Though it’s a sleek, modern hotel with impeccable high-tech hardware in its 185 rooms, Raffles’ address in Istanbul still channels the city’s Byzantine charm and mystery. Chalk it up to the gorgeous views from almost every room and lush Turkish textiles, handicrafts (like pierced metal-and-glass similar to those found in the Blue Mosque), and dramatic, oversized framed photos of its most famous sites. Set in the central Besiktas neighborhood on the European side, the Raffles puts guests right on top of an array of shopping and dining, and a performing arts hub. The Bosphorus is also not too far away (you can see it from many of the rooms), but signature tourist attractions and historic sites are a bit farther afield.
8. The Peninsula Bangkok — Bangkok, Thailand
It feels like you might be in London when you're at The Peninsula, in Bangkok's Thonburi neighborhood, thanks to the British racing vehicles parked out front. But the hotel's custom tuk-tuk reminds you that you're in Thailand. Rich, warm, toffee tones carry throughout the lobby and lounges; the space offers grand views over the Chao Praya and the Thai river homes across the water. The Peninsula swimming pool is among the best in the city; there's no better way to beat the heat in this famously hot capital than by taking a dip right on the river.
7. Olema House Point Reyes — Point Reyes, California
Set on four acres on the outskirts of the Point Reyes National Seashore, an hour north of San Francisco, Olema House Point Reyes offers a restful stay on the scenic West Marin Coast, complete with views of Olema Creek, the Inverness Ridge, and Mt. Wittenberg. The 24 rooms, which include two cottages, all tout heated floors, down comforters and pillows, and Americana decor. If you eat at the hotel (and you should), the local, seasonal menu at Due West pulls from the bounty of nearby ranches, farms, and the bay, with ingredients like Tomales Bay oysters, house-cured pork belly, and summer squash. The complimentary breakfast includes fresh pastries, fruit, and charcuterie.
6. Sofitel Bogotá Victoria Regia — Bogotá, Colombia
Named after the Victoria Regia, a water lily that floats in the Amazon, this hotel imbues Colombian flavor with elegant French touches. The property was designed by renowned architect Miguel Soto, who helmed the whole “equal parts Colombia and France” aesthetic: think velvet furnishings, local artwork on rotation, fresh flowers replaced daily, and Hermes toiletries. The 102 rooms—including five suites—are chic and comfortable, while the restaurant, Basilic, offers French haute cuisine and a sizable wine menu.
5. Mandarin Oriental Doha
Down near the Corniche and Souq Waqif, in the pristine and newly-minted Msheireb district, the Mandarin Oriental Doha highlights Qatari heritage with sophisticated design. Windows are shaded with traditional mashrabiya window lattices, door handles are made to resemble oryx horns, and sand dune patterns appear in carpets, textiles, and light fixtures. The rooftop pool and its poolside cabanas are easily one of the best spots in the city to watch the sunset.
4. The Peninsula House — Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
This family-owned inn sits on 15 verdant hillside acres on the Dominican Republic's Samaná Peninsula, with views of the Atlantic in the distance. The Victorian colonial design evokes an 18th-century Charleston home (this one filled with eclectic art, including a collection of wooden sheep). Beautiful rooms in earth tones have Brazilian hardwood floors, antiques such as Chinese bamboo storage trunks and Indian cabinets, and mahogany soaking tubs. Enjoy drinks on the terrace or, head to the Beach Restaurant for a seafood lunch. It's only a few miles—and a free shuttle ride—from the main hotel.
3. Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel — Cusco, Peru
Just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, this 16th-century colonial-style mansion has been thoughtfully updated with intelligent oxygen enrichment systems (to deal with Cusco's 11,000 foot altitude), heated floors, and hot tubs in its 43 suites. All that will leave you feeling deeply relaxed, but it's not just about how you feel—it's what you see, too. The hotel houses more than 300 pieces of art, including paintings from the Cusco school, carvings, and sculptures, so make time to take a lap (or three) before indulging in Peruvian dishes like shrimp in organic quinoa and alpaca loin with Peruvian tubers. Oh, and don't forget the pisco sour.
2. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena — Cartagena, Colombia
This former 17th-century convent mixes elements of its past (exposed wood ceilings, beautiful arched walkways) with modernity in a very graceful way. Set within walking distance of the Palace of the Inquisition and about a seven-minute walk to the beach, it's a super-sized hacienda, complete with a courtyard toucan. Rooms are either contemporary or colonial-style; the newer ones offer views of the pool or the Caribbean, while colonial suites have antique furniture and overlook the Old Town or interior gardens. To play at being pious, check out Restaurant 1621, once the Clarist nuns’ dining room, that now serves French-inflected cuisine.
1. Baur au Lac — Zurich, Switzerland
Opened in 1844 and operated by the same family ever since, this property has hosted the likes of Joan Miró and Plácido Domingo. Set in a garden near the Bahnhofstrasse shopping drag (Zurich's
equivalent of Fifth Avenue), the hotel looks right onto Lake Zurich and the Alps
—but that's not the only nice view. Inside, rooms tastefully mix Art Deco, Louis XVI, and Regency styles, and are individually decorated in neutral tones with red, purple, and teal accents—though, if you're lucky, you'll get a room with a balcony on the water. If you're keen to splurge more than you have, the Michelin-starred Pavillon is worth the indulgence.