Situated in a serene setting on a bend of the Sand River, in private 65,000-hectare Sabi Sands Game Reserve which flanks the south western section of South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park, andBeyond Tengile River Lodge was built sustainably with local materials and an extremely light footprint so as to minimise its impact on the incredible surroundings and provide guests with a tranquil experience. Sand camouflages the lodge’s rooftops and water treatment systems recycle waste water for irrigation use. Discerning travellers will know that Sabi Sands is renowned for its high density of wildlife and prolific Big Five sightings.
“Tengile” translated means tranquil and this lies at the very heart of the lodge’s design. Just nine spacious air-conditioned suites offer expansive space for living, relaxing and sleeping. Raised above ground level, they give the impression that they’re floating over the riverbed and provide exceptional views from the dappled shade of a cool riparian forest – a setting that’s unique to Sabi Sands. Complete with sunken lounges, elegant bedrooms, sprawling en-suite bathrooms (featuring both indoor and outdoor rain-showers) and decks with private lap pools, all suites open out into the forest, creating private spaces for guests to sit or dine al fresco. Every suite is equipped with a pair of Swarovski Optik binoculars for guests’ use and complimentary wi-fi.
In the main lodge areas, bespoke pieces of artwork and furniture together with contemporary African fabrics and finishes, celebrate the talent of local designers and artists. Meanwhile, the floorplan ensures a seamless indoor-outdoor flow, the viewing deck being a focal point.
The incredible wildlife is obviously the main focus of every stay, with twice daily game drives and interpretive bush walks an inherent part of the safari experience. Outside of these activities, the lodge features a gym and in-suite massages can be arranged.
Gourmet food paired with delectable South African wines combined with intimate and attentive service courtesy of warm and friendly staff make andBeyond Tengile River Lodge a unique and special safari paradise.
Sporting an altogether more laid-back beat than its infamous Balearic neighbour, beautiful beaches and upscale hotels are luring a sophisticated insider crowd to Menorca these days.
Punctuated by the historic twin towns of Mahón and Ciutadella which are endearing in very different ways, not to mention a plethora of Neolithic monuments scattered across the island, Menorca is the place for a relaxed G&T with friends in a small bar overlooking the Med, rather than an overpriced bottle of vodka and banging house music. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the common language, Ibiza and Menorca couldn’t be more different if they were thousands of miles apart.
6km from Menorca airport, in the very centre of Mahón, uber-cool five-bedroom Casa Telmo occupies a pretty 19th century townhouse, and has been designed to welcome visitors from all over the world who want to enjoy the relatively unspoilt Spanish paradise isle and its Caribbean-like beaches.
The boutique hotel’s millennial owners (twenty-something interior designers from Barcelona and founders of Quintana Partners Studio), based their design aesthetic on the antics of a fictional globetrotting traveller named Telmo, whom they imagined had roamed the world before landing on the island of Menorca. The décor of each guest room reflects a stop on his journey and the end result is wonderfully colourful, fun and eccentric.
Despite the complete overhaul of the three-storey building, its elegant bones and original features still remain, most noticeably traditional terracotta tiling and chunky oak beams. But now they are skilfully offset by a variety of objets d’art and kitsch paraphernalia which its owners look to have picked-up in Europe’s flea markets, all of which have been employed to great effect.
Of the five quirky guest rooms, M is the one to book. Sporting a retro pink-tiled rain-shower room, tartan chaise, unpainted plaster walls and a floor-to-ceiling antique sideboard filling a whole wall and serving as a headboard, M couldn’t be further from Ibiza if you tried.
Halfway between Australia and the USA and fifty minutes by ‘plane northwest of Tahiti in the heart of the French Polynesian South Pacific archipelago, Bora Bora rises from the sea like a veritable jewel, seemingly protected by one of the planet’s most stunning lagoons. It’s a tiny speck of a volcanic island with a total landmass of just over 30sqkm. Being surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and islets quite literally make it a dream destination.
Famous for its crystal waters in fifty shades of blue and all-luxury accommodation much of which is over-water bungalows, Bora Bora is popular honeymooners and just about anyone who enjoys being pampered on an island and always a stone’s throw from tropical waters. Naturally, vacationing in such surroundings doesn’t come cheap, making Bora Bora the playground of the rich and famous or a one-off treat for newlyweds.
