Ashford Castle Rating: 4.5 Pearls

Almost everyone has a dream trip tucked in the back of his or her mind -- the improbable fantasy hotel stay that will happen one day down the road. To help you take the plunge, we've compiled 15 incredible and utterly unique hotel stays that should be on everyone's bucket list. First up, Ashford Castle. Ashford Castle embodies the fantasy of the Irish castle hotel, featuring a massive historic stone facade, complete with towers and turrets; gorgeous, manicured grounds; a stunning setting on a huge lake; and common spaces that are truly grand, with rich wood paneling, chandeliers, and antique furniture. The wide range of estate activities includes falconry lessons, boat tours on the lake, golf on the 9-hole course, clay shooting, and archery.

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15 Unique Hotel Stays to Try Before You Die (1 of 15)

 Almost everyone has a dream trip tucked in the back of his or her mind -- the improbable fantasy hotel stay that will happen one day down the road. To help you take the plunge, we've compiled 15 incredible and utterly unique hotel stays that should be on everyone's bucket list.
First up, Ashford Castle. Ashford Castle embodies the fantasy of the Irish castle hotel, featuring a massive historic stone facade, complete with towers and turrets; gorgeous, manicured grounds; a stunning setting on a huge lake; and common spaces that are truly grand, with rich wood paneling, chandeliers, and antique furniture. The wide range of estate activities includes falconry lessons, boat tours on the lake, golf on the 9-hole course, clay shooting, and archery.
Almost everyone has a dream trip tucked in the back of his or her mind -- the improbable fantasy hotel stay that will happen one day down the road. To help you take the plunge, we've compiled 15 incredible and utterly unique hotel stays that should be on everyone's bucket list.
First up, Ashford Castle. Ashford Castle embodies the fantasy of the Irish castle hotel, featuring a massive historic stone facade, complete with towers and turrets; gorgeous, manicured grounds; a stunning setting on a huge lake; and common spaces that are truly grand, with rich wood paneling, chandeliers, and antique furniture. The wide range of estate activities includes falconry lessons, boat tours on the lake, golf on the 9-hole course, clay shooting, and archery. The 39-room Post Ranch Inn is one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States -- if not the entire world -- and offers a romantic, intimate stay amid gorgeous natural surroundings. The hotel is built into the cliffs of Big Sur, and the organic architecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow out of the ground beside the hotel's surrounding redwoods. The spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views, wood-burning fireplaces, radiant floor heating, outdoor showers or hot tubs, private decks, and organic bath products and linens -- but no televisions or alarm clocks as the hotel strives for a peaceful environment. The award-winning spa focuses on rejuvenating services and even has a shaman on-site; the restaurant, Sierra Mar, is one of the best in Big Sur; the hotel's cliff-top pools are stunning; and free amenities (such as yoga and stargazing) are abundant. Chaa Creek, one of Belize's first eco-lodges, has evolved from its humble beginnings as a working farm to become a premier luxury retreat. This sophisticated operation includes rustic-luxe, thatched-roof cottages, wonderful service, and modern amenities such as an infinity pool with jungle views and a full-service spa. The riverside setting on a private rainforest reserve is phenomenal, and myriad tours and outdoor activities are offered through the hotel. To top it off, room rates are fair for what you get -- and there are even budget accommodations available at Macal River Camp (pictured), located on the property. This "inn" in Carolina Lowcountry, really more akin to a sprawling estate, provides a one-of-a-kind experience that uniquely blends southern history and almost otherworldly natural beauty: rivers, misty marshes, old oaks draped with wispy Spanish moss, and salty breezes. The main hotel building looks like a classic southern mansion, and the 50 Cottages and Cottage Suites are simultaneously homey and utterly luxurious, with working fireplaces, screen porches, and gorgeous bathrooms. The multi-bedroom Village Homes are also luxurious, but lack some of the nuances of the cottages. Guests can enjoy a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming (in the two pools), and the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. It's not an overstatement to say that the Inn at Palmetto Bluff is one of the most special properties in the entire country. Owned by the same couple for decades, the historic Gallery Inn is run like an informal B&B -- guests are greeted by name, much of what the restaurant serves is grown in the garden, and no two rooms are the same (though they do share lots of Spanish-style charm). Also like a B&B, the hotel lacks amenities such as TVs and a fitness center. The property's main draws include the convenient Old San Juan location, ocean views from the wine deck, and the artsy, laid-back feel. The innkeepers are both artists, and it's evident they put thought into every detail of the restoration -- expect beautiful old-world details like brick floors, wood beam ceilings, rich rugs, sculptures, and antique knickknacks. With a sweeping private entrance surrounded by green lawns and an impressive fountain, the upscale Saint James is a rare find in Paris -- in fact, the 19th century manor is considered the only chateau-hotel in the city. It's fitting that the hotel is located in the wealthy 16th