Between our freelance travel writers and our own Canadian Traveller editorial team, we sleep-test a lot of rooms and suites in a given calendar year. Some suites are beyond luxurious, others are basic but comfortable. Some hotels emote a strong sense of place, some are cookie-cutter. Some rooms have four walls, others boast bathtubs on the veranda. To honour the rooms and suites that blew us away, we polled our team: "Among the dozen-plus rooms you stayed in this year which was the most remarkable?" Here are a few of our most memorable lodgings of 2017.
The Oberoi Udaivilas
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
Be careful what you wish for when staying at the ultra-luxury Oberoi India hotels, where rose petal-strewn bathwater and sachets thoughtfully tucked into shoes are an everyday occurrence.
I’d joked with the manager at The Oberoi, Mumbai that the effortless hospitality from the staff made me wonder if granting wishes was part of the service. Would I return one evening to find a pony in my room? My quip must have travelled to the general manager at The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur by pony express. The morning after I arrived, a smiling employee informed me at breakfast: “Your horse is here.”
There, in the front courtyard was a magnificent white horse with an ornamental saddle and red-tassel bridle.
I confess I was too shocked to accept the groom’s offer to ride the pony across the lawns that had once been the 200-year-old hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar, so Dobbin was sent back to the stables after a few photos and some pats.
It was the highlight of a very memorable stay at this elegant hotel on palace-studded Lake Pichola, located in one of the most peaceful, historic and beautiful areas of India.
- Linda Barnard from LindaBarnardTravels.com
Belle Mont Farm
Kittitian Hill’s Belle Mont Farm is a boutique luxury resort with secluded guesthouses woven into 162 hectares of St. Kitts’ verdant hillside. This isn’t your typical Caribbean resort, but then again, St. Kitts isn’t your typical Caribbean island.
Private plunge pools, outdoor bathrooms and views overlooking the greenery of the island leading out to the ocean are only a few of the notable elements of the property. It’s high-end, luxury, seclusion, peace – but what really sets this place apart is the vision on which it’s built; founder Val Kempadoo calls it a “vehicle for social change” which is put into action by integrating the community on so many levels, working with local farmers and fishermen as only one example.
The rooms are beautifully built and well-appointed, with décor that blends with the natural surroundings.
Check out my Facebook LIVE tour here!
- Terrilyn Kunopaski, Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Traveller and CT magazines
In the Chachapoyas region of northern Peru, Gocta Lodge is a modern hotel where every room and the swimming pool face the thunderous Gocta Falls. I hiked there after a perilous trek on foot and horseback and was able to view the falls close-up, and then later from a distance as I floated around the pool. Just as I thought the experience couldn't be any more idyllic, a herd of alpacas were released into the gardens and started wandering around and munching the grass.
Tsavo East National Park, Kenya
Galdessa in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, was the most exceptional place I’ve stayed in all my travels; peaceful remoteness, few guests, the staff’s dedication to service and of course, the up-close game sightings.
During the first few minutes of arriving at Galdessa, I was welcomed by a lazy elephant wandering through camp 20 feet from me. It was the most surprising welcome.
This is common, as it’s a “fences down” camp in the middle of the national park, free to the wildlife and Galana river banks below. An escort to-and-fro your tented accommodations is needed during the evening hours. "Rooms" are equipped with everything you’d need, including a bucket shower to wash off dust. The thatched, semi-tented luxury bungalows sit atop wooden platforms with an en-suite bathroom and private veranda, overlooking the river filled with crocodiles and hippos.
Thoughts of my zippered door and netted windows kept me awake all night as a hippo groaned, approaching my tent from the river. I held my flashlight to my chest - three fingers wrapped around the safety whistle attached - as each bunch of twigs cracked underfoot. My heart thumped through my ears as the hippo’s noises loudly continued. The emergency whistle, as staff explained upon arrival, alerted the askari who patrolled the grounds keeping everyone safe. I eventually fell asleep holding my whistle and had the best stories to tell afterward of my now-funny experience.
I’d do it again without hesitation.
After a mostly sleepless, but forever memorable night, I thoroughly enjoyed my morning coffee served on the terrace, while watching wildlife lounge in the river, and visiting with a vervet monkey or two. Galdessa is heaven.
- Myriah Saulnier from feministtravelcorner/myriahsaulnier
Navajo hogan (Airbnb)
Monument Valley, Utah
Brayden Hall | @braybraywoowoo
I had the great fortune of staying in a luxe overwater bungalow in Tahiti this year, but what really stands out is the night I spent in an authentic Navajo hogan. Monument Valley is such a spiritual place. Is there any sight more iconic of the American Southwest than those three famous mittens?
