To arrive here in the dark, through deserts and date trees and mountain passes, is to be greeted by a multitude of twinkling lights from the clear starry skies and from the dim lanterns that illuminate the stone houses. This far-flung hotel lies sandwiched between the dramatic Hajar Mountains and the warm seas off the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. Reimagined to form a traditional village, each villa has a private pool, reed ceilings, rough stucco walls and lamps suspended on ropes that reflect in the thick wood-framed mirrors. Outside, though, through the dense surrounding stands of palm, is a full-on luxe seaside hotel, with a pristine talcum-fine beach and a magnificent swimming pool set against a backdrop of towering pink peaks. Not surprising, given it’s a Six Senses, many people come here for the spa and its bespoke programmes of treatments and fitness. More unusual is the opportunity for adventure. Those who want maximum drama should paraglide, starting on a ledge 293 metres up at the top of the Zighy summit to float down over the bay. The food is worth the journey alone: Bedouin cooking at Shua Shack; wagu-beef fritters in the mountain-lair-like Sense on the Edge. Breakfasts of Arabic coffee and dishes such as akawi, labneh and zaatar-sprinkled pittas are excellent fuel for a morning of beachcombing for the cowrie shells that dazzle here – perfectly polished with a dusting of dark freckles. Six Senses is a growing group but what it does so brilliantly is stay rooted in the sense of each place and let the surroundings shine. By Mary Lussiana
With a flotilla of boldfaced big-hitters hugging its sunny shores, Dubai isn’t exactly short of luxury digs. But what makes the newly opened Bulgari stand out is its location on its own seahorse-shaped manmade island, and its low-slung layout, a pleasing retort to the city’s ubiquitous canyons of skyscrapers. This is down to the group’s Milan-based architects, who anchored the hotel so it separates two bays: one an oh-so-quiet stretch of beach lined with villas; the other a super-smart marina with a sweep of restaurants and the Bulgari Yacht Club – a first for the brand. Structures are topped with layers of coral-like latticework; other marvellous textures that draw the eye include backlit green onyx, black granite and woollen Beni Ourain rugs from Morocco, picked out with covetable objects from B&B Italia and Flos. The city centre thrums on the other side of a 300-metre bridge, but with six bars and restaurants at the hotel, there really is no reason to cross it. La Spiaggia is a poolside crowd-pleaser that flips out wagyu beef burgers during the day, while in the evening, a Negroni from the oval Bulgari bar is a punchy aperitif for oysters and bottarga risotto at the neighbouring Niko Romito restaurant. The wow factor, though, is provided by the immense spa, with its ice fountains, hammam and an indoor pool – lined with a mosaic of real gold tiles, naturally – that has far-reaching views of the sea and the Dubai cityscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. The sense of contented wellbeing isn’t limited to the spa. In a land of hyperbole, this is understated perfection that thinks big. By Lauren Ho
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The building’s textile-clad façade and verdant latticework by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma creates a palpable sense of calm – ideal for meditating on the deeper cultural meaning behind contemporary Chinese artworks in the atrium, such as Beijing Memory No. 1 and No. 2, Li Xiaofeng’s wearable cheongsam and military breastplate covered in Ming and Qing-dynasty porcelain shards, and ceramicist Fiona Wong’s ghostly, lace-like White Wings. There’s also a 20ft-high Chinese apothecary chest of 6,000 drawers in the lobby, and the multilingual staff shuffling around in all-black outfits further add to the art-gallery vibe. More straightforward are the 99 open-plan guestrooms finished in oak wood and Turkish sandstone, with Japanese-style furo soaking tubs and powerful overhead rain showers. The complimentary ‘maxi-bar’ features craft brews from the nearby Arrow Factory and bottles of orange-flavoured Arctic Ocean soda, the nectar of any Beijing childhood. A decade after the hotel opened, the Sanlitun area surrounding the House has blossomed. Cross the street to Dover Street Market, where you’re likely to spy staff nipping out to pick up niche items at pop-up events. Follow the scent of date wood back to the hotel’s Jing Yaa Tang restaurant: cumin-laced lamb skewer and fiery kung pao chicken from a cage-free farm south of Beijing deliver just the right amount of anticipation while the master roaster glazes your duck with his secret combination of osmanthus, honey, vinegar, molasses and crushed dates. Order an Old Peking as nightcap, made with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, Mancino Vecchio vermouth and finished in a cloud of date wood smoke – the only type used by serious Beijing duck roasters. By Cynthia Rosenfeld
