Conde Nast Traveler each year polls its readers for their favorite things travel from airlines to cities to hotels. The U.S. edition claims over 300,000 votes, and needless to say there are always surprises. For the end product, readers get dozens of lists with a numerical ranked listing. In my opinion, a 95 vs. a 94 doesn’t tell you much.
To make the data useful to you, we added information on the best suite at the winning hotels.
- Chicago – Virgin Hotel
- Washington D.C. – The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner
- Boston – XV Beacon
- Sao Paolo – Hotel Unique
- Buenos Aires – Alvear Palace
- Mexico City – Los Alcobes
- Johannesburg – The Saxon
- Cape Town – Ellerman House
- Taipei – Mandarin Oriental
- Shanghai – Fairmont Peace Hotel
- Beijing – Rosewood
- Jakarta – Raffles
- Bangkok – The Peninsula
- Melbourne – The Langham
- Hyderabad – Taj Falaknuma
1. Chicago – Virgin Hotel
Conde Nast Traveler’s take: “Don’t take it on faith that all hotels in the Windy City are primed and polished in the art of service: Instead, head to Virgin Hotel Chicago, one of billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s latest endeavors, to see for yourself. Guests are especially complimentary of amenities like free Wi-Fi, well-stocked mini-bars that don’t break the bank, and mod rooms that sport separate areas for primping and sleeping, as well as the brunch options at Miss Ricky’s—don’t leave without trying the french toast.”
There are two penthouses: Richard’s Flat (pictured above) and the Rockstar Suite, both offer a vibe of British aristocracy mixed with Chicago cool. Richard’s Flat is 750 sq.ft., with north facing and slight river views. The Rockstar Suite is 770 sq.ft. and is southwest facing. They have the same amenities and are essentially the same – a living room area, expansive bathroom, wet bar and bedroom – but the Rockstar Suite is slightly bigger because it is ADA compliant. The patented Lounge Bed designed with Rockwell Group Europe is for those who like to work as well as sleep in bed. Custom sensors illuminate when you get out of bed in the middle of the night leading the way to the bathroom.
2. Washington D.C. – The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner
Conde Nast writes, “If you thought upscale options were not to be seen beyond the narrow borders of Washington, D.C., you thought wrong. This Ritz-Carlton outpost in Northern Virginia sits adjacent to the Tysons Galleria, a luxury shopping mall, and offers first-rate amenities like a full-service Day Spa (Sparkling Champagne massage, anyone?) and a José Andrés-helmed tavern. It may not be around all the action—but if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, or planning a wedding, then this should be at the top of your list.”
We say at stay in 1,836 sq.ft. Ritz-Carlton Suite with full kitchen and separate dining area with seating for eight, living room with fireplace, connecting to a Deluxe Double to sleep up to eight guests.
There are two marble bathrooms in master bedroom and a powder room in foyer. You also get full access to the Club Lounge which includes the Club Concierge.
3. Boston – XV Beacon
“The chic, intimate modernist interiors of this hotel in Beacon Hill may contrast with its exterior, a turn-of-the-century, ten-story Beaux Arts building of iron, limestone, and brick—but it all adds up to part of the charm,” says Conde Nast, continuing, “The lobby has an original cage elevator, while individually designed rooms in taupe, creams, and espressos come with fireplaces, mahogany built-in cupboards, and contemporary canopied beds. Order up a prime piece of meat at Mooo—and if you can score a seat in the restaurant’s vaulted-ceilinged private dining room in the wine cellar, even better.”
The Gilbert Stuart Suite is 1,400 sq.ft. two Studio Rooms combined with a separate Parlor Room which has a dining/boardroom table that accommodates up to 12 people. All three rooms have marble bathrooms with a rainforest shower and whirlpool tub. Another feature is all three rooms have an entrance from the hallway. View is of Beacon Street. You may also like the gas fireplaces.
4. Sao Paolo – Hotel Unique
Conde Nast says, “This São Paolo pad really is one of a kind, from its crazy crescent shape (it looks like the hull of a ship, portholes and all), to the towel-warming racks in its bathrooms, to its champagne check-ins. The décor is decidedly modern—think high ceilings, clean lines, and immense, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for maximum natural light—but its quirky touches, like angular, magenta chaises, and gray cameo carpeting, plus a killer rooftop bar, are what really set it apart.”