Presiding over the longest (more than half-mile-long) stretch of white-sand beach of any Bora Bora hotel, on the southwest end of Motu To’opua, the Conrad was previously a Hilton before an extensive multi-million-dollar refurb. As a Hilton it was the first resort to feature Bora Bora’s now iconic over-water suites. As a Conrad, the property now boasts 29 garden and beach villas plus 86 overwater bungalows, including the island’s only double-storey Presidential Suites which comprise two master bedrooms, a pool, hot tub and sauna, as well as butler service.
Approaching Conrad Bora Bora Nui on one of the resort’s motorboats, across impossibly blue waters, the resort genuinely looks like a screensaver which has come to life, and it soon becomes apparent that guests’ every whim is amply catered for. A fleet of luxe golf carts whisk guests between their lodgings, a variety of restaurants and bars, sprawling hilltop spa, 18-hole mini golf course, huge tiered oceanfront pool and the sea, where complimentary stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and snorkel gear await. As if this wasn’t enough to occupy guests, Conrad’s “Stay Inspired” program offers a multitude of destination-focused activities and excursions, which on Bora Bora includes snorkelling with manta rays.
Nestled between the Place de la Concorde and Rue Saint-Honoré, with the US Embassy and some of the world’s leading fashion houses for neighbours, Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg is the epitome of Parisian luxury: a discreet hideaway in the heart of the city of lights.
The 148-room hotel, masterminded by design guru Didier Gomez, is effortlessly stylish, from its unassuming entrance and gorgeous gold and grey toned lobby, to fabulous Bar Le Faubourg and inviting Blossom restaurant, both of which are tasteful and refined.
Guestrooms pay homage to the hotel’s illustrious history as the former Hôtel de Vouillemont, once a high society haunt, and more recently, the headquarters of Marie-Claire magazine.
My ‘Luxury Room’ on the sixth floor is petite but well proportioned, with a small walk-in dressing room and en suite bathroom with Hermes amenities. The bedroom is framed by a vintage photograph by British fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, depicting models in Charles James ball gowns for Vogue magazine. The black, taupe and teal palette of the room is elegant and understated, with a rich textured bedspread and a Louis XV armchair and footstool. Tasselled bedside lights and moulded ceilings add a touch of ornate embellishment that grace the charming room with the air of a sophisticated private mansion, an effect increased by the small balcony, affording me glimpses of Place de la Concorde to the right and the shops of Rue Saint-Honoré to the left.
Menus at Blossom restaurant are changed every three months to include dishes made with seasonal ingredients, and Paris’ relatively newfound interest in vegetarian and vegan cuisine is apparent in the lunch menu, which features a selection of dishes for healthy and ethically-minded diners. Guests are spoiled for choice at breakfast, where baskets loaded with buttery croissants and pain au chocolate are stacked next to decadent extras like apple compote and honey from the hotel’s rooftop beehive.
The unflappable concierge team rise to every occasion, from suggesting an appropriate venue to watch a big sporting event, to swiftly making alternative arrangements when protests prevent my Mercedes S-Class airport transfer from reaching the hotel.
With its sharply cut, elegant style and the anticipatory hospitality to match, Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg is a rare treat: a glamorous haute couture haven where soft-touch service is just as pleasing as its timeless aesthetic appeal.
Dating back to 1609 when it was first discovered by shipwrecked English sailors, Bermuda is the oldest remaining British overseas territory and lies in the North Atlantic (yes, Bermuda is not in the Caribbean) around 1,000 km east of North Carolina. Just 21 square miles in area, it is made up of a crescent-shaped chain of 181 islets, rocky outcrops and islands, and basks in glorious sunshine for much of the year.
Among Bermuda’s many delights are pink coral-tinted sandy beaches, numerous opportunities for sailing, diving and sports fishing, a liberal number of world-class golf courses scattered across the island and some rather excellent restaurants. Lush greenery, pastel-coloured cottages, traditional British pubs and colonial buildings dotting the island add to Bermuda’s quaint, laidback charm.
