Rest Your Head - THE MIDDLE HOUSE

THE MIDDLE HOUSEShanghai, China

Shanghai is not short of top-end hotels. On the contrary, deluxe properties seem to be popping-up in China’s biggest city at breakneck speed. Just this year alone has seen stunning Amanyangyun, health and wellness-driven Anandi Hotel & Spa, and Las Vegas’ famous Bellagio all open in Shanghai, the latter minus the casino but replete with all the glitz of its American namesake.
Located in historic Dazhongli neighbourhood in the heart of Shanghai’s popular Jing’an district, the newest addition to Swire Hotels’ hospitality portfolio and the fourth property from the super-stylish House Collective (the group behind the gorgeous Upper House in Hong Kong which The Cultured Traveller reviewed in issue 8 issuu.com/theculturedtraveller/docs/08/44), The Middle House was inspired by the city’s rich heritage of craftsmanship and culture.
Courtesy of renowned Italian designer and architect Piero Lissoni, contemporary design has been blended with traditional Asian elements in 111 guest rooms and suites plus 102 serviced apartments, throughout which bold lines and clean silhouettes prevail by way of custom furniture inspired by traditional Chinese pieces, transparent room dividers and original Chinese artwork alongside rich dark woods and sumptuous white linens. Whilst the result is a chic blend of Shanghainese decor and a contemporary Italian approach to interiors – offering guests a much-needed sensory respite from the pulsating metropolis outside and a veritable oasis of calm in one of the world’s busiest cities – the overall style is sealed by the outstanding art collection which runs throughout the hotel.
Curated by Alison Pickett, who is responsible for all House Collective’s art-centric hotel interiors, the theme at The Middle House is ‘I Dream of China’, which has been brought to life via more than 650 cutting-edge pieces liberally scattered throughout the property: from an extraordinary Chinese robe covered in 12,000 ceramic butterflies which hangs in the lobby, to striking by Richard Winkworth paintings in Café Gray Deluxe restaurant, overlooking buzzing Nanjing West Road, where guests can indulge in New York¬-based chef Gray Kunz’s signature mix of modern European cuisine made with Asian ingredients. Elsewhere there are two further restaurants for guests to feast in: homely Italian Frasca and contemporary Chinese Sui Tang Li.
The Middle House’s seemingly immaculate design aesthetic flows into the hotel’s basement, which accommodates a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and HYPOXI room, plus a superb spa, where a signature Chi Ling Lian facial will almost certainly put you right post-flight.

Rest Your Head - 1902 TOWNHOUSE

1902 TOWNHOUSEMallorca, Spain

The largest of the Balearics in the Mediterranean, you don’t have to dig too deep to discover that the old-school island of Mallorca boasts much more than beautiful weather and gorgeous beaches. A rich history, ruggedly dramatic interior landscapes, delicious fare and excellent local wines lend Mallorca a unique quality, complete with a picturesque coastline and sensational vistas at every turn.
Pristine coves sparkle with crystal waters. Historic towns and medieval villages stand side-by-side with glamorous seaside resorts and a charismatic capital presided over by a glorious Gothic cathedral. Culture and nature abound. And a variety of accommodation options cater to every class of traveller, ranging from traditional Spanish fincas to wellness retreats and five star hotels to design-savvy boutique properties.
Located in the island’s craggy north-west corner and set in a beautiful valley studded with citrus trees, Sóller is a traditional Majorcan town close to the sea, embraced by mountains and surrounded by woodland. It is impossible not to wake up in Sóller and smell the oranges, since the whole area is quite literally filled with trees laden with citrus fruits.
40 minutes’ drive from Palma airport and a five-minute stroll from Sóller’s main square, 1902 Townhouse is an elegant 20th-century townhouse that has been lovingly refurbished by its expat London owners to create a chic, clean and contemporary six-bedroom boutique property. Can Prunera Museu Modernista, located within an old art nouveau mansion built in the early 20th century, is also a few minutes’ walk away.
Thanks to gracious hosts Pete Holman and Martin Grant, guests at 1902 uniquely enjoy a warm and personal service, with all requests met with genuine care and attention.
Generously proportioned rooms are easy on the eye with Mediterranean textiles, neutral walls and furniture crafted by local artisans punctuated by textured feature wallpaper panels and modern chandeliers. King-sized beds are dressed with fine pillows and deep duvets, while spacious bathrooms boast twin sinks and walk-in rain showers. Nespresso machines, smart TVs, air-con and a superb three-course breakfast menu fulfil the needs of even the most discerning modern-day traveller.

