Our All-time favourite hotels! The Complete Essential List

Normally while travelling, especially on longer trips- we try to be economical in our hotel choices. I often shop around various sites and try to find the best hotel for the best price. I’ll also frequently use the Priceline/Hotwire option of booking a cheaper rate without knowing where we’ll end up. That being said, once in awhile we like to splurge and really treat ourselves. Often (but not always) this ends up being expensive, but usually well worth it. I hate the idea that more expensive = better, however, in most cases, especially when it comes to hotels, this is true. To save a few bucks, try visiting in the off season, booking in advance, even calling the hotel to see if you can get a better rate. If none of that works, I feel safe in saying you won’t regret splurging on this list of top hotels that we’ve stayed at!

5)  The Ritz- Carlton, South Beach, Miami:

Typically we prefer smaller, boutique hotels but this place won us over from the get-go. They truly go above and beyond in order to please. We booked their basic room but for Miami standards (or anywhere, really) the room was spacious and we were lucky enough to have a small balcony with partial ocean views (photo above). The pool area was spectacular with fabulous staff that remembered our names day-after-day, and always seemed happy and willing to move the umbrella around to keep me in shade and Trevor in the sun. Although we did encounter a few issues, the difference in this hotel versus many others that we’ve stayed, is that they go over and above to rectify a problem. On our first night there, our smoke detector started chirping at around 3 am- someone quickly came to fix it and offered us a free buffet breakfast in the morning, which apparently wasn’t cheap. Because we didn’t even see the bill for it, we returned (on our own dime) the day after- and to this day remains the most expensive breakfast we’ve ever had- obviously, we didn’t do that again.

Don’t forget to hit up the lobby bar, which includes great drinks and staff, as well as the occasional live band.

I have nothing but fantastic things to say about this place. It’s tucked away on a little street in the Le Marais district of Paris (see the view in the photo above). They only have a few rooms, which makes it seem even more special. The staff is fabulous and helpful (one person even booked tour tickets for us on his own credit card when we couldn’t get ours to work- when we paid him back he refused a tip).

We had what is possibly the cutest room ever! The bedroom was relatively small but had a balcony that all Paris dreams are made of and the bathroom was possibly bigger than the room. To top things off, breakfast is included- you can eat it downstairs in the lobby- but I’d suggest filling out the form and leaving it on your door- then the most perfect, fresh, Parisian breakfast will be delivered to your room at the time of your choosing (see photo above). The Hotel Dupond-Smith has now ruined all other Paris hotels for us!

New York City must have the highest concentration of hotels pretty much anywhere, so to have one stand out in the crowd is high praise. Though I’ll admit we had a room upgrade (so I can’t comment on the basic rooms)- the room felt super spacious, trendy and very well appointed. That being said, the staff is the real winner here. Everyone is attentive, helpful and informed. As I write this, I’m counting down the days until our second visit to this hotel, and I honestly can’t wait!  Bonus points for a really fantastic cocktail bar that’s nearly hidden. They do have an onsite restaurant that is supposed to be fabulous, but the only meal we ate here was breakfast- you can have that in the restaurant or just hang out in the cozy lobby where they’ll also serve you. This hotel just seems so chill and relaxed, it’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise chaotic city.  

My two favourite aspects of this hotel was the room and the pool, oh wait- and the spa! I think I had one of the best massages ever at this place! We rented a convertible to drive from San Francisco to Napa Valley. It was fun to cruise across the golden gate bridge and then watch the dash as the temperature increased the further we got away from the city.
Arriving at our hotel, we quickly realized that we’d picked a gem. The hotel is spread out over multiple buildings. Our room had a big canopy bed, a fireplace (which we didn’t use at it was over 40 degrees celsius outside), and a massive bathroom with a huge tub and glassed in shower. But really, the showstopper was the pool and spa area (see photos above). It’s one of the most beautiful pools I’ve ever seen, with cyprus trees circling and a fireplace and hot tub at one end, I don’t think you can beat it. Most people are out all day wine tasting and then congregate at the end of the day, there’s a very laid back, social vibe. You’d have people opening bottles of wine they’d bought that day and sharing it with people they’d just met. Later in the evening, after dinner, it was fun to enjoy (another) glass of wine in the hot tub and meet other guests while discussing what wineries you’d visited that day and where you’d had dinner. Because Yountville has the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants anywhere in the US, we didn’t try out the on site restaurant (other than poolside snacks), but it looked great!

This place is absolutely stunning from every single angle possible. We loved each minute at this hotel. It’s situated in the picturesque hills of Chianti, about a half hour drive from Siena. The hotel is absolutely beautiful, from the rooms, to the pool (oh the pool!!), to the fantastic staff- but the views were what really won us over. We stayed in a “basic” room which is more than you’d ever need. After staying in tiny hotel rooms throughout Europe for weeks, our room felt like a palace. It’s exactly what you’d picture a Tuscan hotel room to look like- from Terra cotta tiles to wooden shutters on the windows. Rates include breakfast, and a fantastic breakfast at that- there’s a buffet set up but you can order pretty much anything you’d ever want. It’s a bit of a trek from anything else, but the onsite restaurant is so fabulous, no need to go elsewhere for dinner.

Have I mentioned the pool yet? We spent a couple of days lazing around, taking in the sunshine, the views, and the fantastic service (but be reticent of all the bees on the grounds around the pool- a few people stepped on them, including Trevor-and got stung) .

There’s both a gym and spa on site and they also offer a daily (free!) shuttle service to Siena. Oh wait, did i just say shuttle? It was actually a black car service that picks you up at the hotel in the morning and returns you late in the afternoon. We were the only ones taking advantage of it on the day we went so we felt super spoiled.

I could seriously go on and on and on about this gorgeous spot, I hope someday we’ll be fortunate enough to return. I know there are so many amazing places to stay in Tuscany, but I’m already in love with this one.

Honourable mentions:

The Lenox- Boston:  

Feels old (in a good way) and swanky. Service here is absolutely top notch. If you’re into modern finishes this is not the place for you. This hotel feels like a throwback to great hotels of the past, and it’s well worth a visit.

Room Mate Aitana- Amsterdam:

This was one we booked on hotwire, and totally won. We ended up on the top floor, corner room of this floor to ceiling glass hotel. The views were incredible and the room was spacious and well laid out.

The Hilton Old Town- Prague:

This was another hotwire winner. We were going in off season and scored a killer price. So when we checked in and they offered to upgrade us to the executive floor for a minimal price (that included wifi, breakfast, and access to the executive lounge- which had snacks and free drinks- including beer and wine), we jumped on it. I would never consider staying at this hotel again without staying on the executive floor, we were so spoiled! The executive lounge also had some of the best staff we’ve encountered, anywhere.

The James- New York City:

This hotel is just pure glamour. It’s beautiful and modern. Our room was a bit of a tight squeeze (but this is New York), but we loved every inch of it, from the heated bathroom floors to the crazy views from the floor to ceiling windows. There’s also a rooftop pool that turns into a club a night and guests get priority access.

Citizen M- Glasgow:

So, all the rooms in this hotel are super small (I mean really, really small), but oh so cool. The king sized bed takes up most of the space but they used every inch of the room to the best advantage, the bathroom is in this cool little pod that lights up, and everything (lights, tv, blinds) are controlled via iPad. The really cool thing about this hotel is the shared space, there is loads of it, from tables in the restaurant, to loungers, hanging chairs, work spaces, it’s got it all. This is a hotel where you must get out of your room and enjoy the entirety of the hotel.

Please leave any questions or comments below! 

All photos are ours (next time we'll do better at taking more photos inside the hotels!).