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10 Unique Hotels That Are Worth The Splurge

Finding hotels that fall into stylish city stays, romantic rural retreats and chic coastal getaways can be hard to come by.

From Istanbul to the Dominican Republic, Portugal to Thailand — and a handful of destinations in between — these 10 properties that will get even the most modest of travellers hunting down their next trip.

Best Hotels Bermuda

Photo: @rwbermuda

Rosewood Tucker’s Point: Bermuda
Style: British colonial charm

Have the tennis whites and golf plaids pressed and ready for Rosewood Tucker’s Point hotel in Bermuda, a luxe playground for the country club set with views of the glittering pink beaches of Castle Harbour and Harrington Sound. As Britain’s oldest colony, you’ll catch sight of a bobby directing traffic or a heated cricket match. But this sun-splashed island is decidedly tropical, moving to the rhythms of calypso and reggae and the resort’s four stylish swimming pools, spoiling spa, manicured golf course and pro-worthy tennis courts are at your whim for playing the days away.

Santo Domingo Hotels

Photo: @casasdelxvi

Casas del XVI: Dominican Republic
Style: Charismatic colonial casas

Dominican Republic hotel Casas del XVI invites guests to quantum leap back to the colonial era – with the added benefit of all mod cons, naturally. Two casas, in the centre of Santo Domingo’s UNESCO World Heritage site Colonial City, have been lovingly restored (dare we say, improved upon) and fashioned into seven luxury suites. However, a supernaturally helpful private butler, peaceful palm-strewn courtyards to siesta in and a bygone setting support the illusion that you’re a fresh-off-the-boat hidalgo paying homage to the New World.

Panama Hotels

Photo: @elotroladoportobelo

El Otro Lado: Portobelo, Panama
Style: Native arts and culture

Tucked away across a cerulean Caribbean bay from the historic port town of Portobelo, El Otro Lado hotel is a laid-back, yet luxurious, outpost of traditional Panamanian culture that’s right at home in the jungle-blanketed wild. With original artwork adorning every room, local woodworkers carving sculptures on site, creative Caribbean cuisine and an ambitious list of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, this jungle retreat is the ideal mix of art and adventure.

Photo: @liz.bonney

The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa: Byron Bay, Australia
Style: Relaxed rainforest resort

Bed down in the rainforest at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, a tropical treat with an excellent restaurant, award-winning spa and flocks of resident birds and butterflies. Toast the forest from the glittering green pool, stroll to the beach or laze around in your fig-and-fern-surveying room.

LA Hotels

Photo: @acedtla

Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles: Los Angeles, United States
Style: Rock ‘n’ LA noir

Where else can Spanish Gothic, art deco, noir, rocker chic and hipster cool coexist so peacefully but at the Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles? Located in the revamped United Artists Theatre building in the up-and-coming neighbourhood’s once-great Theater District, the hotel has generations of cool, and uses them to its utmost advantage, from its scenery rooftop bar to its Brooklyn-meets-California restaurant.

Istanbul Turkey

Photo: @smallcrazy

Vault Karaköy, The House Hotel: Istanbul, Turkey
Style: Historic bank, modern makeover

Originally the Ottoman Bank, Vault Karaköy by House Hotels in Istanbul has kept its classic architecture and charming historic features (including the eponymous vaults) but added plenty of modern delights: there’s a spa, stylish modern decor and even its own in-house art curator. Rooms from $263 per night. 

Photo: @royalcrescent_hotel

Royal Crescent Hotel: Bath, United Kingdom
Style: Georgian perfection

The neoclassical finery of Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel, in the centre of one of the country’s most evocative streets, makes it the English escape of which elegant dreams are made. Add the first-class food and top-notch spa, and you’ll never want to leave.

Photo: @out.of_office

Point Yamu by Como: Phuket, Thailand
Style: Paola Navone perfection

At Italian-influenced Point Yamu by Como, rooms are immaculately styled by Paola Navalone and brilliant pizzas are served poolside at La Sirena restaurant. Thailand sings through, too, thanks to the Phuket-inspired artworks in the lobby, Peranakan-Thai cuisine in Nahmyaa restaurant and the jaw-drop views of Phang Nga Bay.

Memmo Alfama Hotel

Photo: @thehautepursuit

Memmo Alfama: Lisbon, Portugal
Style: White and wonderful

Once used as a shoe polish factory, Memmo Alfama hotel is a bright and breezy townhouse tucked away in a maze of cobbled streets twisting between ancient churches and Fado restaurants. Inside, smooth lines, crisp sheets and laid-back lounges beckon; outside, the river-view pool bar is Lisbon’s latest spot to see and be seen.

Photo: @toppingrosehouse

Topping Rose House: Hamptons, United States
Style: Gallerist’s beach house

If someone with a summer home in the Hamptons decided to build a hotel, it would be Topping Rose House. With just the right doses of gallerist-curated art, historic and modern architecture, anything-you-can-dream-of service, farm-to-table cuisine and the understated luxury that well-heeled New Yorkers expect, the Bridgehampton hideaway might actually be better than your own private Hamptons home. Or, does your summer home come with a free car and beach passes?

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Luxury Hotel Hopping On The Island Of Saint Barthélemy

Saint Barthélemy, or St. Barth’s, is a small French island located in the Northern Caribbean. This island is well known for its glitz and glam and is a big draw for wealthy travellers and celebrities who want to get away and unwind.

Just head to the main port called Gustavia and you’ll be blown away by the luxury yachts and sailboats bobbing in the clear blue Caribbean water. It’s basically like the St. Tropez of the Caribbean.