Bermuda’s hospitality scene isn’t exactly contemporary, with many of the island’s most popular hotels dating back to the 19th century, complemented by a number of unspecial smaller establishments. Think lots of chintz and multitudinous overstuffed sofas. So, when Bermuda’s first new-build hotel in 45 years opened its swishy doors, it was always going to be something of a game changer.
In stark contrast to the island’s traditional British-colonial style (which is evident pretty much everywhere in Bermuda), The Loren is all sleek finishing, clean lines and angles.
Set on the stunning South Shore of the island which boasts some of Bermuda’s most beautiful beaches, The Loren straddles two of them, and is just ten minutes away from the airport. The capital, Hamilton, is 15 minutes away.
Inside, light and airiness prevail, and the lobby is more akin to the stylish living room of a well-to-do friend than a hotel. Chintzy and overstuffed The Loren is not. Contemporary and design forward it most certainly is, and the sophisticated colour palette is carried through to its very 45 generous guest rooms, all of which boast gorgeous bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, deep freestanding tubs, twin sinks, MALIN+GOETZ toiletries and custom flip-flops.
Outside, the infinity pool is carved into a cliff, is more for cooling-off in rather than exercising, and is so close to the ocean that bathers get splashed by sea spray. A bijou spa offers a range of rather good bespoke treatments using natural botanicals and French skincare brand Yon-ka. There’s a post-golfing massage, a hairdresser to tame unruly locks and The Loren has a tie-up with The Mid Ocean Golf Club five minutes-drive away. It may have been a long time coming, but The Loren is most certainly a hospitality hole in one for Bermuda.
Is there a discerning globetrotter on the planet who hasn’t heard of Beverly Hills? From luxury hotels and world-class shopping, to celebrated restaurants and celebrity homes, Rodeo Drive, renowned art galleries and the iconic 90210 zip code, Beverly Hills is undoubtedly the luxury capital of America. And when it comes to hospitality, it offers everything from boutique hotels to luxury resorts, five-star landmarks and lavish retreats.
Two of the world’s most famous hotels are in Beverly Hills – The Beverly Wilshire and The Beverly Hills Hotel – so was there really room for another luxury hospitality haven? The answer is “yes”, because there’s always room for more luxury in Beverly Hills! And so, after ten years of planning and a construction cost of more than USD1 million per room, the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills threw open its glamorous doors, overlooking the so-called “Golden Triangle” district, and quickly became a favourite amongst California’s movers and shakers.
Conceived by much celebrated French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, Waldorf Astoria’s first West Coast build is overtly opulent at every turn, kicking-off with the soaring, three-tiered lobby bedecked in Lalique, Italian marble, 22-carat gold leaf and polished cherry wood.
Upstairs, the 119 rooms and 51 suites are just as OTT, boasting enormous walk-in closets, floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies that offer views towards the Hollywood Hills and beyond.
On the expansive rooftop deck, LA’s finest tan and chillax around a sparkling saltwater pool and nibble on divine fare prepared by Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s crew. Unsurprisingly, given that the famed New York-based celebrity chef oversees the entire hotel’s dining program, everything one eats at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is top notch and tasty.
For those who never want the party to end, the hotel’s Rolls Royce offers guests complimentary two-mile rides. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more L.A., there’s rooftop yoga on Sundays, complete with views stretching to Griffith Observatory and Hollywood.
Visiting Costa Rica has become increasingly popular in recent years, not least because its strikingly diverse terrain of lush forests, wildlife reserves and tropical beaches offers a little something for every traveller. Beach lovers head to Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula’s palm-fringed coastline for sun and surf. Nature-seekers make their way to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca before venturing inland to zip line over the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and hike up Arenal Volcano. Native Costa Ricans being incredibly tourist-friendly and welcoming people from all over the world with open arms is fuelling the country’s gentle tourism boom. And a growing number of Costa Ricans (especially in the tourist industry and professional fields) speak English.
A beautiful, car-free and entirely walkable new beach town, situated along the shores of the Pacific in Guanacaste province in the northwest of the country, Las Catalinas was purpose-built to create a healthy, sustainable, fulfilling and fun lifestyle for its residents and visitors, and make it easy to connect with nature. And the water in the bay of Catalinas – on both sandy Danta and its smaller companion beach Danita – is incredibly calm for central America, making it perfect for SUP and snorkelling.
Perched above Danta Beach, Santarena Hotel taps into Catalinas’ boho lifestyle, not least with its organic approach to wellness and dining. The elevated local cuisine is strictly farm-to-fork with a focus on sustainability. And guests are encouraged to make the most of their stay by hiking and mountain biking through the tropical forest inland or kayaking and scuba diving along the coast.
Back at base, 45 individually-designed rooms feature king-sized beds, timber floors fashioned from sustainable woods and large bathrooms with locally sourced amenities. Most boast private balconies adorned with handmade Cuban-style pressed tiles. Neutral colour palettes offset with bursts of aqua and sea blue provide a calming yet vibrant atmosphere.
A roof-top lounge and swimming pool completes the offering to make Santarena Hotel the perfect base from which to explore Costa Rica’s coastline and tropical dry forest.
Kettner’s, the Soho restaurant founded in 1867 by a man once thought to be a former chef of Napoleon III, has been reborn as an affordably glamorous hotel and restaurant courtesy of the Soho House group (the private members club which backs onto Kettner’s).
In its heyday, it’s said that Auguste Kettner’s establishment was the location of trysts between Edward VII and actress Lillie Langtry, who were able to rendezvous thanks to a network of tunnels between the restaurant and Palace Theatre across the road. Oscar Wilde became a regular. Later, so was Agatha Christie.
In restoring and enhancing the beautiful building’s many listed features, the upstairs “cabinets particulier” dining rooms, (apparently home to much naughtiness in the past), have been transformed into 33 rather spiffing bedrooms, which mix French-inspired touches with William Morris headboards, are heavy on pattern and texture yet retain their original Georgian fireplaces and wooden floorboards.
The room to book is the first floor 80sqm Grade II-listed Jacobean Suite, which not only boasts a spacious art nouveau-decorated living and dining area, but also a large freestanding copper bath and its own private entrance onto Greek street. (From GBP800 per night)
Meanwhile, downstairs, the creamy, delicate plasterwork, listed mouldings and original mirrors of the restaurant and two bars have been returned to their former glory – thankfully without losing Kettner’s slightly naughty past. Even the mosaic floor in the champagne bar was painstakingly restored.
Thus, has begun another chapter in the history of a Soho institution that first brought French cuisine to London. And, whilst no tunnels were discovered during the renovation, arranging a discreet tête-à-tête at today’s Kettner’s (especially in the Jacobean Suite) is infinitely much easier than it was 150 years ago.
Blessed by a dramatic topography of undulating ocean bays with ribbons of seemingly endless white sand beaches framed by lush mountains, Rio’s natural advantages and good looks automatically propel it to the top of the world’s most stunning metropoles.
The Rio of the 1950s and 1960s gave us sultry Bossa Nova and a sensual interpretation of mid-century modern architecture and design. Ipanema Beach, Immortalised forever in Antônio Carlos Jobim’s iconic “Girl From Ipanema”, is famous the world over for its long, picture perfect beach, swaying palm trees and scantily-clad beachgoers and volleyball players. Part of Rio’s allure has always been to marry tropical elegance with the casual and an anything goes ethos, to create an intoxicating tonic like no other. It is this Rio that one experiences when staying at Hotel Fasano Rio De Janeiro, which embodies the best of Rio and its motherland.
The Fasano family arrived in Brazil more than a century ago, from Italy, and first established its reputation for attentive and upscale hospitality in São Paulo. Known initially for its gastronomic excellence in cafés and then restaurants, the family opened its São Paulo hotel in 2003 to immediate acclaim. The family’s name has since become a synonym for discreet luxury.
Ideally located in the Arpoador section of Ipanema, the beachfront Fasano in Rio benefits from being on a somewhat quieter part of the beach, affording a sense of intimacy and discretion, while at the same time being a stone’s throw from the cafés, boutiques and parade of gym-toned bodies that make Ipanema so desirable and fun.
