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Fall 2006 | Hotels We Love

Fall 2006 | Hotels We Love

Escape. Sanctuary. Hedonism. Sleep! Hotels can satisfy many cravings. The Out Traveler scoured the globe to bring you a selection of properties that do it with extra élan.

Check-in time can be the most exhilarating moment of your vacation. No matter how much drama is going on in your everyday life, when you make your grand entrance into a hotel lobby you enter another world--and can even become another person if you so desire. In every sense of the word, you have arrived. We hopped around the globe to scope out hotels that offer distinctive experiences that we can't help but love. Now let's go jump on some beds!

Where We Go For Desert Deluxe
The Parker
Palm Springs, Calif.

Despite appearances to the contrary, the Parker is not a gay resort. Out designer Jonathan Adler takes much inspiration from Patrick Denis (think Auntie Mame meets Kate Spade) with his 1970s-influenced blend of kitsch and glamour. The former Givenchy Resort and Spa owned by Merv Griffin has been infused with a fresh soul and a decadent flair with four pools on 13 impeccably manicured acres. The rooms are spacious and uniquely Adler, with gentle touches of retro charm (a copy of Valley of the Dolls on the coffee table; pillows embroidered with the word "love"). On the patio at Norma's restaurant you will share the scene with celeb gawkers, tennis players, and freshly facialed fashionistas--and be forced to decide between foie gras brioche French toast and Artychoked Benedict with truffle porcini sauce. Feeling truly decadent? Order the zillion dollar lobster frittata with 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar. (The name is an exaggeration: It costs "only" $1,000.) Though certifiably located on East Palm Canyon Drive, just past the clutch of gay bars on Arenas Road, the Parker feels like a lost world suddenly found. 760-770-5000. --Adam Graham

Where We Go to Be a Castaway
Evason Hideaway
Nha Trang, Vietnam

You get into your speedboat, bobbing in the turquoise-blue water of Ninh Van Bay and watch with amazement as the villas of Evason Hideaway at Ana Mandara come into view. Located on a secluded peninsula in the South China Sea, this is a resort unlike any other--a combination of breathtaking luxury and serious ecological commitment. You can love your villa, built atop giant rocks strewn like marbles of the gods, an island of private luxury with a gently shaded plunge pool and outdoor monsoon showerheads so that you can soap up at 2 a.m. under the Milky Way. You can love the cuisine--local lobster, the freshest fish imaginable, shark steak, and delicate rice-paper–wrapped Vietnamese ban cuon dipped in nuoc mam and chilis. You can love the quiet privacy; one English writer noted an "air of Lewis Carroll" to the place, that guests seem to disappear like the White Rabbit, each to their own private paradise. But it's the approach to the environment--the way the resort integrates with its natural setting at the foot of these green cliffs--that makes the Evason Hideaway a place to love on a completely different level. The palm thatch on your villa has no plastic liner; the covers of the cushions (after lunch in the shade of a huge Balinese-style temple you can float through the afternoon on two cushion-filled islands in the central swimming pool) are sourced exclusively from an eco-friendly company in Sri Lanka; and the 3,000 palms that grace the discrete paths are all transplanted from neighboring hills. While some resorts build artificial streams, the Hideaway's spa is set above a creek that runs during rainy season, and in the dry season it forms a natural rock garden that you look down on while drinking ginger and lemongrass tea after your treatment. It's your private Garden of Eden and a determined departure from the ordinary. 011-84-58-524-705. --Chandler Burr

Where We Go For Bathhouse Chic
Standard Hotel

Far removed from the cacophony of Collins Avenue, Ocean Drive, and Lincoln Road, the Standard Hotel Miami offers a million and one ways to relax and rejuvenate. Everything seems to be geared around the healing properties of water in all its various states. We love the Roman waterfall hot tub, the arctic plunge pool, the cedar sauna, and the "wall of sound" shower, which pumps a rotating selection of global DJ sounds into the H2O. Instead of a cheeky bar or pool scene, the hotel's lavish Turkish hammam is the real centerpiece of this spa playland, encouraging marathon social sessions with its heated marble seats and late-night operating hours. With all this hydrotherapy, you'd think booze would be banned from the premises. Think again. This is Miami. 305-673-1717 --Darren Frei

Where We Go For Siesta
W Hotel
Mexico City

You're sprawled out in a hammock as warm drops of water rain down across your body. This could be your own private island, but it's actually your deluxe bathroom at the W Mexico City. No matter how hard the Aztec sun sizzles outside, the two showerheads in your bathroom ensure on-call inclement weather. Opened in late 2003, the first W Hotel in Latin America is a colorful oasis of cool comfort in the heart of the Polanco neighborhood, just five minutes from the newly restored Chapultepec Park and a few blocks from the best new boutiques, restaurants, and bars in the city. But the temptation to stay inside the hotel is intense, not only because of the spectacular bathroom but because of the views (the enormous Terrace bar opens up over the Polanco area; the gym is surrounded by glass walls that put you above the bustle) and the spa treatments (go for their modern version of the traditional Mayan temescal treatment). Need another reason to linger? W's latest "Pride 365" package, aimed at gay and lesbian travelers, encourages guests to sleep in-offering late checkout at 2 p.m. (in addition to a copy of the Brokeback Mountain sound track and two complimentary cocktails, through October 2). W knows us well. We love that! 011-52-55-913-81-899 --Darren Frei

Where We Go Grand
New York City

Despite its recent condo conversion, the Plaza Hotel may still be regarded as New York City's quintessential hotel, but the Waldorf-Astoria is the hotel-for the entire planet. When it opened on Park Avenue in 1931 the imposing Waldorf-Astoria was the world's largest and tallest hotel. It still feels like a city within a city. We love this New York art deco icon for obvious reasons. It exudes exclusivity, each room is decorated differently, and all feature marble bathrooms. But the hotel's history and traditions are even more endearing, including its cuisine (the Waldorf salad, Thousand Island dressing, and eggs Benedict were all invented here); its glamour (shot on location, Weekend at the Waldorf starred Ginger Rogers and Lana Turner); and its status as a second home to heads of state. According to legend, a caller once phoned the Waldorf Towers (the lavish boutique hotel that occupies the 28th through 42nd floors) and asked to speak to the king. The operator replied, "Which king?" Royal pedigree or not, the concierge can score reservations at the top restaurants in Manhattan. Now that's grand! 212-355-3000 --Darren Frei

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