This year’s Gold List of our editors’ favorite hotels, resorts, and cruise ships in the world is created by teams in New York and London. It spans six continents and 49 countries. They’re gold as in exceptional. Gold as in classic. Gold as in brilliant. Gold as in you’d do it all tomorrow.
Edited by: Erin Florio, Rebecca Misner, Fiona Kerr, and Rick Jordan.
Contributors Contributors: Jesse Ashlock, Rodney Bolt, Lauren DeCarlo, Paulie Dibner, Mark Ellwood, Erin Florio, Lanie Goodman, Adam H. Graham, Annie Hanley, Rachel Howard, David Jefferys, Jenny Johnson, Rick Jordan, Tabitha Joyce, Fiona Kerr, Sarah Khan, Steve King, Jane Knight, Mike Maceacheran, Lee Marshall, Rebecca Nicole Franzen Misner, Jen Murphy, Aoife O’Riordain, Ed Peters, Alex Postman, Corina Quinn, Candice Rainey, Susannah Rigg, Cynthia Rosenfeld, Lindsey Tramuta, Maggie Shipstead, Charlotte Sinclair, Toby Skinner, Melinda Stevens, Nicky Swallow, Janice Wald Henderson, Stephen Whitlock, Stephanie Wu.
History is so much a part of the Charleston experience that you don’t want to leave it behind when returning to your hotel. At the three early-19th- century in-town “singles” and two carriage houses that form the Zero George, each of which comes with a pleasantly quiet, shaded courtyard nook to beat the steamy streets, you don’t have to. When plantation shutters are closed and the happy hour cheese board in the small bar is running low, sleep comes easily in one of the 16 rooms, which offer an unfussy palette of cream, gray, and sage, and not a lick of kitsch. Garden suites are sweet with heart pine floors and period millwork, though like the Dewberry down the street, the kitchen is the heart and soul of this place, as should be the case in the South. Chef Vinson Petrillo isn’t about pretense or elaborate sauces; royal red shrimp are served with generous amounts of heritage pork fat. This is classic Charleston, down to the deeply satisfying underfoot crunch of oyster shells in those nooks. Doubles from $359.
Sunset Tower Hotel
Piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard, this elegant Art Deco tower has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A. Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner—and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million- dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink at the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. Maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes, while the bottom of the menu ﬁrmly reads:
“No photographs. No phone calls.” The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favorite; the seared scallops with black leek and truﬄe sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots—in a city with a strong alfresco game—for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of L.A. and basking in that brilliant goldensunshine. Doubles from $356
Dunton Hot Springs
Located in an old mining town in the Colorado Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs combines the rustic feel of log cabin-living with the modern comforts of a resort. Nestled in a valley 8,850 feet up in the San Juan Mountains, Dunton is shaded by spruce, aspen, and cottonwood trees. Guests have six options for enjoying hot springs—such as under the stars or inside the bathhouse—and spa treatments, along with yoga sessions, enhance the restorative experience. Nine of the fourteen mining-era cabins at the rustic-chic resort thirty miles southwest of Telluride were relocated here from other parts of Colorado. The 1,500 private acres are home to bears, lynx, moose, deer, otters, cougars, foxes, and bald eagles. Dunton also has its own vineyard, library, and saloon, and the wilderness grounds are great for hiking and horseback riding. Cabins from $695.
For a low-key, personal stay in Los Angeles you can do no better. This light-ﬁlled, design-forward spot was a motel in the 1950s before a California architect and his Australian wife transformed it. Feel at ease in the cozy library, or chat it up with the staff who are Malibu natives.
There’s a proper bar with stools and multiple seating areas commanding amazing beach and sunset views—including comfy linen-covered couches facing a ﬁrepit. The roof deck is only open to hotel guests, the ocean is yards away, and Bellino linens on the beds maintain that perfect balance of luxurious and unpretentious. The owners are often around and willing to chat, and you should ask the staff—most born and raised in Malibu—for advice about the area. You really do feel like guests in one big familyhome. Doubles from $348.
Even by the high standards of Northern California wine country, the Farmhouse Inn is something special. You know this as soon as you catch your ﬁrst glimpse of the charming jumble of butter-colored cottages, tucked into a little wooded gully between the wineries of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, but it really becomes clear once you’re exposed to the easy graciousness of the hotel’s owners, siblings Joe and Katherine Bortolomei. They’re often around to say hi at reception, share tips on which estates to visit during their regular afternoon wine tastings, even offer an ad hoc report on the Tahoe snowpack during a chance meeting around the hotel grounds. (Joe’s a serious ski buff.) Once you meet them, you really understand the source of the hotel’s laidback sense of luxury, which extends from the double-sided indoor-outdoor ﬁreplaces in the guestrooms to the Dutch stable doors and hand-painted horse murals in the spa, the most recent addition to the property. The Michelin-starred restaurant, housed in the 1873 weatherboard farmhouse that gives the hotel its name, has become a destination in its own right for its delicious but unfussy way with the region’s prized produce, ﬁsh, and game, and of course the wine list—which includes Joe and Katherine’s own Lost & Found reds—is top-notch. Doubles from $491.