Being Philippe Stark’s first hospitality project in Brazil, the Fasano is a love story to Brazilian modernism, known for its ingenious combinations of tropical woods, man-made materials, curvilinear shapes, light shafts and spaces that seamlessly flow from in to outdoors.
Sometimes the Fasano feels dark and clubby, yet at others light and breezy. Irrespective, the results are always pitch perfect and ocean vistas never far away.
The lobby is a symphony of well-considered soft furnishings in leather, carved wood tables and sophisticated upholstery. Cleverly positioned floor-to-ceiling roller blinds reveal walls of windows that look out to garden nooks and more ocean. Philippe Stark’s signature flowing white curtains create theatrical dividers throughout the space.
Upstairs, the 89 rooms and 10 suites continue the tropical-chic look, and play with dark accents, mirrors and natural light to create spaces that are as comfortable as they are easy on the eyes. Be sure to splurge on a deluxe room for unobstructed ocean views.
Onsite Al Mare all day dining restaurant focusses on Italian-inspired seafood. Breakfasts include a kaleidoscope of the freshest and most exotic indigenous tropical fruits available.
The hotel’s moody and sexy bar, Baretto Londra, boasts deep brown leather and cowhide chairs and sofas, and a giant Union Jack flag in homage to London, the owners’ favourite city. Evocative of a British private members’ club, Baretto is a perpetual hot ticket and one of the city’s most exclusive watering holes, particularly over the weekends.
While the gym and spa more than hold their own in the luxury boutique hotel category, it is the rooftop pool that truly impresses and catapults the Rio outpost of Fasano into global best status. The incredible views span the entire oceanfront, all the way down Ipanema past Leblon and to Tijuca mountain range. Sipping a passionfruit caipirinha here at sunset, seated at the poolside rooftop bar, is the epitome of tropical sophistication. Rio is known as the “Cidade Maravilhosa” or “Marvellous City”. Nowhere is it more marvellous than at the Fasano.
Considered by many to be one of Tokyo’s two best neighbourhoods (the other being Shinjuku), Shibuya combines cutting-edge fashion and old-fashioned fun with parks, cultural experiences and tourist attractions. Shibuya’s Center Gai is one of the best places to see Japanese youth culture and Shibuya’s scramble crossing is one of the most photographed sights in Japan. At the very center of this fashion-focused district and just seconds from the epicentre of Harajuku’s famed street fashion culture, Cat Street, TRUNK offers a resolutely “made in Japan” experience that draws from both the traditional and trendsetting aspects of Tokyo life.
Located on a small lane amidst aromatic herb gardens, expanses of recycled woods, grey stone, greenery and tiered balconies adorn the two four-storey buildings which house the hotel and set the slick, contemporary tone.
Designed by Mount Fuji Architects to appear more like a modern home than a place to rest one’s head, fifteen guest rooms designed by Jamo Associates – of differing size, layout and furnishings – create a contrasting conceptual dialogue. Upcycled materials overtly meet Japanese craftsmanship throughout the property. Monochrome bathroom tiling, organic Japanese toiletries and vintage-style Roland radio speakers sit side-by-side with warm custom-made wooden furniture (by cult Osaka designer Truck), patchwork wall hangings and contemporary Japanese artworks. The sprawling Terrace Suite can sleep up to 14 people.
Quite apart from the guest accommodations, the hotel’s epicentre is its super social restaurant cum bar TRUNK (KITCHEN), which overlooks a terrace and feels more like an elegant home than hotel. The food combines elements of Japanese food culture with many other diverse food cultures to create multinational fare. Think Wagyu hamburgers and Shibuya-made burrata. It you want to make a night of it, book the chef’s table which overlooks the kitchen.
There is also a traditional local kushiyaki grilled food outlet TRUNK (KUSHI), an event space and onsite store. All-in-all, TRUNK is a welcome and creative addition to Tokyo’s hotel scene.
Off the southeast coast of Africa, pretty much everything about isolated Madagascar is special. 5% of all known animal and plant species on the planet are to be found here, on the world’s fourth-largest island, but getting to it all is quite literally a mission, not least since Madagascar’s roads are dreadful. However, for those who relish an adventure, Madagascar is a one-of-a-kind adventure and an utterly unique wildlife destination, where the incredible diversity of landscapes and abundance of endemic animals, flora and fauna far outweigh the lack of creature comforts.