Girl at Beach Exotic Island

I’ve been to this island many times and each time is an experience not to forget. I’m always blown away by the beauty and luxury that this island has to offer. Every detail is perfect. There are a number of insanely gorgeous hotels here which are mostly small and privately owned which I love because you get such a special and unique experience. No big resort chains. A lot of the time you will meet the owner wandering around the property talking to the guests. It’s very personalized, and when I travel I prefer to stay at places like this.

Blonde Blogger at Beach Chair With Palm Trees and Sand

Photo: @serenohotels

During my recent trip, I had to stop by one of my all-time favourite hotels, Le Sereno. Just walk through the reception and to the view and you will know why. Set on a secluded private beach with water a hundred shades of blue and giant palm trees swaying in the breeze. I could relax by their beachfront infinity pool every day and never get tired of that view – it’s pure heaven. The design is very chic with whitewashed buildings set into the lush jungle flora and fauna. This hotel is family owned, and you can tell how much this family loves their little piece of heaven on earth.

Swimming at the villa in St Barts

Photo:@ villamariehotels

I also stopped by one of the newer hotels on the island, Villa Marie. I had been hearing a lot of buzz around this new property so I wanted to check it out. Villa Marie is also family owned, the family owns a few other hotels in France but decided to spread their roots to the Caribbean. The theme of this hotel is without a doubt bohemian, tropical chic. Rich textures, colours and prints in every direction. Much different than the sleek Le Sereno, but just as lovely. Villa Marie is set high up on a hill with gorgeous views of Flamand’s Beach (one of my favourites). The grounds and pool are very private, surrounded by palm trees, bougainvillaea and the sound of parrots in the background. It’s like your own little private tropical bungalow. And as expected, the service is exceptional and both properties.

Once the reality of where you are has set in, St. Barth’s is a great island to explore and enjoy the natural beauty. The beaches are mostly secluded and so gorgeous. Take a 15-minute hike down to Colombier Beach and be the only person there. Be sure to bring snorkelling gear as you can walk out into the ocean and swim with sea turtles and starfish. Or, hike up to the beautiful natural swimming pools in Grand Fond and go for a dip. Luxury and nature at its best!

Girl in a sundress at the beach

Photo: @ambhasaa

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Get Cultured In Budapest With These Top Spots

Now that we’ve shown you around the city and pointed out some of the best bars to visit, it’s time to get cultured in Budapest.

There is so much artistic history beneath the city’s cobblestoned streets and countless limestone walls. You’ve definitely heard the age old saying “If only these walls could talk.” It’s time to get yourself behind the walls and come out on the other end a much more cultured traveller.

It’s time to cross these must-see spots off your bucket list.

Aria Hotel Budapest: For music lovers who’ve come to Budapest to take in the city’s sweet sounds, this is the place to be. Voted the number one hotel in the world, we promise you’ll feel like a rock star as soon as you step through the lobby doors. Lay your head down in a decked-out hotel room, styled to a particular genre of music, whether it be classical, jazz, opera or contemporary. Don’t just see all the musical culture Budapest has to offer, stay in it.

Budapest’s new National Theatre: This architectural gem hosts the country’s top theatrical productions and is an ode to Hungarian art culture. Enjoy a night of classic theatre or contemporary plays and take a walk among the stars – Hungarian stars, that is –  in the surrounding park full of sculptures depicting Hungary’s most famous actors.

Palace of Arts: Culture lives here at the Palace of Arts. The impressive architectural marvel is home to the National Concert Hall, the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art and the Festival Theatre. This is Budapest’s one-stop-shop for world-class music, stunning art and moving theatre. The Palace also houses one of Europe’s most prestigious concert organs – an absolute must-see for all music lovers visiting Budapest.

Zelnik István Southeast Asian Gold Museum: All that glitters is gold in this unique museum featuring a vast collection of never-before-seen pure gold objects curated from a private collection belonging to Dr. István Zelnik. All of these shining artefacts hail from Cham, Khmer, Javanese and tribal Southeast Asian culture, some rare pieces dating back thousands of years. Patrons of the museum can also treat themselves to authentic Asian teas and more at The Aldár Sövény Teahouse and the Cabinet of Curiosities located on-site.

Hungarian Natural History Museum: An award-winning hotspot for families and solo travellers alike visiting Budapest. Learn all about the history of Hungarian nature through exhibitions featuring animals, minerals and plants native to the country. Be transported back millions of years to see what life was like in a country different than your own.

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The top 5 Toronto hotel weekend getaway

Toronto is having a moment right now. Canada’s largest city is thriving in food and drink, arts and culture and has has been rated as one of the top five most liveable cities in the world for the past few years by Forbes. And thanks to its growing international exposure (we love you, Drake!), it’s a must-see destination too. Whether you’re in the city for a weekend or extended stay, we’ve ranked our top 5 Toronto hotel picks.

hazelton-hotel-balcony

The Hazelton Hotel

Where: Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood (118 Yorkville Avenue).

When: The Hazelton Hotel is always a luxurious stay, but if you’re celebrating something special, make sure to book their “Celebration” package. Your stay includes a spacious guestroom or suite, complete with a welcome gift of champagne, fresh fruit and flowers.

Why: The sceney ONE Restaurant, which is owned and operated by celebrity Chef Mark McEwan, is the perfect locale for a night of people watching. Meanwhile, The Spa at Hazelton is a favourite of locals and celebs alike.

Rooms start at $475/night (approx.USD$370) and more information can be found at thehazeltonhotel.com.

Toronto

The Ivy at Verity

Where: Located in a restored 1850s chocolate factory in the historic Queen Street East district (111D Queen St. East).

