Close your eyes and consider a southern Italian hilltop town. The men sit outside and chat, the gelato store is always open, and the table red tastes just fine. Not a bad visual. Now, open to reveal a grand and dreamy 19th-century palazzo in the city of Bernalda, a remote town in Italy's Basilicata region. Welcome to Palazzo Margherita.
You'll be obsessed with the giant lobby, for its low couches and sky-high ceiling. The crowd, which consists of handsome men in blazers drinking coffee and the global pack reading fashion magazines. The mod boutiques lining the turn-of-the-century arcade floor. And the carefully arranged tableaux of old Italian coffeepots and minimalist Dutch ceramics.
The hotel is an absolute stunner, from the bright white exterior decorated with columns, urns, and balconies to the intimate indoor spaces overflowing with art. Rooms are spacious and cozy, with high-design touches and all the right amenities.
Arriving at Soniat House is magical. Within seconds of pulling up on a humid, rainy Sunday, the giant front doors swing open revealing a leafy courtyard and an older gentleman in a white jacket and black bow tie. He ushers you through the entrance, down a stone carriageway, and into a small front office where you acquire a set of tarnished brass keys and an elegant umbrella.
With its wide, tree-lined boulevards and ornate fin de siècle architecture, Buenos Aires has won itself the title the Paris of South America. And while that designation probably sells the Argentine capital's own vibrant personality short, there's nowhere in the city quite as Parisian-chic as Algodon Mansion. Situated in a gorgeous 1912 townhouse in the quiet Recoleta neighborhood (it's like the Upper East Side of Buenos Aires), the hotel is a perfect home base for exploring the city and an equally excellent place to hole up and escape the urban sprawl.
Mid-century cabin decor and updated urban design sit side-by-side. In the sun room, skylights, incandescent light bulbs, and old-school fans look down on vintage furniture sourced from antique stores and design shops like Global Home, bird-printed ornaments, a wood-burning stove and fireplace, and lots of lumber. Wool throws, fresh-baked cookies, board games, and the absence of TVs inform the evening itinerary.
The art's the thing here, with suites and apartments named for the giants in Italian art and design: Ico Parisi, Giò Ponti, Silvio Cavatorta, Venini, and Seguso among them. Before they converted the former 17th-century residential palazzo into a hotel, the owners invited friends to a demolition party-cum-art installation. The walls were stripped of decades and centuries of paint and paper until nothing remained but the dramatic rough stucco finish, which they left behind. Artists painted large and smalls works throughout the hotel, most prominently in the main staircase.
A chic boutique hotel spread across five gorgeous, stucco-fronted townhouses in Pembridge Gardens. Design-led touches — modernist furniture and fabrics, a curated ground-floor boutique, Samsung LED TVs, and classic British antiques and objets d'art sourced by Jerome Dodd of Les Couilles du Chien — make this unique hotel feel like a cozy home away from home.
Located on a quiet street in Tribeca, The Greenwich Hotel is as close as you can get to a sophisticated European country house in the city. Like most good country houses, there are sitting rooms aplenty, some reserved for hotels guests. Unlike most good country houses, the old-fashioned decor is counterbalanced by the modern amenities that sophisticated hotel guests demand.
Monaci epitomizes hospitality in its new form, with its rustic charm, simple elegance, and slightly saucy juxtaposition of old and new. It's not about grand, echoing, unused gilt ballrooms in overstuffed hotels. It brims with the intimacy of a superbly run estate. It's agriturismo at its height, where visitors are truly guests, where there is pride in the land, in the buildings, and in the relationships between the staff and the visitors. It is bright, sparkling, volcanic magic.