Since the unveiling of Miavana, situated on the private island of Nosy Ankao off the country’s northeastern shore (Madagascar has 5,000km of coastline), travellers and wannabe explorers have been able to recover from their energetic daytime adventures in super luxe surroundings.
Fringed by white sand beaches and sprawling coral reefs, Miavana quite literally feels like a haven of luxury at the end of the earth and is undoubtedly one of the most exclusive beach resorts in Africa. Set within the Loky Manambato Protected Area, which is essentially a marine park of pristine coral reefs, enables guests to snorkel, dive, fish and even whale-watch literally just off-shore. Two helicopters also ferry guests to nearby islands and Miavana’s staff will even set up a private sleep-out under the stars.
Guests are accommodated in 14 individual solar-powered villas ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. Mid-century-style furniture fills their rooms and flowing soft turquoise curtains line their floor-to-ceiling windows. All villas face the sea on the western side of the island and provide their occupants with total privacy. Needless to say, all come with shimmering private pools and round-the-clock butler service, making staying at Miavana the ultimate destination for the modern adventurer and quite possibly the most exclusive castaway escape on the continent.
Every cultured traveller knows that San Francisco is positively brimming with charm. Countless cultural attractions, great shopping, superb restaurants and happening bars – the city has it all. And it has a number of super deluxe hotels to accommodate discerning travellers. But one thing San Fran was lacking, on the hospitality front, was a hip ’n’ funky hotel – somewhere that trend setting travellers and globetrotting hipsters could hang out, be creative and rest their artistic heads.
This all changed in late 2017, when the Golden City finally got the design-led boutique lodgings it so desperately needed, and the Proper opened in a historic flatiron building erected in 1904 by the city’s pioneer of lavish Beaux-Arts architecture, Albert Pissison, located at Market Street between Seventh and Sixth streets. Today, the building sits in the heart of San Francisco’s emerging Mid-Market neighbourhood, where elite tech companies inhabiting abandoned landmarks and Michelin-starred chefs opening upscale eateries are gradually regenerating this funky part of downtown.
Inspired by the historic building’s colourful past, renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler took a warm approach when kitting out its insides and filled it with a cheerful pastiche of classic and modern styles. Deep colours, rich textures, classic design pieces and vintage furniture positively clash with bold fabrics and mad wallpaper, making walking into the Proper a unique assault on the visual senses and an Instagrammer’s dream. Staff wear check suits with striped shirts and floral ties which project a fun, fresh and fashionable aesthetic which sits well within the hotel’s urban setting, with Union Square’s designer shops, theatres and SFMOMA all just five blocks away.
Upstairs, the Proper’s 131 guest rooms (including 11 suites) are considerately furnished to provide a functional, Scandinavian-esque stay experience, laden with enough cool touches to keep even the most tech savvy happy. TVs come with Google Chromecast and all rooms boast wireless bluetooth-enabled Vifa speakers so guests can stream their own entertainment. Bedside tablets facilitate room service, local recommendations and reservations for meals and complimentary bicycles. Slick bathrooms have walk-in rain showers and Aesop toiletries. Tucked into the awkward spaces at the thinnest edge of the building are a dozen bunk rooms sold at lower rates.
The Proper’s three F&B venues are hung with local artworks by a variety of emerging talent, connecting the venue to the pulse of the neighbourhood.
A flowing social space off the lobby, Villon’s exec chef Jason Franey spent six years at Eleven Madison Park in NYC before heading to the west coast, where his contemporary American menu draws inspiration from San Francisco’s bountiful culinary culture and plentiful seasonal ingredients.
Thankfully hotel residents are given preference at the Proper’s rooftop bar, Charmaine, which routinely has locals queueing down the block.
On street level, La Bande is the perfect place to people watch and observe the bustling city, thanks to its double-height glass sides providing giant vistas down Market Street and McAllister.
Still the coolest hotel in town well over a year after it threw open its playful doors and screamed its arrival, the Proper is so on trend it’s little wonder that it has become a destination unto itself. Be sure to book well before you arrive in town.