Regular readers will know that beautiful hotels are my passion and looking back on the year I can’t believe some of the incredible and unique properties that I’ve stayed in. I love keeping a record of them on this blog so here are my top 20 hotels of the year by category.
Beach in Reach
1. Amanzoe, Porto Heli, Greece
The Aman brand is renowned for excellence in every way and Amanzoe in Porto Heli, Greece is no exception. We had the most exquisite room, surrounded by incredible architecture, beautiful views, amazing and varied food and of course the most excellent service. The Beach Club at the hotel was our favourite place to hang out, eat mussels, drink rosé and enjoy the gorgeous view of the sea.
This gorgeous luxury resort couldn’t have been a more perfect place to celebrate Mr S’s 40th birthday.
2. Il San Pietro Di Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
I bandy around the phrase ‘my favourite hotel ever’ far too often but honestly Il San Pietro di Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is the place I can imagine myself relaxing aged 75 with Mr S beside me sitting on the terrace and sipping a bellini while admiring the most beautiful view in the world.
The hotel is carved naturally into a cliffside with a facade covered in flowers, a Michelin starred restaurant, a private beach and a gorgeous pool. But most of all being there just gives you *that* feeling. Oh and it’s pink… The perfect hotel to spend our four year wedding anniversary.
3. Le Sirenuse, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Le Sirenuse is probably the most well known hotel in Positano, and in fact all of the Amalfi Coast. Having seen so many photos of that pool, that view and those incredible vibrant red exteriors I just had to stay there at least one night. The restaurant is also the location of Michelin-starred restaurant La Sponda, one of the world’s most romantic restaurants.
There’s no denying Le Sirenuse will give you all the feels but we preferred the privacy and exclusivity of Il San Pietro Positano as Le Sirenuse is very close to the crowds and more touristy areas. I truly loved this hotel but the cost was a bit of a sting and it’s the most expensive hotel I’ve ever stayed in per square foot of room. Let’s put this into perspective our 30 sqm room at Le Sirenuse was approximately twice the price of our 210 sqm room at Amanzoe.
Best in Snow
4. Aman Le Mélézin, Courchevel, France
2018 was the first year that I experienced true snow capped hotels! My first time ever skiing was in March when Mr S finally convinced me to visit Courchevel. Ok, I said, as long as I can stay in a really nice hotel…and Aman Le Mélézin was the perfect choice. Best of all as soon as we arrived we were given a huge upgrade to the hotel’s best suite (book through Virtuoso, I’m telling you it pays off!). With a location right on the slopes, Mr S loved the skiing and I loved the views and the hotel’s beautiful snow bar!
5. Das Central, Austria
I tried my hand at skiing again later in the year whilst staying at the gorgeous Das Central, the only five star hotel in Solden. Whilst I’m still totally rubbish at skiing I absolutely loved the spa, the gourmet offerings and the incredible ice Q restaurant at the top of the mountain. Visiting just before Christmas felt so cosy and festive too!
6. Storfjord Hotel, Sunnmøre, Norway
Not a ski hotel, but still very much snow capped… The Storfjord Hotel in Norway was like a fairytale hideaway in the mountains over looking the Fjords.
My friend and I absolutely loved this gorgeous, cosy chalet style hotel that gave a new meaning to the word hygge for me!
7. Hotel Eden, Rome, Italy
As much as I love visiting new places, I also love to revisit happy memories of places I’ve been to before. Staying at the Hotel Eden Rome by the Dorchester Collection was the best of both worlds as the beautiful property had been treated to a total refurbishment. I visited three years ago with Mr S for our 1 year wedding anniversary and it was amazing to return for a girls trip with Laura.
Laura and I were simply blown away by the attention to detail, the stunning fresh interiors, amazing food and flawless service.
8.Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens, Greece
Hotel Grande Bretagne was the perfect location for our two night stay in Athens for Mr S’s 40th birthday. A hotel is so much more to me than just somewhere to stay and having a real sense of place is really important to me. Which was why Hotel Grande Bretagne with its views of the Acropolis was the absolute ideal choice!
9. Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Argentina
Speaking of which, history is the exact reason why I chose the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt for our stay in Buenos Aires. The hotel is a former palace and one of the few remaining places in Buenos Aires that represent the city’s traditional aristocracy. Utterly grand and dripping in chandeliers, lined with marble, full of original art work and with the most gorgeous inner courtyard, it’s easy to see why it is considered the most luxurious hotel in the city.
10. The Thief, Oslo, Norway
The Thief Hotel is a gorgeous modern property in the capital of Norway. Though we only stayed one night, we were really impressed by the great location, lively bar and beautiful fjord views.
11. Villa Des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco
When I was organising my Morocco press trip with Original Travel I was told I would be staying in Villa Des Orangers in Marrakech… ‘oh well funnily enough I’ve stayed there before!’ As noted above, I love the nostalgia of returning to hotels that I’ve visited before and Villa Des Orangers hadn’t changed a bit even in the ten years since I’d visited.