Rest Your Head - SUNDY PRAIA

SUNDY PRAIASão Tomé and Principe

As it recovers from a dark history and its native wildlife thrives, sustainable tourism is transforming the twin West African islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, which together form one of the world’s smallest nations.
Quite honestly, it is something of a miracle that these two stunning equatorial islands, which lie 210 km off the coast of West Africa, have remained under the tourist radar for quite so long. Part of the reason that these former Portuguese colonies have been overlooked is that they have lacked the kind of properties to attract all but the most adventurous traveller.
Then, eight years ago, tech billionaire Mark Shuttleworth visited Príncipe, the smaller and quieter of the two islands but still a riot of dense jungle and volcanic rock. Shuttleworth fell in love with the place and its people, bought the island and embarked upon a dynamic investment programme in tandem with an enthusiastic president. The result is a harnessing of sustainable tourism to reinvigorate Príncipe’s ailing economy, provide employment and protect the island’s fragile ecosystem. The island’s dark history of slavery was completely flipped. Plantations that once exploited Angolans and Cape Verdeans were transformed into hotels, organic farms and small-scale co-operatives.
Fashioned by French architect Didier Lefort and located on a secluded Príncipe bay, handsome Sundy Praia lodge consists of 15 seriously smart and spacious tented villas, beautifully designed and elegantly furnished. Each boasts a mammoth stone bath standing in a windowed alcove; a huge bed offering stunning vistas of the beach and sea through floor-to-ceiling windows, and a private pool on a sprawling timber wooden deck. Toiletries, spa products and even mini-bar snacks are made using organic and sustainable local ingredients. Everything is cocooned using indigenous plants, soaring bamboos and massive trees populated by monkeys and 28 bird species found nowhere else on earth. The oldest of three oceanic volcanic islands in the Gulf of Guinea, the whole of Príncipe was declared a UNESCO biosphere in 2012 since it’s an area of great interest for the conservation of global biological diversity. So, if you are craving a Galapagos-like adventure in Africa, a visit to Sundy Praia on Príncipe will surely not disappoint.

Rest Your Head - THE MERCHANT HOUSE

THE MERCHANT HOUSEManama, Bahrain

Hospitality guru and former Hotelier of the Year, Gordon Campbell Gray, has a distinct knack for knowing exactly how to showcase the best of a destination in properties he conceptualises and develops from scratch. This is almost certainly the result of Campbell Gray’s natural sense of style and fine eye for design, both of which seem attuned to the needs of discerning 21st century travellers, who care less for gimmicks and more for quality, functionality and good design.
A dedicated art lover and natural taste maker, Campbell Gray’s abhorration of needless excess is renowned and comes across in every hotel he touches. Personally involved in every aspect of the creation, design and philosophy of each Campbell Gray property to date, the brand’s latest opening in the Bahraini city of Manama further illustrates his skill for beautifully fusing culture and hospitality in a hotel setting.
There is nothing quite like staying at a Campbell Gray property and this is evident from the moment The Cultured Traveller steps into the arrivals hall at Bahrain airport to be met by a smartly suited ambassador for The Merchant House. Moments later, a gleaming dark blue Maserati Quattroporte – branded with The Merchant House logo – is whisking The Cultured Traveller in rich leather-clad luxury towards Manama’s financial district.
Located next to the vibrant Bab el-Bahrain souk, close to the Old Customs House, the opening of the Kingdom’s first five-star deluxe boutique property earlier this year comes at a time when downtown Manama is being revived and a new generation of Bahrainis are looking for cool places to socialise. Nowhere is this more evident than The Merchant’s House rooftop bar and restaurant, Indigo, which just a few months after opening is already attracting the city’s movers and shakers on a regular basis and has become the go-to gathering spot for Bahrain’s most cultured set.
Helmed by former Nobu Shoreditch chef Rob Shipman, a broad menu of classic dishes, Mediterranean fare and Asian-fusion offerings is universally executed with panache and delivered to tables by a well-trained team. Slick and friendly service is a hallmark of Campbell Gray Hotels which hasn’t been overlooked in Bahrain. The comprehensive breakfast menu includes Eggs Shakshouka which is not an easy dish to pull off to such perfection. The rooftop also features a small 24-hour gym, glass-sided lap pool and sun terrace – all perfectly formed and beautifully executed.
Downstairs, 46 suites across seven floors are separated by wide corridors hung with wonderful original artworks that are lit like a gallery, making walking to one’s suite an intense visual pleasure.
Each suite features an open-plan kitchenette and dining area, as well as a sitting room designed to appeal to both business and leisure travellers alike. Jura coffee machines are standard in even the entry level rooms of Campbell Gray hotels and guests are furnished with jugs of fresh milk upon request. Beds are dressed in the finest linens. Bathrooms are ergonomically designed and feature huge walk-in showers. It’s usually impossible to fault the design of a Campbell Gray room and The Merchant House’s suites are no exception.
A bijou onsite spa with a pair of treatment rooms restores weary travellers to a state of equilibrium using the finest aromatherapy oils and organic skincare products.
On the mezzanine level, a carefully curated collection of hundreds of books lines the walls of the library, divided by armchairs which beg to be sat in and more artwork adorning the walls, including revered pieces by Chagall and Matisse.
The ground floor is home to a double-height rock-star lobby, reception area and café, its walls covered with huge statement works which set the tone for the entire, super-stylish property.
Dropping anchor at The Merchant House, even for just one night, is so much more than staying at a hotel. It’s like checking into a lovingly curated design-led art installation, with a sumptuous bed thrown in for good measure. If you can swing through Bahrain to experience it – do!

