These places to stay are some of the prettiest in existence – an 18th century style Chateau in France, a striking farm in Australia, a minimalist and futuristic design in Japan and barefoot private tends in Mexico – in no particular order.
Our editors have handpicked 10 of the most beautiful hotels in the world for you to stay at – or dream of – this year.
1. Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
If you’ve ever, in your most fanciful dreams, thought of what owning your own private island would be like, the Maldives’ Huvafen Fushi does a sterling job of answering just such a hypothetical. Sprawling out over its own atoll, this one-of-a-kind property could be accurately described as an inverted oasis: a sandy pocket of palm trees adrift in the Indian Ocean’s endless blue. Accessible via airport speedboat, this secluded island has everything you need to get lost in relaxation: breathtaking bungalows and pavilions, pools of both the infinity and saltwater variety, award-winning private chefs, and a coral reef for some sunset snorkelling.
The accommodations are similarly exceptional: while the beach-side bungalows remain popular, the overwater dwellings arrest the eye, extending over the tranquil waves by means of a great, horizontal staircase. Elsewhere on the property (well, below it), you’ll find another incredible feat of engineering: the Huvafen Spa, constructed eight metres below the surface of the water. The vast array of massages, facials and Thai-inspired treatments are made that much better by the glass windows that offer a panoramic vantage into the reef, creating a stimulating, hypnotic experience for all five senses.
We could go on about the aquatic adventures, inspired gastronomy, and postcard-perfect beaches that define the Huvafen Fushi, but a single image of this luxurious lagoon says more than words can convey.
2. Habitas Bacalar, México
The number two entry on our list continues the trend of aquatic excellence, but brings it inland to the border of Mexico and Belize, where one can find the many-hued Lake Bacalar on the edge of the jungle. The Habitas Bacalar experience is all about the lagoon upon which it is built, channeling the tranquility of its namesake lake into a host of profoundly energizing holistic experiences. The Bacalar’s diverse accommodations invite guests to awaken to the brilliant Mayan sunrise in an earthy, A-frame tent wherever they feel most comfortable: by the shore, within the jungle, or somewhere in between.
Immersion is everything for the staff at Habitas Bacalar, who go out of their way to protect the almost-sacred lake and get guests fully invested in the natural experience with a host of activities that include yoga, sunrise paddle boarding, floating meditation, kayaking and diving. As a newer property of the larger Habitas family of properties, it bears noting the continued commitment of the operators to preserving the lagoon and local cultures and communities. It is a truly sustainable ecotourism experience. On site restaurant Siete marries locally sourced ingredients with traditional Mayan cooking for some excellent organic lunches with stunning views of the water. As the proprietors like to say, wellness is woven into the very essence of the Habitas Bacalar, and the spa menu does not disappoint: signature facial and massage treatments source key ingredients like cocoa and green tea from the surrounding communities, while the Sumpulche sweat lodge ceremony utilizing hot volcanic rocks is a faithful continuation of venerable Mayan practices.
3. Galleria Vik Milano, Milan, Italy
The Galleria Vik Milano is perhaps not so much a hotel as it is a working portal to the renaissance period, reflecting Milan’s rich cultural and artistic heritage in a striking ode to Italy’s most famous creatives. Every wall and corridor at the Galleria is a canvas upon which the property’s love of the surrealist, abstract or postmodern traditions is proudly displayed. Each room at the Galleria is a true work of art, possessing a bespoke visual identity honouring the works of Pino Pinelli, Felipe Cardena and Shinya Sakurai, among others. Just as no two people may extract the same meaning from a painting, no two stays at the Galleria are exactly alike: a feat accomplished by the regular rotation and reinvention of the property’s exhibits.
The 89 room, instagram-worthy Galleria is ideally situated in the Milan Centre neighbourhood, providing a launchpoint for day trips to desirable landmarks like the Cathedral of Milan and the Piazza del Duomo, to say nothing of the wealth of boutique shops, restaurants and galleries in the vicinity. As one might expect from a boutique property in the heart of Milan, the Galleria is as much a delight to the tastebuds as it is to the eyes. Breakfast spot Vikissimo turns into a trendy acoustic lounge after sundown, while I Dodici Gatti Pizzeria serves up classical wood fired Neapolitan pizza from the rooftops overlooking the bustling streets and alleys surrounding the hotel.
