Rest Your Head - Anantara Kalutara Resort

ANANTARA KALUTARA RESORTKalutara, Sri Lanka

One of the original proponents of the Tropical Modernism movement, despite his late entry into architecture, Sri Lankan-born Geoffrey Bawa’s uniquely recognisable style had a lasting impact on architects around the world. In fact, Bawa’s architecture led to the formation of a new architectural identity and aesthetic for many tropical environments, and won him countless awards and widespread recognition. These included the title of Deshamanya, the second-highest national civil honour of Sri Lanka, which was awarded to Bawa in recognition of his architectural contributions to his country.

In 1948 Bawa purchased the Lunuganga Estate, perched on the edge of Dedduwa Lake close to the villages of Hewagama and Dedduwa in Sri Lanka. Here, over the next forty years, he developed a keen interest in gardening and design. A cinnamon estate during the Dutch era and then a rubber plantation under the British, it was in fact Lunuganga’s gardens which led Bawa (a lawyer) to become an architect. The estate was to become one of his best-known legacies and its influence is palpable in all of his work, which we can thank for the pitched roofs and harmony with nature that are now staples of tropical hospitality design worldwide.

Now one of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions, a visit to Lunuganga is one of the many excursions offered by Anantara Kalutara Resort, itself a Bawa project commissioned in 1995. In 1998 Bawa was struck down by illness and eventually passed away in 2003, but not before he had drawn detailed plans for the main parts of his Kalutara project.

Uniquely located on a narrow peninsula between a shallow lagoon, the Indian Ocean and Kalu Ganga river near Kalutara, about 40km south of Colombo, with waterfronts on both sides of the property, the project sat idle for 9 years after Bawa’s death, until one of his former students, architect Channa Daswatte, took up the challenge.

Of the original blueprint conceived by the late master architect for a former hotel company back in the 90s, that was partially built but unfortunately abandoned due to the civil war, Anantara Kalutara’s beautiful open-sided main building remains intact, with its quintessentially colonial Dutch gable roof, breezy reception hall, lobby lounge and upstairs bar. Terracotta tiles, pivoting windows, traditional ceiling fans and plantation-style furniture all preserve the tropical feel of the space, all of which were part of Bawa’s original plans, and set the genteel and laidback tone which permeates the resort throughout. In fact, as one moves around the resort, the sensitivity for its local context combined with Bawa’s principles of modernism are truly a delight to behold, and makes the deceivingly large and sprawling resort feel intensely tranquil.

An ingenious Bawa-designed walkway connects the hotel’s lagoon and ocean wings, which together house a total of 141 rooms and suites all furnished in Anantara’s signature first class style. Products reflecting local materials, crafts and heritage are dotted throughout the interiors as Sinhalese accents in contemporary open-plan room layouts, complete with luxurious Lankan-infused custom-made furnishings. Entry-level rooms are virtually the same size as suites in normal hotels, and all boast wine humidors, Nespresso machines, generously furnished balconies or terraces and beautiful bathrooms with monsoon showers.

Three onsite restaurants all serving superb food, coupled with a large deluxe spa and countless leisure activities – not to mention a bespoke range of excursions – make it difficult to leave the resort, although visiting Lunuganga where Bawa lived is obviously a must.

Referencing its surroundings while allowing for a thoroughly modern vacation experience, Anantara Kalutara is a resort truly like no other in Sri Lanka – relaxed and chilled yet international and five-star in every way possible, attentively cosseting and catering to the needs of its guests with the least possible fuss, to ensure that Bawa’s peaceful, tropical modernism aesthetic lives on.

Rest Your Head - The Douglas

THE DOUGLASVancouver, Canada

Surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, Vancouver is a classic Pacific Northwest seaport city: liberal, diverse and cultured. The largest metropolis in Western Canada, Vancouver is also one of the country’s most dense and ethnically diverse cities, boasting thriving art, theatre and music scenes. Surrounded by mountains, its numerous public parks, lakes and waterways in and around the city make it a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Meanwhile, the recent arrival of cool cafés, funky hotels, upscale restaurants and cutting-edge galleries have transformed this Northwest boomtown into something of a cool capital, complete with a very good Asian dining scene.

