It’s traveling season! This summer is busy for us, as always. I’m the trip planner in our family and few things get me more excited than researching to find a gem of a hotel for our trip. Since having kids, Airbnb is typically our favorite option, but I think saving up for a fantastic hotel stay is an investment worth it’s weight in gold. There’s nothing quite like ending a long day of travel to find a magical hotel experience at the end of it…and there’s also nothing quite like ending a long day to travel to find a creepy, uncomfortable hotel experience at the end of it. Of all the hotels we’ve stayed in around the world, here are my top 5 favorites. (this was really, really hard…but the winners speak for themselves.)
I can’t quite express to you how magical Bora Bora is. O and I have both travelled to plenty of beautiful places in our lifetime, but Bora Bora took our breath away and still, to this day, remains our number one favorite place in the world. We call it Neverland. The service at this hotel is above and beyond, plus the FOOD. You guys, the food. The breakfast spread alone is enough to make me fly across the world again. The best part about the hotel, aside from the view, is the over-water villa experience. There’s a giant window in the floor with a light switch so you can attract fish beneath your villa and just enjoy that dreamy view all night. The villas are so private and the steps down into the ocean makes it feel like this place was created just for you with every detail taken care of. Clearly, I can’t say enough great things about this place. Best. Ever.
This hotel is unreal. It’s one of those places you recognize the magnitude of as soon as you pull up to the front entrance. If you’ve never been to Northern California, you’ve likely never heard of Big Sur. O surprised me with a weekend at this hotel for my 20th birthday (8 years ago, if anyone’s counting. yikes.) I had been to Half Moon Bay and Carmel which are near Big Sur, but pulling up to this paradise of a hotel felt like some sort of best-kept secret. It was like nothing I’d experienced at the time. The concept is to really highlight and elevate nature-with a hot tub on the deck of the room and suites that look over the vast ocean. They leave kits to build your own fire whenever you’d like and have a stacked fridge full of complimentary food and drinks that are healthy, unique and ridiculously tasty…which is a good thing since dining at the hotel is an experience in itself, but priiiiiicey. We recommend going to Big Sur Bakery instead.
Two features I find amazing about this hotel are that they offer you luxury cars to drive during your stay for free and also that the spa is famous for a reason. You leave feeling so one with nature and so relaxed that it can turn even a non-nature girl like me into a full on tree hugging yogi. Again, I have to mention the breakfast spread because you’ll feel like royalty with the options. We went back two years ago and I will say- it’s wildly expensive. Like, wildly. But it’s absolutely always worth it, even just for one night!
So many people ask me, “Is it worth it to go to Fiji if you’ve been to Bora Bora?” I will always say yes. Yes, we stayed in an over-water villa here as well. Yes, it’s uber tropical and other-worldly. Yes, the cuisine is similar as well as the native feel. But it is completely it’s own and unique in it’s own way. Fiji was the first stop on our honeymoon and this hotel couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s so intimate and private, in fact there are only about 8 or so couples at the hotel at the time. We had a hard time adjusting to the time change and for the first few days we’d sleep through dinner and wake up at about 3am starving. The best news was that they delivered a jar of homemade cookies and milk every evening so we’d devour that and it would hold us over until the breakfast spread of dreams! And each morning, you better believe someone would say “Mr. and Mrs. Atogwe! We missed you at dinner last night!”
There are a couple kayaks tied up to each villa and I loved being able to take the kayak around the island in the glimmering sunlight and just take in the overwhelming beauty of it all. You can see a peek into our trip to Fiji here if you want to see more!
Would you believe me if I told you I planned an entire European vacation around the desire to visit this hotel? This hotel sparked a whole idea of one last big extravagant trip “before starting a family” (I found out I was pregnant halfway through this trip) and i’ll be forever grateful for it. Capri is like something out of a movie or a fairytale. It feels so romantic and so untouchable- this little city on a hill that is only open for three months out of the year. There’s precisely one road and a few beaches, but it’s full of treasure from top to bottom. J.K. Place overlooks the ocean that changes from neon aqua to deep, dark navy. Each room looks like it’s straight out of a Nora Ephron movie and you wont be able to keep yourself from taking photos of every centimeter of this place.
Don’t miss an opportunity to swim in the stunning pool and if you eat nothing else but their fresh bread with olive oil and the top secret balsamic vinegar, you’d still say it was the best food you’d ever had while traveling. Oh, but don’t make the mistake of having your laundry done. Sure it’ll look like a scene out of The Crown and you’ll feel all important and bubbly…until you see the bill and you cry. Save it for the laundromat, friends.
There isn’t enough room in this post to share the ways Portrait Roma blew our minds last summer. First of all, when I made our reservation, I received an email from a personal concierge with a full questionarre to “better perfect my stay.” You guys. This wasn’t just like “do you have a dietary restriction” or something, it included a selection of 4 types of pillows to choose from and how many of each I wanted on the bed. It included our hobbies and interests so they could cater things in the room to that. It included the type of music we wanted playing when we got back to the room each night and what snacks we’d like stocked. I was so, so giddy and counting down the seconds until we got to stay there and it way exceeded my expectations.
The terrace has the best view in Rome and once again, the breakfast spread is fit for a king. Not only was it SO tasty and so catered to any kind of diet you could imagine, when O fell in love with the oatmeal and asked their secret the chef invited him into the kitchen and allowed us to watch him make a fresh pot. He taught O every single step and sent us back to our apartment with more to bring to the kids. SWOON. This hotel was designed by the Salvatore Ferragamo team and it’s apparent in every nook and cranny of the place. It’s design paradise. And it was literally two buildings down from our apartment in Rome which put it in the best area for shopping and dining in the city. If you’re headed to Rome any time soon, this is your spot. You will absolutely not regret it!
(My runner-up hotel is Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley because it is just on a whole other level and I so enjoyed our stay there.)