4. Cervo Mountain Resort, Switzerland
The Swiss canton of Valais is pure alpine fantasy: a rugged wilderness of powder snow peaks and surprisingly green valleys that has developed a reputation for some of the finest skiing in the world. In the shadow of the majestic Matterhorn, the Cervo Mountain Resort has ascended to new heights of hospitality. After an intensive redesign in 2020, Cervo has reopened as a dynamic sanctuary from winter’s chill, boasting bonafide sustainability credentials (via geothermal sources and solar panels), timeless accommodations, and three restaurants that reflect the dynamic French-German cuisine of the region.
This massive resort has rooms and lodges scattered across its snowy grounds to suit all tastes, with the 4-star Nomad offering compact comfort for the adventurer in need of a base of operations, and the 5-star Huntsman catering to those seeking an authentic Swiss chateau and an indelible sense of rustic nobility. Elsewhere on the grounds, one can restore body and soul at the Mountain Ashram Spa: essentially what you get when you mix Japanese onsen tradition with the local herbs and natural hot spring water of the Swiss Alps.
You’ll find ski lifts in proximity to the property, ready to ferry you (nearly) above the clouds for a downhill joyride. Notably, Cervo has perfected the art of Après-Ski, serving up cocktails and live music on terraces directly at the bottom of the slopes.
5. Node Kyoto Hotel, Japan
Formerly the capital of Japan, Kyoto strikes an intriguing balance between the country’s celebrated cultural traditions and its unabashedly modern, almost futuristic architecture. Both tradition and modernity are on full display at Node, a high-concept hotel from acclaimed architect Seiichiro Takeuchi. Resembling (by design) the eclectic gallery of a reclusive art collector, Node’s sleek, noir interior guides the eye to the splashes of warmth and colour erupt from its many installations and paintings to punctuate the tones of grey.
Edgy, minimalist, monochrome and mysterious—suitable descriptors for Node’s 25 rooms, scattered across five floors and available in single and double bed configurations. Much like the Galleria Vik Milano (entry number 8 on this list), Node prides itself on working its art collection into its suites, endowing each with a unique assortment of pieces from the collection. Service from the snappily dressed staff is prompt and courteous, and dinner on the premises reinforces the creative current that flows so strongly through the property with an inventive take on Western-Japanese fusion.
While Node may occupy the leading edge of design, it also sits in a very desirable location to some of the best restaurants and shopping in the city and the famous street food institution of Nishiki Market.
6. Stanly Ranch, an Auberge Collection Resort | Napa Valley
The Ranch has captured our collective imaginations and catapulted to the top of our minds without even opening its doors. Set to debut in February 2022, Stanly Ranch encompasses 700 scenic acres in the heart of the Napa and Sonoma wine countries, luring travellers in search of an authentic, adventurous experience with the promise of an upscale farm stay without equal.
Storied vineyards and gentle, verdant hills complement the view of the Mayacamas mountains from any of the property’s soon-to-be-opened hotel cottage suites, each offering outdoor terraces and warm, natural interiors with just a hint of earthy agrarian flair. Despite its rustic trappings and intimate, casual style, there’s no question that Stanly Ranch is shaping up to be a true luxury gateway to the many splendours of California. Beyond its generous amenities, four restaurants spotlighting local, farm-grown fare, and week-long detoxing program, Stanly Ranch will also delight guests with guided hiking and wine tours, cycling and hot air balloon rides over the Napa River.
We’re particularly excited to indulge in some handcrafted botanical cocktails, with ingredients sourced directly from the property’s gardens. For those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, Stanly Ranch offers no shortage of opportunities to get involved with its farms and vineyards, an experience often culminating in a chance to sample the fruits (literal and otherwise) of your labour.
7. Nayara Tented Camp, Costa Rica
Costa Rica has made a splash on the global stage by being something of an irresistible enigma: its wild, tropical landscape is a dichotomous blend of rainforests, beaches and volcanoes. A favourite of eco-tourists (and coffee lovers) in recent years, Costa Rica has asserted itself as one of the world’s foremost destinations for those seeking to experience the unblemished majesty of nature. The Nayara Tented Camp (June 2022)—the newest addition to a family of properties that includes the Nayara Springs and Nayara Gardens, has dedicated itself wholly to offering this natural immersion since its launch in 2019, providing a luxury glamping experience just atop a dense canopy.