Rest Your Head - SO/ Bangkok

SO/ BANGKOKBangkok, Thailand

In a hot and hectic city like Bangkok, staying in a well-organised centrally-located hotel, with slick service, spacious lodgings and multiple dining options, is a must. Otherwise, you stand little chance of properly experiencing the city and surviving the day-meets-night madness in one piece!
SO/ Bangkok is the perfect place to put down your cases for a long weekend immersion in the Thai capital, perfectly juxtaposing luxury facilities with modern conveniences and attentive yet unobtrusive service, all seamlessly delivered in one purpose-built fun-loving hospitality tower. Complete with a superb onsite spa, sophisticated fine-dining restaurant and a happening rooftop bar, SO/ Bangkok quite literally has it all.
When staying at SO/ Bangkok the experience starts at BKK airport, where one of the hotel’s leather-lined BMW 5-Series saloons or long wheel base Mini Clubmans whisk guests in air-conditioned comfort through the teeming Bangkok streets to their slick home-away-from-home. Arriving at one’s hotel relaxed and unstressed is undoubtedly the secret to tackling the Thai capital head-on and making the most of your visit.
Located in a prime position on the corner of Sathorn and Rama IV Roads, on arrival at the hotel, suite guests and VIPs are whisked directly to the sophisticated 25th floor Christian Lacroix-designed “Club Signature” executive lounge to check-in at leisure over a refreshing cocktail. Here, the hotel’s premium guests enjoy complimentary à la carte breakfast, high tea, evening cocktails and snacks every day, in peaceful and refined surroundings.
The hotel’s 237 themed guest rooms and suites have been thoughtfully designed around the natural elements of metal, wood, earth and water. Since each was conceptualised by a different artist, the design features vary between all four, providing guests with differing stay experiences depending upon their chosen theme. Irrespective, all rooms feature dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows opening out to expansive park or city views, over-sized bathtubs, walk-in showers, huge beds and every creature comfort one needs to handle a city as vibrant as Bangkok. If your budget permits, book a spacious SO Suite on a high floor to luxuriate in the space, entertain guests in the separate lounge and gaze upon the twinkling city below.
Whether visiting Bangkok on business or pleasure, no visit to Thailand is complete without a professional Thai massage, to either relax you after a long flight or soothe overworked muscles after a tough work-out. Inspired by the Southeast Asian myth of the Himmapan Forest – said to be located below the Buddhist heavens in the Himalayas and invisible to the eyes of mortals who can never approach or enter – the hotel’s SoSPA on the 10th floor is a veritable urban retreat from non-stop metropolitan life, and the perfect place to take a few hours out to rebalance and cleanse your mind, body and spirit.
On the same level, saunas, steam rooms, a well-equipped gym boasting views towards Lumpini Park, a yoga studio, 32-metre infinity pool complete with rows of sun loungers and a large lawned “Solarium” garden complete the luxury leisure facilities afforded to guests staying at SO/ Bangkok. And once a month international DJs land on the 10th floor to ramp up the volume for the hotel’s legendary 8-hour SO Pool parties, providing an uber-chic music-led gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Gourmands are as well catered for as health enthusiasts at SO/ Bangkok, with a range of F&B venues to suit every palette. On street level, a high-end coffee bar churns out some of the best lattés in the city, whilst gourmet chocolatier “Chocolab” produces decadent treats for guests to indulge in. You can even sign up for a chocolate cooking class and make your own truffles to take home.
Named after the restaurant’s French centrepiece Molteni oven, 7th floor Red Oven is set out like a street food market and is open all day every from 6.30am daily, serving everything from local fare and regional Asian dishes to fresh seafood, Japanese robata-style grilled meats and excellent sushi.
Characterised by moody lighting and modern fine dining, Park Society on the 29th floor is a destination venue for a celebratory meal or a romantic rendezvous over delectable cuisine.
Crowning the property is HI-SO, the hotel’s jumping split-level rooftop bar, which boasts spectacular views over Lumpini Park towards the Bangkok cityscape beyond. The views from HI-SO never tire and it’s the perfect meeting place to start, end or spend the entire night.
With so much to see, do, eat and drink at super-stylish SO/ Bangkok, guests are invariably spoilt for choice, making a return visit virtually unavoidable.

