Best City Hotels

Vote for your favorite in the 2018 Platinum List Awards

May / June 2018
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In the world’s great towns, these legendary establishments consistently provide five-star excellence to their discerning clientele. Help us determine the best in luxury travel for the 2018 Celebrated Living Platinum List Awards. Your vote will help select the top properties. Voting ends June 30. Read about the winners in our Platinum List Awards issue, on planes September 1.

Aman

Tokyo, Japan

Situated on the top of the Otemachi Tower, Aman Tokyo sports a sleek, modern design that manages to balance Japanese traditions with the nation’s openness to progress. Each of the hotel’s 84 rooms and suites features a unique layout and panoramic views of the capital.

The Ashton

Dallas, Texas, United States

The Ashton hotel Fort Worth isn’t big and it isn’t flashy, but it looms large in the city's history. It opened in 1915 as a gentleman’s club and still has the unfussy elegance that would have made those cattle barons of old feel at home. The nearby Jazz Scat Lounge is a must-visit for guests of today.

Baccarat Hotel

New York City, New York, United States

The legendary French elegance of the Baccarat crystal company is reimagined for the modern traveler.

Baur au Lac

Zürich, Switzerland

According to owner Andrea Kracht, “The Baur au Lac has always been modern.” Kracht represents the sixth generation of the family that opened the opulent landmark in 1844, in a private park on the banks of Lake Zurich. It was one of the first hotels with a telegraph office, as well as running water in each room. 

Today, no property in Zurich better embodies the spirit of the city. Historic but modern, palatial but not ostentatious, it’s the epitome of understated luxury. 

Beyond the lobby’s antique tapestries and wooden panels lies Le Hall, an all-day lounge that over the generations has hosted luminaries from Alfred Nobel—who had early discussions about his Peace Prize here—to artist Marc Chagall. Complementing an art deco glass dome and Empire-style chandelier are such works as a vibrant painting of watermelons by Colombian master Fernando Botero. This free juxtaposition of styles is also apparent in the 119 rooms and suites, which offer city, canal or lake views. Designer Frédéric d’Haufayt has created a sumptuous ambience by mixing different periods, from art deco and French Louis XVI to English Regency, with contemporary paintings and photography adorning the walls. 

Art is a significant presence at the Baur au Lac, so much so that it’s become part of the hotel’s DNA. Andrea’s wife, Gigi, a passionate collector and connoisseur, is credited with bringing modern art to the property through her friendships with such figures as Botero and Jeff Koons. A member of the International Director’s Council for the Guggenheim, she organizes the hotel’s annual outdoor exhibition, Art in the Park, which acts as a prelude
to Art Basel in June. This year’s show—the 17th—featured sculptures by Eduardo Chillida and paintings by Louise Bourgeois and Rita Ackermann.

The parkland in which the Baur au Lac sits adds to its special allure. A lush landscape with spectacular views of the lake and Alps, it is populated by magnificent ginkgo and redwood trees, as well as an 82-foot fir that is festooned with 70,000 lights each November to become the city’s tallest Christmas tree. The hotel also harvests 240 kilograms of honey annually from four colonies of 80,000 bees that reside in a posh aluminum hive shaped like the hotel, surrounded by plane trees. Situated directly on the garden, the outdoor restaurant Terrasse is popular among residents and visitors who enjoy a bistro menu of salads, grilled fish and meat, including the popular Wagyu beef burger.

The hotel’s premier restaurant is the two-Michelin-starred Pavillon, helmed by chef Laurent Eperon. Occupying a glass rotunda designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, featuring vintage Lalique chandeliers and large floral arrangements, the restaurant offers a nine-course menu that includes exotic and seasonal ingredients such as Austrian venison and sweetbreads with chanterelles. But even a simple dish of Swiss veal and rösti is taken to another level, with tender filet mignon and crunchy Bintje potatoes. In September, the new restaurant Baur’s, a casual but stylish brasserie, is opening, combining classic Swiss fare with lighter dishes.

A sense of family has always been paramount at the Baur au Lac, even among the staff. Chief concierge Jérémie Varry has worked at the hotel for decades. “I moved to Zurich from Paris in 1998 and never looked back,” he says. This feeling is echoed among the property’s clients: Sixty percent are regulars, and some have been visiting for generations. Among the hotel’s amenities are two automotive innovations begun in 1905: a fleet of cars for guests’ use—including a bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantom with additional luggage space—and a garage that provides repairs, tire replacements and an EV charging station.

