From Paris to Portugal, London to Sri Lanka, these hotels and resorts raise the bar in the best of ways.
Château Du Rivau, Loire Valley, France
Most of the grand castles in France’s Loire Valley have been open to the public for decades, and after a painstaking 20-year restoration, the Laigneau family’s Château du Rivau (Le Coudray; 33-2/47-95-77-47; loire-castle-rivau.com) is now a new one to visit. With an incredible collection of antiques and contemporary art, the medieval castle shows a more whimsical and intimate take on royal living than most landmarks in the region. Admire its frescoed walls, wander the royal stables (from which Joan of Arc took horses during the Hundred Years’ War) and 14 gardens; there’s one with 450 rose varieties. Don’t miss the 14-foot sculpture of a pair of rubber boots—not something that would have been expected in the 15th century, but the Laigneaus love the juxtaposition of past and present. —Melissa Biggs Bradley