It’s not as much about the king suite anymore. These days, experience is king. These hotels and resorts are giving travelers more than just basic lodgings, they’re providing whole vacation vibes. From exciting in-house nightlife to best-in-the-city dining hotspots, guests can fulfill all their ambitions in the very place they lay their heads. So don’t just check in; check out these experiential properties to truly maximize your getaway. —NINA HEMPHILL REEDER, ELLE DEAN AND TAMARA CROCKETT
Overlooking the gulf of Naples, ROMEO guests are treated to incredible panoramic views of Naples. The city is framed by medieval castles and Old World aesthetics. And the boutique hotel stands out as a striking modern wonder. Clean minimalist lines merge with Japanese design motifs for sleek luxury with lots of new tech amenities.
Overnight guests would be remiss not to check out the in-house spa, where they are given complimentary, two-hour access to relaxation and hydrotherapy rooms.
Here, you’ll find circular relaxation bays with scenic video loops and soothing electric light. The property’s rooftop pool is another unique touch. The pool is heated from October to April, and guests are free to partake in the trendy pool scene year-round. It houses its own Michelin-starred restaurant, Il Comandante. The property also extends guests services such as picnic lunches and daily highlights of local dishes (romeohotel.it). —NHR
It is designated as a national historic site, the 1901-built property recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. They updated everything from bedroom suites to the grand lobby. Yet history lovers can still delight in its storied history as a San Antonio staple.
The city saw its share of famous guests from presidents to movie stars. Plus, it retains notable charms, such as original tile, mid-century chandeliers and a 1930s Steinway piano. Guests hear the Steinway at work, as pianists are invited to play three days a week during happy hour.
But happy hour is also where things can get tricky, as four equally epic on-site bars vie for your visit. With each offering a different vibe, guests can select from the St. Anthony Club (notable for its prestigious clientele as it was formerly a members-only club), the Cabana Bar (a poolside rooftop bar), Haunt (a trendy lounge open in the late hours) and Rebelle (an award-winning restaurant and bar).
But since you’re staying on property, why not try them all? Also check out the hotel’s on-property cocktail classes (thestanthonyhotel.com). —NHR
THE SANCTUARY AT KIAWAH ISLAND GOLF RESORT
Kiawah Island, SC
Just like the city of Charleston only 20 miles away, the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is in a class by itself. It’s enveloped in lush landscape and steps away from crashing Atlantic Ocean waves. This elegant yet informal seaside treasure boasts hand-planked walnut floors with just enough “creak” to ensure Southern charm and grand décor. Morever, it’s replete with swooping window treatments and sumptuous upholstery that exude impeccable manners.
A world-class spa and superior restaurants also attract loyal locals. And jus when you thought the Sanctuary could get no better. Last summer, this Forbes five-star favorite unveiled an island-wide expansion. It included 22 tennis courts, a renovated clubhouse hovering the 18th hole, a 23,000-square-foot conference center and a nondenominational chapel for weddings and worship (kiawahresort.com). —E.D.
QUEEN KAPI‘OLANI HOTEL
Named after Hawaiian royalty, expect no less than the royal treatment at this trendy Waikiki escape. The property routinely invites local tastemakers, fitness instructors and artisans to heighten your guest experience. No need to enlist a travel planner; here guests can learn to surf, join a running club, take cocktail lessons and build flower leis, among other offered programming.
The rooftop pool and bar, which showcases one of the best views of Waikiki and Diamond Head, also hosts live music performances. And as a champion of the arts, the property displays the works of local artists in Royal Art Gallery (queenkapiolani.com). —NHR
VIRGIN HOTELS SAN FRANCISCO
The red phone booth out front guarantees you’ve arrived at the right spot. Steps from SFMOMA, Buena Vista Gardens, Moscone Center and an abundance of restaurants, the 1-year-old Virgin Hotels San Francisco features smartly designed and spacious chambers (aka guest rooms) with impressive views of the City by the Bay.
Your accommodations come stocked with all the crave-able snacks, beverages and spirits, a yoga mat on deck to get your namaste on anytime and an app that can adjust your individual room temperature, help you navigate the city and order room service. Virgin properties are known for their pulsing nightlife. And the Commons Club and Everdene Rooftop Bar are welcomed playgrounds on San Francisco’s weekend scene, where a guest DJ is invited in to spin each week (virginhotels. com/san-francisco). —T.C.
ROYAL CHAMPAGNE HOTEL AND SPA
Don’t think of it as just another wine-country getaway. Since champagne and luxury go hand-in-hand, this experience has plenty of effervescence. Expect to indulge in an amazing food and beverage program at the Royal Champagne—you’d expect no less from a region world-recognized and celebrated for its champagne. Le Royal is the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where wines and the region’s best cuvées are expertly paired with a hyper-local menu.
With fewer than 50 rooms, the sprawling 100,000-square-foot property offers guests plenty of space to roam, including the vineyard grounds, through which you can bike or ride horseback. But in between the sips of champagnes, decide to make it a full pampering excursion with a visit to their lavish spa, which overlooks the vineyards (royalchampagne.com). —NHR
SOFITEL ROMA VILLA BORGHESE
After 2019’s late-summer debut of a stunning redesign, the Sofitel now boasts brilliant spacious suites with full balconies overlooking the cityscape. And guests should absolutely utilize the beautiful, well-appointed patios by asking for in-room dining setups whenever possible.
