Our favorite hotels, Airbnbs, boats, and cabins of the year.
We are completely obsessed with hotels. From treehouses on remote islands to palaces fit for a royal, we’re always on the hunt for the coolest, coziest, and craziest places to spend the night. This year, Fodor’s Editors traveled far and wide—for work and for fun—and here are the best places we spent the night.
INSIDER TIPNeed more accommodation inspiration for your 2020 travels? Look no further than our Fodor’s Finest hotel awards.
A Chic Sanctuary in Kyoto
From an Airbnb cottage in the heart of Connemara to an exquisite Ryokan in Kyoto and an elegant base in Bangkok, this really was the year of the great stay for me. It’s impossible to pick one favorite so I’m going to cheat and pick two that really personified the places I was visiting. The Majestic Hotel & Spa on Barcelona’s Paseo de Gracia is convenient for all of the city’s top attractions, but it’s the hotel’s place in the city that comes from an over 100-year history that really impresses. Add a chic rooftop bar and restaurant and impressive experience offerings and when can I come back? Another major highlight for me this year was the magical Hoshinoya Kyoto. It’s luxurious, serene, romantic, and incredibly chic. With an approach by private riverboat, lush views, a meditative setting, excellent food, and cultural offerings, and a convenient location near Arashiyama’s temples, this special place represents everything I love about Japan.
A Cozy Cabin
Every year for the Christmas holidays, when Los Angelenos have fled the greater region for family and snow, my husband and I take a tiny, traffic-less getaway trip to somewhere in Southern California we’ve never explored. This year we stayed in the weirdly preserved Wild West town of Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains and hiked the craggy trails along Lake Gregory and boozed in old-timey saloons. It was absolutely adorable to stay in our adorably mid-century Airbnb cabin snuggled under that weird warmish foggy snowfall that only Southern California really provides.
An IRL Barbie Dreamhouse
At the end of May, I took a road trip along the California Coast with two friends. We drove a white Mustang convertible from Sonoma to Los Angeles, and along the way, we spent the night at The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. I’d had my eye on this hotel for a while, having heard about the celebrity parties and excessively ornate guestrooms. My stay here was everything I could have dreamed: a spiral staircase led to a stained glass turret in the center of our room; we drank sugary, artificially colored cocktails in the hot tub; we danced to a brass band in the pink floral dining room; and we rode horses through the hills. I could’ve stayed in this Barbie Dreamhouse fantasyland for many more days.
A Hotel Fit for a Princess
Once upon a time, I was a princess in a castle in Copenhagen. Okay not technically a princess and not technically a castle, but Hotel d’Angleterre certainly felt palatial. Maybe that’s because of its immense history (“It’s older than the United States!” I’d tell literally everyone) or maybe its unmatched standards of luxury. In any case, it’s my new bar for 5-star hotels. I stayed in a three-room suite where I’d put on my plush robe and, in full monarch mode, watch from my balcony as bikes rushed past Kongens Nytorv square. I ate caviar, oysters, and Champagne at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Marchal. I slept on what I can only describe as clouds. I did yoga in a chandeliered room. I floated off to the spa for a personalized Nordic sauna ritual. In short, it was really hard to turn back into a pumpkin at check out.
A Boat on the Nile
I got to stay in some truly luxurious palaces this year, from a decadent room overlooking the courtyard at the Four Seasons in Mexico City to the gorgeous tented suites at Kenya’s Angama Mara. But two of my most memorable hotels were not luxurious and not really hotels. This summer, I spent the night at Camp Rockaway amidst the crumbling (yet hip and happening) Jacob Riis Beach in the rockaways, where a cluster of canvas tents surround a fire pit and hangout area. It’s one of the coolest and wildest places to stay in New York City and I promise you’ll come back with a good story (mine is probably only appropriate for my memoir and NOT for Fodors.com). On the other side of the world, one of the most unforgettable places I spent the night this year was aboard a traditional Egyptian Dahabiya on a four-night Nile cruise with Extraordinary Journeys. Nothing compares to sitting on the deck while watching the sunset and hearing the call to prayer.
A Guatemalan Escape and a Vietnamese Oasis
If a man can conceivably fall in love with a hotel, then consider me head over heels. I’ve written extensively about La Lancha in obsessive fanboy fashion and here I go spilling my guts out again—this Guatemala jungle hotel made my heart flutter, made me weak in the knees, and overall made me swoon in 2019. But, also consider me a two-timer, because another hotel has pulled on my heartstrings this year. The Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai in Hoi An, Vietnam (pictured above) was love at first sight. It’s a gorgeous beachside property and a restful oasis amid the vibrant chaos outside. Every single room is a villa and even the smallest is bigger than many of the apartments I’ve lived in. It’s the kind of room that makes it oh-so difficult to leave—not just to go back home, but to go out and wander the incredible city of Hoi An, or even to shuffle over to the restaurant in the morning for one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve had in Asia.
A Hidden Gem in Hollywood
The best place that I spent the night this year was at the Petit Hermitage in Hollywood. It is, in my humble opinion, the most wonderful boutique hotel in all of Los Angeles. Pass the crocodile statue and duck under the ivy-covered awning and you entire another world. Each of the rooms is bohemian and bespoke, the rooftop pool feels like a scene out of Moulin Rouge, and they have some of the best cocktails around.
A Posh Coastal Resort
I loved my stay at the Inn at Perry Cabin in on Maryland’s eastern shore. It’s a very posh resort in an 1816 mansion with fireplaces and antiques. Plus, it’s on the Chesapeake Bay, so there are plenty of nautical things to do, including fishing, crabbing, or taking a sunset sail aboard one of its fleet of boats (with Champagne, of course!). I’m still dreaming of the deep-tissue massage I had in the spa and the crab cakes at Stars restaurant are to die for. St. Michaels, an adorable town with taverns, coffee shops, and a cool micro-distillery, is within walking distance.
—Jill Fergus, Senior Editor
A Room With a View
The best place I spent the night was in Ahus, Sweden at Ahus Seaside. I was right on the beach looking at the Baltic Sea, and it was freezing and serene and literally the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Plus, I got to stare at a single tree sitting right there by itself on the beach, and it was actually my favorite tree of the year. I took videos of myself talking to that tree. Maybe don’t include this part in the article! Or do! Whatever! I talked to a tree.
A Minimalist Hotel in London
I was a pretty big fan of the hotel in which I stayed on a trip to London recently: The St Martin’s Lane London. Though the rooms are decidedly small, their minimalist, modern design helps them feel bigger than they are, as do the floor-to-ceiling windows (which provide an abundance of light). Speaking of light, there’s a mood light above the headboard that can change colors (pretty cool). The property’s location is also excellent—it sits in the heart of the theater district of London’s Convent Garden, so there’s no shortage of entertainment to tune into.
Another great establishment I had the pleasure of staying at this year is The Duniway Portland. A true treat, The Dunaway is rustic yet refined in its style; dark wood and leather litter the lobby and the rooms, and a massive (in-room) television made me feel right at home. Jackrabbit, the hotel’s bar/restaurant which puts an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients, is also worth checking out.
A Glamping Tent on the Bolivian Salt Flats
Not only was Kachi Lodge the best place I spent the night, it’s legitimately difficult for me to imagine what could compete with glamping on Bolivia’s famous salt flats. Luxury accommodations on the moon? Parking a time-traveling Airstream on the lawn of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Until that’s possible, it’ll be pretty difficult to top concluding a day of crossing the Salar de Uyuni sipping sparkling wine on a shallow stretch of water that mirrors sunset-pink hues of twilight, enjoying a beautifully prepared dinner, and then ending the evening under the most gorgeously clear night sky.
A Luxury Hotel on the Adriatic Sea
Hands-down, my favorite stay this year was at Dubrovnik’s best luxury hotel, the recently renovated Hotel Bellevue. The bright and airy decor fulfills everyone’s dream of staying in a luxe Mediterranean villa while every room has a balcony overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Plus, it’s only a 20-minute walk to Old Town, which means lounging at the hotel’s private beach (complete with a hidden cave) is the perfect way to spend the afternoon while waiting for the cruise ship crowds to disperse.