Part of the hip Autograph Collection, the new 188-room Douglas adds some style and elegance to the sprawling casino-orientated Parq Vancouver entertainment complex of which it is part. Overlooking False Creek – a sea inlet in the centre of Vancouver – the hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the Plaza of Nations Ferry Terminal, where Aquabuses depart for the nearby tourist hotspot of Granville Island, famed for its trendy eateries, lively market and hard-working buskers. A 10-minute amble from the hotel heading in the opposite direction, puts you in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Stroll for another five minutes and you will find yourself in the trendy red brick neighbourhood of Gastown, full of winding alleyways and hip restaurants and coffee shops.

Rooms at The Douglas exude a contemporary urban aesthetic, complete with concrete ceilings, Illy coffee machines and rainforest showers. Only the suites have tubs and one of them has a piano in it. Meanwhile, the Parq Vancouver complex boasts a host of F&B offerings for guests of The Douglas, including a farm-to-fork eatery which champions local produce and a lavish Chinese fine dining restaurant.

Rest Your Head - Conrad Bengaluru

CONRAD BENGALURUBengaluru‎, India

Known as the Silicon Valley of India, cosmopolitan Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) is the capital of Karnataka in the south. It is one of the country’s most progressive and developed cities, and is quickly becoming a hub for business, art and entertainment, complete with a burgeoning drinking, dining and shopping scene.

Blessed with a kinder climate due to the city’s enviable location at the centre of the southern peninsula, whilst there are no world-class sights to see in Bengaluru, it’s a wonderful blend of history, spirituality, architecture, culture and nature, with a number of botanical gardens and well laid-out parks worth visiting. Traditional Krishna Rajendra local market is also a must see for its colours, crowds and bustling flower market, and is a veritable treat for Instagrammers.

The young and energetic team at the new Conrad Bengaluru altogether compliments the dynamic vibe of the country’s IT capital. The latest addition to the growing number of luxury hotels in the center of it all, located at the edge of MG Road and soaring 24 storeys above the city’s central business district, Conrad Bengaluru offers 285 guest rooms and suites overlooking picturesque Ulsoor Lake, and blends old world detailing with modern amenities and five-star service.

Contemporary-styled guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic city and lake views. Thoughtful, luxe in-room touches include window seating, intelligent electrically-operated curtains and marble bathrooms equipped with in-mirror televisions, deep soaking tubs and walk-in rain showers.

Downstairs the hotel boasts five dining and bar experiences, a full-service spa and salon, abundant event space, a 24-hour fitness centre and an outdoor temperature-controlled infinity pool overlooking the city.

If you need to do business in India’s IT capital then Conrad Bengaluru is surely the place to chill out after a busy day, and since some of the country’s best vineyards are a short drive from the hotel, it doesn’t have to be all about microchips!

Rest Your Head - White City House

WHITE CITY HOUSELondon, U.K.

From small beginnings in 1995, in cramped Georgian premises at 40 Greek Street in London’s Soho – a place for the capital’s creative community to booze, schmooze and snog after the pubs shut – Soho House (complete with its quintessentially London DNA) has developed into an all-embracing live-work-play-sleep concept and expanded across the world. With over 70,000 members worldwide and currently expanding at the rate of at least two new Houses every year, it’s hard to keep track of how many Soho House outposts there are currently, but a good guesstimate would be twenty as of 1st September 2018. And as the empire has grown so new Houses have included Cowshed spas, barbershops and hair salons, plus of course swimming pools and gyms – the one at White City covers 21,000ft2 and includes a second pool and a hammam.

Set in the former BBC headquarters, West London may have been routinely overshadowed as a cool, creative hub for a number of years by its trendier easterly cousin, but it’s now been put firmly back on the artistic map by the opening of White City House earlier this year – Soho House’s newest and largest members’ club and hotel in the British capital.

Inspired by the iconic building’s impressive history, a brash 60s design aesthetic is very obvious throughout. 45 hotel rooms are complemented by two floors of club space on the 9th and 10th floors offering panoramic vistas of West London. Another floor is dedicated to members’ events, and then there’s a rooftop pool and bar, three-screen cinema and one of the largest gyms in London. There’s even a special roast duck oven to cook the birds to crisp, succulent perfection as part of the Asian-inspired menu in the ninth-floor restaurant.

