Best stays 2019: Traveller's top picks

Every 12 months our writers take the world's pulse, they weigh up the good and the bad, track the major changes, assess the current trends. Here are Traveller's picks for the hottest restaurants in the world right now.

HOTEL CLARIS, BARCELONA, SPAIN

Barcelona is so full of life and energy, that it is a delight to slink back to the relative tranquility of the Hotel Claris, part of the luxury Derby Hotels group. Breakfasts are a highlight for the chef's omelette technique (videoed, brought home and re-enacted) but the real joy is its association with the extraordinary Egyptian Museum, just around the corner, for which guests are granted free entry. Not to mention the hotel's own collection of 250 works from pre-Columbian cultures. See hotelclaris.com

KASBAH BAB OURIKA, MOROCCO

South of Marrakech where the hills rise towards the Atlas Mountains, Bab Ourika elevates the architectural format of the Berber kasbah into a stylish but understated haven of good living. Breakfast on the terrace overlooking the green ribbon of the Ourika Valley, walk in pine-scented hills, backstroke in the heated pool beneath peaks dusted with snow and dine like a pasha. See kasbahbabourika.com

COUNT KALNOKY'S GUESTHOUSES, TRANSYLVANIA, ROMANIA

These charismatic village guesthouses draw from the Hungarian heritage of the Szekely people who first settled this part of Transylvania. Local food and wine from Count Kalnoky's estate are served in the main guesthouse and the daily activities program includes horse-drawn carriage rides, bear watching and picnics in flowery meadows. One of the rooms is favoured by Prince Charles, a sometimes visitor and Transylvania devotee. See guest.transylvaniancastle.com

BUJERA FORT, UDAIPUR, INDIA

Effortlessly romantic, this serene luxury hotel wafts you away on a magic carpet ride. The rooftop domes, jaali screened balconies and courtyard gardens suggest a time-worn haveli of a rich merchant yet Bujera only opened in 2015. Built and operated by a British interior decorator with flair to burn and a whimsical touch, expect five-star comfort and wonderful food, particularly for those suffering curry fatigue. See bujerafort.com

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THE OUTPOST HOTEL, SENTOSA, SINGAPORE

Far East Hospitality has developed a trio of new properties on Singapore's Sentosa Island interlinked and designed for different demographics. The high-end, boutique Barracks Hotel opens later this year in a colonial ex-military building, while the child-friendly Village Hotel, with its fabulous labyrinth of pools, and the Outpost, a glam and fun millennial-style place with its rooftop pool, attract local staycationers and visitors. Excellently, each room is equipped with its own water filter system and tap – no plastic bottled water. See tfehotels.com

TIGER TOPS THARU LODGE, CHITWAN, NEPAL

Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge, Chitwan, Nepal.

Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge, Chitwan, Nepal. Photo: Supplied

This lodge has created the blueprint for ethical elephant safaris in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, where elephants are still used to ferry most guests around the park in search of tigers and other wildlife. Here guests take walking safaris instead, following these gentle giants as they forage in the forest without the heavy burden of humans to distract them. See tigertops.com

SACHA LODGE, ECUADOR

Getting to Sacha Lodge is not a trivial matter. From Quito, it's a 40-minute flight to Coca, a 90-minute boat ride up the Napo River, a 30-minute trek through the jungle and finally a 30-minute paddle through a piranha-infested wetland. The reward is a stunning property in the Ecuadorian Amazon that offers extraordinary wildlife viewing during hikes, boat trips and treetop walks with local indigenous guides. See sachalodge.com

FULLERTON BAY HOTEL, SINGAPORE

Heritage architecture and contemporary chic fuse at this glamorous Marina Bay hotel and nowhere more so than at its lobby dining venue Clifford Pier, which offers upmarket versions of hawker specialties. Old iron arches are mirrored in new marble floors to striking effect. It's just one of the many brilliant old-new fusions created by this elegant hotel group. See fullertonhotels.com

TEARDROP HOTELS, SRI LANKA

Following Easter's horrific attacks, Sri Lanka could really do with our tourism dollars. What better excuse to head over to check out the new Teardrop properties, set in the country's most impressive locations including Nuwara Eliya, Galle Fort and Kumu Beach. Elegant, fuss-free and satisfyingly small (those in tea country have five rooms or less), they leave you feeling as though you're staying in a fabulous friend's home. See teardrop-hotels.com

RAYA HERITAGE, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

Sister property to Tamarind Village in Chiang Mai's Old City, this whimsical property, which opened last year, sits on a quiet bank of the Ping River on the outskirts of the city. Northern Thai culture and heritage are celebrated here through food, wellness treatments and decor, which includes bespoke furniture and artefacts handmade by local artisans. See rayaheritage.com