There are no hotels on the floor of the valley but local Navajo families run a few Airbnbs. This is how we booked our hogan, which looks something like a dirt igloo. It had no running water or electricity. It was lit by kerosene lamp and decorated with authentic Navajo artwork and handicrafts.
Once night fell, we sat out under the moon, admiring the stars, just knowing there wasn't a soul around - except for the horses that passed silently through the brush. You just knew you were somewhere very special.
- Jenn Hubbert, online editor and Canadian Traveller contributor.
Glenorchy, New Zealand
Non Stop Destination
We visited many touristy places on our trip to the South Island in New Zealand, so we were ecstatic when we found a quiet oasis near Glenorchy: Ecoscapes, an eco-friendly accommodation option.
Our cube-like room blended beautifully with the environment, while a wall-sized window offered spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu.
At night, we were able to enjoy the night sky without light pollution, in complete silence, with only the occasional night critter making its presence known.
- Lies Veldman from nonstopdestination.com
Jungle cave camping
Hang En Cave, Vietnam
My eyes flicker open in the darkness and for a moment, I forget where I am.
Slowly, the outline of our tent comes into view. Sitting up, I unzip the front and see the surface of the lake, shining black in the moonlight that pours in from the mouth of the cave. As I crane my neck upwards, my gaze is met only by a dark void and the flutter of bat wings. I lay my head back on my pillow and listen to the deep midnight silence inside Hang En Cave, in the heart of the Vietnamese jungle.
Read the full story here.
- Chloe Berge from chloeberge.com
Serenity at Coconut Bay
Solitude is the guiding principle at Serenity, which might be described as an adults-only hotel within a hotel at Saint Lucia’s popular Coconut Bay resort. And with rooms that are accurately dubbed “private enclaves,” that is what one gets. More than a suite, not quite a villa, it is space designed for comfort and privacy. Rooms range in size from 1,200 to 1,900 sq. ft. with beautifully appointed decor and handcrafted finishes that include Saint Lucia river rock, granite and mahogany, along with custom-made king beds, 55-inch flat-screen TV, oversized soaking tubs and separate rain showers in en suite bathrooms. My sanctuary had an outdoor patio with private plunge pool, hammock and bar.
It might be noted that guests are likely to be disturbed at Serentity – by their own butler, who will do anything and everything from unpacking suitcases to ironing, drawing a bath, providing wake-up calls, serving breakfast in bed, or making restaurant reservations – and all provided with the “highest level of service and distinction.”
My butler, Tony, and I laugh when I ask if he can order me up a pork chop any time of the day or night (a la Homer Simpson), but he knows the reference and spoils the joke by earnestly advising that I could have a steak instead if I prefer. Either way, I’m given a portable butler bat-phone to summon help when I need it – and even if I don’t.
- Michael Baginski, Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of Canadian Traveller and CT
Argos (cave hotel)
Argosis built around the ruins and cobblestone streets of an ancient monastery and underground cave city connected by tunnels built 2,000 years ago in Uchisar. The architect has done an outstanding job of blending the new with the old and luxury with the rustic.
When you walk down the path to the gardens and look up, all you can see is a warren of little houses and caves blending into the side of a beige-colored mountain. When I gazed out over the surreal landscape towards Mount Erciyes, I imagined camel caravans travelling on the Silk Road.
- Kate Robertson, travel writer; katerobertson.ca
The redesigned Four Seasons Resort Lana'i is better than ever and my most memorable accommodation in 2017. The resort features open-air walkways lined with fragrant plantings, custom furnishings designed to create a connection with the island environment, and amenities for the most discerning traveller.
Our spacious Ohana ocean-view suite overlooking nearby Hulopo’e Bay – a protected marine sanctuary - contained one of the most comfortable beds ever, Aina bath products formulated with locally grown kukui nuts, and a Japanese soaking tub in the master bathroom. It's a resort I long to return to.
Read more about Nancy's visit to Four Seasons Resort Lana'i
- Nancy Besharah from luxetravelfamily.com
I have been incredibly lucky to stay in many stunning places in 2017. I visited several resorts after Hurricane Irma swept through Cuba; went glamping in Nova Scotia with Chevrolet; and, just recently, stayed at the self-sufficient nature cabins in Mont-Tremblant while on assignment for Cottage Life. But my most memorable stay was clearly Mashpi Lodge.
- Alison Karlene Hodgins from aroundtheworldwithalison.com & Canadian Traveller contributor
Did you stay in an exceptional hotel this year?
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More lodgings we loved: