Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Favorite Hotels Around the Worlds
Peter, "Pecepe" on our Slow Travel Message Board, always has the best hotel recommendations, so I asked him to make a list for us of his favorite hotels around the world.
I will begin in New York City and go east around the world. Here goes!
New York City: The Stanhope and the Waldorf Astoria. The seven-suite at the Waldorf was a wonderful experience in real comfort and luxury. The Stanhope is a lovely hotel on Fifth Avenue only a short walk to the Metropolitan Museum.
Phoenix: My favorite hotel in the US is the Arizona Biltmore. There are many others to choose from in and around Phoenix that have more glitz but the Biltmore, where I have stayed many times, remains my favorite.
Hawaii: One of the hotels on the beach but the name doesn't come back to me.
I have stayed in hotels in numerous cities in the US. Those that I liked a great deal are the Anasazi in Santa Fe, La Quinta just outside of Palm Springs, The Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas (I love this one!), Stanford Court in San Francisco, Boca Raton Resort in Boca Raton, The Cloister in Sea Island (GA), and the Four Seasons in Philadelphia.
Toronto: The Four Seasons is outstanding even though it is a bit out of the way as I recall.
Ireland: Ashford Castle on the west coast of Ireland. This is one beautiful place located in an amazingly delightful area of Ireland.
London, England: Over many years of traveling to London, I have stayed at many hotels. But, these are my favorites: Dukes is far and away on top of my list even though the Dorchester, Connaught and Stafford would be my choice if there was no room at the Dukes. The spiffy Berkeley I have endured too many times and could never stand its stuffiness and funereal atmosphere. After reflecting a bit, I think the Stafford would be my second choice mainly because I really like the location of it and Dukes. Dukes' bartender was an Italian who was one of the world's (self-proclaimed) expert on Scotch whiskey.
Paris, France: The Ritz - what more can I say! Well, in addition to the luxurious rooms, the restaurant is memorable.
Frankfurt, Germany: The Schlosshotel Kronberg was built for a royal person as a wedding present. This one is a real experience set in lovely grounds outside of Frankfurt. The rooms are huge and beautifully appointed. Best bread I have ever eaten was here!
Zurich, Switzerland: I can still remember walking up the lovely stairway at the Dolder Grand to our room, the luxurious rooms (especially the linens) and the first class dining room. Even though Switzerland is not one of my favorite countries to revisit, I still think fondly of the Dolder.
Madrid, Spain: The Ritz here is not as spiffy as the one in Paris but I liked it better.
Santander, Spain: We loved the Real! The place is beautiful, views out to the sea, wonderful service and, would you believe, reasonable prices. Well, very reasonable for this level of luxury. We arrived very late and very hungry on one of our trips there. The dining room was closed but that did not deter them from serving us a delicious full dinner.
Europe - Italy
Milan: Clearly one of my wife's favorite hotels in the world is the Principe di Savoie. This one is pure luxury with a price to match. Recently we stayed at the very reasonable (for Milan and the weak dollar) De La Ville. A comfortable place that is ideally located on Via Hoepli.
Bellagio: The Serbelloni is magnificent with a great location. The beautiful dining room alone is worth a visit and now the cuisine there is enough for a destination. Bellagio is lovely but next time I would prefer to stay in Como as it is very easy to visit the lakeshore towns from there, it has excellent shopping, is a lovely city to explore and is easy to get to Lugano and Milan. So one lands at Malpensa and a bus or train will get you to Como in about an hour. Once there you can do a great deal without having a car to worry about.
Venice: The Danielli is our favorite but the rooms at the Gritti are nicer. Either one as long as we get a room on the Grand Canal.
Mira: We stayed at the Villa Margherita, which was quite nice, but wished we had stayed at its sister hotel Villa Francheschi. Mira is near Padova in northern Italy.
Alba: The last time there we stayed at the Il Castelli which was OK. But, I mention Alba because my son was there last month and loved the Locanda del Pilone which is just outside of Alba in the middle of vineyards. It is very reasonable and has a top restaurant. It has less than 10 rooms.
Florence: Helvetia and Bristol is one that we would return to even thought the Excelsior was quite nice. But, we did get stuck in the elevator there for an hour or so.
Forte dei Marmi: Il Bottaccio in Montignoso is a small inn (with an excellent restaurant), which is just a few miles east and up the hill from Forte dei Marmi. Montignoso has no charm whatsoever. Il Bottaccio was an old mill which has been converted and updated very nicely. Each of its rooms are a little different but all are a good size with nice bathrooms. It does not have 24 hour service. We drove down the coast from Nice on that trip stopping at many of the small towns that struck our fancy. Now when I look back I am sorry that we didn't spend time in Genova. We did take a look at Cinque Terre but saw nothing really special relative to many towns on the coast that had vistas and charm as wonderful.
Montefollonico: La Chiusa in Montefollonico has a few rooms that are very nice and very comfortable. The views of Montepulciano a few miles distant from the veranda/deck is really wonderful. To enjoy a wonderful meal at the restaurant, have a short walk to the town center then back to your room is a memorable experience.
