Twenty-six years on, Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road, one of many overlooking the sea in the wind-protected suburb of Bantry Bay. And that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. The bar, restaurant and spa are exclusive to invited and resident guests, which means it’s very private and secure. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country – his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s answer to Kew) in the one-and-a-half acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery and an excellent little spa. Checking into one of the individually decorated rooms in the house – many with local African design elements, some on the small size – feels both comfortable and comforting. As does the open-access kitchen. Walk right in, tell the chefs what you’re craving and it is whipped up in minutes. Better yet, take a snack back to your room. The post-sunset vista from the balcony has to be one of the best views of the Atlantic found anywhere on earth. By Jane Broughton
This isn’t your typical farm. It’s owned by Eleven Experience, the Colorado-based high-end adventure-travel outfit that is one of the most interesting of its kind in the world right now. It has two helipads, an indoor-outdoor, swim-through geo-thermally heated pool, a bar with a pool table and drumkit, and a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows, modern art and sweeping views. In fact, there’s really nothing typical about Deplar, among the mountains on Iceland’s remote Troll Peninsula, a place of severe beauty. It’s got some of the best heli-skiing and fishing right at its doorstep. You can roll out of bed and chopper up to the top of a snow-covered volcano which, in all likelihood, no one has ever skied before, zipping through fields dotted with tiny horses that look like toys and finishing your run on the Arctic beach, where, if you do not mind the chill, you can simply kick off your skis and go fishing (then hightail it to the spa to recuperate in a flotation pod). It’s the sort of trip that confers bragging rights back home, from a company that understands such hyper-adventurous yet modern-luxe impulses perfectly. It has an expanding empire of properties and boats in North America, the Caribbean and Europe devoted to these fast/slow, winter/summer outdoorsy pursuits. But Deplar Farm is a standout. The air is pure, the snow powdery and in the summertime the salmon-rich rivers flow clear, fast and free. By Steve King
It could be argued that the most significant thing about this hotel is its quite brilliant location, dominating the eastern border of Marion Square, just north of Calhoun and the line dividing old Charleston from new. But that would be missing the point. John Dewberry’s eight-year quest to turn a drab Sixties-era federal building into a modernist work of art – in a city that trades on Southern colonial quaintness – was nothing short of a smashing success. The Dewberry embraces its mid-century roots with class and charm, drawing on elegant geometries – clean, cool lines broken by intervals of density that allude to deep character without getting fussy – and a muted palette of dark woods, hammered copper, Mediterranean greens and blues. Rooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings and wide-frame views of the skyline (catch them too from the deep cast-iron soaking tub in the bathroom). The common spaces shine, with dark panelled wood and low leather seating and made for Daiquiri sipping. This is a hotel for grown-ups – but, being Southern, one that likes to have fun. The proof is in the Living Room bar, where the mixing is done in white jackets and the decor in dry wit. Anywhere else, The Dewberry might border on stuffy, but here, drowned in light from floor-to-ceiling windows that give through gossamer curtains onto Marion Square, it’s just right. By Brad Rickman
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