Toﬁno is like the Paciﬁc Northwest’s older teenage cousin—loud, a little dangerous and always up for an adventure. The rugged cliffs and dense forests of Oregon and Washington to the south seem almost quaint compared to those of this remote district on Vancouver Island, off Canada’s west coast, where storm watching is a sport and cedars live to be 1,000 years old. In 1996, a decade before the area became a destination for outdoorsy professionals in Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans—the former ﬁshing town’s popularity has risen in direct proportion to improved wetsuit technology—the Wick opened its hand-carved wooden doors overlooking Chesterman Beach. When one of those gales is blowing, it’s tempting to hunker down, pulling up a cloud-like duvet and watching the ocean rage, settling ﬁreside with a bowl of chowder and an inch of Macallan, or sampling regional cooking at the restaurant (excellent, although the beachfront summertime crab cookouts of whole Dungeness and corn-on-the-cob are even better). But that’s missing the point of the place, which is all for getting visitors outdoors, as the hurricane lantern and bright-yellow rain gear in every room attest. The weather changes in a blink, and the last thing guests need to worry about when hiking the Big Tree Trail on nearby Meares Island—or hiding behind a blackberry bush to spy on a black bear foraging for starﬁsh at low tide—is wet socks.
Doubles from about $249.
The Greenwich Hotel
In an era of the ever-more-exclusive members’ club luring the black-card- carrying wolf pack, Robert De Niro’s hotel makes privacy feel refreshingly effortless. Built more than a decade ago in a cobblestone quarter of Lower Manhattan, it creates the sensation of stepping into the actor’s own salon. The lobby is hung with abstract paintings by De Niro’s late father, and beyond it more inner sanctums await: A book-ﬁlled drawing room merges into a pocket garden, where topiaries cast an Italianate charm. Each of the 88 rooms is idiosyncratically arranged with antique silk rugs, the odd vintage table, and marble bathtubs, while the TriBeCa Penthouse is earthy and minimalist. But the enduring revelation is the Shibui Spa, where the lantern-lit pool glimmers under the beams of a 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse. A festive din still kicks up at Locanda Verde, which serves rustic plates of duck orecchiette, and New York ﬁxtures such as Yoko Ono and Jay-Z go pretty much incognito, but things settle down early. The wolf pack can go elsewhere.
Doubles from about $755.
The Whitby Hotel
NYC’s second import by British brand Firmdale Hotels, is designer Kit Kemp at her playful best. She has created a place that’s the antithesis of the staid, neutral-heavy luxury options in the area. It’s like an English summer garden come to life in hotel form. A welcome addition to staid
No one knew what to expect when a 252-year-old French luxury brand
opened its first property, Baccarat Hotel, on West 53rd five years ago—except that there had better be at least one over-the-top chandelier. The hotel did not disappoint, but what was surprising was how wonderful its opulence felt, after all that industrial, bare-bulb and rough-hewn everything. Like a return to Champagne after years of lager. Unabashed
opulence is what you get as soon as you step into the lobby, there are about 15,000 pieces of the brand’s crystal throughout, including glassware and chandeliers. Arrangements of fresh red roses everywhere add a touch of color. But even thought the hotel is a singular vision, it may be the little touches—Ladurée treats in the minibar to Baccarat tumblers in the bathroom—that make a stay special. Doubles from $895
One of the top hotels in tony Nantucket, and part of the larger Nantucket Island Resorts, which runs multiple properties on the island. The Wauwinet is the only Relais & Chateaux property on Nantucket, and was founded in 1875. Back in the day, rooms started at $7 per night. The rooms are spacious, with a high bed that you want to climb into immediately. Just about every room also has a large terrace with wicker lounge chairs. The terraces lead out to the back of the hotel, where you can walk to a lawn with sun-loungers, to the beach, or to the dock where you can take the Wauwinet Lady boat to downtown. The Wauwinet’s main restaurant, Topper’s, is an island standby. Must-orders here are all seafood-based, of course, but don’t overlook the pate, their signature chowder, or the soft shell crab BLT when it’s seasonally available. The Wauwinet is set off from the other attractions and hotels on the island, which is part of its charm.
But its got an hourly shuttle that can take you to the heart of downtown,where the action is. Doubles from $201.
Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, A Four Seasons Hotel
The Beverly Wilshire is as close to a European grand dame as you’ll ﬁnd in L.A.—with impeccable service to match. It was good enough for Elvis and the British Royal Family, and exists in triumphant opposition to the informal, minimal lobbies sprouting up across the city. Regular guests love the views of Rodeo Drive and Hollywood Hills and the pool, which was based on Sophia Loren’s Tuscan villa. And because this is LA, the scene here wouldn’t be complete without somewhere to eat: There’s The Blvd, an all-day spot, and the Michelin-starred CUT by Wolfgang Puck, a modern-day steakhouse designed by architect Richard Meier. If you’re looking for classic luxury, look no further. Doubles from $536.