The property is walking distance from the Spanish Steps, great shopping and other world-famous attractions. But while there is plenty to do in the Eternal City, Sofitel guests can partake in unparalleled programming and curated experiences. Through their XIX Century Experience, the property offers a tour of lesser-known historic sites.
There’s the museum dedicated to famous English poet John Keats. And through special arrangement, guests can be offered the opportunity to privately tour the Boncompagni Ludovisi family-owned Villa Aurora. The grounds house a Caravaggio ceiling fresco and a Michelangelo sculpture.
Dinner at Settimo offers another cherished experience. Guests enjoy plates of local specialties like their cacio e pepe while absorbing views of the famous Roman skyline as it twinkles by night (sofitel.com). —NHR
Atlanta’s historic Clermont Hotel is already established as a hotspot within the city. It was originally built in 1924. It reopened last year after a 10-year hiatus. The 94-room boutique property presents a demure outward appearance. While things quickly get quirky at check-in when guests are greeted with a complimentary can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
Expect familiar accommodations such as standard king bedrooms and extra-spacious suites. But guests can also opt for twin bunk rooms, which sleep up to four (yay, adult sleepover).
The fun continues at the rooftop bar, where guests can enjoy frosé, small bites and awesome skyline views. It should be noted downstairs there’s the lobby bar and Tiny Lou’s, the property’s French-American brasserie. uests can indulge in fun cocktails, mocktails, steak frites and more. And save room for the daily dessert cart—a bit of playful nostalgia for an atmosphere already described as “rock ’n’ roll meets Grandma’s-living-room.”
And of course, what would a stay at the Clermont be without a visit to the infamous Clermont Lounge? Arguably as iconic as any other city landmark. Above all, this neighboring dive bar/strip club/celebrity hangout tops the list as a must-visit for nightlife seekers (hotelclermont.com). —NHR
IVORY TREE GAME LODGE
Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa
This five-star lodge sits pretty in the heart of Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Set within the crater of an ancient volcano, this breathtaking property has something for everyone.
Feeling adventurous? Outdoor activity offerings include interactive drumming, quad biking, archery, air gun shooting and daily morning and evening game drives in the game reserve. It’s where you will spot the Big 5—lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses and buffalo. Oh my! If you’re looking to relax, relate and release, the award-winning Amani African Spa offers the best treatments.
They leave your mind, body and soul in a state of balance and harmony. Even unwind in your luxury digs. They are charmingly accented with African-inspired art and décor and include outdoor showers (ivorytreegamelodge.info). —T.C.
THE CLIFT ROYAL SONESTA HOTEL
Steps away from Union Square, this historic hotel just reopened fresh and new for 2020 after undergoing a renovation. It was originally built in 1915. Indeed the 372-room property has long been a fixture of sophistication set in the heart of San Francisco. It’s conveniently located next to the Cable Car Museum, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The property’s legendary Redwood Room bar holds its own history as a San Francisco nightlife staple. Also it underwent a renovation but retains its redwood paneling sourced from the wood of a single redwood tree. Guests can receive a $10-per-day food and beverage credit, which can be applied to the Redwood. Other guests perks include complimentary bicycles (sonesta.com/theclift). —T.C.
We say “cheers” to any property that offers a complimentary libation at check-in. At Moxy Atlanta, the bar doubles as your lobby reception. So a made-to-order cocktail is just a taste of what’s to come. Whether it’s house or hip-hop, music pulses through the lobby bar and lounge.
Obviously it entices you to grab another drink and a bite and hang out. Plus, find a plethora of card and board games from Scrabble to Twister—and even Clue. But if you’re feeling introverted, duck into one of the many private coves for a little seclusion.
Furthermore, the barely year-old property is an exciting new rooftop haunt for locals and visitors of midtown Atlanta. Lounge by the pool. Or take in the High Note rooftop bar. It’s where you’ll find menu favorites such as their Korean BBQ wings and fried chicken sandwich (acmoxymidtown.com). —NHR
HÔTEL DU LOUVRE, UNBOUND COLLECTION
After a massive renovation, the historic Hôtel du Louvre opened last summer to much fanfare. It earned a top ranking among Hyatt properties. Rooms are gorgeous and newly expanded. They offer guests towering ceilings, classic furnishings and beautiful views—many with balconies. The whimsical aesthetic channels the contributions of 19th-century Paris, where Parisian art and fashion shaped global trends. While the property oozes fun and youthful vibes, it does retain flashes of its legendary history.
The new redesigned lobby bar keeps its original 1855 glass ceiling. It’s in the shape of a flower. Also it plays out as a motif in everything from the carpet to the cocktail art. Speaking of cocktails, the lobby boasts a menu of handcrafted botanical-based specialties such as their Virturose. A delight which includes essences of rose, orange blossom and almonds.
A central location is just steps from major attractions like the Louvre and Palais Royal gardens. Guest experiences also include picnic lunches. There’s curated neighborhood tours to top things off (hoteldulouvre.com). —NHR