When: Enjoy the Ivy’s prime location in the summer, where you can walk to the nearby historic Distillery District and enjoy lunch on a patio.

Why: With only four rooms, The Ivy is more like a homey B&B than a hotel. Breakfast is made in-house and delivered to your room each morning. Other amenities include George Restaurant, Sweetgrass Spa, and a women-only fitness centre and pool. Rooms start at $339/night (approx. USD$263) and more information can be found at theivyatverity.com.

Toronto

Hotel Ocho

Where: Located steps from Chinatown and Kensington Market (195 Spadina Avenue).

When: Pedestrian Sundays in the summer months at Kensington Market are not to be missed. Browse eclectic shops and find one-of-a-kind goods to pack in your suitcase.

Why: Hotel Ocho has twelve rooms that offer great views of downtown Toronto. The trendy restaurant serves lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and drinks. There’s also a spectacular event space, should you feel the need to make a statement. Rooms start at $238/night (approx. USD$185) and more information can be found at hotelocho.com.

Toronto

The Templar Hotel

Where: Toronto’s Entertainment and Fashion District (348 Adelaide St. West).

When: Book a room during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to be close to all the action. Who knows, you might even spot a celebrity.

Why: Dubbed as ‘Toronto’s Secret Hotel’ the Templar is a hidden gem and allows guests to have a zen-like sanctuary in the heart of a big city. Rooms start at $259/night (approx. USD$200) and more information can be found at templarhotel.com.

Toronto

The Drake Hotel

Where: Trendy West Queen West (1150 Queen Street West).

When: Enjoy the Drake during the summer months, as it boasts one of the city’s best rooftop patios, Sky Yard.

Why: The rooms at The Drake are individually decorated with funky, eclectic décor, contemporary art, mid-century inspired furniture and hardwood floors. The hotel also hosts a variety of art, music, and cultural events. Rooms start at $169/night (approx. USD$130) and more information can be found at thedrakehotel.ca.

Toronto

Shangri-La Toronto

Where: In the centre of Toronto’s financial and entertainment district (188 University Avenue).

When: The floor to ceiling windows at this hotel offer stunning views of the CN Tower.

Why: Start your day by heading to the hotel’s Health Club, with a beautiful, contemporary pool and water features. Finish your day off with a drink at Bosk, the hotel’s bar, and restaurant, or sneak over to Momofuku next door. Rooms start at $375/night (approx. USD$290) and more information can be found at shangri-la.com.

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Grape Expectations: 6 Crush-Worthy Hotels

Oh, the bounty of the harvest… The ink-black Sangiovese, regal purple pinot noir and the plump pearl of a chardonnay.

We’re all about the mighty grape this time of year – gathering, stomping and, of course, sipping the fruits of all that labour. Even better if there’s a rolling vineyard view to go with that vintage, like the ones spied from the mod Cottages of Napa Valley’s Carneros Inn (pictured above).

Where to swill right now? We’ve selected some of our best boutique hotels for oenophiles, set on working vineyards or in top-notch wine regions from Sonoma to Tuscany. Cheers, cent’anni, santé… it’s five o’clock somewhere.

Mr and Mrs Smith California Hotel

H2 Hotel: California Wine Country, United States

Green, by nature

Setting the eco-conscious standard in Sonoma, the H2 Hotel has sleek, wood-floored modern rooms in muted earth tones that are fashioned and furnished from sustainable materials. Bath products are locally made and guests are encouraged to refill reusable bottles with still or sparkling water from a bar on each floor. The living roof is rich with succulents and a protected stream runs next-door. The talented chef at the hip restaurant is a veteran of the French Laundry and the bar serves cocktails created from local ingredients. Smith Extra: Two cocktails at Spoonbar.

Wine retreats and villas in Tuscany, Italy

Conti di San Bonifacio Wine Resort: Tuscany, Italy

Restyled rustic farmhouse

Presiding over a swathe of rolling green Tuscan lands, Conti di San Bonifacio hotel is a restored stone villa whose surrounding farm and vineyards provide most of the ingredients for your meals. Taste wine straight from the source and revel in relaxed rooms with designer-pedigreed polish. If you’re feeling especially Italian, hire the whole five-room farmhouse and make like a master vintner. Smith Extra: Two glasses of Conti Di San Bonifacio Estate prosecco and a platter of cold meats.

Wine in Spain, and hotels in spain

Mirabó de Valldemossa: Mallorca, Spain

Sun-kissed 16th-century olive farm

A picturesque 16th-century olive farm on Mallorca, Mirabó de Valldemossa hotel boasts a breathtaking array of views out over the surrounding mountains from its sun-flooded rooms and stone terraces. Apart from the peaceful historic village nearby, you’ll feel like you’ve found your own private wilderness – if, of course, living off the beaten path included nine romantic rooms, a palm-fringed outdoor pool, welcoming service and aromatic gardens. Smith Extra: A bottle of red, white or rosé from the hotel’s vineyard.

Wine hotels in Provence France

Photo: @http://runninginheels.com/

Domaine des Roullets: Vaucluse (Provence), France

Historic homestay

A rustic-chic retreat at the foot of the Luberon Mountains, Domaine les Roullets hotel in Vaucluse is the perfect Provençal pied-a-terre. With Roman roots, mediaeval history and buckets of charm, this special Maison d’hôtes also offers pristine grounds, stylishly subtle decor, armfuls of intriguing art and objets trouvés, plus panoramic views to die for. Smith Extra: A bottle of Domaine les Roullets’ own organic red wine.