Rome: Another city where we stayed in many hotels from the Hassler, Excelsior, Farnese, to the Minerva. Minerva is our strong favorite because we love the location. The hotel drifted downwards for a couple of years then under new ownership everything has improved. The roof garden for a snack, luncheon and/or cocktails could be the highlight of one's trip to Rome. I like the Prati area too but not over Piazza della Minerva and that whole area. If we are in Rome on a Sunday then we have a light lunch at the Hassler, especially if it is a clear day.
Fiuggi: The Palazzo della Fonte is the place to go just outside of Rome to take the baths, get a massage etc. in luxury. This lovely hotel is a real treat. Moreover, it is in a part of Italy that gets very little foreign tourist traffic. So a weekend here where it is easy to visit the many interesting towns in the area, especially Anagni. Our very favorite restaurant is in the next town. Le Colline Ciociare is in Acuto.
Grottaferrata: Villa Grazioli in Grottaferrata has been transformed into a delightful hotel with very comfortable rooms and pleasant service. We stay here when we are traveling in the areas south of Rome as it is only a 30 minute drive to FCO. The views of Rome at night from the highest front rooms are very nice. A practice that I really dislike is that quite a few of the really nice hotels are adding rooms to an out building and so has the Villa Grazioli. When making reservations the traveler should be certain of the room location and that it be noted in the reservation confirmation.
Naples: Between the Vesuvio and the Santa Lucia, we would go back to the Santa Lucia. Still, I remember Pauline's positive experience at the Parker's, which I will have to keep in mind the next time in Naples.
Amalfi: Santa Caterina is a delightful hotel with marvelous views and a very short walk into Amalfi.
Monopoli: The Melograno simply put is delightful. This is a place that I would recommend to anyone and is especially lovely for honeymooners. The hotel is spread out in the middle of ancient olive groves and us just outside of Monopoli. Monopoli itself is not worth of a destination in itself but I liked it simply because I enjoy walking a town to get a feel for a foreign culture. But, it is easy to drive to many lovely towns that are easy to get to from the Melograno. Thing is, the next time in Puglia do we stay there or stay in Lecce? I think Lecce will get the nod.
Taormina: San Domenico Palace even though it has uneven, creaky floors and smallish rooms which nevertheless are well appointed. But, where can you have your morning coffee and a sweet while looking over the Ionian Sea in front of you, the Greek Theatre on your left and Etna smoking away on your right?
Dubrovnik (now Croatia): I think it was the Excelsior, which was located right on the water. There was a big pool but no swimming in the Adriatic. I stayed there when it was still Yugoslavia and still a Communist country. I recall it being odd to find such a luxurious hotel in a communist country. I recall that our hosts told us that they often took the ferry to Bari to do their shopping.
The hotels in Athens, Ankara, Bahrain, Jedda and Tel Aviv do not come to mind. I do remember that the hotel in Athens was quite nice with big windows opening onto the main square in Athens.
There are none that I can think of in Morocco and South Africa either. However, I did stay at a very comfortable lodge in the Kruger National Park, where I went on a photo safari. The wart hogs joined us every morning for breakfast and every night we had wild game grilled over an open fire. Not for vegetarians!
Cairo: I can't remember the name for sure but I think it was the Meridian. I do remember being able to look out the window onto the Nile where boats were going back and forth.
Amman: I think it was the Sheridan. The one thing that sticks in my mind is that there was a big discothque there and it was jammed with people dancing and drinking. A Jordanian told me that it was popular with airline pilots and flight attendants.
Dubai: Again the name escapes me but I recall it being a large modern hotel that anchored a huge shopping center. The shopping center was unforgettable in that it had a very large indoor ice skating rink. At the time my three sons were playing ice hockey and a I sent them a post card with a picture of the rink (in the desert).
Bangkok: I would love to return to this city and stay at the Oriental again. This is a wonderful hotel with beautiful views.
Singapore: The Shagri-La is one of the most beautiful and most comfortable with the best service. I can see its beautiful gardens in my mind's eye now.
Hong Kong: The Mandarin's duplex room made me feel wonderful. Newer and more luxurious hotels have gone up in Hong Kong but the Mandarin will remain my favorite.
Taipei: The Grand Hotel is an amazing place! The hotel always had a pleasant aroma which I could never figure out. The rooms are huge with very high ceilings and luxurious appointments. The doors were huge and made of very thick wood. I remember the bar being empty one night and Harry Reasoner and I enjoyed a few cocktails. He was there on assignment.
Tokyo: The major Asian cities have fabulous hotels. The one that I always stayed at was the Imperial. When you asked for your breakfast to be delivered at 6:08, it was there at 6:08! I never could figure out how they did it. I do remember that it had a great barber shop. Also, there was a street vendor who sold yakatori only a block or two from the Imperial. I always made it my business to take the short walk for a snack from him.
South America and Caribbean
Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Caracas and several places in the Caribbean, still none come to mind except for one in the Dominican Republic that I just thought of. That one is the very lovely Casa de Campo where my youngest son was introduced to lobster and still has a great liking for it. The other one is the Sandy Lane in Barbados which I have already mentioned.
I might as well add Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and several places in the Caribbean to the "no impression" list except for the Sandy Lane in Barbados. My sons loved the fruit display and fabulous buffet put out every day for every meal.
That's it! Whew!
Slow Travel Italy - Restaurants Lists: Peter's recommended restaurants in Italy
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