L'OSCAR HOTEL, LONDON, UK

It took five years for the Grade II-listed former headquarters of the Baptist church to be reborn as L'Oscar, an opulent five-star hotel in Holborn. The lengthy £24 million refurb includes interiors by French designer Jacques Garcia and a restaurant headed up by Michelin-starred chef Tony Fleming. Every item in the property is custom-made, including doonas filled with hand-collected Icelandic eiderdown that cost a staggering £5000 each. See loscar.com

THE LANDMARK MANDARIN ORIENTAL, HONG KONG

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

This venerable beauty is looking forward. Not only has its Michelin-starred chef reinvented fine dining by "greening" his Japanese-inspired menu at newly renovated Amber, but the hotel has installed a water filtration system. Instead of single-use plastic water bottles in the hotel's 111 rooms, restaurants and bars, reusable glass bottles hold highly purified local tap water. Choose from still or sparkling. See mandarinoriental.com

SOHO HOUSE MUMBAI, INDIA

The 23rd outpost of the London institution's global empire and its first Asian property, Soho House Mumbai is set in an 11-storey townhouse in Juhu, the Bollywood set's beachside suburb of choice. It's got the familiar Soho House stamps including four restaurants, a screening room and a rooftop pool, and an English countryside vibe with Indian flourishes (teak furniture, Indian tiles, hand-printed Rajasthani fabrics) in the 38 rooms. See sohohousemumbai.com

THE LINE HOTEL, AUSTIN, TEXAS

Austin's most exciting hotel opening in years, The Line Austin is a revamped tired Radisson set in a mid-century building with a prime location overlooking Congress Avenue Bridge and Lady Bird Lake. The hotel's design-focused overhaul included the expansion of the 428 guest rooms (decorated with more than 500 original artworks commissioned from Texan artists), an Arlo Grey restaurant helmed by Top Chef winner Kristen Kish and a buzzing pool bar. See thelinehotel.com

HOTEL INDIGO PHUKET PATONG, THAILAND

One of the world's original "millennial" brand of hotels, Hotel Indigo gets the requisite local and authentic flavour right. At the new Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong the Pots, Pints and Tikis bar inhabits a busy corner overlooked by a large banyan tree that survived the tsunami. Locals believe the spirits of the dead inhabit it so the hotel built two spirit houses, one for Buddhist and one for Muslim ancestors, where the staff pay their respects. The hotel also has its own Muay Thai boxing ring. See hotelindigo.com

MILAIDHOO ISLAND RESORT, MALDIVES

Among the 132 resorts scattered across the Maldives, it's rare to find one like Milaidhoo that avoids cheesy glitz and gives visitors an insight into Maldivian culture. Set on a UNESCO-protected reef, two-year-old Milaidhoo is elegant in its simplicity, celebrates Maldivian design through traditional swinging daybeds and local lacquer art, and is home to the archipelago's only Maldivian fine-dining restaurant, Ba'theli, set in a recreated local dhoni boat. See milaidhoo.com

MOUNTBATTEN LODGE, ARAVALLI HILLS, INDIA

Reggie Singh is an ebullient jazz aficionado and scion of the Jodhpur royal family, and in the wild Aravalli hills between Jodhpur and Udaipur he has created a sculpted, polished retreat with just four palatial suites that takes its decor and manners from the British Raj. Combine it with a leisurely afternoon visit to nearby Ranakpur's Jain Temple, poetry wrought in white marble. See mountbattenlodge.com

SEA RANCH LODGE, CALIFORNIA, US

Situated on a rugged bluff on the coastline of northern California's Sonoma County, this beautiful 19-room lodge is the ultimate weekend getaway. Currently being remodelled, it combines elegant postmodern Nordic-inspired architecture with sweeping views over the Pacific Ocean amid tranquil coastline. On-site dining and cocktails are also available at the Black Point Grill. See searanchlodge.com

SHINTA MANI, SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

A wonderfully relaxed oasis in Siem Reap's French quarter, The Shinta Mani Shack is a courtyard style boutique 62-room resort with a pinch of colonial grandeur. The swimming pool and adjacent bar are the kind of spaces you could while away the whole day in, but the hotel is just 15 minutes from the temples of Angkor Wat. The property also facilitates a major philanthropic program employing and training local youngsters with a cut of your room fee going to the foundation. See shintamani.com

NISHIMURAYA HONKAN, KINOSAKI, JAPAN

Sometimes hotels entirely suit their setting, and this venerable ryokan in the well-preserved hot-spring town of Kinosaki is a classic example. The traditional inn, built around several garden courtyards, has been owned by the same family for seven generations and is a member of the prestigious, gourmet-oriented Relais & Chateaux brand. Evening multi-course kaiseki meals spectacularly highlight local beef and crab dishes. See nishimuraya.ne.jp; visitkinosaki.com

Contributors: Ben Groundwater, Jill Dupleix, Terry Durack, Michael Gebicki, Belinda Jackson, Julietta Jameson, Brian Johnston, Ute Junker, Nina Karnikowski, Rob McFarland, Catherine Marshall, Alison Stewart, Craig Tansley, Guy Wilkinson, Sue Williams, David Whitley

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