Wine hotels and tours in Portugal

Herdade da Malhadinha Nova: Alentejo, Portugal

Wine and wicker

Home to a working winery, serene spa and remarkable restaurant, Herdade da Malhadinha Nova hotel is a sense-stimulating experience in the Portuguese countryside. You can sample local wines, go for a dip in the infinity pool or taste creations from the mind of a stellar chef – all with the golden backdrop of Alentejo. Smith Extra: 10 per cent off in the spa and restaurant, and a jar of home-made jam to take home.

Wine country California

Farmhouse Inn: California Wine Country, United States

Romantic Ranch

Nestled away outside Healdsburg in the winery-packed Russian River Valley, the Farmhouse Inn hotel greets guests with laid-back Sonoma friendliness and natural beauty. Understatedly luxurious rooms are the perfect place for romantics to hide away, but you’d be missing out if you stayed inside, when on-site offerings include a wrap-around porch, pool and spa, fire pit and superb farm-to-table Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s the perfect base for busy days out exploring wine country. Smith Extra: A bottle of Russian River Valley wine on arrival, and a VIP wine-tasting pass for two, redeemable at 15 partner wineries.

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10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Romantic getaways aren’t always that romantic when you’re surrounded by lots of little Smiths. In these couples’ hotels, we guarantee they’ll be no screaming babies or over-energetic toddlers to spoil your style. Whether you’re craving a relaxing rural retreat or balmy beach escape, we’ve scoured the Smith collection to bring you the best boutique boltholes, just for grown-ups.

In these couples’ hotels, we guarantee they’ll be no screaming babies or over-energetic toddlers to spoil your style. Whether you’re craving a relaxing rural retreat or balmy beach escape, we’ve scoured the Smith collection to bring you the best boutique boltholes, just for grown-ups.

Do not disturb.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Photo at top of story also of The Balé

The Balé: Bali, Indonesia

Zen and sensibility

Zen-inspired buildings of light brick and unobtrusive glass soothe the senses at The Balé hotel, a serene Balinese sanctuary that feels more Japanese than Indonesian. With clean-lined, simple interiors, high levels of service and a no-children policy, this is the ultimate resort for luxury-loving lovers looking for a little peace and quiet.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

The Australasian Circa 1858: Fleurieu Peninsula, Australia

Heritage bones, mod-Asian heart

A symphony of light-filled spaces and Asian-inspired decor greets the guest at The Australasian Circa 1858 boutique hotel in the Fleurieu Peninsula, a restored sandstone pub in the seaside town of Goolwa. There are no more beers on tap here though, just five individually styled rooms and a chic restaurant where chef and co-owner Juliet Michell prepares a nightly Asian-inspired menu.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Ponta Dos Ganjos: Santa Catarina, Brazil

Jet-set jungle bungalows

Hiding amongst the tropical thickets and oyster farms of Santa Catarina, Ponta dos Ganchos hotel is a relaxed rainforest retreat of shimmering sunsets and secluded beaches. Should you tire of sipping caipirinhas by the infinity pool or lounging on your private deck, this exclusive paradise has plenty of play left with its games room, cinema, and a restorative spa, too.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Hotel Icon: Hong Kong, China

Home-grown Hong Kong

At Hotel Icon in vibrant Kowloon, you can split your time between admiring the stash of contemporary Chinese art, the food served in the trio of restaurants, and the sweeping views of Victoria Harbour. The hotel is owned by Hong Kong Polytechnic University, used as a research facility and staffed by bright young things: expect a stay that’s edifying and enjoyable in equal measures.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Ksar Char-Bagh: Marrakech, Morocco

Palatial comfort

More guest palace than guesthouse, Ksar Char-Bagh hotel in Marrakech’s post-Palmeraie neighbourhood is an Alhambra-like retreat surrounded by nearly 10 acres of grounds. Far too big on first glance to contain just 13 rooms, this ode to calm Moorish style makes use of a neutral colour palette that is a peaceful contrast to nearby souks. Attention to detail reigns here: engraved silver keys, house-made toiletries and fragrant candles all up a delight for the senses.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Can Simoneta: Mallorca, Spain

21st-century farmhouse

Clinging to a clifftop near Capdepera in Mallorca, the historic Can Simoneta hotel strikes the perfect balance between traditional Mediterranean hospitality and contemporary island getaway. In addition to close proximity to both the island’s beaches and golf courses, this secluded farmhouse offers massages under pine trees and a Jacuzzi overlooking the ocean below.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Sir Albert: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Diamond geezer

The host of Sir Albert hotel in Amsterdam might be fictitious, but you’ll definitely feel his thoughtful presence during your stay at this discreet former diamond factory. His genteel touch is everywhere, from the refined Japanese food in Izakaya to the atmospheric interiors and the impressive selection of books in the study.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Headland House: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Beaches and cream

This homey Headland House B&B hotel sits in the lovely seaside town of St Ives in Cornwall. The spectacular views of Carbis Bay are certainly the draw, but the bright, cosy rooms, the well-tended garden with hammock and home-made cake and sherry make a stay here all the more inviting.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Kurà: Costa Rica, Costa Rica

Minimalist jungle bungalows

High above Uvita, Kurà hotel has bird’s-eye views of the Pacific Ocean and dense tropical jungles. The contemporary open-plan suites feel like they’re tucked into the hillside, and the saltwater infinity pool really does look like it continues forever into the Costa Rican horizon.

