Even if we gather the best hotels in the world, some make more of an impact on our travelers than others. For a start, there is the perennial darling of Fifth Avenue where everyone who is someone goes for a taste of Beaux Arts splendour, and then there is the undisputed grand dame of Marrakech, with its serious Arabian Nights vibe.
If you’re due for a holiday, but you’re having trouble choosing a destination, this selection of our most booked properties for 2019 is the inspiration you need. Every once in a while, it’s good to trust your peers, and this is one of those times when we think it’s worth it. So without further ado, the places you want to be this year, as picked by our travelers, are:
The Balmoral, Edinburgh
Be it for the medieval riddle of its narrow streets and alleys or the drama of its fairytale castle, but Edinburgh has always caused a fuss among travelers, and the verdict is in on the best place to stay while you’re there. It’s the Balmoral hotel, of course, occupying Edinburgh’s most prestigious address at No. 1 Princes Street.
Its Victorian facade, with Neo-Renaissance turrets and a clock tower, is the stuff of travel dreams, and inside, interiors by Olga Polizzi are elegant and cosseting enough to have The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Elizabeth Taylor checking in when in town. While you’re here, the Michelin-star Number One restaurant is a must. Stop by for the house-smoked salmon and single malts from The Cellar, which boasts over 500 bottles of whisky if that’s your kind of thing.
La Mamounia, Marrakech
Arriving at La Mamounia in Marrakech, the two doormen in fezzes and pointy slippers set the stage for a hotel stay unlike any other. It’s like stepping into an Arabian Nights fantasy, and the marble foyer of ornate pillars, enormous chandeliers and vases overflowing with roses just adds to its regal vibe.
Then, of course, there is the hotel’s 20-acre garden of lemon trees, jacarandas and mimosa that scent the air, and it has been an enclave of peace since the 18th century. Regular visitor Winston Churchill loved it, spending many hours behind his easel to try and capture its beauty. To him, it was “the most lovely spot in the whole world”, and we feel inclined to agree.
The Plaza, New York
The Plaza New York, featured in some 20+ films, including the likes of The Great Gatsby and Home Alone, is a New York icon on a par with the city’s yellow cabs, Woody Allen and the Statue of Liberty, and the century-old landmark is not showing any signs of weakening its grip on the affection of locals and the upper crust of the world’s elite.
For a start, there is the Beaux Arts splendour of it- think a grand lobby with scores of marble, gilded mouldings and explosive flower displays wherever you look. Then, of course, the plush Palm Court, with its domed ceiling and harp player, is old-world luxury at its best, perfect for discreet people-watching to the most regal high tea experience this side of the world.
Crosby Street Hotel, New York
If Beaux-Arts architecture is not your thing, our travelers have narrowed down on the next best bolthole in New York. It’s the first US venture of hoteliers Tim and Kit Kemp, and the NYC Firmdale Hotel is as exciting and vibrant as you’d expect.
Think a playful and quirky decor of oak floors, upholstered walls and warehouse-style windows framed by designer drapes, but above all, art is a focal point here, from the antique telephones that hang on the walls to the whimsical sculptures that make for great conversation pieces. The location of the hotel, which hugs the divide between the Lower East Side and SoHo, is a work of art too. Chinatown and Little Italy are on your doorstep, while Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street and the Greenwich Village are a short walk away.
For more travel inspiration, read on…