape facing the sea—but it is dressed delightfully like a tropical country club. Little kitchenettes stocked with Barbadian chocolate, plantain chips, and beer are cheery with pastel patterns, channelling a vintage vibe thanks to plenty of original ’70s island-made rattan furniture. And the hotel’s refreshed look, with fabrics designed to mimic the fronds and ferns in the lush gardens outside, is the culmination of a five-year update led by interiors expert Lulu Lytle of Soane Britain. In a world where people no longer dress up for dinner, guests here still throw on silk and pearls for lemon blinis and mahi-mahi caught by devoted fisherman Dennis ‘Barker’ Bovell—a fixture for the past four decades. If it’s not already clear, the ethos is low-key grace, hinged on quality that comes from supporting everything that’s local. Despite the many turbo-charged properties that dot this sweep of shore, Cobblers Cove remains cosy, family-owned and downright lovely. Doubles from about $435; —Kat OdellMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • Portugal Lisbon Hotel Santa Clara 1728
    Sivan Askayo/Santa Clara 1728HOTELSanta Clara 1728, Lisbon, Portugal$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  HOT LIST 2018Stop a local on the cobbled streets and ask for this address and you won’t necessarily have any luck with directions, because this tiny space remains strictly for the cognoscenti. It isn’t one of the imposing palatial edifices on grand Avenida da Liberdade where modern hotels have, not always seamlessly, been inserted into old brickwork. Nor is it a tiny, flat-roofed Moorish townhouse in the labyrinth of narrow streets that make up the Alfama. But this six-bedroom property in the old cultural quarter, atop one of Lisbon’s seven hills, removes the feeling of being a traveler in a foreign city, managing what so many promise but don’t deliver: to be a home away from home. The rose-hued, multi-storied house was one of the few that survived the devastating 1755 earthquake, its ancient, solid walls tangibly resonating with history. It’s part of the Silent Living family of properties (other siblings include sand-floored marvel Casa Na Areia in Comporta and minimalist temple Casa No Tempo in Evora), so the interiors are perfectly simple and sedate. Overhead lights dapple pools of warmth onto a long oak dining table by architect Manuel Aires Mateus; a richly textured oil painting on the wall adds color. This is where breakfasts of crushed avocado and dinners of fish of the day with market vegetables take place. Upstairs, the rooms are minimalist. Open the curtains, climb into the open-plan bathtub carved from one piece of limestone, and watch the moon rise above the National Pantheon, placing you right in the here and now. Doubles from about $480; —Mary LussianaMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • Grand Htel de Cala Rossa PortoVecchio Corsica
    Moirenc CamilleHOTELGrand Hôtel de Cala Rossa, Porto-Vecchio, Corsica$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021Corsicans get a bad rap for being inhospitable, especially compared to their island neighbors, but there are two sides to life here: the one locals enjoy—access to secret beaches and an enveloping sense of community—and the more polished, arms-length experience that visitors tend to encounter. What’s special about this place, near the glitzy coastal town of Porto-Vecchio, is that it offers both. Run by the Canarelli family since the late 1970s, it has the lively, everyone-knows-everyone vibe of a sprawling beachfront villa with white-stucco domed ceilings and plenty of inviting linen sofas to curl up on. Regulars and newcomers are embraced like long-lost pals by staff, many of whom have been here for decades. Such an air of comfort only adds to the thrill of the experience, which starts, of course, with the unbeatable location. The hotel has its own lick of sandy beach dotted with sunbeds and parasols, and its gardens hum with the sound of birds and insects in the summer months. The blue, blue bay is the focus of everything, as is the jetty, from which the catch of the day is delivered directly into the hands of chef Pascal Cayeux, who has plenty of home-grown produce to work with from the expansive kitchen garden. The latter is worth a visit. Heady with the scent of mimosa and native herbs, it was laid out masterfully by landscape architect Phillipe Niez. In the evenings, the mood at dinner is always festive—guests linger long after dessert is finished and star-gaze while listening to the guitar strum of local musicians. Old school and under the radar, just like the best hotels in the Mediterranean often are. Doubles from about $247; —Alice CavanaghMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • Le Bristol Paris