10 Romantic Retreats For Adults

Milliken Creek Inn & Spa: California Wine Country, United States

Classic country casual

A charming clapboard home in Napa Valley, set on a picture-perfect plot right on the lush banks of the Napa River, Milliken Creek Inn & Spa hotel is an idyllic base from which to explore the vineyard-ridden Silverado Trail. That said, with its organic spa, giant hydrotherapy tubs and regular visits from local winemakers offering tastes and selling their wares, you might not feel the need to leave the property at all.

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12 Bucketlist Villas & Cottages To Book

We love a hip hotel stay, but what if you’re travelling in a group or looking for a little privacy?

Not everyone wants to dine at the restaurant every night, either. That’s why we’ve put together this collection of hotels with kitchen-equipped villas, cottages and other self-contained spaces available to book with Smith. So what’s it to be: private-pool villa, riverside cottage or even a treehouse?

Take your pick and make yourself at home.

 

Monteverdi: Tuscany, Italy

The Grape Escape

Monteverdi hotel has medieval charm by the village-load: cobbled streets, a tiny church, a sociable enoteca and a peaceful pool set in fragrant herb gardens. Holidaying historians will be pleased to know that there’s even 12th-century castle. Rooms are decorated with rustic romance – elegant four posters and rich paints in herb and flower hues – and some of Italy’s best Winelands beckon.

Tip: Welcome reception including a glass of prosecco and selection of local cheeses and meats.

Domes of Elounda: Crete, Greece

Perfectly Rounded Resort

A high-flying hideaway of intimate suites in blissful Crete, Domes of Elounda hotel is all about smooth-edged architecture with Moorish touches, first-class dining from the country’s only Michelin-starred chef, and the sun-soaked sand of the hotel’s private beach. A sparkling spa will have you feeling brand-new, like Aphrodite fresh from the sea.

Tip: A Thermae Experience for two in the spa, or GoldSmith members staying seven nights or more get a three-course dinner.

Casa Angelina: Amalfi Coast, Italy

Modern Med Minimalism

Between soaring pine-covered mountains and a deep sapphire sea sits hotel Casa Angelina, perched majestically on the Amalfi Coast’s cliffs. Inside, the sleek, all-white rooms – save for the wild and whimsical colours of Murano glass sculptures dotted around communal areas – contrast dreamily with the blue sky and water outside.

Tip: Champagne and fresh fruit on arrival, a romantic bath on the first night, and a Casa Angelina gift on departure.

Borgo Egnazia: Puglia, Italy

Fairy-tale Village Resort

A collection of villas arranged like a traditional village – plus the luxe additions of a golf course, two beach clubs and a knock-out spa – hotel Borgo Egnazia is a modern-day castle on Puglia’s sun-swept seashore. The romantic interiors are designed with sumptuous white-on-cream décor and nature-inspired flourishes like almond-filled baskets, bird cages and egg-shape ornaments.

Tip: Fruit and a bottle of spumante.

Hotel Puente Romano: Marbella, Spain

Whitewashed Andalusian Luxury

A three-storey whitewashed retreat on Spain’s Golden Mile, hotel Puente Romano Beach Resort Marbella is a village-style set-up with seaside tennis courts, three pools and eight restaurants. The scattered layout and intimate atmosphere set it apart from nearby oceanfront mega-resorts on the Andalusian coast.

Tip: For BlackSmith members, a bottle of Oloroso sherry; for SilverSmiths, a package of gourmet Spanish olive oil; for GoldSmith members, a bottle of champagne.

Chewton Glen: Hampshire, United Kingdom

Spa-spangled Manor

Set near the coast in Hampshire, Chewton Glen hotel is a stunning manor, spa, restaurant and country club that perfectly combines old-school elegance of the Jeeves & Wooster era with stylish modern touches and updates. The treehouse suites takes luxury to new heights – the forest canopy, to be specific. And, with a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one, it’s hard not to feel like royalty at this haven, the only privately owned five-star hotel in the UK.

Tip: A half-bottle of champagne in your room and breakfast (usually £20 a head).

Château les Merles: Dordogne, France

Neoclassical Winery

Basking in the Dordogne Valley, hotel Château les Merles is a neoclassical country estate revived with high-style Philippe Starck furnishings and sleek modern finishes. After dining on delicious Perigordine cuisine, take a moonlit turn around the groomed grounds with top-notch vineyards, inviting pool, tennis courts and golf course of this 17th-century manor.

Tip: A free glass of champagne, a selection of regional amuses bouches and a bottle of wine from the vineyards of Château Les Merles.

Lime Wood: Hampshire, United Kingdom

Mannered Modern Manor

A grand estate fit for a royalty, the Lime Wood hotel in New Forest has a history dating back to the 13th century, where it began life as a hunting lodge. In the 1740s, the manor was reclaimed by the Duke of Clarence. Since then, it has had an elaborate makeover, with exquisitely designed interiors, an indulgent spa, fantastic restaurants, and gorgeously landscaped grounds.

Tip: A bottle of champagne.

Le Trésor: Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Boutique Bed and Breakfast

Named for the treasure once rumoured to be buried somewhere in this vintage Aude countryside maison de maître near Mirepoix, hotel Le Trésor could be turned upside down and reveal nothing but airy rooms, crisp linens and rustic furnishings. But the real gem of this little boutique property might be the tree-shaded terrace garden in one of France’s most unspoilt wine regions.

Tip: A bottle of local wine.

Paradise Island Villas: Crete, Greece

Set-apart, Secluded Villas

Between the mountains and the Mediterranean, hotel Paradise Island Villas is a family-friendly stay in Crete, right outside Anissaras. Terracotta-tiled floors and bougainvillea-lined walls belie the minimalist aesthetic inside, where earth tones, neutral hues and classical furniture predominate. The private gardens, though, are all decadence.

