The Peninsula House.
A stay here will change your thinking on what a small luxury property can be; this is one of the best B&Bs in the Caribbean, if not the world. The gorgeous Victorian-style plantation house with wraparound verandahs overlooks miles of coconut palms down to the ocean. It's family-run and showcases generations' worth of museum-quality sculptures, paintings, and objects d'art, many of which were acquired from the Far and Middle East. The art elevates the rooms and common areas to a fascinating visual experience. Dinner, available only to guests, takes place in the central open-air brick courtyard. Dishes, linens, and even the stationery are refined; to mention that rooms come with flat-screen TVs (the only ones on the Samaná Peninsula at this writing) would be missing the point. No expense has been spared. The pool house even has a world-class collection of African masks. Is $600 a lot for a room here? It's not a full-fledged "resort," but we'd recommend that you consider saving now. In terms of international high-end travel, this is a real steal. Pros: quiet and remote; luxurious; impeccable guest attention. Cons: expensive, but that's the only drawback we can find. Camino Cosón, Las Terrenas, Box 56. 809/307-1827 or 809/882-7712 (ph.). 809/355-3089 (fax). www.thepeninsulahouse.com. 6 rooms. In room: safe, DVD, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bar, pool, spa, no elevator, laundry service, public Wi-Fi, no kids under 18. Rooms start at $600. Browse more Dominican Republic hotel reviews
If you're craving authentic French brasserie cuisine in London, head to Bord'eaux in the Grosvenor House hotel, helmed by chef Ollie Couillaud, formerly of Tom's Kitchen. Couillaud is originally from France's southwest coast, and his menu spans the Loire Valley down to the Basque area. There's a mix of seafood platters and hearty fare like duck confit; warm squid and chorizo salad; slow-roasted shoulder of lamb, as well as quick comfort food like a croque monsieur or French onion soup. Diners can satisfy their sweet tooth with the unusual leche frita, a fried custard served with hot chocolate sauce and ice cream. Grosvenor House, 90 Park Lane, Mayfair. 020/7399-8460. Median entrée price: £15 (approximately $30 USD). Browse more London restaurant reviews
A Mano, Chicago
The proven restaurant team behind Bin 36 turned the space beneath their popular wine-centric restaurant into this Italian spot. True to its name, A Mano prides itself on making almost everything--from the pastas to the sausages--by hand. While you peruse the Italian wine list, try the burrata, a fresh, cream-filled mozzarella imported from Puglia, served with house-smoked salmon. Or, head to the bar to snack on $5 menu items such as thin-crust pizza, polenta fries, and cheese plates. To avoid the din (the open kitchen is in the middle of the dining room and conversation can be difficult on busy nights), dine early or on the patio next to the Cyprus trees. 22 N. Dearborn St., River North, 60610. 312/629-3500. www.amanochicago.com. Median entrée price: $21. Browse more Chicago restaurant reviews
Wildwood Barbeque, New York.
Prolific restaurateur Steve Hanson's latest venture has been smokin' since day one, appeasing rabid barbecue aficionados. Pit master (and former Queens cop) "Big Lou" Elrose deserves credit for excellent ribs: succulent lamb and saucy baby back. Dine at the bar or at adjacent high tables where the animated scene is fueled by whiskey and potent mint juleps. Families should settle in the dining room for fiery fried jalapeño slices called "bottle caps," shareable platters of apricot-glazed chicken and pulled pork, and towering carrot and chocolate layer cakes. A crafty combination of reclaimed wood, distressed garage doors, recycled paper, blackboards and Bell jars, has made a trendy Manhattan block feel kitschy and comfortable. 225 Park Ave. S., Flatiron. 212/533-2500. www.brguestrestaurants.com/. Median entrée price: $18. Browse more New York City restaurant reviews
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.
The $800 million Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is larger than life (and everything else around it). Guests at the 2,000-room resort can dine, shop, get pampered and even go clubbing without ever leaving the property, which anchors the newly developed National Harbor waterfront in Prince George's County, Maryland. About a 25-minute ride to the National Mall, the Gaylord is shaping up to be a fun alternative for the DC-bound who don't mind commuting to museums and monuments. Room balconies opening on to the 230-foot-high glass atrium are a good place to watch the nightly dancing fountain show in the massive lobby below. Water taxi service runs from the Harbor to Georgetown, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and Old Town Alexandria; one bus line currently runs between the Metro's Southern Avenue station and the Harbor. Pros: 30-foot wide media wall in the National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill; waterfront location. Cons: cab, car or public bus necessary to get downtown; might be a bit too big for some; area still in development. 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, National Harbor, MD 20745. 301/965-2000 (ph.). 301/965-2001 (fax). www.gaylordnational.com. 2,000 rooms. In-room: safe, kitchen (some), refrigerator, DVD (some), hi-speed Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 4 restaurants, 7 bars, pool, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), no smoking rooms. Rooms start at $299.
The newly designed Tides Hotel is fashioned after the interior of a jewelry box, and it may indeed be the jewel of South Beach boutique hotels. The stark white-on-white minimalism is replaced with soft pinks and corals, gilded accents and marine-inspired décor. The new "Coral Bar" boasts rum from around the world, and La Marea restaurant offers delectable seafood. The Tides' main competition is Hotel Victor, but this hotel has an edge; all rooms come complete with direct ocean views. The rooms are small, but pretty, with pink and tan accents and cool tables made of petrified stumps. Pros: superior service; great beach location; ocean views from all suites. Cons: rooms are on the small-side; tiny elevator. 1220 Ocean Dr., South Beach, 33139. 305/604-5070 or 866/438-4337 (ph.). 305/604-5180 (fax). www.thetideshotel.com. 45 suites. In-room: safe, Wi-fi, ethernet. In-hotel: restaurant, pool, gym, concierge, laundry service, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. Rooms start at $495. Browse more Miami hotel reviewsContributors: Lisa Amand, Michael De Zayas, Beth Kanter, Kate Leahy, Julia Neyman, Christina Valhouli