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Luxury hotel Dominica Secret BayThis month the Smith team got back in the saddle, hitting the dusty trail in search of the best luxury hotels around the globe. First up, we arrived in sunny Spain, where we strapped on our Marengo riding boots, crossed the Sierra Nevada and travelled back to 19th-century Andalucia at stylishly antiquated Cortijo Del Marqués, a manor set deep in the heart of Granada’s cowboy country. We then hung up our Cordoban sombreros and left for northern Italy’s wine country, where Vivere Suites and Rooms – a sleek modernist hotel close to Lake Garda – gave us contemporary rural romance.Luxury hotel Merida Coqui Coqui Merida Luxury hotel Chester Oddfellows Luxury hotel Andalucia Cortijo Del Marques

In the UK, we set foot inside Chester’s mediaeval walls, then fell down the rabbit hole at Oddfellows, a beautiful yet bonkers hotel that wouldn’t look out of place in Wonderland (decor includes lamps supported by bird legs and a dining table that hangs upside down from the ceiling); with a restaurant fit for a grown-up Mad Hatter’s tea party. After overdosing on whimsy we stopped for a brief palate cleanser at One & Only The Palm hotel in Dubai, whose cream and gold rooms were remarkably restrained and tasteful for this city of dazzling excess.

Then we flew to the Dominica in the West Indies to admire sea views from a different perspective – perched atop a cliff while secluded on our villa’s private terrace (complete with pool) at Secret Bay. We were reluctant to leave the bikini life behind, but the Yucatán beckoned; hotel Coqui Coqui Mérida may only be a 45-minute drive away from the beach but its Porfirian belle époque style demands a dapper look over sarongs and sun hats. Next, on to the US, to The Sebastian Vail in Colorado where we took to the slopes, then took to the throwback cocktails in the hotel’s Frost Bar. Before we reached our last stop in the Great White North, we took a brief diversion to Vermont, Maine, checking in to a sweet-as-maple-syrup room at The Windham Hill Inn. Then, we moved from Little House on the Prairie chic to frill-free Asian-inspired rooms at the Shangri La Hotel Toronto, the perfect swansong to our hotel-hunting travels.

Check back next month when the jet lag has subsided and we boldly brave the world’s luxury hotels and resorts once more; purely in the name of research, of course…

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