Tip: Bottle of Cretan wine and a hamper of local produce.’

Babington House: Somerset, United Kingdom

Relaxed Retro Country Club

Set in a handsome manor on 18 landscaped acres in Somerset, Babington House hotel brings a little bit of cosmopolitan London cool to the West Country. The rural cousin of the exclusive Soho House, it’s the perfect spot for stressed urbanites to unplug and unwind. The staff is hip, friendly and, refreshingly, not in uniform. The Cowshed spa, indoor and outdoor pools, billiard room and on-premise cinema may make you reconsider a return to the city.

Tip: A full-size Cowshed bath product.

Tankardstown House: Country Meath, Ireland

Late-Georgian Looker

Sprawling across 100 acres of verdant parkland near Slane in County Meath, Tankardstown House hotel is a charmingly coiffed former family home that bears the refined touch of its mindful matriarch. Should you care to ramble about the ample green grounds, this elegant estate will loan you boots and one of its four dogs to help you cultivate your inner country squire.

Tip: A bottle of prosecco in room on arrival.

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Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

Sometimes it takes more than knockout design, superb service and mattresses fit for a maharajah: Mr & Mrs Smith like a somewhere to dip their toes once in a while.

Nothing beats watching the sunset over cocktails on a pool terrace – we’ve even been known to go swimming occasionally. So, we’ve splashed our way around our collection to find hotels with pools: plunge, private or infinity-edged; set in gardens or amid ruins; with swim-up bars or clear glass walls – each one the perfect place to show off your swimwear.

Come on in; the water’s lovely…

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 PoolsHuvafen Fushi: Maldives, Maldives

Maxi-minimal dream come true

For deserted-island decadence, Huvafen Fushi hotel in the Maldives gets it oh-so-right: here you’ll nibble on a picnic beneath palm trees, splash in the still lagoon, and lounge on a private beach where the butler is the only interruption – and he’s just delivering a drink. Beauty of the white sand islets is just the beginning of this boutique’s appeal, there’s also the world’s first underwater spa, the chance to snorkel along one of the Maldives best reefs and romantic dining options aplenty.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo: Colombo, Sri Lanka

History-steeped designer haven

Grand, modern and distinctively Sri Lankan, Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo hotel is a 10-room sanctuary in one of the capital city’s most elite neighbourhoods. International cognoscenti ogle each other at the sexy bar, lap pool and two restaurants, while those with an eye for design appreciate the elegant renovations by décor icon Shanth Fernando.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

QT Falls Creek: High Country, Australia

Ice, ice, baby

At QT Falls Creek, it doesn’t matter if you’re a skilled skier or the kind of alpine adventurer whose thrills involve hot tubs, hot dogs and hot chocolate – you’ll be utterly spoiled, either way. In winter, Falls Creek village emerges from hibernation and becomes a snow-bunny magnet; in summer, it’s a sleepier, sunnier proposition.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

 

The Grand Café & Rooms: Garden Route & Winelands, South Africa

Sexy boho beach chic

Breezy and boho in the heart of the charming Winelands city of Plett, The Grand Café & Rooms hotel is the ideal South Africa beach retreat, thanks to its sweeping sea views, serene spa and trendy décor. Relaxed in its curated shabby chic style, this hotspot is all about kicking back in style: coffee on the terrace, lingering bistro-style meals and pampering spa treatments.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

The Sarojin: Phang Nga, Thailand

Secluded tropical retreat

Set on a sublime stretch of coastline on Phang Nga, not far from Phuket, is The Sarojin hotel, a luxurious hideaway among 10 acres of lush, tropical gardens featuring ancient ficus trees. All of the rooms are stylish with minimalist décor, and many have their own plunge pools. The warm and welcoming staff aims to satisfy every wish. But you probably won’t need much more than a cold drink while you lounge in a daybed on one of several, seemingly floating, cabana decks in the pool.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

Maia Luxury Resort & Spa: Mahé, Seychelles

Wholly holistic happy hideaway

Thatched roofs peak out through a lush hillside at Maia Luxury Resort & Spa hotel, an all-villa property on the sandy shores of the southwest coast of Mahé in the Seychelles. Overlooking Anse Louis beach, it has the peaceful privacy of a spare yoga retreat but with welcome touches of luxury. Expect all the island fantasy clichés here – palm branches are blowing in the breeze, the sand is bright white and waters are astonishingly turquoise.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay: Nha Trang, Vietnam

Eco-chic castaway

Reachable only by boat, Six Sense Ninh Van Bay hotel is a spectacularly secluded collection of beautiful teakwood villas (each with a private pool) strewn along the massive rocks and boulders that make up this crescent-shaped bay at the jungle’s edge. Views from all are magnificent, but those nearest the water can go from bed to sea in minutes, thanks to private ladders. Although you’ll be completely stranded while you’re here, your butler will ensure that you won’t go hungry or thirsty.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

Vomo Island Resort: Fiji Islands, Fiji

Mod Pacificiana

Your Swiss Family Robinson adventure can finally come true at Vomo Island Resort hotel in Fiji, a rare escape that can balance stylish sophistication and seamlessly integrating children into its seductive setting. Two small islands make up this tropical idyll of sun-soaked beaches and clear blue waters, with snorkelling, watersports, golf, tennis and even a turtle sanctuary to keep you busy.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

 

Iconic Santorini: Santorini, Greece

Cliff-clinging caves

Hugging the caldera’s dramatic cliffside, Iconic Santorini’s cave-carved rooms, sunlounger-dotted patios and wow-worthy terraces sprawl over five levels of Imerovigli village, perched at the highest point of the island. A sea-view pool, cosy spa and breezy whites and blues have freshened the traditional dwellings, now the perfect spot for a luxurious break with dazzling Aegean Sea views.

