A good hotel provides travelers with access to nearby attractions. A great hotel makes travelers want to skip the attractions altogether. When visitors check into these 20 hotels, which ran the gamut from luxurious to anarchic, they never want to leave. The reasons range from glorious views to glorious linens, but there are a few universals. Each of the hotels is a self-contained world entirely apart from reality defined by a set of unwritten laws that maids, bellboys, and, yes, guests, seem to innately understand. These hotels are someone else's fantasies, but they seem, on second glance, as though they might be your own.
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Colorado
Skiers suffering from a case of post Olympics blues take note: Beaver Creek – arguably Colorado's plushest winter resort – hosts the 2015 Alpine World Championships next year, meaning you'll be able to catch Sochi's fastest men and women shredding some of America's steepest slopes. When the races start, the competition on the hill will be fierce, the lodging results will already be in. None of the high-end resort's choice accommodations can hope to top the ski-in, ski-out luxury of the newly updated Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.
Located mid-mountain (literally a ski push away from the high-speed Bachelor Gulch Express quad) and recently renovated to the tune of $15 million, the soaring stone and timber property evokes the great mountain lodges of the National Parks, albeit with a contemporary twist. The folks at Ritz-Carlton call it "Parkitechture," and we can hardly fault them for the twee neologism because it seems so apt. In the Great Room, rustic pine beams, rough hewn stone fireplaces, and taxidermy mingle with modern design touches inspired by the local landscape. You'll find a funkier atmosphere in Wolfgang Puck's flagship restaurant Spago, which serves up Lobster Risotto and Austrian Kaiserschmarrn, a Puck family recipe, to costumers seated in cowhide chairs under honey-tinged lights and black-and-white mountain photography.
New this season is Buffalos, a casual eatery with an open-air kitchen and a bison-bolstered menu (pair the grass-fed Bison Tartare with Truffle Fries and a Colorado craft beer and thank us later) and Bachelor's Lounge, where apres-ski festivities extend well into the night thanks to a staff of ski bums turned sommeliers and mixologists, an excellent house bourbon, and a heated outdoor seating area.
This being the Ritz, the service rivals the digs. Michelin Star-worthy s'mores greet you in your room after check-in, ski valets fetch your heated boots and tote your equipment to the snow, and outdoor fire pits provide the perfect rendezvous point for a post-ski drinking. There's even a St. Bernard on duty, just to make you feel at home. All the pampering and entertainment makes it difficult to tear yourself away from the convivial lobby, but after a long day carving turns down Beaver Creek's seemingly endless, curdoroy-groomed slopes the Frette linens, gas fireplace, and private deck of your rustic guest room will change your mind.
More information: Feel like splurging? Reserve a room on the private Club Level, where a personal concierge caters to your every whim and skiing is fueled by a complimentary breakfast of farm-fresh eggs, smoked salmon, and melt-in-your-mouth croissants.