Temple House, Chengdu, China
The Temple House in Chengdu is a great example of how minimalist design, comfort and top-level service no longer need to be mutually exclusive. After entering through the dramatic 100-year-old Quing Dynasty courtyard it is easy to forget that you just stepped off the street in the middle of a city with 16 million residents. Boasting perhaps the best hotel location in the city, Temple House is walking distance from all the shopping (a few steps out the door leads to a sprawling outdoor mall with every sort of shop you can imagine), dining, both high-end and street food (ask the front desk about priority reservations at Ma’s across the street), and nightlife you could ever want. All three restaurants on the property are delicious, especially the vegetarian tea house; and the spa and pool are not to be missed.
– David Astor Cohen
Fond Doux Plantation & Resort, St Lucia
Another one for the chocoholics! Fond Doux Plantation & Resort in Soufriere, St Lucia is located on a 19th-century, still working cocoa plantation, and is unique in a number of other ways. It is 100% St. Lucian owned, staffed and managed. The cottages are mostly restored abandoned colonial buildings from around the island. When creating space for buildings the excavation was done with shovels so as not to disturb the trees. The furniture in the cottages is all locally made. And there are chocolate making, rum tasting and cocktail mixology classes on the list of things to do.
Chocolate-Themed Glamping, Slovenia
Glamping for the chocoholics anytime, winter, spring, summer, autumn take your pick! Chocolate Village in Limbuš, Slovenia is open and you eat chocolate, make chocolate and can even get a chocolate massage! If you want to be in the hills or in the trees, or by the pool overlooking the river, there is a house for you. (Personally, we like the third option.) And you can have chocolate for every meal, on the terrace for breakfast or sitting by the fire with a glass of wine! Seriously, why didn’t anyone else think of this?
Deemed a world heritage site, the gardens and canals of Suzhou harken back to ancient China. The city boasts 60 classic gardens with evocative names like Lingering Garden and Couple’s Retreat Garden. Once the center of silk trade, Suzhou is still one of the most affluent Chinese cities, known for producing the highest number of laptops in the world. The “Oriental Venice” has a Grand Canal of its own – built in 468 B.C. Six ancient water towns can be visited where one can get lost among the bridges and winding streets, much like that other Venice, but infinitely older, and frankly more spellbinding.
Victor Hugo House Museum, Guernsey
Les Miserables was a classic novel before it became the second longest running musical in theater history. Published in 1862, a good portion of the book was penned by Victor Hugo in decidedly not miserable conditions. You can visit the elegant Hauteville House on the island where Hugo wrote and lived during his 14-year self-exile from France — he wasn’t in sync with politics of the day. Like Edith Wharton (a near enough contemporary) he was obsessed with interior decoration. Visit the newly restored and richly decorated house museum where Hugo wrote, often standing up and naked, so he wouldn’t be tempted to interrupt his literary endeavors and leave the house.