Boscolo Venezia, Autograph Collection Rating: 5.0 Pearls
A luxurious, 72-room converted palazzo in the northern edge of Venice, Boscolo Venezia Autograph Collection is a quiet retreat from the chaotic heart of the city. The rare, private garden and spa with hot tub, sauna, and steam room are highlights. Rooms have classic decor and Venetian portraits, but upgrading to a Junior Suite gets guests more space and style -- these rooms have high ceilings and intricate crown molding. The hotel's location is far from Venice's main attractions, but it does offer free water taxi service to St. Mark's Square and Murano.
The Carneros Inn Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The luxury Carneros Inn is geared toward high-budget travelers -- it's pricey -- but guests who can afford it will find a sort of homey elegance here. Hillside Adirondack chairs overlook the vineyard. Crackling fireplaces warm every room. Private gardens and tree-lined infinity pools invite guests to relax. The entire resort feels like it's set on a farm, with cottages strewn about that house some of the guest rooms. The rooms are very comfy, with private decks and stone patios surrounded by overgrown greens and a fire pit. They also have outdoor tubs and showers, which is a cool feature. The open bathrooms inside are huge, with walk-in showers and a soaking tub. The property has three restaurants, one of which overlooks the vineyard, a bright and airy yoga studio, a fitness center, a hair salon, and a grocery store called The Market at Town Square.
The Box House Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
For a real dose of Brooklyn, it doesn’t get more authentic than The Box House Hotel. This former door factory now houses 57 apartment-style rooms designed by local Brooklynite, Kip Jacobs, who happens to be friends with the owners. The spacious rooms/lofts (some sleep six) attract families, couples and those conducting business -- think film crews. Modern kitchens and free extras include bottled water and coffee, rides within a mile-and-a-half radius, and use of the cool fitness center. This is a hidden gem for those seeking breathing room and easy access to Manhattan.
Hotel Amour Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Situated in the Pigalle quarter near the Moulin Rouge and Basilica of the Sacred Heart, The Hotel Amour attracts fashionable Parisian youth with its hip restaurant and bar. The hotel itself was inspired by the Japanese model of love hotels, and the owners have invested a tidy sum of money in developing the concept -- for example, they hired the services of well-known fashion designer Chantal Thomass to design certain rooms. The mid-range property is on the pricey side for what it offers, and some bathrooms are tiny, but those interested in an erotic hotel experience may appreciate it for its novelty and trendiness.
Loews Miami Beach Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
An extravagant, 790-room beachfront giant geared toward service, the Loews has the features of a mega-resort -- a huge free-form pool, organized kids' activities, and four on-site restaurants -- all in the heart of South Beach. A great pick for families who don't want to be stranded in a remote resort further north, like the Fontainebleau or Newport.
Duke Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Duke Hotel is a 78-room upscale hotel in a calm, affluent residential area of Rome. Spacious rooms have plenty of natural light and flat-screen TVs, but decor falls a bit short of what one expects from a four-pearl property. The hotel is far from the tourist sights but offers a free shuttle service to the city center for guests. It’s more affordable than centrally located hotels in this pearl category, making it ideal for travelers looking to save by staying outside of the tourist action.
LaGare Hotel Venezia - Mgallery Collection Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This upscale, charming 118-room hotel on Murano Island in the Venice lagoon is a chic, modern pick with a quiet atmosphere. This restored glass factory has bright, spacious interiors and displays local glass artwork. The polished rooms are decorated in soft, earth tones with big, modern bathrooms. The hotel offers free transport to the airport and mainland Venice.
Vista Cay Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This quiet property features privately owned condos and townhouses, and mostly attracts families with its safe, neighborhood vibe. The club house acts like the local country club; not only does it feature a fitness center and game room, but it also has a business center. The real highlight is the lovely pool area, which offers a view of the adjacent Lake Cay. While decor can vary slightly from unit to unit, all condos have separate living rooms and dining rooms, fully-stocked modern kitchens, and washer/dryers. Though many of Orlando’s main attractions are just a short drive away, there are no restaurants on-site.
Hotel du Champ de Mars Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This charming, budget-friendly boutique hotel is situated in the 7th arrondissement, just off of the cobblestoned, cafe-lined Rue Cler and a 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. The 25 rooms are on the small side, but tastefully decorated in a traditional Parisian country-style decor. Metro line 8 is nearby, making it easy to access other attractions. Wi-Fi is free and the continental breakfast can be served in guest bedrooms or the breakfast area, but there are no other services to speak of (not unexpected in this price range).
Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This charming, upscale Midtown East hotel -- located across the street from Grand Central Terminal --has classic, understated decor in the 155 rooms and the public spaces. The hotel’s Irish roots are subtly felt, with the restaurant serving traditional pub fare in a cozy setting. Features are few, however; travelers who prefer having a fitness and business center on-site may want to compare rates with the nearby Omni Berkshire Place.
Bass Rocks Ocean Inn Rating: 3.0 PearlsGloucester, Cape Ann
The historic Bass Rocks Ocean Inn is an oceanfront escape located 35 miles north of Boston. This Colonial Revival style inn offers comfortable rooms classically decorated in floral patterns that open onto shared balconies with sweeping Atlantic Ocean views. Open seasonally from May through October, the hotel has a heated outdoor pool and excellent freebies like Wi-Fi throughout the property, bike rentals, and afternoon tea and cookies. While some guests complain that balconies lack privacy and bathrooms are small, this is a well-maintained, family-friendly property with historic character and great views.
Barocco Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The 41-room Barocco is an upscale hotel on the Piazza Barberini. The spacious, upscale rooms have decor in shades of champagne and cream; some have great piazza views. While the hotel is lacking in common space and features (such as spa or fitness facilities), it offers a picturesque piazza location within walking distance of the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. The extensive breakfast buffet includes pastries, yogurts, fruit, and meats. The nearby Boscolo Palace has more features, including a spa and restaurant, but it charges for Wi-Fi and breakfast.
Santa Maria Novella Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This luxury boutique hotel dating to the 19th century has elegant decor and a focus on art. Some rooms, and a rooftop terrace, provide direct views of the Santa Maria Novella church. The property encompasses few different buildings, so getting to your room may require trips on multiple elevators and stairways. It's worth comparing rates with the nearby Grand Hotel Minerva, which has a similar atmosphere and views, plus a rooftop pool.
North Beach Plantation Rating: 4.0 Pearls
North Beach Plantation is one of the few upscale properties in Myrtle Beach -- and it's arguably the best of the bunch. Configured as condos and townhouses, accommodations are impeccably neat and clean. Sizes range from one-bedroom condos to five-bedroom cottages, making this a convenient pick for groups of any size. A high-end spa, a famous Myrtle Beach restaurant, a beachfront location and multiple options for pools means there is plenty to do on the property. Just note that it's a 25-minute drive to the boardwalk; those who prefer a more central location may want to consider the Anderson Ocean Club & Spa.
Hotel Fouquet's Barriere Rating: 5.0 Pearls
Located on the Champs Élysées, the Fouquet's Barrière is one of the most famous and exclusive luxury hotels in Paris. It has a slightly modernized Haussmann-style exterior, while interior design combines baroque, surrealist, and classic style elements with contemporary flair. Sophisticated rooms start at 400 square feet, and black marble bathrooms have separate showers and tubs as well as TVs in the mirrors. The extensive features include three restaurants (one Michelin-starred), an upscale spa, and a gorgeous indoor swimming pool. The hotel deserves its five-star status, but this level of luxury comes at a very high price.
Fisk House B&B Rating: 3.0 PearlsCatskills, New York
This cozy, five-room bed and breakfast feels like staying at a friend’s home -- rooms are small but charming; guests have access to a well-equipped communal kitchen and a living room, and a couple of rooms share a large, clean bathroom. Perks here include free Wi-Fi and free breakfast, and the Fisk is the only B&B in Delaware County that offers an in-ground pool (open seasonally). There’s not much within walking distance, but restaurants, stores and a wide array of outdoor activities can be found just a short drive away.
Westgate Palace Rating: 3.0 Pearls
When driving up to this timeshare property –- comprised of two nondescript high-rise buildings –- guests may not be too impressed, but this mid-range property has a lot more to offer than what first meets the eye. All units have an upscale, homey vibe and come equipped with modern, fully-stocked kitchens, bedrooms with spacious bathrooms, and up-to-date technology like large flat-screen TVs with DVD players. And the list of on-site activities is extensive; aside from the lovely pool area, the hotel features family-friendly amenities such as basketball, volleyball, and a game room. Pesky sales people can be a bother and there is a fee to use Wi-Fi, but the Westgate is nonetheless a solid choice for those planning longer Orlando stays.
Ca'Sagredo Hotel Rating: 5.0 Pearls
The 42 luxurious rooms of Ca’Sagredo were designed in aristocratic Venetian style. This restored pink palazzo on the Grand Canal has maintained its original grandeur, including salons filled with frescoes and sweeping staircases. Huge rooms have plush furnishings and marble bathrooms; the terrace along the canal is a scenic place for a drink. This is one of the most decadent hotel experiences in Venice, and it's right on the Grand Canal, within walking distance of St. Mark's Square.