The Champs Élysées Suite has views of Jardins neighborhood and Ibirapuera Park. It seats sevenpeople in the living room, making it good for business meetings. Located on the 7th floor it has a connecting room option.
5. Buenos Aires – Alvear Palace Hotel
“When you get right down to it, this Belle Epoque Buenos Aires landmark is all about opulence. Its dining room smacks of old-world charm, with high ceilings, twinkling chandeliers, marble floors, and a delicately appointed glass bar, and its rooms, designed in the style of Louis XIV and Louis XVI (think heavy silk drapes and ornate, Empire-style furniture) are guaranteed to make you feel like royalty. Enjoy the white-glove service and French classics at La Bourgogne,” Conde Nast readers recommend.
The 1,936 sq.ft. Royal Suite features décor of a Parisian apartment, with a reception area, living room, dining room for 8 guests, study, large bedroom, and two bathrooms with Italian Botticino marble, and equipped with hydro-massage, sauna and LCD TV. Decoration includes French fabrics, crystal and bronze chandeliers, and Slavonian oak flooring. There is a small kitchen.
6. Mexico City – Los Alcobas
“In the ritzy Polanco district, home to high-end boutiques and some of the city’s best restaurants, Las Alcobas has plugged the gap between the high-end chains (St. Regis, Four Seasons) and the hipper-than-thou independents (Condesa DF), with slick service and an unusual, refined look that draws on Mexico’s heritage,” says Conde Nast. It adds, “The 35 guest rooms blend luxe materials in a range of earthy colors with motifs that recall the country’s Aztec and Mayan sites—suede headboards and walls are animated with subtle graphic imprints.”
The Pasaje Penthouse features a master bedroom with large full marble spa bathroom, rain shower and steam, bathtub and a walk-in closet. The living room provides space for dining for six people. There is a butler kitchen An indoor/outdoor fireplace bridges a large terrace that includes a garden with views of the neighborhood.
7. Johannesburg – The Saxon
“This former private home of an insurance magnate is where Nelson Mandela worked on his book Long Walk to Freedom. The luxurious hotel is decorated with contemporary African art, brown-latticed shutters, large bay windows, and shams with local motifs. Take a walk around the six acres of gardens with a koi pond, try the sound therapy at the spa, or take a dip in the heated pool with underwater music,” says Conde Nast.
Enter the 4,305 sq.ft. Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite via a glass-enclosed elevator.
There is a guest bathroom, guest suite, separate lounge, dining room and business area with business desk and iPod docking station. The master bedroom has a king size four-poster bed, separate bathroom with Jacuzzi bath, walk-in shower and steam room. There is a butler’s kitchen and 24-hour butler service. The suite offers views of the gardens and pool terrace.
8. Cape Town – Ellerman House
“Head to this Edwardian-era mansion for an inside look at a fabulous private art collection, and breathtakingly beautiful views from your room’s private balcony,” writes Conde Nast.
Villa One (7,492 sq.ft.) features minimalist décor and original art. There is a formal lounge, TV lounge, dining room, and study, large outdoor deck area and an infinity pool. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms with spacious bathrooms and private terraces, and a small reading room. It can be booked either as a 3-bedroom villa or as a 5-bedroom villa with the addition of the two deluxe spa bedrooms on the spa level.
9. Taipei – Mandarin Oriental
“Grand and glitzy, the 256-room Mandarin Oriental Taipei easily became the most luxurious hotel in the city since it opened last year. It’s all about decadent accents (acres of marble and silk), a stunning art collection…and a big lineup of dining options, ranging from Italian to Cantonese to French,” says Conde Nast.
The 4,046 sq.ft. Presidential Suite offers views of Taipei’s of Taipei 101. There is a large entrance vestibule leading to the suite’s a large living room with a carved Fireplace. The private dining room includes a kitchen. There is a study. The grand master bedroom has a dressing room and walk-in wardrobe. The marble bathroom also has views of Taipei 101. There is a steam shower, good after you use the suite’s own private gym. There is also a connecting room option.
