In the Spotlight

Library at The NoMad Hotel, New York City

After its opening in 2011, the NoMad quickly emerged as one of New York City’s trendiest hotels — which is no small accomplishment considering the stiff competition. Centrally located near Madison Square Park, The Nomad (which shares its name with the surrounding neighborhood north of Madison Square Garden) is a luxurious, impeccably designed hotel with attentive service but limited features (there’s no spa or business center). The hotel’s focal point is its eponymous bar and restaurant, a celeb haunt featuring five separate-but-connected spaces that sprawl along the ground floor. Guests can order cocktails in the cozy, book-lined Library or order brunch in the sun-filled Atrium room, though they should be prepared for price tags that match the high level of style. The 168 guest rooms are luxurious (there are Sferra linens, Frette towels, and robes), and successfully evoke a bygone era with Persian rugs, old maps, and antique-looking fixtures. Read More »

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The relaxed, tranquil environment of this adults-only boutique resort is a major part of its appeal. This isn’t Antigua’s fanciest property, but it doesn’t need to be: Simple Caribbean style (think: thatched roofs, stone, and rattan), a truly gorgeous beach, and all-inclusive food that’s better than average for the island make for a winning combo. Water sports are also included in the rate, but the ocean here can get a bit rough so guests shouldn’t count on being able to swim in it every day. The 40-acre property is set on a stunning three-quarter-mile long beach on Antigua’s northeastern shore, about a 10-minute drive from St. John’s.

Beach at the Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua Beach at the Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua

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Stairs at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul Stairs at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul

Formerly the palace of an Ottoman Sultan, the Ciragan Palace Kempinski is the grand dame of Istanbul. It wows guests at every turn, from the sprawling, manicured grounds, to the heated infinity pool right on the Bosphorus, to the refined suites. The dining options are extensive and exceptional; the spa is lovely; and the meeting space housed in the original palace building makes an ornate setting for a business function or wedding. It’s arguably the city’s top luxury option, but it’s far from the popular tourist sights in Sultanahmet. Read More »

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The 23-room Hotel Mathis is an upscale boutique property in the 8th arrondissement, within walking distance of designer shops and the Arc de Triomphe. The attractive, Art Deco-inspired decor is particularly impressive in the cozy breakfast room, which has crystal chandeliers, rich blue banquet seating, and crown moldings, as well as in the bar, which has plush red couches. Most rooms have a toned-down version of this look (antique-like lamps, rich curtains, prettily patterned desk chairs), but some have modern elements that contribute to a more eclectic feel. All have flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s charm and level of luxury are comparable to the Hotel Daniel’s, but prices are often better here (though they’re still not cheap).

Hotel Bar at the Hotel Mthis Elysees Matignon

Hotel Bar at the Hotel Mthis Elysees Matignon

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The Alma is one of Tel Aviv’s best and most intimate boutique hotels, with just 15 rooms housed in a former apartment building dating to the 1920s. The style throughout is bohemian-chic, featuring rich hues and bold patterns, and the aging historic core of the building — essentially a once-elegant apartment vestibule with original tiling and wrought iron stair railings — has been deliberately preserved. Every room has a different name and style inspired by the building’s past. Rooms come with an abundance of thoughtful extras, including welcome treats, espresso machines, and loaner iPads (upon request). Impressive bathrooms have jetted showers or soaking tubs and high-end Bulgari toiletries. The hotel is a local dining and drinking hot spot, but there are few other features aside from the on-site lounge.

Alma Lounge at the Hotel & Lounge, Tel Aviv

Alma Lounge at the Hotel & Lounge, Tel Aviv


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Here’s one way to cope with the end of summer: Start planning your first weekend fall getaway. The Graham & Co in the Catskills is an attractive contender, drawing groups and young couples with free beer upon check-in, hipster-friendly decor, fire pit, projector for movie nights, quiet lounge with outdoor seating and low music, free loaner bikes, and a convenient location a couple of blocks from Main Street in Phoenicia.