“Legacy is important but nobody wants to stay in a dusty museum,” says general manager Wilhelm Luxem. “The Baur au Lac is a place of encounter in a modern context. It’s a fine balance.”
--Juyoung Seo

Belmond Cadogan Hotel

London, England

Built in 1887, this boutique hotel once hosted playwright Oscar Wilde, and though it now boasts more tech-savvy conveniences, it hasn’t lost its 19th-century English charm. It's near some of London’s finest shopping in Knightsbridge and Chelsea.

The Clarendon Hotel and Spa

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Some say this colourful mid-century boutique hotel has the best pool in Phoenix. Its open-air Oasis Pool and Cabanas area boasts features a HydroSpa, underwater speakers VIP cabanas and a silvery Water Wall that’s said to be one of the biggest in the world. Its Skydeck hosts a wine hour nightly, allowing guests to admire the view while sipping complimentary drinks and gingerly prodding their reddening shoulders.

Conrad

Beijing, China

This 29-story high-rise features a unique, contemporary exterior and modern details. 

The Drake

Chicago, Illinois, United States

This stately Gold Coast hotel has hosted such dignitaries as Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II and Princess Diana since opening in 1920. Afternoon tea at the Palm Court is an institution unto itself, and its position at the north end of Michigan Avenue is ideal for shopaholics.

The Dunhill

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Opened in 1929 as the Mayfair Manor, one of Charlotte’s most prized landmarks, The Dunhill hotel is within walking distance of Uptown’s restaurants, bars and museums. Although the hotel has undergone extensive renovations, it retains its original charm. The restaurant, the Asbury, serves locally-sourced cuisine with a nod to the city’s Southern roots.

Faena

Miami Beach, Florida, United States

As the first hotel designed by Baz Luhrmann, the Faena lives up to the extravagance of the Australian director’s films, featuring a fantastical kaleidoscope of elaborate prints and novel sensations. Peppermint-striped umbrellas dot the pool deck, a gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth by arist Damien Hirst occupies a beachfront lookout, and, in the feline-themed Living Room, a chandelier flickers whenever lightning strikes the Argentine Pampas. In the three years since it opened, Alan Faena’s brainchild has easily become one of the city’s buzziest spots.

Fairmont

San Francisco, California, United States

Atop Nob Hill, this legendary property has been entertaining moguls and celebrities for more than a century.

Grand Hotel Plaza

Rome, Italy

One of the oldest hotels in Rome, the property sits on the Via del Corso with views of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Spanish Steps. 

The Hay-Adams

Washington, D.C., United States

Affording iconic views of The White House, St. John’s Church and Lafayette Park, this Italian Renaissance-style property has been a focal point of the capital for 90 years. 

Hollywood Roosevelt

Los Angeles, California, United States

Opened by a group of movie titans in 1927, the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel still symbolizes the glamor of Hollywood’s golden era. The first Academy Awards were held at this Hollywood Boulevard landmark, and the hotel is still a hotspot thanks to its hip nightclub, Teddy’s, and its 24-hour burger joint, 25 Degrees.

Hotel Café Royal

London, England

Since it opened in 1863, the Café Royal has attracted luminaries of the time, from Oscar Wilde to Winston Churchill, Brigitte Bardot to David Bowie. Early in its history, owner Daniel Nicols enlisted his cousin from Burgundy to stock its wine cellar, which was once considered the greatest in the world and today boasts an extensive list with a focus on French regions. In 2012, British architect Sir David Chipperfield unveiled a sweeping restoration that transformed the former restaurant into a luxury hotel, ushering in sleek, modern touches to rooms and suites while adapting this Grade II-listed building to the 21st century. Naturally, architectural details such as gilded boiseries and carved stone moldings reflect its 150-year history.

 

Hotel Emma

San Antonio, Texas, United States

Long before the Hotel Emma was awarded AAA’s Five Diamond designation, the 146-room hotel was the site of the Pearl Brewery, which hotel namesake Emma Koehler successfully ran after her husband’s death in 1914 and, through her ingenuity, survived Prohibition. It finally closed in 2001, and the next year interior designers Roman and Williams were tasked with preserving the 1894 buidling. An enormous bottle capper transformed into a chandelier and brew tanks converted into seating areas at the bar are some of the quirky touches that allude to its past. Books from San Antonio writer and historian Sherry Kafka Wagner can be found in the wood-paneled library. Reserve the grand Emma Koehler Suite for its double-height floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of the San Antonio River.

Hotel San Carlos

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

This downtown hotel harkens back to simpler times—specifically, 1928, when it opened. But the history comes with some baggage. As you sip G&Ts at the hotel pub, another type of spirit may be at large: the ghost of guest Leona Jensen, who reportedly died here in the 1920s and never checked out. Some might see this as a reason to head out and explore the city’s entertainment district, while others view the haunted-hotel thing as a form of entertainment in its own right.

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