New York City
Urban Retreat From uptown’s bustling avenues to the quiet, cobblestoned streets of downtown, New York is a study in contrasts. The greatest challenge is deciding where to stay. With its fireplace suites, Lafayette House (doubles from $395) feels like your own pied-à-terre. Uptown, On the Ave (doubles from $199) has a modern flair, including Italian black-marble bathrooms. Pay a visit to the restored Plaza Hotel, where you can browse for art books at Assouline or try on vintage-inspired baubles at Kenneth Jay Lane, in the newly expanded shopping area. At the spruced-up Oak Bar, the wood paneling still glows warmly and the Central Park views are as stirring as always. Three blocks south, check out the skyline from the Peninsula New York’s new rooftop bar, Salon de Ning. The vibe: 1930’s Shanghai, with daybeds and mandarin-orange–flavored cocktails. For dinner, Café Cluny (dinner for two $90) is a portal to a Gallic village, where waitresses wear Audrey Tautou pigtails. End the evening at Smith & Mills, a tiny TriBeCa boîte in a former carriage house. The cozy banquettes can accommodate only a dozen-odd patrons. Bright lights, big city?From this vantage point, New York feels like a small town.
Whidbey Island, Washington
On the Waterfront Though it’s only a 20-minute ferry ride from from Seattle suburb Mukilteo, Whidbey Island feels like the Pacific Northwest’s last frontier—a lost-in-time place of towering redwoods and sparkling coves overlooking Puget Sound. Take refuge at the 28-room Inn at Langley (doubles from $195), in Langley, a pint-size town on the island. Each suite has a Jacuzzi with views of the evergreen-lined Saratoga Passage waterway (and the gray whales that swim through in spring). In the historic center, Lowry-James Rare Prints & Books sells vintage maps and Audubon lithographs; the Clyde Theatre, a 1937 movie house, screens the classics and contemporary films. Drive 30 miles north to Ebey’s Landing to walk the coastal bluffs, or make your way to Coupeville, known for its Penn Cove mussels, which no-frills Toby’s Tavern (lunch for two $22) serves right.
Wine Country A pitch-perfect mix of wineries, restaurants, and decidedly sybaritic hotels makes this the ultimate wine-lover’s escape. But the best part: there’s always something new to discover in the valley. This past fall, celebrity chef Michael Chiarello launched Bottega Napa Valley (dinner for two $76) in the town of Yountville. The menu is Italian, with dishes such as roast pork and honey-sage-roasted apples. Just a half-hour drive north, in Angwin, the new Cade Winery produces vintages in a solar-powered steel-and-wood space. The classics are still a draw, including Angèle (dinner for two $100), a wood-beamed bistro on the Napa River, and Round Pond Estate, known for its robust Cabernets. Check in to the light-filled Auberge du Soleil (doubles from $550), where the rooms-large stone fireplaces; private hot tubs-are made for couples. Or consider the intimate Poetry Inn (doubles from $495, including breakfast), set on a pastoral hillside.
Courtesy of Auberge de Chassignolles
Secret Village Lost at a head-clearing elevation of 3,000 feet in the Livradois-Forez, France’s largest national park, 100 miles southwest of Lyons, Chassignolles invites long, extravagantly lazy days spent communing with cows, admiring the accidental land art created by a farmer with some hay bales, and stopping to smell the rockroses that fringe the lanes. There is only one place to stay: Auberge de Chassignolles (doubles from $58; dinner for two $44). The eight rooms are basic, but the views are ravishing, whether of the village’s 12th-century church or the surrounding wildflower meadows. The English chef-owner Harry Lester, an early and important crusader in the gastropub campaign, will be chalking his menu board with dandelion-and-marigold salad dressed in sunflower oil, a citrusy fresh goat cheese, and a cherry-and-almond tart. If Chassignolles isn’t heaven on earth, it will have to do.
Courtesy of Lumiere Hotels
Mountainside Hideaway Snowcapped mountains surround this mining village turned ski resort, where the scent of pine fills the air. Its streets are lined with 19th-century gingerbread houses and family-run shops such as the Between the Covers Bookstore, a cozy bookshop with a café; and at Coffee Cowboy locals fuel up on fair-trade espresso before taking on the slopes. At Honga’s Lotus Petal, home to the town’s best après-ski scene, bartender Sean Garatt mixes potent mojitos. For an intimate dinner, reserve a table at La Marmotte (dinner for two $85), a 125-year-old former icehouse. Book one of the new hotels in nearby Mountain Village; the easiest way to get there is by gondola, especially atmospheric at dusk, when the valley lights up from the glow of streetlights. At Lumière (doubles from $319), all residences and penthouses come with a fireplace and oversize soaking tub. Or consider the 100-room Capella Telluride (doubles from $295), set to debut this month. With a personal assistant catering to your every need, you’ll be more than ready to hit the trails in the morning.