Take The Plunge With These Top 10 Pools

L’Andana: Tuscany, Italy

Rural Medici residence

Hidden away in the Tuscan hills, hotel L’Andana is a historic hunting lodge with a spa and hammam that brings touches of luxury to the Maremma countryside. Relax in this retreat with its black slate bath, indoor pool and superb spa treatments. It’s blissfully isolated, but with the outdoor pool and Jacuzzi overlooking the gardens, small golf course, mountain bikes and cookery classes with the hotel’s chef make L’Andana you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied. 

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Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean Hotels

Soleil… sol… ilios… sole… sunce.

No matter the language, you’ll find sunshine and sea views in abundance on the Mediterranean.

From coastal Spain to Croatia, we have the ideal villa, casita or cluster of ancient caves for the ultimate sun-kissed retreat.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean Hotels

Hoppen and Jumpin’
Murmuri Hotel: Barcelona, Spain

Located in the upscale Eixample district on the busy promenade of Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona boutique hotel Murmuri is a place to see and be seen. All understated elegance – interiors have been designed by British style maven Kelly Hoppen – and quiet intimacy, it hits the right notes for well-heeled locals and visitors alike.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean Hotels

Neutral, Natural, Nautical
Villa Dubrovnik: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Villa Dubrovnik is Croatian through and through: built from grey Brac stone, styled by two local designers, and boasting Adriatic views that a seagull would migrate for. Days here are idled away at the flower-flanked outdoor pool, serene spa and ambitious Mediterranean restaurant that’s worthy of a Michelin star.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean HotelsGaudí-contoured Caves
Perivolas: Santorini, Greece

Santorini hotel Perivolas marries stunning scenery with a handsome hunk of history. An alluringly renovated cluster of 300 year-old caves, once the homes, wineries and stables of fishermen and farmers, is now 17 private houses that hug the edge of a cliff overlooking the brilliantly blue Aegean horizon.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean Hotels

Art-graced Guesthouse
Locanda al Colle: Versilia, Italy

Locanda al Colle hotel, an art-filled guesthouse set in a Tuscan olive grove in Versilia, combines the best aspects of home and hotel and welcomes guests like old friends. Candlelit dinner parties replace run-of-the mill room service on these gorgeous grounds lush with leafy gardens and an inviting outdoor pool. You won’t miss the TVs, replaced by Cubist art, big reading chairs, and views out to the sea. 

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean Hotels

Minimalist Shore-side Luxury
Anemi Hotel: Folegandros, Greece

The buildings of the all-white Anemi Hotel on Folegandros look, from a distance, like giant sugar cubes overlooking the turquoise Aegean. And, once you get up close, this Greek-island getaway guarantees a stay as stylish as the views are stunning.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean HotelsSnow-white Sun Trap
JK Place Capri: Capri, Italy

Sweet scents waft around olive and lemon trees in huge pots outside JK Place Capri, a Fellini movie in hotel form, that’s far away enough from the buzz and night-life noise, yet somehow still managing to feel in the thick of things. This gleaming white, shore-side hotel is the kind of place you want to re-book as soon as you leave.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean HotelsThe White House
Avaton Resort & Spa: Santorini, Greece

If we were doctors, we’d prescribe a stay at Santorini’s Avaton Resort & Spa: its white minimalism will calm you, its sea views will soothe you, and its spa and restaurant will indulge you, and its sea-and-caldera views will mesmerise you.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean HotelsVerdant Village
Kapsaliana Village Hotel: Crete, Greece

Kapsaliana Village Hotel’s history-steeped settlement, set in the island’s largest olive grove, has an 18th-century olive press and its own museum. The original press and pitharia (clay storage vessels) can still be admired and there’s a homely restaurant and a flower-flanked outdoor pool. Rooms are soothingly simple: stone interiors and arches.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean HotelsSparkling Boho Hangout
San Giorgio Mykonos: Mykonos, Greece

Housed in a cluster of white-washed stone buildings overlooking the Aegean Sea, boutique hotel San Giorgio Mykonos is a pared-down retreat for island hedonists. Flop in a hammock by the pool, explore the rocky shores of the private beach, then dance the night away under the starry skies – crashing in San Giorgio’s sleek boho rooms will feel like coming home.

Sleep Here: 10 Mediterranean Hotels

Med à la Mode
Cavo Tagoo: Mykonos, Greece

Ingeniously engineered into the cliff-side, Cavo Tagoo is a multi-pooled paradise of a boutique hotel, minutes from Mykonos Town in the Aegean Islands. Spacious and contemporary, this luxury getaway offers five-star spa pampering, peaceful privacy and Jacuzzis for all.

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Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Things that improve with age: Tuscan reds, Victorian four-posters and your faking-it-French-accent.

We’d also put hotels with rich past and loads of style in that column. Good thing we have the definitive collection of classic European stays for history buffs, from a moated medieval castle to an opulent pasha’s palace. If only these tapestry-draped walls could talk (over aged wine and with an accent, of course).

If only these tapestry-draped walls could talk (over aged wine and with an accent, of course).