    Claire Cocano/Courtesy Le Bristol ParisHOTELLe Bristol, Paris, France$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2018, 2020, 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020Fresh off of a summer spruce-up, everyone’s favorite Parisian palace is in irrefutably fine shape. Despite being classified as worthy of having even more than five stars, the twinkling edifice manages to feel delightfully homely. Perhaps it’s something to do with the resident white Burmese cat, Fa-Raon, slinking along the carpeted corridors and purring atop the check-in desk. Or the fact that the doormen smile at everyone, not just guests, but any parcel-laden shoppers trotting down Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The grandeur and the opulence—polished marble, Louis XV-style interiors, gilded furniture, swagged curtains, wall tapestries—is brought down to earth by a gentle familiarity. The gorgeous new look of the courtyard at the hands of Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd may be filled with French flora but the climbing roses and trellised walls gently hark to an English country garden. The lovely big bedrooms are essays in green chintz, Colefax & Fowler, and Farrow & Ball. The deep bathtubs come with plump pillows. The fantastically elegant old-fashioned wooden elevator has its own little sofa, just like Claridge’s. The views from the suites take in the Eiffel Tower and Le Grand Palais. And the spa, which can whip years off your face with a La Prairie anti-aging facial, might just also offer the best massages in the whole city. While away the day in Café Antonia, just past the lobby. It’s the central hub for high-powered fashion folk and starry Hollywood actors who flock here all year round for power breakfasts of buttery scrambled eggs, minutely diced fruit salad, and the ultimate bread and pastry basket. Later on there’s Michelin-bedecked Epicure (three stars) and the brasserie 114 Faubourg (one star). And by evening Le Bar is exceptional, very dark, and very seductive. Work your way through the cocktail menu and then retreat upstairs for the most comfortable night’s sleep. Doubles from $2,003; —Martha WardMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Skylark
  • Alcuzcuz Andalucia Spain
    Ricardo LabougleHOTELAlcuzcuz, Andalucia, Spain$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021An antidote to the hectic and brash flashiness of nearby Marbella, this 19th-century, red-ochre hillside farmhouse close to the Serranía de Ronda is special indeed. It has belonged to the aristocratic Parladé family for six generations, the most recent inhabitants being the interior designer Jaime Parladé and his wife Janetta, a watercolor artist from the U.K. A dreamy combination of his extravagant collectibles and her touches of elegance have resulted in the kind of tasteful, layered styling that can’t be faked—tapestries as wall hangings, eclectic paintings, ancient suzani textiles. The finca is now a boutique hotel, run by Parladé’s nephew, Andrés, where pan con tomate, jamón Ibérico, and freshly squeezed orange juice are served at breakfast on a traditional terracotta-tiled terrace, thick overhanging wisteria vines shading the tables and framing views of the Costa del Sol in the distance. A hidden, green-hued saltwater swimming pool surrounded by carob and olive trees overlooks the landscape that inspired Hemingway and Rilke during their stay in Ronda. The library has shelves stacked with well-thumbed novels and art books whose spines have started to crack. Before Moroccan-influenced Mediterranean meals at the next-door Alcuzcuz Gallery restaurant, guests can browse its gorgeous antique shop for custom wicker trunks, dhurries made in India, and jewel-colored lamps, all designed by Parladé. The six bedrooms in the main finca are equally striking, but the one that was formerly a chapel, La Capilla, with its domed ceiling and Moorish aesthetic, is particularly pretty. This is a place where interior designers vacation, scribbling and snapping away—just check out the guest book. Doubles from about $234; —Tania Karmeinsky
  • Tenuta di Murlo Umbria Italy
    Charlotte BlandHOTELTenuta di Murlo, Umbria, Italy$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021The first thing you notice is the landscape. In every direction there are rolling hills of deep emerald—and almost nothing else. At this labor of love spanning thousands of acres, the great outdoors is the point. Alessio and Carlotta Carabba Tettamanti have spent the past 12 years converting parts of the estate, which has been in Alessio’s family for centuries, into a project celebrating everything that’s glorious about the green heart of Italy. Remarkably intact, the property looks much as it would have before World War II, when the workers who sustained its upkeep began their exodus to towns, leaving behind more than 55 ruins: farmhouses, barns, a water mill, a watchtower or two. The first to be restored was San Savino. This former parish church, whose reassuringly solid stone walls date from the 14th century, now has four bedrooms, a full cook’s kitchen, a deconsecrated chapel-turned-living-room, wide gardens framing a pretty pool, and, of course, full exposure to that timeless landscape. Accommodations range from B&B-style rooms and one-bedroom cottages to Castiglione Ugolino, a gorgeous castle that sleeps 20. Pantries can be filled with produce from the estate; chefs can be dispatched, too, if cooking isn’t on the schedule. Or just wander down the hill to feast at Murlo’s Il Caldaro restaurant; porcini and cinghiale in autumn, broad beans and sweet-succulent tomatoes in early summer, enjoyed amid a riot of hydrangeas and blissful silence. Doubles from about $180;
