From Southern California to Southern India, this month’s hottest hotels
Design Notes Inspired by the palatial archi-tecture of the Vijayanagar Empire, which ruled South India from the 14th to the 17th centuries, the grand, high-ceilinged foyer is impressive by any standards, with its intricately carved columns and colorful friezes. But after the 40-minute, through-the-jungle drive from the airport, it feels like even more of a cool and welcoming oasis for jet-lagged travelers.
Room with a View Many of the hotel’s 206 rooms look out onto the landscaped lagoon that runs through the center of the grounds. Topped with floating pink lilies and lined with palm trees, the water attracts a host of birds, such as cerulean-headed kingfishers and white egrets. Of course, to experience the grounds, you’ll first have to tear yourself away from the lavishly appointed interior, which plays on the region’s Portuguese colonial history.
Best Place To Hang Out Seafront souvenir hawkers and food vendors are a friendly but annoyingly persistent presence on the majority of Indian beaches. Not so at the Leela’s private patch of immaculately maintained golden sand. The property occupies a prized position on a secluded peninsula where the River Sal flows into the Arabian Sea. All that privacy means you’re free to come, go and lounge in peace.
Amazing Amenities Already seen as South India’s poshest hotel, the Leela has a secret inner sanctum many guests never see. Hidden within the 75-acre property is a walled enclave known as The Club, where visiting dignitaries and stars regularly bunk—though mere mortals willing to splurge are welcome too. Six of the 15 suites here have their own plunge pool, while all Club guests receive airport limo transfers and personalized butler service.