World's Top 10 Hotels
10. Farmhouse Inn, Forestville, California
On the heels of an $8 million renovation, the laid-back Sonoma inn has renewed interest among wine aficionados across the country. Set amid hundreds of wineries north of San Francisco, the luxury property (which does, indeed, have a farmhouse) has added nine rooms and a spa that uses fresh ingredients grown at one of its many on-site gardens. Of course, visitors don’t just come for the luxurious accommodations. The Michelin-starred restaurant attracts its own following with such iconic dishes as Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit—a trio of bacon-wrapped loin, ribs, and leg confit. Take advantage of the customized in-room wine tasting or try local varietals on a sommelier-led tour.
9. The Peninsula Shanghai, Shanghai, China
This towering 235-room, granite-clad building resides on a stretch of the historic Bund waterfront. Its gleaming brass and mahogany elevators transport high-end clientele to their Art Deco-style rooms. These somewhat modern reflections of The Peninsula’s period neighbors, the Shanghai Club and Sassoon House, feature elements of 1920’s Shanghai: imported stone, embossed glass lamps, and black lacquer furniture set against a creamy ivory backdrop. All the 21st-century amenities that today’s travelers expect are also at home in the elegant space. Rooms come with Wi-Fi, VoIP phones, portable master control panels, and spa tubs with music and light settings, but your most valuable asset here is Simon Huang. Tap the chief concierge for his restaurant, bar, and cultural recommendations.
8. Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Luxury Collection Resort, Key West, Florida
This resort may only be a 10-minute ferry ride from Key West, but its location on a small, private island offers nothing short of seclusion. Indulge your Castaway fantasies in the whitewashed cottages, equipped with a fully stocked kitchen and wrap-around verandas. Book an ocean view suite to enjoy your customized breakfast basket sitting on an Adirondack chair on your porch. If complete isolation sounds unnerving, head to the island’s restaurant, Latitudes, for a complimentary glass of champagne and fish so fresh it was caught off the resort’s own pier.
7. Singita Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa
If watching the African sun set over a pride of lions sounds like a trip of a lifetime, you’re not alone. Singita Sabi Sand game reserve boasts two separate lodges with distinctive interiors by emerging African designers. Boulders sits on the edge of the Sand river, and evokes the raw, untouched nature of the landscape with organic materials and tribal artifacts, while Ebony puts on a vintage safari spin with Colonial-era furniture and décor. Both offer guests everything from private plunge pools to well-stocked wine cellars. Embrace your adventurous side with a mountain-bike ride through the bush or a photography-focused safari. For once-in-a-lifetime views of elephants bathing in the Sand River, book Ebony Lodge’s Suite 1.
6. Four Seasons Hotel, Istanbul at Sultanahmet, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Before this was an upscale, unusually intimate Four Seasons, the century-old Neoclassical building was an infamous prison. Fortunately, the stark cellblocks have given way to 65 chic rooms that maintain architectural details like vaulted ceilings and arched windows. Other shadows of the property’s past remain: the courtyard garden, which was once the exercise yard, and the watchtowers, which now house the building’s elevators. While reliable Four Seasons service and elegant style is key, it’s the hotel’s location in the heart of Sultanahmet that stuns guests. The city’s greatest monuments—the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace—are less than a five-minute walk from the lobby. Just by stepping onto the hotel’s roof terrace, you’ll have immediate views across the Sea of Marmara during the day and the illuminated Hagia Sophia at night.
5. The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Majesty and modernity coexist perfectly at this tranquil resort in Jaipur, where guests can explore the 32-acre property on an elephant ride to Naila Fort, or lounge poolside while dedicated staffers shoo away pesky pigeons. Standard rooms feature teak bars with bone inlay and white marble baths, while air-conditioned tents completely redefine your notions of camping. Royal and Luxury tents come outfitted with Burmese teakwood floors, claw-footed tubs, and hand block-printed canopies woven with gold thread. During the coolest months, from October to April, rare Indian delicacies can be enjoyed at Raj Mahal restaurant. Order one of the aromatic biryani rice dishes that feature herbs grown in the on-site garden, and sip a signature Gulkand martini with rose marmalade and lime. Retreat to the 18th-century haveli for an indigenous spa ritual (chakra balancing, Ayurveda massage) and specialty baths filled with rose water, milk, and marigolds. Balance your chi with daily morning yoga asanas and meditations in the Shiva temple.
4. Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana
It’s easy to conjure romance at this retreat tucked away in the Bitterroot Mountains among 600 sprawling acres of kid-free forests. This World’s Best mainstay was No. 1 in the world last year, thanks to its Relais & Châteaux service and luxurious accommodations. The 23 rustic log cabins are elevated by cozy touches such as wood-burning stoves, steam showers, and private hot tubs. Get a taste of the wild west with tailored itineraries that include everything from horseback riding to cattle drives, helicopter tours above Glacier or Yellowstone National Parks, and even sapphire panning. When you’re ready to come indoors, you’ll find staffers on hand to welcome you with fresh-baked cookies—or recommend a bottle from the glass-and-mahogany wine cellar, now home to more than 700 wines and champagnes. Don’t be shocked if you feel one stay wasn’t enough; approximately half of all visitors are repeat guests.
3. Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland
This Medieval castle, the oldest in Ireland, has hosted dignified guests throughout its nearly 800-year history: Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (the Guinness), who once owned the dazzling space, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (who stayed there during the filming of John Ford’sThe Quiet Man) and, most recently, Ireland’s Prime Minister, who visited to celebrate the property’s reopening in April after a $75 million renovation. While thoughtful restorations were made to the building’s stonework and infrastructure, it’s the modern new additions getting all the attention—a billiards room, a 32-seat movie theater, and, this month, a full spa with a heated, indoor pool.
2. Castello di Casole - A Timbers Resort, Tuscany, Italy
Amidst the olive trees and knotted grapevines dotting this 4,200-acre Tuscan estate is a castle that dates to the 10th century. An extensive renovation has transformed this historic site into a 41-suite resort, complete with classic oil paintings, exposed wooden beams, and reclaimed terracotta. Book a local oil- or wine-based treatment at Essere Spa (originally the wine cellar) and finish off the evening with a bottle of the estate’s exclusive Dodici wine, gifted to all guests upon arrival.
1. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
A palace fit for a maharaja, The Oberoi Udaivilas is nothing short of an oasis amidst the country’s frenetic energy. The hotel sits on its own private island in Udaipur—consequently, the former hunting grounds of India’s kings—and guests are transported to the property via private boat. After crossing Lake Pichola and the hotel’s main courtyard (with a white marble lotus floating in a reflecting pool), enter your accommodations. Book one of nine Premier rooms for a semi-private pool, terrace, and views of wildlife such as peacocks and white-spotted deer. Visit the on-site Bada Mahal, an 18th-century former palace with delicate frescoes, or take a camel ride to Devigarh Fort Palace for lunch. Repeat visitors will love the departure gifts the property bestows, such as traditional mirror-work coasters or jewelry boxes.