Andrew Harper’s small team of editors travels far and wide, uncovering the most distinctive hotels in the world. While our 1,000 recommended properties vary in size, style and locale, it’s hideaways — those tranquil hotels of about 50 rooms or fewer — that are at the heart of what we do. Our favorite hideaways possess exceptional character and a commitment to classic hospitality, and they are sanctuaries offering a profound sense of place. The following are not just properties that we rated highly, but also the ones that had the greatest emotional impact, the places that changed our lives.
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
This superlative new wellness retreat, set on ridge overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, redefines the notion of a modern hideaway. From a lounger beside the log fire on the porch of our Stone Cottage, we would gaze across a vast tract of forest to a ridge of distant blue hills. We loved our dinners in the Three Sisters restaurant, but it was our lunches at the Firetower, atop 2,800-foot Chilhowee Mountain, gazing into the neighboring state of Kentucky, which will linger longest in the memory. The resort’s spa with its year-round heated pool is world-class, and we have never encountered a program of activities remotely as comprehensive or well organized.