I still remembered that gorgeous scent of oranges that greets you as you walk through the hidden door in the medina. A Relais & Chateaux property, this riad-style property is also renowned for the amazing food served in the onsite restaurant and we had a gorgeously romantic meal by the pool there one night.
12. Soho House Barcelona, Spain
I’ve been a Soho House member for a good eight or so years now and I love visiting their properties around the world. Soho House group seem to have this perfect knack of making their hotels / private members club feel like a home away from home.
Soho House Barcelona was a fantastic choice for a hotel when my friend and I decided to make a flying visit to the city. I actually don’t stay in the Soho House hotels when abroad very often as there’s a strict policy on taking photos around the club areas and honestly I find that a little restrictive. I mean forget about the ‘gram, I want my holiday snaps! However, staying here meant I could switch off from social media and enjoy rooftop drinks around the pool with my friend and just pure relaxation.
13. Soho Farmhouse, Oxford, England
I’m pretty sure you’ve got the point by now that I love Soho Farmhouse and I returned this year for my 4th and 5th stays. For the first time, I stayed in a three-bed room cabin shared with my family and then returned about four weeks later to celebrate my birthday with Mr S.
14. The Pig on the Beach, Studland, Dorset, UK
I’d been wanting to visit one of the hotels in Pig group for years but being such intimate boutique properties, it can be hard to get a booking. I was thrilled when Lauren and I managed to reserve the gorgeous Bothy at The Pig on The Beach in Dorset.
The hotel is teeny tiny, basically a restaurant with rooms so all there was to do was relax in each others company, eat lots of good food and take a rainy walk on the beach. If you’re looking for something super fancy, the Pig hotels aren’t for you but if you’re looking for cosy, homely and service with a smile then I highly recommend.
15. The Pig, The New Forest, UK
My second experience of The Pig was later in the year and Mr S and I had a little summer staycation at their original property in the New Forest. I’m not sure Mr S was quite convinced (he thought our room looked like a garden shed) but I absolutely love the simply rustic cosiness of this hotel group and the excellent menu of foraged food.
Fellow fans of Soho Farmhouse will agree that The Pig is basically a smaller version of exclusive private members club hotel (though they have nothing to do with each other) and anyone struggling to get a room there should try here. If you prefer more elegant luxury, sister property Lime Wood is down the road and is one of my favourite hotels. Guests of the Pig are welcome to use the spa and anyone can eat at the restaurant by Angela Hartnett.
16. Four Seasons Hampshire, UK
Despite being a huge fan of the Four Seasons brand, this was the first time I’d ever stayed in their English countryside property, Four Seasons Hampshire. I was lucky enough to be invited on a press trip along with two of my blogger besties, Binny and Laura. We had beautiful rooms and were able to sample the hotel’s new Wild Carrot restaurant for dinner and brunch.
17. Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, Argentina
Immediately greeted by the gorgeous scent of flowers, and a huge glass of red wine, Cavas Wine Lodge in Mendoza had me at ‘hello.’ Coupled with an utterly gorgeous (and huge!) villa surround by vines and a perfectly structured program of vineyards visits and restaurants in the local area… the love affair definitely continued throughout our stay.
Not only is this place utterly beautiful with its own incredible wine and restaurant, the service was just sensational. With only 18 rooms, it’s utterly personal and the owners of the property are often around to chat to the guests.
18. Kasbah Tamadot, Atlas Mountain, Morocco
Kasbah Tamadot is so beautiful that’s it hard to believe it’s even real! High up in the Atlas Mountains (yet only a 45 minute drive from Marrakech) and with the most sensational views, it’s easy to see why Sir Richard Branson fell in love with the property and added it to his hotel collection.
Our room was inspired by a Berber tent and was incredibly special plus the atmosphere of this place was truly magical!
19. Awasi Atacama, Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert was the biggest surprise of South America trip earlier in the year. It was a last minute addition to the trip but ended up being our favourite place partly owing to the wonderful hospitality of Awasi Atacama. The bijou property is built to mimic a traditional village with huts made out of mud bricks and the totally outdoor living area is possible because of the minimal rain fall experienced in the area.
Exploring the Atacama Desert with our incredible private guide provided by the hotel was utterly out of this world, but returning to the comfort of Awasi Atacama was such a pleasure too!
20. Awasi Patagonia, Chilean Patagonia, Chile
At the beginning of the year, I visited the end of the world! Patagonia is quite honestly somewhere I never thought I’d visit but it was totally worth the length of the journey. At the stunning Awasi Patagonia we stayed in our own individual cabin which boasted the most incredible panoramic views.
The benefit of choosing Awasi over the other hotel brands in the area is that you get your own private guide and four-by-four car (the other hotels organise shared excursions) so Mr S and I had an personal look at the wonder of this other worldly place. Exploring Torres del Paine, seeing glaciers and horse riding through the snow, yet again always returning to the comfort and highly personal service of Awasi Patagonia.
So those are my favourite hotels of the year! Isn’t it funny how we always say the year has gone so quickly but when we look back at January it feel like a lifetime ago! What were your favourite hotels of the year. Which of these would you most like to stay in?