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  • 19 of the most incredible hotels around the world

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
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    19 of the most incredible hotels around the world

    We’re jumpstarting your Monday with positive energy as we remind you (and ourselves) why we fell love with incredible hotels and one-off travel experiences the first place. We’re doing this by teasing your travel senses with these extraordinary examples of architecture, design and hospitality. Edited by Hamish Kilburn… 

    Whether it’s been the best hotels that self-isolate in style or tapping in to our contacts to find local journalists to review the latest gems, for more than a year now, we have been serving our readers with thought-provoking pieces on incredible hotels around the world while the hotel design and hospitality industry navigate through the difficult and uncertain situation presented in the likes of the pandemic  – we have all adapted to international travel restrictions, and all been affected in some way by the spread of Covid-19.

    At Hotel Designs, to keep the industry on its toes, we have launched new online events and used this time to gather the thoughts of industry experts to do our best to futuregaze into the unknown. But while all these articles and conversations are important, the main lesson we have learned during a year of social distancing is to embrace what we love about the industry we narrate. Therefore, today we are starting the week with the aim to inspire creative thinking by sharing what we believe are the world’s most insane hotels that we will shortly be able to check in to.

    Jade Mountain, Saint Lucia

    With a distinct lack of right angles and by completely removing the fourth wall in all suites (or sanctuaries), Jade Mountain is at one with nature. The hotel, which was designed by co-owner Nick Troubetzkoy, is a timeless tropical paradise that’s clever architecture answers to modern demands for sustainable travel without compromising luxury. Each sanctuary features its own infinity pool that is part of an innovative water-saving system.

    The living areas of the rooms are finished with more than 20 different species of tropical hardwood flooring and trims harvested in an environmentally sustainable way. The hotel’s technicians actually visited the rain forest of Guyana and personally chose which trees to be used. A multitude of hardwoods have been used including Purpleheart, Greenheart, Locust, Kabukali, Snakewood, Bloodwood, Etikburabali, Futukbali, Taurino, Mora and Cabbage Wood. In addition to locally made fine-tropical wood furniture, an eclectic collection of furniture has been placed in the sanctuaries giving each one of them their own individualistic ambiance.

    Gleneagles, Scotland

    The jewel of Scotland’s hospitality crown is located in the stunning Orchil Hills, just 50 minutes drive from Edinburgh. The hotel, which is known as ‘the glorious playground’ shelters a fascinating modern yet sensitive design narrative which includes characters from studios such as Goddard Littlefair, Ennismore, Timorous Beasties and David Collins Studio.

    With its infamous doors scheduled to open again on April 26, the hotel, which has been welcoming travellers since 1924, will rise from the pandemic as one of the leading and most prestigious brands in international hospitality. Conor O’Leary, joint Managing Director of Gleneagles, said in a roundtable hosted by Hotel Designs last year: “One of the core aspects for me with sustainability is to think local. I think there will be huge shift in supporting and buying local, which is one of the pillars of sustainability. There has to be an element of trust, and I predict that consumers will want to know more about where things have come from.”

    Inntel Amsterdam Zaandam, Holland

    We can safely say that with its unique façade that is made of nearly 70 stacked typical houses from the area, there is nothing quite like Inntel Amsterdam Zaandam on the international hotel design scene. As well as the architecture being (well) just incredible, each room inside the hotel is inspired by the rich and storied hospitality of the colour city of Amsterdam.

    Giraffe Manor, Nairobi

    Considered by travel influencers as a number-one travel bucket list destination, Giraffe Manor epitomises the idea of bringing the outdoors in. The exclusive boutique hotel, owned by The Safari Collection is set in 12 acres of private land with 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi – the hotel is sheltered in one of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings. The historic manor house has extraordinary appeal, that harks back to the 1930s when visitors first flocked to East Africa to enjoy safaris. With its stately façade, elegant interior, verdant green gardens, sunny terraces and delightful courtyards, guests often remark that it’s like walking into the film Out of Africa: indeed, one of its twelve rooms is named after the author Karen Blixen.

    One of the most fascinating things about Giraffe Manor is its resident herd of Rothschild’s giraffes who may visit morning and evening, poking their long necks into the windows in the hope of a treat, before retreating to their forest sanctuary.

    treehotel, Sweden

    Combining ecological values, comfort and modern design, treehotel in Sweden offers an unparalleled hospitality experience. With accommodation that is camouflaged into the forrest (the Mirrorcube cabin) to one that is designed to look like a birds nest – and even one that replicates a UFO, the hospitality experience allows guests to self-isolate from the outside world in style and comfort.