The Lowell, on the Upper East Side, reopened in 2017 after a three-year renovation. Its 74 rooms got a refresh, but the important touches stayed the same: wood-burning ﬁreplaces, grisaille wallpaper in the lobby, tasseled key fobs. Nowhere in the city feels quite as reﬁned. Every room has fresh ﬂowers, while huge marble bathrooms have separate tub and shower areas, Frette bath robes, and custom-made products from the high-end line DDC28. Unlike big luxury chains, there’s a small scale, quiet, and personalized feeling here that’s worth the lack of extras (like a swimming pool or spa). Doubles from $610.
Montage Palmetto Bluﬀ
Never mind that Justin Bieber had his wedding here—Palmetto Bluff is nothing if not lost in time, and that’s precisely the appeal. Set on 100 acres of wildlife sanctuary on South Carolina’s May River, it’s a romantically haunting landscape of Southern oaks draped in Spanish moss, the iconic
state palmetto, cranes ﬂying overhead, and live gators sunning on the banks in the hazy early morning. (Cautionary note when ﬁshing—gators also love large-mouth bass and will snap them right off your line).Technically, Montage Palmetto Bluff is a resort, with the archetypal Southern mansion or inn acting as its anchor, but in reality it’s a small, charming village—albeit one with multiple pools, restaurants, bars, and a spa that the resort manages. Kids play wiﬄe ball in the main square at dusk, couples walk their dogs with a drink in hand and say hello as you pass them; there’s even a daily late afternoon “porching” session with drinks and s’mores at the ﬁre pits. Whether you’re posting up at the inn itself or in one of the riverside cottages, you’ve got a boat rental outﬁtter, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, and old-time general store all at your ﬁngertips, not to mention cruiser bikes for exploring. It’s slow, languid living in the best possible way. Doubles from $535.
The Langham, Chicago
A highlight of any Chicago riverboat architecture tour is Mies van der Rohe’s last skyscraper, 330 North Wabash, still commonly referred to as the IBM Building. It’s a paragon of the late International Style: a 52-story rectangle of anodized aluminum and bronze glass that is the perfect distillation of corporate might and urban promise. To check into the Langham Chicago, which has occupied the building’s ﬁrst 13 ﬂoors since 2013, is to step into the story the building tells about the American city. You feel like you could be a character in a spy thriller as you pass through the note-perfect midcentury lobby and take the elevator to the elegant second-ﬂoor reception area. (The hotel makes an appearance in the 2018 ﬁlm Widows.) Everywhere you go, there are encounters to be had with the City of the Century: You’ll ponder the curious curlicues of Marina City, the iconic “corncob” apartment towers next door, over a bowl of cacio e pepe in Travelle, the handsomely brassy New American restaurant, and admire the bold way North Wabash slices diagonally through the urban jungle from the cream-and-taupe comfort of your vast guest room. For the traveler, it’s Chicago’s ﬁnest address. Doubles from $340.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai
There’s Hawaii, and there’s Lanai. Driving through Lanai City—still more plantation outpost than the island’s only town—on the way from the airport to the hotel, there are none of the usual signiﬁers: no ABC Stores or shave ice stands (there aren’t even traﬃc lights). In addition to palms, there are willowy Cook pines planted a century ago. In 2012, billionaire Larry Ellison purchased 98 percent of Lanai, including this hotel, which he closed in 2015 for a major overhaul. Rooms were freshened up with teak and zebrawood; key cards morphed into waterproof wristbands, handy for late-night dips in the new pool. Nobu and Malibu Farm were clever additions—sashimi and salads are brilliant after sun and sea. But what really makes this hotel stand out is that there’s no feeling of being on- or off-property. Every part of Lanai, from sunbathe-naked-empty Polihua Beach to the interior’s Garden of the Gods, with otherworldly red- rock formations, feels all yours. Doubles from $1,150.
NoMad Las Vegas
NoMad Las Vegas is a hotel within a hotel; speciﬁcally, the Park MGM, the completely re-thought former Monte Carlo. But unlike some other hotel- in-hotel pairings in Las Vegas, there’s some synchronicity here, since the Sydell Group had a hand in the redesign of the entire property. But while Park MGM is fun and accessible, NoMad is its totally grown-up side. It’s all old-world luxury here, with sexy dark corners and a grand, library- inspired restaurant. When you walk into NoMad, it’s like wandering into some amazing secret hidey-hole. If you thought you were too sophisticated for Las Vegas, you haven’t been here yet. Doubles from $149.
NoMad New York
Walk through the velvet- and-gilt lobby of the Jacques Garcia–designed NoMad Hotel and spend enough time in its moody bar, and you’ll see the after-work creative set getting progressively louder over dirty martinis and guests having a last drink before bedding down in apartment- like rooms. The NoMad is a little bit of Paris in the Flatiron district: urbane and cultivated, without a hint of stuﬃness. If it’s possible, the food may be even better than the accommodations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner come from Daniel Humm, also of the 2017 best restaurant in the world, Eleven Madison Park. Doubles from $400.