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 Europe and the U.K.
Read the complete Gold List here.
- Francisco de Almeida DiasHOTELThe Albatroz, Cascais, Portugal$ | GOLD LIST 2021Although once a whitewashed fishing village, Cascais long ago swapped that simple existence for tangible glamour. Among imposing 19th-century villas where grand European families sought out a cool breeze to escape the hot summer lies the much loved Albatroz, a constant in a shifting seascape. Since opening as an inn in the 1960s, it has blossomed to become one of the first five-stars in town. Its buildings jut out on a rocky promontory, close enough for the sound of pounding waves to weave through any pillow talk, with Conceição Beach just steps away. Inside there is an enduring sense of elegance, a hint of mystery from the war era when spies filled the salons. A 21st-century freshness has been added by designer Gracinha Viterbo, who introduced hand-painted tiles, limestone, and palm-tree wallpaper, with a nod to the country’s maritime past in sea blue friezes where monkeys jostle with flamingos. Bedrooms are split between the old palace and a modern wing; there are also six hidden rooms in the House of the Yellow Ceilings, an Italianate jewel. The restaurant, buzzing with Lisboans devouring plump prawns, overlooks the sand, but the best seat is at the bar. To be here, glass of wine in hand, boats bobbing on the waves, is as near to perfection as it comes. Doubles from $180; thealbatrozcollection.com —Mary LussianaMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
- Moirenc CamilleHOTELGrand Hotel de Cala Rossa, Porto-Vecchio, Corsica$$ | GOLD LIST 2021Corsicans get a bad rap for being inhospitable, especially compared to their island neighbors, but there are two sides to life here: the one locals enjoy—access to secret beaches and an enveloping sense of community—and the more polished, arms-length experience that visitors tend to encounter. What’s special about this place, near the glitzy coastal town of Porto-Vecchio, is that it offers both. Run by the Canarelli family since the late 1970s, it has the lively, everyone-knows-everyone vibe of a sprawling beachfront villa with white-stucco domed ceilings and plenty of inviting linen sofas to curl up on. Regulars and newcomers are embraced like long-lost pals by staff, many of whom have been here for decades. Such an air of comfort only adds to the thrill of the experience, which starts, of course, with the unbeatable location. The hotel has its own lick of sandy beach dotted with sunbeds and parasols, and its gardens hum with the sound of birds and insects in the summer months. The blue, blue bay is the focus of everything, as is the jetty, from which the catch of the day is delivered directly into the hands of chef Pascal Cayeux, who has plenty of home-grown produce to work with from the expansive kitchen garden. The latter is worth a visit. Heady with the scent of mimosa and native herbs, it was laid out masterfully by landscape architect Phillipe Niez. In the evenings, the mood at dinner is always festive—guests linger long after dessert is finished and star-gaze while listening to the guitar strum of local musicians. Old school and under the radar, just like the best hotels in the Mediterranean often are. Doubles from about $247; hotel-calarossa.com —Alice CavanaghMAKE A RESERVATIONPowered by Expedia
- Ricardo LabougleHOTELAlcuzcuz, Andalucia, Spain$$ | 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; alcuzcuz.es —Tania Karmeinsky