    The Mandrake, United Kingdom

    Inside The Mandrake Hotel

    Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

    Located steps from London’s bustling Oxford Street, The Mandrake is a different world from the one outside. The award-winning hotel is emerging from its hospitality hibernation ready to welcome guests back into its evergreen heart.

    Every aspect of The Mandrake has been curated and designed by Tala and Rami Fustok to offer an immersive and unforgettable experience – from the three-storey-high surrounding walls of jasmine and passionflower that form the living heart of the hotel to the hotel’s priceless and eclectic art collection that includes works from the likes of Salvador Dali, Francesco Clemente and Jonas Burgert.

    Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Oman

    As one of the world’s highest hotels, and sheltering 82 canyon view rooms, 33 private pool villas, including one of Oman’s most luxurious three bedroom pool villa, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort has been designed with the stunning landscape of the fabled Green Mountain in mind – think elevated luxury in every sense of the phrase.

    Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô, Vietnam

    Image of pool and suite inside Zannier Hotel Bai San Ho

    Image credit: Zannier Hotels

    The hotel, which was designed by Geraldine Dohogne, is described as the “ultimate refinement in a part of Vietnam still largely undiscovered.” Sheltering 71 spacious standalone villas are tucked away in 98 hectares of lush vegetation, along a pristine white beach with majestic coral reefs. As such, Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô is the perfect embodiment of the Zannier Hotels philosophy, and yet totally different to every other Zannier-branded hotel.

    Inspiration for each of the three villa types – Paddy Field, Hill Pool and Beach Pool – is rooted in the Vietnamese tradition of architecture as an art form. A modern reinterpretation of the traditional abodes typically found in Vietnam’s tribal cultures, the villas have been ecologically built using age-old techniques to authentically replicate different architectural styles, whilst offering a more contemporary way of living. The pared-down interiors feature natural colours and textures, with a collection of Vietnamese paintings and silk prints gracing the walls. Soft furnishings incorporate traditional materials such as raw silk, woven rattan and hessian, whilst the elegant furniture is cleverly handcrafted from reclaimed wood and bamboo.

    Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand

    Unparalleled luxury meets eco-friendly design. Nestled within lush tropical rainforest on an unspoiled island with some of the best beaches in Thailand is Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood is a tropical paradise. From the sprawling Six Bedroom Sunset Ocean View Pool Reserve perched atop cliffs or find yourself right on the sandy shores in one of our Beach Pool Retreats.

    One&Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius

    A luxurious white guestroom overlooking the ocean

    Image credit: One&Only

    With one of the natural beauty and authentic charm of island life, Mauritius has become a major luxury travel hotspot – it has one of the largest concentration of five-star hotels of any island in the Indian Ocean, according to Conde Nast Traveller.

    Since the island’s secret got out, the luxury hotels in the area have faced the challenge to effortlessly and sensitively stand out from the crowd. As one of the original hotels luxury brands to arrive on the island, the property’s unmatched location and heritage has been garnished with One & Only’s esteemed reputation for barefoot tropical luxury. The hotel first opened in 197, and was taken over and rebranded in 2002 by One&Only).

    Manon Les Suites, Copenhagen

    A jungle environment inside Manon Les Suites

    Image credit: Manon Les Suites

    Smack-bang in the middle of Copenhagen is a bohemian-chic traveller’s dream. Manon Les Suites takes the Guldsmeden Hotels concept, to shelter luxurious simplicity and an unpretentious atmosphere, to a new level.

    Matetsi Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

    Reviewed by Hotel Designs where it was concluded as being ‘Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury,” Matetsi Victoria Falls sits blended into its location on the bank of the Zambezi river, in the heart of the African bush. Designed by young local interior designer Kerry van Leenhoff, the hotel was conceived to sensitively reflect its unique sense of place and culture. “It was really important for us to work with skilled craftsmen and women from our culture,” van Leenhoff said. “We have such a diverse culture with about 16 different tribes and languages. We mainly focused around the Tonga tribes as we were by the river.” The result is that from the far side of the river, you can’t actually see where the hotel starts and ends, which suggests even further that the whole property has been created with nature in mind.”