Courtesy of Ballastone Inn
On the Waterfront If only every city planner had the foresight of Savannah’s 18th-century founder, James Oglethorpe. His legacy—21 garden-filled public squares ringed by antebellum town houses—is a model of Southern grace. At the Ballastone Inn (doubles from $235), an Italianate mansion three blocks from the waterfront, rooms have canopied poster beds and mahogany armoires. Or base yourself at the newly opened Avia (doubles from $189), on landmark Ellis Square. Browse for jewelry and handbags by up-and-coming artists at ShopSCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design’s boutique, and don’t miss the Jepson Center for the Arts, a contemporary-art space by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie. There are dozens of laid-back restaurants in town, but one of the best remains Desposito’s (dinner for two $40), where tablecloths are made from newspapers and the steamed oysters and Low Country basket—shrimp, potatoes, corn—are ideal for two.
Courtesy of Hospes Hotels and Moments
Urban Retreat The ancient Alhambra. The narrow Moorish streets. Both are within walking distance of Palacio de los Patos, a 19th-century property redesigned with sparkling white modern interiors. Book a room in the old palacio, where contemporary touches (mirrored tables and mod-patterned rugs) are mixed with original detailing (elaborate wood moldings and mosaics). Don’t miss a meal at the hotel’s ambitious Senzone restaurant. Granada is full of shrill souvenir shops. For home furnishings, as well as jewelry, tiles, and other crafts, cut to the chase at Bazar Pazouki and El Zoco Nazarí.
Courtesy of Boutique Hotel Capo La Gala
Vico Equense, Italy
Secret Village A crenellated castle, pink-washed clifftop church, and pebbled beach make Vico Equense perhaps the most dramatic—though surprisingly undiscovered—village on the Sorrento Coast. On the main coastal road, Annamaria Cuomo and Salvatore De Gennaro serve cured meats and cheeses at their epicurean market La Tradizione (lunch for two $40). At Torre del Saracino (lunch for two $190), chef Gennaro Esposito creates innovative dishes, such as risotto with cod and figs, in a seventh-century tower. Stay just outside the village at the Hotel Capo La Gala (doubles from $260), a stone-studded cliffside lodge. The hotel has a nautical theme: porthole windows and hurricane lamps in the lobby, blue-and-white guest rooms accented with miniature model boats. Book one of the nine Classic rooms, and take your breakfast (cappuccino and croissants) on the roomy balcony overlooking the Bay of Naples.
On the Waterfront For the quintessential far-flung escape, there’s nothing like this South Pacific idyll, where barrier reefs meet cobalt lagoons, and volcanic peaks rise above the tropical rain forest and powder-soft beaches. On an isolated islet, the recently opened Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora (bungalows from $964) has 121 thatched-roof bungalows set on piers over the shallows, many with individual plunge pools and views of the lagoon and Mount Otemanu. The resort is all about bliss: a half-day sail to hidden snorkeling sites; a trip to a pearl farm; an afternoon lounging on the deck of a catamaran. For a more affordable stay, try the 80-room Novotel Bora Bora Beach Resort (doubles from $147), a Polynesian-style retreat set above Matira Point. Nearby, you’ll find the five-table restaurant Villa Mahana (dinner for two $140), where Corsican-born chef Damian Rinaldi Dovio reinvents native ingredients (Tahitian vanilla oil, curry, coconut milk) with classic Mediterranean techniques.
Courtesy of The Four Seasons Hotel
Urban Retreat Open-air restaurants, crowded bazaars, and a swoon-inducing location on the Bosporus—this is a city made for wandering. You’ll find Istanbul at its most alluring in the quaint neighborhoods on the European side of the strait. For lunch, try the sea-bass sandwiches at Mangerie (lunch for two $55), a rooftop spot in the Bebek district. In the waterside Arnavutköy area, Dilara Erbay dishes up grilled fish at Abracadabra (dinner for two $75), housed in a wooden mansion. The nearby Rumeli Hisari fortress has panoramic views of the strait, making for a picturesque detour. After dark, there’s Anjelique, a sultry waterside club set against the glowing Baroque Ortaköy Mosque. Take your pick of the new hotels: the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus (doubles from $550), in a 19th-century palace; W Istanbul (doubles from $350), an edgy blend of contemporary design and Ottoman influences; or the Park Hyatt Maçka Palas (doubles from $550), where several spa suites come with mini-hammams.