arrondissement (and yes, valet parking is included). The 48 rooms and suites are large by Paris standards, and decorated in plush luxurious fabrics. But the common areas are more impressive -- especially the black and white grand staircase on the main floor. The terrace is a beautiful spot for lunch on a nice summer day. And there's also a small fitness center, a spa, and a gourmet restaurant. The rates here are steep, but guests who want to experience luxury in Paris (and can afford it) should give the Saint James a look. It's no wonder royalty, A-list celebrities, and athletes keep returning to the luxury Calistoga Ranch: It's in a class all by itself. Guests rent exquisite private lodges, set on a private 157-acre park-like property complete with hiking trails and a top-of-the-line restaurant and spa. Attention to detail carries over from room design to landscape planning -- all modules for the lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The property boasts plenty of activities, including outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, a fabulous fitness center, and wine tasting seminars. If guests decide to venture out for some reason, they can easily access downtown Calistoga and other towns with not only loaner bikes, but loaner Mercedes-Benzes! This property stands out as one of the most remarkable not just in Napa Valley but in the entire country. This ultra-remote, luxurious safari lodge on an island in Botswana's Okavango Delta isn't a hotel, it's an experience, where everything -- including the excellent food and the guided excursions (game drives, bush walks, river cruises) -- is included in the price of the stay. Guests can get up close to exotic wildlife on both land and water (think: lions and hippos), and even arriving to the property is an adventure, requiring transport by small plane, safari vehicle, and a boat. The nine safari "tents" are fully screened in and thoroughly high-end, with huge soaking tubs, four-poster beds, lots of wood, and private pools. The decor blends rustic charm with bright, contemporary style -- not an obvious combination, but it mostly works. Accessed via a 30-minute boat ride from Providenciales, this 1,000-acre all-inclusive resort on a private island is the definition of tranquility. With an incredible infinity-edge pool, world-renowned COMO Shambhala Spa, waterfront Balinese-style villas, doting service, and more than three miles of pristine beaches, it's easily one of the most luxurious and romantic options in the Caribbean. But hefty price tags put it out of reach for many, and the rare level of privacy comes as the cost of convenience -- a boat commute is required to reach any nightlife or shopping. Set in a wildlife refuge more than 700 feet above the Jackson Valley, the Spring Creek Ranch has arguably the most stunning views of the Tetons in the area. It has a wide array of room categories, from standard hotel rooms to immense two-bedroom condos, some of which are ultra-luxurious. The delicious, popular restaurant and the excellent heated outdoor pool are not to be missed. L'Auberge de Sedona has one of the most stunning natural settings in not just the Southwest, but the country, with the picturesque Oak Creek running underneath shady trees, and Sedona's soaring red rocks suspended in the background. The 87 guest rooms and woodsy cottages are spread across 11 acres, allowing guests plenty of privacy, and most come with fireplaces and private decks. It's a premier destination for a romantic getaway or a corporate retreat. Haramara is arguably one of the most special hotels in Mexico. It is a luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 seaside acres of wild vegetation just outside Sayulita. The structures have been built using traditional construction techniques to minimize the environmental impact, and there is no electricity anywhere besides the restaurant and the yoga studio -- not even in the rooms. Each room is housed in a private standalone thatched hut with no window panes or screens separating it from the jungle, and only gauze curtains and mosquito nets to avoid bugs and critters. It is geared towards those in need of some detoxification and relaxation, with yoga and meditation classes, an open-air spa, a vegetarian and seafood restaurant, unpaved trails, and limited cell phone service. The lush, laid-back Rockhouse creates a holistic haven -- gourmet dining, morning yoga, cliffside loungers, a premium spa, no kids under 12, and beautiful eco-appropriate design. With a hopping rooftop bar boasting jaw-dropping views of Manhattan, a wonderful restaurant, and cutting-edge industrial design, the Wythe is a destination unto itself. It's located near the subway as well as dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops in the heart of trendy Williamsburg. Rooms are spacious and have high pine ceilings, reclaimed wood furnishings, and great amenities, including flat-screen TVs; local, hand-made toiletries; free Wi-Fi, and radiant floor heating. The upper-middle-range Asclepios bills itself as a wellness center rather than a hotel, though it successfully incorporates elements of both. Located in the hills near the Central Valley town of Alajuela, it's conveniently close to the airport but worlds away from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Jose. A full spa, fitness center, outdoor pool, and organic restaurant all lie on spacious grounds amidst a lush landscape. Every one of its 12 comfortable and stylish rooms has a different theme, and all overlook hillsides planted with coffee and sugarcane. Guests looking for a spa retreat on comfortable grounds will find it here -- but there's not much else around the property.
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