Rest Your Head - Amanyangyun

AMANYANGYUNShanghai, China

For discerning travel aficionados, Aman is much more than a luxury hotel brand. For one thing, staying at an Aman property is almost certainly an experience unrivalled anywhere else. Meaning “peace, security, safety, shelter, protection” in Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Arabic, Ge’ez, Amharic, Urdu and Persian, Aman properties currently number 33 in 21 countries stretching from Asia to Europe, North Africa and the States.

Aman resorts beguile with their discreet luxury, exquisite attention to detail, otherworldly service, special privileges and breathtaking locations. Aman Summer Palace hotel boasts its own private gateway into the Summer Palace – Beijing’s prized historic treasure. At the Aman Grand Canal in Venice, guests are permitted to visit the Doge’s Palace and clock tower in St. Mark’s Square after hours. One Aman property is perched on the edge of a national park in Rajasthan, while another is surrounded by four volcanoes and overlooks 9th-century Buddhist temples in Java. Meanwhile, nestled away on Phuket’s west coast sits Amanpuri, the flagship of Aman Resorts. Ringed by a lush jungle on one side and magnificent views of the Andaman Sea on the other, its 40 villas cascade down the hillside of a former coconut plantation, guaranteeing complete privacy for the royalty, celebrities and tycoons who have been vacationing there for almost three decades. However, the newest Aman property to open – a magical, fairytale-like hospitality journey into Chinese history – might actually be one of the hotel group’s most incredible yet.

Bordering Qizhong Forest Park in the Minhang district of greater Shanghai and surrounded by ancient camphor trees, Amanyangyun lies in Maqiao Town, approximately an hour away from the city centre.

Comprising just 37 keys, at the heart of Amanyangyun are 13 ancient villas which were originally situated 700km away in Fuzhou, Jiangzi Province. Since the construction of a dam would have submerged the precious Ming and Qing dynasty villas forever, local entrepreneur Ma Dadong set about preserving them, a feat which involved moving and storing them, piece by piece. 15 years later they were lovingly reassembled at Amanyangyun, and Australian architect Kerry Hill designed minimalist interiors to suit, employing plenty of wood, stone and bamboo. Hill also drew inspiration from the design of the ancient villas – with their courtyards, wooden lattice work and black stone – to create the rest of the resort, carefully blending typical, minimal Aman styling into the mix.

At the same time as the ancient villas were saved from destruction, Dadong also arranged to transport 10,000 similarly threatened ancient trees – many more than 1,000 years old – to a site just outside Shanghai. The majority survived the process, and a forest of them has been planted at Amanyangyun.

To say that the overall effect is incredibly impressive is something of an understatement. What Aman and Kerry Hill have created together is nothing short of a hospitality masterpiece, and a property which no doubt in time, will only further improve with age.

Rest Your Head - COMO Uma Canggu

COMO UMA CANGGUCanggu, Bali

Sadly, there are few places left on Bali which can still be described as a little sleepy, but the hipster seaside village of Canggu on its south-west coast is just that, which unfortunately makes it the Indonesian island’s latest hot spot.

A 40-minute walk along the beach from Seminyak, Canggu’s streets are not teeming with tourists, the village market sells produce at local prices and the beaches are not packed. A selection of cool cafés serving healthy food sit side-by-side with funky beach clubs, hip bars and yoga studios. Canggu may not be “sleepy” per se, but it’s a damn sight quieter than much of the rest of Bali, and its locals are friendly, engaging and happy to chat about the surf.

Canggu essentially consists of three parallel villages, each with their own beach areas: Berawa, Batu and Echo. All are bordered by a busy road to the north, Jalan Raya Canggu, which is about 5km inland.

Fronting Echo Beach, uber cool new COMO Uma Canggu was this year’s most anticipated Bali hotel opening, and has been the first international five-star brand to land on Canggu’s onyx-black volcanic sands. Skilfully designed to take advantage of some of Bali’s most coveted surf breaks, the resort also beautifully reflects Canggu’s relaxed coastal lifestyle, complete with a fabulous beach club fashioned by Milan-based architect and interior designer, Paola Navone, which forms the hub of the resort. A partnership with luxury Australian surfing experts Tropicsurf ensures that both novice and veteran surfers are well catered for at this essentially surfing-focused property.

