THE BACKSTORY: The Hotel Le St-James give new meaning to the term "luxury". Located in a former bank, a monumental building that dates to 1870, the hotel seems to have an Old World pedigree, even though it’s really just a few years old. You can credit marble floors, ancestor portraits

WHY IT’S A CONTENDER: Once in a blue moon I’ll drive up to a property and instantly know that I’d be happy to settle in for a long while. And that’s what I felt when I came upon Sooke Harbour House, which overlooks an inlet on Vancouver Island and beyond