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Boutique Bedrock
Sextantio le Grotte della Civita
Basilicata, Italy

With prehistoric origins and a Unesco World Heritage setting, the candlelit caves of Sextantio le Grotte della Civita showcase an atmosphere of pure romance. A decade of work transformed this stone settlement into a boutique hotel that pays homage to its subterranean roots with rustic furnishings, plenty of calming candles and artisan stonework. Rooms from $277/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Boho B&B Boudoirs
Brody House
Budapest, Hungary

With airy, light-filled rooms that double as mini art galleries and a trendy members- and guests-only bar, Budapest’s Brody House hotel is a feast for the senses. Popular with the city’s art scene, this cutting-edge townhouse plays host to film and fashion shoots and plenty of art events and book readings, while somehow maintaining the feel of a historic home. Rooms from $90/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Hip, With History
The Connaught
London, United Kingdom

Few hotels are as revered as the stately Connaught hotel in central London. For more than a century, it has been one the most stylish and elegant places to stay in Mayfair, an area long known for its elegance. Though it has been revamped in recent years, the hotel and its staff have maintained the sense of old-fashioned English grandeur, with superlative service and exquisite antique furnishings. The Connaught also offers the UK’s only Aman Spa, a gorgeous indoor pool, two glamorous bars and two acclaimed restaurants. Rooms from $742/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Neoclassical Winery
Château les Merles
Dordogne, France

Basking in the Dordogne Valley, hotel Château les Merles is a neoclassical country estate revived with with high-style Philippe Starck furnishings and sleek modern finishes. After dining on delicious Perigordine cuisine, take a moonlit turn around the groomed grounds with top-notch vineyards, inviting pool, tennis courts and golf course of this 17th century manor. Smith Extra: A free glass of champagne, a selection of regional amuses bouches and a bottle of wine from the vineyards of Château les Merles. Rooms from $145/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Emperor’s New Bricks
Hotel Vestibul Palace
Split, Croatia

It’s no wonder Split’s Hotel Vestibul Palace feels fit for king – this historic waterfront hotel sits within a World Heritage Site that once housed the Roman Emperor Diocletian. The remnants of three architecturally diverse palaces dating back to the 4th century provide a stunning contrast to the modern decor, subdued colour scheme and sleek glass atrium of this seven-room palace. Rooms from $248/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Courtesy of Cannes
Poseidonion Grand Hotel
Spetses, Greece

Poseidonion Grand Hotel is a dose of old-world glam in sea-swept Spetses, a beachside haven for the Athenian jet-set. Set apart by a blissful spa (the first in Greece), innovative dining, and romantic rooms with mesmerizing Mediterranean views, this is island living at its most posh. Rooms from $243/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Reinvented Dutch Masterpiece
Canal House
Amsterdam, Netherlands

The rich textiles and signature light of the Dutch Old Masters’ paintings inspired décor at the Canal House hotel, a bundle of 17th-century merchant houses overlooking – you guessed it – a canal in central Amsterdam. The entryway’s historic canvases give way to sultry rooms, whose walls are lined with contemporary artwork, dramatic curtains and plush fabrics in deep purple hues. After a day out biking and museum-hopping, unwind in the courtyard garden, refined restaurant or over your room’s marvellous canal views. Rooms from $345/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Stately Modern Manor
Liss Ard Estate
County Cork, Ireland

With gorgeous flowering grounds and romantic rooms in County Cork, hotel Liss Ard Estate has an unlikely backstory full of skulduggery. Constructed by a disgraced Celtic chieftain, and once used as a headquarters for Swiss spies (before the Austrians found out), this serene sanctuary now deals in the finer things in life, like contemplative walks in the lush meadows and farm-to-table dining at its refined restaurant. Rooms from $168/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Magical Manor
Cortijo del Marqués
Andalucia, Spain

Hidden among neverending sunflowers and olive trees, boutique hotel Cortijo del Marqués is Andalucia’s little secret. This revamped 19th-century manor’s beautiful rooms are steeped in history. You’ll love the period features and quirky details such as old troughs upcycled into baths. With a peaceful pool, rambling gardens to explore hand-in-hand and moonlit dining, it’s the ultimate romantic retreat. Rooms from $124/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Contemporary Ottoman
A’jia Hotel
Istanbul, Turkey

A grand old mansion on the Bosphorus, the A’jia Hotel in Istanbul was once the impressive home of a Pasha. Today,the Ottoman-era exterior cleverly masks a sleek, spacious and modern interior. Fifteen large and comfortable rooms and suites offer various luxurious flourishes, but all include gorgeous bathrooms of creamy marble and tile. And, of course all guests can enjoy a drink or several on the expansive waterfront terrace. Rooms from $458/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Belle Époque Country Manor
Vidago Palace
Douro Valley, Portugal

Built as a remote royal palace in 1910, Vidago Palace hotel is an opulent retreat located in a small spa town near the northern border of Portugal. In picturesque Tras-os-Montes (literally, ‘beyond the mountains’), this salmon pink property with the façade of a grand English country estate overlooks a distinctly Iberian landscape. The lavish main building – where the grandiose former ballroom is now a restaurant – is complemented by a golf course and sleek spa. Rooms from $272/night.

Sleep Here: 12 Historic European Hotels

Photos courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Pastel-Painted Saxon Homes
Copsamare Guesthouses
Transylvania, Romania

True to its Romanian roots, Copsamare Guesthouses hotel goes out of its way to offer guests a true Transylvanian experience, no vampires included. Short of being invited to a local’s house for dinner, no deeper immersion exists than this boutique hideaway, where furniture is handcrafted by the neighbours and honey is sourced from the priest’s bees. The welcoming Italian owners created a modest hotel where even the smallest decorations – dried nut leaves, tree trunks – deliver a faithful sense of place. Rooms from $152/night.