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    Courtesy Rocco Forte HotelsHOTELHotel Astoria, A Rocco Forte Hotel, St. Petersburg, Russia$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2019, 2020St. Isaac’s Square is one of the most spectacular urban spaces in the world. The cathedral rises up like a mountainous island in a granite sea. And the long façade of the Astoria, on the east side of the broad piazza, is like the hull of some Art Nouveau galleon moored offshore. It was built to house high-born guests of the tsar, invited to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913, and has always had an aristocratic air. When it was acquired by hotelier Rocco Forte, his sister Olga Polizzi refreshed and restyled every inch of the interior, giving it back its tiara sparkle. The 21st-century version could not be more contemporary or refined—and the rooms are supremely comfortable. Ask for one with a view of the towering church to feel as if you could reach out of the window and touch its golden dome. This is a building steeped in culture and history. Isadora Duncan drank Champagne at the bar with her Russian husband, the poet Sergei Yesenin, who spoke not a word of his wife’s language. Mikhail Bulgakov reportedly worked on his magical novel The Master and Margarita in room 412. Rasputin is said to have conducted his affairs here, just beyond the baleful gaze of the tsaritsa in the Winter Palace. And the hotel is only a jeté and a cabriole from the Mariinsky Theatre: any lunchtime you might see the cygnets of the corps de ballet putting away bowls of borscht while on a break from Swan Lake. The ground-floor restaurant is a fabulous showcase of Russian cooking: Olivier potato salad with Kamchatka crab; Siberian pelmeni (like money bags filled with meat or mushrooms); ukha fish soup. Tchaikovsky himself would recognize practically everything on the menu. Doubles from about $254; —Jonathan BastableMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
  • Calanoa Amazonas Colombia
    Diego SamperHOTELCalanoa Lodge, Amazonas, Colombia$ |  GOLD LIST 2021A quest for magical realism may well lead to the Colombian Amazon. A couple of hours’ speedboat ride from edgy frontier town Leticia—the meeting point of Colombia, Brazil, and Peru—leads to a sea of butterflies and freshly chopped coconut. Calanoa Lodge’s seven cabins, lovingly built by artist-owner Diego Samper with his very own hands, are like wooden bones wrapped in a skin of netting, wearing a hat of woven palms. The experience is total tree-house immersion—falling asleep at night to a symphony of frogs and waking at first light to a chorus of birds. Luxury is a cold shower in the hand-carved bathroom; necessity is an afternoon nap in a knotted hammock. The intense heat and humidity enforce a slow pace. Mornings may involve a meditative walk into the steaming jungle with hunter turned guide Jorge Llerena to search for jaguar tracks, or learning to make an elastic band from a rubber tree or which root to beat like a drum should you get lost (forget reaching for your phone—there’s zero connection, it’s truly off-grid). An afternoon boat trip heads upriver to a village where a soccer ball is kicked about on a dusty field and an ageless, toothless woman kneads pots from clay. Food includes fish wrapped in banana leaf and everyone gathers around to eat at the communal table. Diego and his wife Marlene take in travelers who share news and tales—stories of pink dolphins while fireflies dance and monkeys chatter, and the sun sets over the Amazon in this land of shamans and plant medicine. It’s a scene that could be straight out of a García Márquez novelDoubles from about $151;—Alice B-B
  • Verana Puerto Vallarta Mexico
    ROB STARKHOTELVerana, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico GOLD LIST 2021Few places are as intricately and ingeniously imagined as Verana. When then set designer Heinz Legler and interior designer Veronique Lievre left Los Angeles in 1997 to purchase a plot of land in Mexico’s remote Bay of Banderas, they intended only to build a home surrounded by nature at their own pace. The couple settled into the lush hilltop, accessible by boat and mule, and began constructing, responding to the landscape and seasons, preserving as much of the natural environment as possible. It may sound romantic, but the reality required dedication and true grit. The idea of a single home evolved into 10 casas—many of which are wall-less structures with modern thatched roofs and outdoor showers—embedded into the jungle with spellbinding views of the ocean. People visit Verana to become less distracted and more connected. With thoughtfully coordinated color-blocked walls, an open-air library, vintage objects made by Mexican artisans, and a spa to manage any need, the alchemy of inspired design dissolves pressures from the outside world. Wake up to freshly baked bread left on the doorstep, spend hours whale-watching, and fall asleep to the sound of wind swishing trees back and forth. In one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico, the real luxury is space to just be. Doubles from $225;—Jade Moyano
  • Single Thread