The minimalist interiors of the resort’s 119 rooms were designed by Japanese-born designer Koichiro Ikebuchi. Think Japanese screens, chic courtyards and outdoor showers. Some have direct access to the resort’s 115-metre lagoon pool. Penthouses boast sweeping oceanic curves, private rooftop pools and incredible sea vistas.

A luxe, eight treatment room Como Shambhala Spa offers Asian-inspired therapies, whilst an impressive fitness centre offers twice-daily yoga and Pilates plus classes ranging from hatha and fast-paced rocket yoga through to yogalates.

After a hard day’s surf, guests head to the beach club for some freshly barbequed fare served to a backdrop of live musicians and DJs, plus some of the most spectacular sunset views on the island.

Rest Your Head - Hotel Lutetia

HOTEL LUTETIAParis, France

Built in an Art Nouveau style by the founders of famous Parisian department store Le Bon Marché, Hotel Lutetia first opened its glamorous doors on the Left Bank in 1910, was an instant hit with the city’s creative types, and has been steeped in history ever since.

Irish author James Joyce is said to have written part of his seminal novel “Ulysses” while staying at the hotel and it was a cultural hotspot for much of the 20th-century. But during the Second World War, the Lutetia was requisitioned by German forces and used to house troops.

Following the liberation of Paris in 1944, under the orders of Charles de Gaulle the hotel hosted victims of Nazi atrocities who were trying to reunite with their families.

In the 1950s, the hotel became a hangout for celebrity intellectuals, and was favoured by the likes of Picasso, Hemingway and French Resistance activist Josephine Baker, all of whom were frequent visitors.

In 2014 the 233-room EUR300/night hotel was closed for a four-year EUR200 million transformation, designed to elevate the property’s status to that of a five-star contemporary palace hotel – the only one of its kind in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris’ 6th arrondissement.

A few months ago the Lutetia re-opened, having been sensitively renovated and remodelled under the watchful eye of architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Whilst the spirit of the historic building remains totally intact, numerous contemporary new features have been incorporated into its classic Art Deco interior, including a new jazz bar, a holistic wellbeing centre and Brasserie Lutetia with three Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passedat at the helm. The guests room count has also been reduced to 184 keys to enlarge all accommodation and create 47 suites, two of which have access to private outdoor terraces boasting spectacular 360-degree views of the City of Light. Unsurprisingly, room rates now start at EUR850, rising to EUR19,000 for a night in the swanky two-bedroom presidential suite.

Rest Your Head - Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Andamans

TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA, ANDAMANSHavelock Island, Andamans

Boasting breathtakingly beautiful coastlines, lush forests and deserted beaches, all just a 2-hour direct flight from Chennai, the all season Andamans in the Bay of Bengal are the perfect place to either ramble or stretch out on the sand and read a book.

Best known for their palm-lined sandy beaches, twisting mangroves and tropical rainforests, the coral reefs surrounding this stunning Indian archipelago support a huge variety of marine life including sharks and manta rays, providing incredible diving opportunities.

Whilst indigenous Andaman islanders inhabit the more remote islands like Barren and Narcondam, rendering them inaccessible to travellers unless by special permission, government-run ferries and faster private catamarans run from Port Blair to the major islands, and upmarket resorts arrange private transfers via speedboat.

Repeatedly voted one of the world’s best beaches, you haven’t really experienced the Andamans unless you’ve visited picture-postcard perfect Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island. Here, vast expanses of champagne-coloured sand are gently caressed by white foam necklaces and emerald blue waves. Needless to say, experiencing a sunrise or sunset on Radhanagar is an utter delight.

Luxurious new Taj Exotica Resort is the first luxury property to arrive on one the world’s few remaining unspoilt beach destinations. But, inspired by indigenous Jawara huts, the hotel has been built on stilts so as to minimise its impact on the natural landscape. Occupying a 46-acre site, the hotel’s 75 individual villas start at 144m2, are decorated in contemporary yet classic Taj style and each boasts a private plunge pool.