    Ett Hem Stockholm, Sweden

    Public area inside Et Hemm hotel is naturally one of the most incredible hotels in the world

    Image credit: Ett Hem

    Described on its website as ‘more personal than the luxury hotel’, Ett Hem Stockholm is the orignal home-from-home, designed by the one and only British designer Ilse Crawford. A former private residence built in 1910, the building now shelters 12 authentic rooms.

    The success in intricately transforming the house into a hotel, whilst still retaining the individuality and personality of the original, is a testament to the tenaciousness Crawford who was involved in the project since the start.

    Ett Hem is not the usual hotel. Ett hem is a place where guests are treated as friends of the family, a place that allows guests to become part of it and feel at home.

    Kruger Shalati — Kruger National Park, South Africa

    Kruger Shalati — Kruger National Park, South Africa is one of the most incredible hotels in the world

    Elevated above the Sabie River, looking down on Kruger National Park, Kruger Shalati is often referred to as ‘the train on the Bridge’. It is formed of 24 glass-walled rooms that are sheltered within original carriages that balance on former train tracks. The boutique (in every sense of the word) hotel offers unparalleled views that stretch over the national park and wellness nods such as a plunge pool in order to enhance its luxurious feel.

    D-Maris Bay, Turkey

    Nestled on the underdeveloped and raw Datca Peninsula, where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas both meet, D Maris Bay is a hidden gem that is camouflaged by jagged mountains. The hotel, which is a European favourite jewel among modern travellers, is sheltered in a large, stone-coloured 1970s building – planning permissions restrict the hotel from making structural changes. The interior design reflects exotic elements of the East and modernity of the West through its minimalistic style. Its light and airy ambiance, radiates a touch of grandeur with marble surfaces and modern Turkish artworks adorning the walls

    COMO Uma Punakha, Bhutan

    Image of outside space in mountains

    Image credit: COMO Hotels and Resorts

    The second COMO property is Bhutan is located in the far western end of the lush Punakha Valley. From its picturesque base overlooking a snake-like bend in the Mo Chu river, Uma Punakha is ideally located for those who wish to explore the remote Himalayan Kingdom. In true COMO style, the hotel’s design is scaled back and shelters a harmony of traditional style with contemporary details.

    The Upper House, Hong Kong

    The creative brainchild of interior designer André Fu, The Upper House, Hong Kong recently made it on to Hotel Designs’ agenda after it was announced that the hotel was to open the André Fu Suite – the ultimate compliment for any interior designer working in the hospitality arena. The property itself is described as ‘the hotel that floats above the city’ and conjures a sense of tranquility with the warmth of a private residence. Overlooking Hong Kong’s bright lights from above Admiralty’s Pacific Place, the House shelters 117 rooms that incorporate the design aesthetic based around the ‘Upward Journey’ , resulting in timeless serenity that flows through the different areas of the hotel.

    Iniala Beach House, Thailand

    Iniala Beach House offers one of the most prestige luxury villas in Thailand. Comprising of three beachfront villas and a spectacular penthouse, the hotel was built on the site of Mark Weingard’s former holiday home in Phang Nga after he was struck with the idea to create an exceptional concept that combined the imagination, inspiration and innovation of renowned designers.

    The Brando, French Polynesia

    Overhead exterior shot of The Brando, which is considered one of the world's most incredible hotels

    Image credit: The Brando

    The Brando is a unique luxury resort on French Polynesia’s breathtakingly beautiful private island of Tetiaroa – an atoll composed of a dozen small islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 30 miles northeast of Tahiti. The Brando offers carefree luxury in the midst of pristine nature. With access to the island by private plane, the resort features 35 villas on white-sand beaches frequented by sea turtles, manta rays and exotic birds. The resort was designed to reflect Polynesian lifestyles and culture.

    Standing proudly as the first resort in the world to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)’s highest accolade, the Platinum certification, the brand’s innovative and conscious traits, which don’t compromise on luxury but instead enhance it, are in the DNA of its success.

    As well as solar panel installation and the use of coconut oil biofuel for its powerstation, the resort uses Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC), for example, harnesses the cold of the ocean depths to provide low-energy, highly efficient cooling for all the buildings, which reduces energy demands by almost 70 per cent.

    Main image credits: Zannier Hotels/Anantara Hotels/The Brando

    Hamish Kilburn / 26.04.2021

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