    Courtesy SingleThread Farm-Restaurant-InnHOTELSingleThread Farm-Restaurant-Inn, Sonoma$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  HOT LIST 2017A Périgord black-truffle omelet laced with local Cowgirl Creamery cheese, cedar-roasted salmon, and yuzu-scented rice are just a few of the breakfast marvels at this wine-country take on a traditional ryokan. After stints in Japan and the U.K., chef-owner Kyle Connaughton and his wife, Katina, returned home and opened SingleThread, aiming to meld Japanese sensibilities with a Californian look and feel, all via a fine-dining kaiseki-inspired restaurant that has quickly earned a place among the world’s best, along with three Michelin stars. Foodies make the pilgrimage to try Connaughton’s seasonal cooking, in which he uses rare ingredients such as hourglass-shaped shishigatani pumpkins grown on the couple’s farm. The thread that ties the inn and restaurant together is omotenashi—Japanese hospitality that goes above and beyond. While the modern farmhouse might be small, its diminutive size enables deeply personalized service. There are just five guest rooms, but each channels the casual elegance of surrounding Healdsburg, with a calming palette and beds prepped with the softest Matouk sheets. There are jars of homemade sesame seed crackers, a matcha brewing set, Botnia Skincare products, and a charcoal toothbrush. And after an 11-course dinner—because that’s the real reason for coming—it’s nice to know your bed is right up the stairs. Doubles from $1,000; —Kat Odell
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    Courtesy Beverly Hills HotelHOTELThe Beverly Hills Hotel, Dorchester Collection, Los Angeles$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2018, 2021  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020There’s money and there’s old money, and in LA it doesn’t get much older than at the Beverly Hills Hotel, built in 1912 on Sunset Boulevard, four decades before the street would star in an eponymous film noir. Everyone has stayed at this hotel, from Charlie Chaplin and Grace Kelly to John and Yoko. Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned here with six of her eight husbands, and there’s a bungalow – one of 23 set in lush gardens – inspired by frequent guest Frank Sinatra, styled to be a replica of his Palm Springs home. But you don’t come for the stories, or because Yves Montand and Marilyn Monroe actually did make love here while filming Let’s Make Love. No, this is the address to choose because, of all the great hangouts in Tinseltown (and there’s no shortage these days), there’s nowhere as blue-blooded but simultaneously relaxed as the Pink Palace. Pull up at the entrance on the crest of the semi-circular drive, saunter down that impossibly long red carpet and, just like that– you know this is the right spot. Meryl Streep could turn cartwheels in the public spaces and no one would bat an eyelid. Al Pacino could plop down on a sun-lounger by the vast Hockney-blue pool and all you’d do is order another Daiquiri. Rooms are bright and cheery but restrained, never flashy – designer Alexandra Champalimaud was always going to keep it smart. The food may not be the most cutting-edge in LA, but it’s somehow exactly what you want: the freshest Californian salads at the poolside Cabana Cafe, meeting place of the beautiful and the tanned, or lobster risotto in the famous Polo Lounge, where longtime manager Pepe De Anda seems to know what guests want to order before they’ve figured it out themselves. Doubles from about $650; —Jeremy WayneMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Skylark
  • Sensei Lanai A Four Seasons Resort
    Courtesy Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons ResortHOTELSensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, Lanai, Hawaii$$$ |  GOLD LIST 2021  HOT LIST 2020  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2018There’s a decided snap to the morning air at Hawaii’s first proper destination spa, set at the base of the forested Koloiki Ridge. At first blush the setting makes it an unlikely choice—Lanai is the smallest and least visited of the state’s inhabited islands, and the hotel sits 1,600 feet above sea level, a solid 20-minute drive from the nearest beach. But leave it to Four Seasons to bet right in partnering with the Los Angeles–based, evidence-led wellness brand Sensei for its first step into the health arena. The company was also wise to remove the usual distractions of a typical beach vacation, including being able to pop over to a neighboring resort for a mai tai and people-watching, allowing real self-work to begin. Here, this means via a hyper-tailored approach to well-being. Upon arrival (by sleek private jet from Honolulu), guests meet with their Sensei guides, postgrads in nutrition, fitness, and stress management, and come up with a plan. It might include a daily traditional lomi a’e massage or a Watsu (aquatherapy) session in one of the 10 private treatment houses, each with an infrared sauna and steam shower. Or a 5 a.m. hike that ends with a sherbet-y sunrise over nearby Maui and Molokai, followed by back-to-back TRX and yoga classes. Or maybe it calls for finally making space to do little more than soak in an onsen pool that’s camouflaged by the Japanese rock garden while looking out at 24 acres of spectacularly gnarled banyan trees, heady gardenias, and giant king ferns. Doubles from $650; —Rebecca Misner