With no TVs, spotty cell service in the area, and a location surrounded by nature (but within walking distance of restaurants and shops), The Graham & Co. lets guests get away from it all. It is relaxing, clean and simple, with 20 rooms of varying sizes (some have kitchens) featuring Tivoli radios with iPod hookups, reclaimed wood furniture, and large comfy bean bags — but little else.

Fire Pit at The Graham & Co.

Fire Pit at The Graham & Co.

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Nicaragua is still a diamond in the rough. It offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica — lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife — but it’s a much poorer country and it shows. However, the handful of luxury resorts in Nicaragua are proof that the upscale travel market here is emerging, and Mukul, the super-exclusive property that opened in February 2013, is helping to bring the country into the international spotlight.

Mukul is more than just a luxury resort; it is one of the most exclusive hideaways not only in Nicaragua, but Central America. The name, Mukul, is Mayan for “secret,” and guests are assured of a high level of privacy: The resort, part of a sprawling, 1670-acre beach community, has only 37 luxurious Bohios and Villas, and the grounds are not open to the public. The existence of the resort is hardly a secret, however, as this $40 million project helmed by Don Carlos Pellas, a Nicaraguan business magnate, is helping to change the face of the country’s tourism industry. The guests who can afford Nicaragua’s most expensive hotel rates will be rewarded with a gorgeous white-sand beach, one of the most beautiful spas in the world, an 18-hole golf course, gourmet cuisine, and pampering service — though they should note that construction on the property’s hillside real estate is still underway.

Spa at the Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa

Spa at the Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa

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Yamm restaurant shows off the hotel's futuristic design style.

Edward Snowden — the former CIA employee who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance methods last week — has reportedly been hiding out at The Mira Hong Kong since his whistle-blowing shocked people across the globe — but no longer. The Daily Telegraph has reported that a man who called himself Edward Snowden checked out of the The Mira today. Many have their doubts about whether or not this is the Edward Snowden: After all, the 29-year-old has been very secretive since the big reveal, even admitting to feeling extremely fearful of being spied on. In fact, reports claim that Snowden left his hotel in Hong Kong just three times during his stay — despite being in the city for three weeks — for fear of being located by the NSA.

There are certainly worse places to lay low: The Mira is one of Hong Kong’s most luxurious, high-design properties. The hotel boasts a central location in Tsim Sha Tsui, futuristic design touches, seven outstanding restaurants and bars, and an excellent fitness center. If Snowden was hiding out at the chic hotel, we can only assume he is sad to leave it now. Whether he will stay in Asia or seek asylum elsewhere – many speculate he may travel to Iceland for that reason — saying goodbye to The Mira could not have been easy. See more photos of The Mira after the jump »

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Step right into The Jade Hotel.

Opened just a few months ago, The Jade Hotel is already a hot spot in New York City, thanks to its trendy Greenwich Village location and even trendier clientele (Cameron Diaz reportedly spent the night flirting with a bartender at the hotel). From the curated library to the retro rotary phones in every room, no detail has been left out at this sexy boutique. Its 113 stylish rooms have tasteful decor inspired by the Paris of the 1920s, and feature top-notch amenities, including high-definition TVs, Tivoli radios with iPod hookups, and free Wi-Fi. Grape & Vine, a bar and restaurant reminiscent of the old New York speakeasies, attracts a varied clientele with its intimate yet casual vibe and French-inspired menu. The Jade is a great pick for couples and business travelers, but those with kids in tow might find some rooms to be too small and the walls too thin. Check out more photos after the jump, or skip to the full review here.

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We had a hard time saying "goodbye" to this view!

Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature. The 16-bungalow lodge sits amid 1,000 acres of rainforest filled with wildlife, but it’s far from a no-frills jungle camp. There are many comforts here, including a pool overlooking the ocean, a splendid restaurant serving sumptuous cuisine, and rustic-luxe rooms with private decks. This is a place to get in touch with nature without roughing it. So as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve.

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