It’s a desert conundrum. You visit the driest, emptiest place on the planet to ogle the Martian landscapes, squint at the shimmering salt lake, gawp at the cosmos – this is world-renowned stargazing territory, home to the ALMA radio telescope. But at this hotel just outside the hip hiker-hub of San Pedro, part of you just wants to stay put. Inspired by pre-Inca ruins, this Awasi – the first of the tiny rootsy Chilean chain, open since 2007 – is all pale wood and tan adobe walls, with shade-giving trees pressing in on all sides. There are plenty of alpaca blankets and books in the public spaces, and a fire-pit and candlelight encourage intelligent idling after dark. The 10 suites have bathtubs, chaise-longues, more blankets. The restaurant serves up sublime octopus causas. It would be too easy to indulge in all of this and then join fellow wanderers at the bar and talk about expeditions to undertake, maybe tomorrow, over a glass of Maule Valley Merlot. Fortunately, Awasi insists all guests have a private guide – invariably an expert on Andean geology or geyser physics – and their own four-wheel-drive, so spending a little time away from the retreat is pretty straightforward too. This is a place made for hedonistic hermits, part of a new breed of superior and polished wilderness hotels. By Chris Moss
The ancient lava fields and low-lying scrub of the surrounding area make it feel more like Namibia than Hawaii. But as soon as driver pulls off Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway onto a private lane and the landscape shifts from Martian to tropical – lush with palms, canary-yellow hibiscus and musk ferns – and you inhale the plumeria-infused cold towel, bowing to receive the simple kukui nut lei, you know exactly where you are. Creating this distinct sense of place without employing gimmicky tropes (all too easy to do in a place like Hawaii where a little puka shell goes a long way) is what makes Hualalai stand out on an island of upscale hotels. The Hawaii-ana is restrained – hand-woven palm mats, tropical wallpaper in neutral tones – and the buildings are modelled on classic architecture that really pushes the indoor-outdoor living. The soaring lobby opens onto teak lanais overlooking the secluded stretch of coastline, miles from touristy Kona to the south and the resort village of Waikoloa to the north. Authenticity shines through, too, in the way this place interacts with its environment; for example, rather than clearing the hardened lava from various eruptions, Four Seasons used traditional hand-stacking techniques to build walls, stocked the King Pond with injured rescue fish from the ocean, and implemented a commercial fishing ban to allow the depleted waters in front of the property to recover. And the staff emit the characteristically chill aloha spirit while being super-attentive to the overworked tech couple from Silicon Valley and the stylish family of five escaping an endless New York winter. By Rebecca Misner
The coastal road between Camps Bay and Llandudno is a conservation area, so it’s undeveloped—just fynbos-covered mountains to one side, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the other. Until you round a curve in the road and catch your first glimpse of the Twelve Apostles, named after the Twelve Apostles mountain range that runs parallel to the coast, that is: Built into the contours of the mountainside, there’s a lot of hotel packed into its relatively small footprint. The rooms are flamboyant, old-school glamour, either facing the sea or the mountains.
According to recent visitors, the best thing about the Trump International Hotel & Tower New York is the service, from its white-gloved bellhops to its personal 24-hour Trump Attaché service. Along with the attentive hotel staff, the spacious accommodations, the 6,000-square-foot spa and the world-class cuisine served at the on-site restaurants also earn praise from guests. This Trump property earns the No. 6 Best Hotel in New York City title for 2017. (Courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower New York)
Villa Cha Cha Bangkok is a mid-range boutique hotel located parallel to the world famous Khao San Road in the Banglampu District of Bangkok.Because of its location guests can be on the party scene within minutes and the Grand Palace is a 15 minute stroll away as is the Chao Phraya River and its fleet of long tail taxi boats.Shopping in this area is interesting and ranges from the obvious hippy clothes and sportswear to genuine antiques and quirky art.Accommodation at Villa Cha Cha Bangkok varies from Junior Queen and King to the much larger Royal Family with many room categories in between to make a total of 73 rooms. Read More...