Each of Nayara’s 38 luxury tents rise from the hillside on stilts, allowing one to gaze at the nearby volcano from the comfort of a hot spring-fed plunge pool. These aren’t the tents you camped in as a kid: a king bed, an outdoor double shower, and an expansive private terrace are just a few highlights from these superb, safari-style treehouses. Comfort and vistas aside, it’s the wealth of experiences here that really drives us wild: a yoga pavilion, sloth sanctuary and an open-air spa punctuate a robust portfolio of adventurous offerings. Imagine waking to the spirited staccato of colourful parrots and following their song into the rainforest, returning at night for a soak in the pool and a memorable, al fresco dinner highlighting the finest Peruvian and Asian flavours. This isn’t a pipedream: it’s just an average day at Nayara.
8. Les Sources de Cheverny, Loire Valley, France
While the dream of becoming a Disney prince or princess is—for most of us—sadly out of reach, the opportunity to live like one has become, as of September 2021, excitingly attainable. This bit of wish fulfillment comes to us courtesy of Les Sources de Cheverny: an 18th-century style Chateau nestled in the vineyards of France’s enchanting Loire Valley. Within this classical countryside known for its fairy tale castles and dreamy riverbank hamlets, you’ll receive the royal treatment you’ve always longed for and revel in the unabashed opulence of your palatial accommodations.
Les Sources de Cheverny’s regal exterior is matched by an equally grand yet distinctly homely interior, burgeoning with tasteful antiques and pseudo-medieval accents. Beneath the building’s gothic turrets, you’ll find an expanse of well-maintained green space encircled by a quiet forest. The greater estate holds no shortage of attractions: la spa des sources pairs relaxation courtesy of its solid oak jacuzzis with the anti-aging properties of signature grape seed treatments from Caudalie, while the cuisine of chef Frédéric Calmels showcases local, seasonal ingredients sourced directly from the Romorantin vineyard and the aforementioned Sologne forest.
The vision of owners Alice and Jerome Tourbier brought to life amidst a UNESCO-recognized ‘living cultural landscape,’ Les Sources de Cheverny immerses guests in a French landscape seemingly untouched by time. For those looking to spend even more time in the countryside, opt instead to stay in one of the charming stone and wooden cabins surrounding the lake.
9. Five Acres, Australia
If you like your farm stays with a side of beach vacays, Australia’s Five Acres has the compelling combo you crave. Between Phillip Island’s rolling farmland and the waves of Western Port Bay in southern Victoria, you’ll find a trio of luxury cabins at this coastal retreat. Owners Rom and Katie Lamaro have been sharing their highly private, five-acre haven with visitors since 2018. This grassroots luxury experience is not to be missed for anyone looking to experience Australia far from the bustle of its larger cities.
This is a highly exclusive, micro-boutique experience for those seeking a highly personalized getaway. The single-bed Besley, Clove and Rye Cabins each feature a unique personality, painstakingly realized with rustic yet high-end interiors, an outdoor concrete bath, and roaring log fire.
If you wake up one crisp morning and spot a shaggy highland cow peering into your window, don’t panic: it’s just the day-to-day reality of vacationing on a functional microfarm. During the duration of your stay, you’ll have the opportunity to befriend the cows, chickens and goats, walk the property’s extensive vegetable gardens, and sample the organic fruit and nuts from the 90-tree orchard. For adventure beyond the farm, head out for a walk along the coast in search of the adorable Little Penguins, who waddle along the shores of the island in greater numbers than anywhere else in the world.
10. Torre Del Marques, Matarraña, Spain
Renovated and reimagined as an exclusive hideaway in the foothills around Barcelona, this 18th-century farmhouse has become a true Mediterranean marvel. Within the sunset-coloured stones of this terrific tower, you’ll find three floors of 18 spacious suites expertly realized with authentic textiles, pale wooden accents and modern flourishes. Fragrant floral and olive aromas waft into each room by way of a private terrace; a constant reminder of the bucolic bliss that awaits one just steps beyond the pool, sauna and spa on the grounds.
The relaunch of this hotel was a collective triumph shared by a bio-sustainable architect from the small town of Aragon and a small team of local artisans, who now operate Torre Del Marques in the true spirit of Spanish countryside hospitality.
The property is notable for its commendable commitment to sustainability, with plentiful solar panels and a “local fare only” approach at the on-site restaurant reducing the property’s footprint on the idyllic mountains that cradle it. On the topic of the restaurant: it dazzles the palate with a fusion of avant-garde and traditional fare that prominently features the olives, truffles and honey harvested from the surrounding locale. Situated as it is within 150 hectares of rolling hills often referred to as the ‘Spanish Tuscany,’ the Torre Del Marques has much to offer for both the romantic and intrepid. Horse riding and truffle hunting have emerged as two of the favourite pastimes for visitors, and the nearby Puertos de Beceite National Park is well worth spending a day getting lost in.