The hotel spa floats on a lake. Jungle trekking and turtle-spotting expeditions are among the range of standard activities on offer. And an on-site fine dining restaurant fusing southeast Asian and Bengali flavours, together with an eatery specialising in coastal curries, keep gourmands satiated.

Rest Your Head - Nobu Marbella

NOBU MARBELLAMarbella, Spain

Starting at the western edge of Marbella city (Plaza Bocanegra), lined with golden sandy beaches and extending for almost five kilometres as far as the Río Verde just before Puerto Banús, the main N-340 coast road, better known as Marbella’s Golden Mile, is one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the Spain. Lined with palatial beachfront homes, well-appointed villas and opulent palace-like houses, the Golden Mile is a regular meeting place of the rich, famous and royal, who descend on the area to play and holiday. Amongst them Saudi Arabian King Fahd, who arrived in Marbella in the 1970s when it was a relatively small resort and was largely responsible for making its name as a luxury alternative to France’s Côte d’Azur. The King built an 80-hectare holiday complex on the Golden Mile, which boasts a copy of the White House, several other palaces, a private clinic, mosque and sports centre.

On his last visit to Marbella, King Fahd arrived in a fleet of jumbo jets with around 3,000 family members, friends, followers and staff. He booked 300 hotel rooms, hired 500 additional staff and more than 100 new Mercedes cars arrived on transporters from Germany. By the time he left more than six weeks later, it is estimated that he had pumped more than EUR90 million into Marbella’s economy. It’s little wonder then that the people of Marbella so grieved the King’s death!

The Golden Mile traces its reputation as a premiere vacation spot back to the opening of the five-star Marbella Club Hotel in the 1950’s. Its gardens are consistent prize-winners for their beauty, elegance and style and guests have included Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier.

Nobu Hotels joined the roll call of elite vacation properties on the Golden Mile, by opening an 81-room, adults-only pleasure paradise at the start of the 2018 summer season. Owned by Robert De Niro, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and movie producer Meir Teper, Nobu Hotel Marbella is the group’s fourth hotel in Europe, which has slowly crossed much of the world one sushi restaurant or luxury hotel at a time.

A game changer for Marbella, the Nobu Marbella experience has been crafted to offer the highest standards of luxury, service and fun, and its positioning as the ultimate adult playground makes it unique on the Golden Mile. The cool Japanese-inspired interior aesthetic that permeates the property is complemented by a range of exclusive services, including Nobu signature dishes, wellness treatments and cocktail preparation available in guest rooms and suites, plus a private members’ lounge. Guests also enjoy private access to La Suite, Puente Romano’s seductive VIP nightclub, which is mere metres from Nobu Hotel Marbella.

Rest Your Head - Arctic Bath

ARCTIC BATHHarads, Sweden

A country of ice flows and frozen wastelands, quiet forests and reindeer herders, the Northern Lights and cosy cottages, Sweden is a beautiful country boasting countless natural beauties. Add to this an outstanding foodie scene with a huge variety of dining options and it’s not hard to see why millions of tourists visit Sweden annually, especially around Midsummer, which is the most important celebration of the year for many Swedes.

If you head in the same direction long enough in Sweden, you’ll almost certainly hit an archipelago. You’ll find them off the country’s north, south, east and west coasts. They’re centres of Swedish cultural heritage and immense natural beauty, offering a laid-back lifestyle and numerous nature activities. Many Swedes have summer homes on these islands. There are roughly 24,000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago alone about 150 of which are inhabited. And now there’s about to be one more, albeit man-made.

Positioned on Luleå River and situated downstream from the bridges of the village of Bodträskfors opposite Harads in Lapland – in a prime location to experience the Northern Lights – Arctic Bath promises to be a Swedish island like no other. The brainchild of the team behind Sweden’s now famous Treehotel, Arctic Bath will be a floating six-room hotel and spa that freezes into the river ice in the winter and floats on top of the water in the summer. The design of Arctic Bath is inspired by the timber floating era, reminiscent of how felled trees were transported down the river for processing.