10. Shanghai – Fairmont Peace Hotel
Rated by Conde Nast No. 1 in China, Fairmont Peace Hotel is a “resplendent Art Deco hotel.” After a $64 million renovation, “the 1929 landmark at the base of Nanjing Road East has staged a truly auspicious unveiling, hewing closely—almost too closely, given the building’s heavy Gothic feel—to the original decor. With the help of Shanghai architectural historian Peter Hibbard, builders restored the lobby’s stained glass skylight, long hidden by a false ceiling, and brought the ornate ballroom (with its famous sprung-wooden dance floor) and kitsch Dragon Phoenix restaurant back to life.”
Check into the 2,885 sq.ft. Sassoon Presidential Suite which occupies the entire 10th floor where the hotel’s creator and former owner, Victor Sassoon, once lived. The suite features a spacious bedroom and a large living room, both overlooking the Bund, the Huangpu River and Pudong Skyline. Amenities include a study room and dining for up to 10.
11. Beijing – Rosewood
“In Beijing’s booming Chaoyang District, Rosewood’s first property in Asia offers lofty service and breathtaking views of the city, including Rem Koolhaas’s famed CCTV Tower just across the Third Ring Road. There are six restaurants and bars, a world-class spa with an indoor pool; and the Manor Club, a plush executive lounge that looks and feels like a posh private clubhouse,” Conde Nast says.
Beijing House is the hotel’s largest suite at 1,947 sq.ft. with a grand foyer entrance, kitchen, guest bathroom, walk-in closet, and study office with a large screen TV. It also features a separate dining room that seats up to 10, a fireplace with an overhead TV, and a living room with three sofas, making it good for entertaining.
12. Jakarta – Raffles
“Sitting in Jakarta’s golden triangle, a monument- and memorial-laden area at the southern tip of the city center, (Raffles Jakarta) hugs the upscale Lotte Shopping Avenue and the Ciputra Artpreneur Center, an art gallery and theater complex that fronts the best of the country’s cultural goods…Rooms sport floor-to-ceiling windows, and an equally sumptuous approach to décor. Other standouts include the Writers Bar—a spinoff of the hotel’s famous Singapore outpost—which celebrates Jakarta’s distinct art, literature, and history.”
The 2-bedroom Raffles Suite is 4,290 sq.ft. with its own private gym, private spa room, steam room, a grand piano, den and the option to attach to a third guest room.
13. Bangkok – The Peninsula
In a city with some of the world’s best hotels, Conde Nast notes of The Peninsula, “This geometric tower on the west bank of the Chao Phraya was designed so that all rooms have river views. Accommodations have silk-upholstered furnishings and marble bathrooms with a TV above the tub…The three-tiered pool is amid lush landscaping…The spa is in a three-story colonial-style building with reflecting pools lined with silk lanterns.
The 34th floor Peninsula Suite features city and river views, Thai silks, antiques, Oriental carpets, crystal chandeliers and teakwood floors. You can arrive on the roof by helicopter. The suite has master and guest bedrooms, walk-in closets and a butler’s room. The dining room seats up to 10 people and an expansive landscaped terrace is good for entertaining.
14. Melbourne – The Langham
“Built on the banks of the Yarra River on the famous Southbank Promenade, The Langham is one of Melbourne’s most beautiful and elegant hotels, both in location and aesthetic,” says Conde Nast. The magazine adds, “Upon entrance, guests are greeted by a grand marble staircase, cascading fountains and magnificent crystal chandeliers. Its 386 rooms are classically elegant, outfitted with plush carpets and settees, silk drapes, handcrafted wood furnishings and ornate light fixtures.”
The 2-bedroom, 1,734 sq.ft. Presidential Suite offers views of the river and city with a living room and dining area, seating 6 for meals.
15. Hyderabad – Taj Falaknuma Palace
Hyderabad is more and more on the global CEO circuit, and Taj Falaknuma is a “palatial 32-acre hilltop estate with fragrant gardens and views of Old Hyderabad,” say Conde Nast, noting, “Because cars aren’t permitted beyond the front gate, visitors arrive at reception in a golf cart or, for VIPs, a horse carriage. In lieu of a formal check-in desk, a standard bearer greets guests by militarily clicking his heels before leading them under a shower of rose petals and into the former ruler of Hyderabad’s neo-Palladian palace. The museum-quality reception rooms are furnished in late-Victorian style, gleaming with burnished wood and leather, glittering with chandeliers.”
The 1,938 sq.ft. duplex Nizam Suite features your own private pool. There is also an oversize bathtub in the Cararra marble bathroom. High ceilings and city views make this a place you will want to stay for more than one night.