Miles of hiking trails in Big Sky Country? Check. Outdoor spa treatments? Check! Montana may be the Wild West, but it stakes a claim to one of the world’s finest hotels. At Triple Creek Ranch, the log cabins are rustic-chic, the cellar stores 2,000 wine bottles, and soaking in a hot tub is the perfect antidote to a day out snowshoeing.
Every year T+L readers vote on thousands of hotels based on rooms, location, service, food, and value. In 2012, the winners are a mix of remote escapes and city hotels.
Florida is a perennial favorite and one romantic escape outranked all the other Sunshine State properties: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, a secluded private island retreat on Little Torch Key. It wins over guests with special touches like picnics on nearby deserted islands. Read on for more of the top hotels in the U.S. and beyond.
Hotel Caruso, Ravello, Italy
11th-century palace with an infinity pool, terraced gardens, and classic-celebrity cachet (Jackie Kennedy; Humphrey Bogart). Doubles from $850–$1,073.
Behind the Scenes: The property is perched 1,000 feet above the Mediterranean; to tour the nearby harbors, hop aboard the hotel’s 52-foot boat Ercole (trips from $615).
Singita Grumeti Reserves, Serengeti National
Africa’s most luxurious mobile-safari experience is the latest addition to this 340,000-acre Serengeti concession with 4 separate camps. Doubles from $1,700–$2,300, all-inclusive.
Behind the Scenes: What does a perfect location look like? A manor house on a wide plateau; a tented camp with views of the Serengeti; 8 suites and 1 villa overlooking the rhino-filled Grumeti River; and a mobile safari that traverses it all.
Ol Donyo Lodge, Mbirikani Group Ranch,
Ten suites with savanna-side infinity pools, outdoor showers, and rooftop sleeping areas for nighttime views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Doubles from $840, all-inclusive.
Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
A 30-acre Mewari-style palace on the banks of Lake Pichola, complete with private motorboats, a traditional Kashmiri gondola, and sprawling courtyards rimmed by reflecting pools. Doubles from $700–$870.
Room to Book: All 19 Premiere Lake rooms have private pools and terraces, but the 9 that face the nature conservatory offer wildlife spotting (peacocks; deer; wild boar) as well as views of the marble palaces of mainland Udaipur.
Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, MT
Adults-only mountain retreat on thousands of acres, with plush log cabins (wood-burning fireplaces; hot tubs), a 2,000-plus-bottle wine cellar, a chef’s table, and a rotating collection of original art. Doubles from $750–$950, including meals.
T+L Tip: Don’t miss a snowshoe excursion across the Chief Joseph Pass—first explored by Lewis and Clark in 1805—or the chocolate chip cookies served by cowboy-booted staffers on your return.
Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay, New Zealand
North Island cliffside lodge, golf course, and top spa on 6,000 acres with waterfalls and private beaches. Doubles from $1,140–$1,485, including breakfast and dinner.
T+L Tip: Ask the Kauri Cliffs team to pack a picnic (soba noodles; smoked-salmon sandwiches) before heading to Pink Beach, one of Kauri Cliffs’ private coves; in summer, barbecue dinners are served on the sand.
Posada de Mike Rapu / Explora Rapa Nui,
Easter Island, Chile
2007 local wood, stone, and glass LEED-certified lodge 2,300 miles off Chile’s coast; excursions include guided visits to the moai stone quarries and treks to nearby volcanoes. Doubles from $1,590, all-inclusive, 3-night minimum.
T+L Tip: Unwind in the Posada’s new Ancestral Sauna, a traditional Rapa Nui–style hothouse warmed by an aromatic open fire of eucalyptus branches (treatments from $50).
La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos
French-colonial, all-suite wellness retreat on a frangipani-dotted hill above Luang Prabang; the first Laotian property to use only local ingredients for traditional spa treatments. Doubles from $500.
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa,
Little Torch Key, FL
Florida’s most secluded and romantic retreat: a West Indies–style idyll set along a white-sand beach on a 6-acre island accessible only by boat or seaplane, which will also take you to a smaller island for a picnic. Suites from $790–$1,590.
T+L Tip: Arrive when the resort is hosting one of its Sandbar Session concerts, which bring well-known musicians to the hotel’s beach. Previous headliners? Stephen Marley and the Indigo Girls.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
The ne plus ultra of rural luxury, with renowned cuisine, set on a farm in the Great Smoky Mountains. Doubles from $795–$1,095, including meals.
Behind the Scenes: On-site experts—master gardener John Coykendall; visiting chefs Thomas Keller and David Chang—translated to high scores for service; guests leave armed with tips for creating Southern dishes at home.
See more of the World’s Top Hotels