The open centre of Arctic Bath will be designed for sunbathing, ice bathing and experiencing the Northern Lights or star-filled skies. A dip in the bath itself will be consistent with the Arctic tradition of a cold-water plunge combined with several in-house saunas. This incredible building will also offer spa treatments and will contain a restaurant, lounge and shop.

Rest Your Head - Rosewood Baha Mar

ROSEWOOD BAHA MARNassau, Bahamas

Even though the archipelago of more than 700 islands and cays, strung together with deep ocean channels and shallow banks, is actually located in the Atlantic, The Bahamas is widely regarded as being part of the Caribbean. And with the appeal of a big city juxtaposed with the easiness of the tropics, Nassau, its capital, is considered by many to be a paradise metropolitan hub.

A bustling city full of culture and modern amenities, the Bahamian capital is where most people live, and, largely thanks to flocks of cruise-ship passengers, receives the largest number of visitors. Nassau boasts a diverse variety of restaurants, bars and nightlife, not to mention traffic and mega hotel complexes, one of which is the largest resort in the Caribbean, the new 2,300-room Baha Mar on Cable Beach.

Employing more than 4,000 people (to give you a sense of the size of the place), Baha Mar is anchored by a 100,000-square-foot casino (nearly twice the size of Atlantis’ in Dubai) and so is for many the Caribbean’s Macau. One thing’s for sure, it’s the kind of property the region has never seen before.

You either love or utterly hate this kind of resort, where massive waterfalls mark the entrance and the directional signage wouldn’t look out of place in Disneyworld, but if you’re going to visit Baha Mar be sure to stay at the new Rosewood, one of a number of five-star properties within the complex.
The complex’s hospitality crown jewel, Rosewood Baha Mar recently made its long-awaited debut, when it was officially opened by Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis no less.

Featuring 233 rooms and suites, all of which boast their own private patios or terraces, along with a collection of three-bedroom and six-bedroom beachfront villas with their own pools, The Bahamas’ newest luxury resort also features a number of high-end restaurants which deliver some of Nassau’s finest dining. These include London-styled farm-to-table brasserie Commonwealth, and Costa, which serves coastal dishes with a Mexican flavour.

Rest Your Head - The Siren Hotel

THE SIREN HOTELDetroit, U.S.A.

Commonly known as the Motor City, these days Detroit is brimming with culture and life and should definitely be part of your itinerary if you’re touring the States. A singular metropolitan representation of the American experience, while news headlines about Detroit have tended to dwell on its decay and bankruptcy, in reality and on the ground there’s plenty to impress even the most discerning of travellers in this vibrant, progressive and charming city, not least a visit to Hitsville USA, where Berry Gordy introduced the world to the likes of Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and many other Motown legends.

In the decades before it sat silently decaying, the Wurlitzer Building at 1509 Broadway was filled with music, home to one of the largest music stores in the world and helped to thrill thousands of theatre-going Detroiters. Designed by Detroit architect Robert Finn in an elegant Renaissance Revival style, built by the Otto Misch Company and opened on 8th December 1926, the 14-storey building once housed the Wurlitzer Company which made pianos, organs, radios, and, most famously, jukeboxes.

The Wurlitzer company left sometime before the 1970s and was followed by various tenants, although the building was never again fully let. By the mid 1980s, without any tenants, the tall, narrow and abandoned building fell into disrepair. Sadly, the historic landmark started to fall to pieces at the beginning of this decade.

Thankfully in 2015 the Wurlitzer Building was rescued from what seemed like almost certain demolition, when developer ASH NYC bought it to renovate and transform into The Siren Hotel which opened a few months ago retaining many 1920s features which were preserved during its conversion. Original Terracotta signage, beautiful travertine floors and plaster ceiling details have been updated with pastel colours and rich materials to maintain the essence of the building.

The 106 off-white guest rooms are accentuated with timber floors, white veined black marble, hues of pinks and oxblood, and plush, angular navy blue-upholstered furniture. Custom blankets on the beds were designed by graduate students from a nearby art academy.

Unusually for such a small hotel, the building also includes seven dining and drinking areas, two retail spaces, and a 14th floor rooftop bar that boasts impressive views into Canada across the Detroit River.