Rest Your Head - THE VICEROY

THE VICEROYChicago, U.S.A.

Located in Chicago’s Gold Coast tree-lined neighbourhood with its streets of brownstones, and built on the site of the former 1920s Cedar Hotel, The Viceroy boasts a distinctive architectural twist in that its marries the carefully preserved reconstructed brick and terracotta façade of the old hotel with a gleaming new 18-floor pleated glass tower. In a city which is famed for its bold architecture and a skyline punctuated by skyscrapers, The Viceroy is a fittingly cool architectural statement on the outside which doesn’t disappoint on the inside.
Guests are greeted by a soaring marble-floored lobby dominated by an enormous blue poetry wall filled with quotations by Marcel Proust. This imposing and impressive space, known as The Library, is just a taste of things to come throughout the 180-room property, which is crowned by a huge penthouse suite, a top floor cocktail lounge and a rooftop pool open during the warmer months.
Bedrooms are bedecked in gold wallpaper, rich velvety curtains and mid-century-modern furniture and punctuated by retro touches and Art Moderne flourishes. Bathrooms are spacious with two sinks, deep tubs and separate glass-enclosed showers laden with Natura Bissé body products and ROIL hair care treatments. Rooms on higher floors offers amazing views of the surrounding cityscape. Pets are welcome for 50 Dollars per night but are limited to two per room!
Elsewhere in this sleek urban haven you will find yoga and meditation classes plus an opulent all-day-dining restaurant which routinely offers seasonal dishes courtesy of celebrated Michelin-starred chef Lee Wolen. There is even a Tesla to whizz guests round the neighbourhood in eco-friendly style.

Rest Your Head - VERRIDE PALÁCIO SANTA CATARINA

VERRIDE PALÁCIO SANTA CATARINALisbon, Portugal

Somewhat stealthily, in recent years Lisbon has emerged as a must visit weekend destination at the top of many a discerning traveller’s list, the city’s charismatic mix of Baroque and 19th-century buildings and scenic bay forming a large part of the Portuguese capital’s allure.

Located in the city’s hipster Chiado quarter and straddling two distinct districts from its perch on the crest of hilltop Santa Catarina, famous for its views over Lisbon’s red roofs and the Atlantic, handsome painstakingly restored four-storey 18th-century Verride Palace houses 18 luxe rooms (including two sumptuous suites), all lavishly adorned with original rococo stucco work and fine furnishings, wrapped in a muted palate of light browns and greys and lined with raw linens and pale silks.

In skilfully and meticulously restoring the palace’s Pombalino interiors, architect Teresa Nunes da Ponte walked a fine line between retaining the ancient but still beautiful bones of the building, whilst injecting a sophisticated yet edgy modernity. The result is truly breathtaking and nothing short of a visual treat. Sumptuous oversized beds are dressed in 800-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. Bathrooms are a minimalist’s dream executed in marble and limestone, apart from the one in the grand Queen’s Suite, where hand-painted tiles surround a stark, white oversized oval tub. Original coffered wooden ceilings and Portuguese and Greek marble in the public spaces have all been lovingly restored. And a graceful, spiral wrought iron staircase twirls upwards throughout the building’s old limestone walls, linking all floors of this delightful revitalised palace. Two restaurants complete Verride’s palatial offering with breakfast served poolside as Lisbon wakes below you. If sleeping like royalty and dining like a king appeals, you best stay at Verride.

Rest Your Head - Swissôtel The Stamford

SWISSÔTEL THE STAMFORDSingapore

Despite Vegas-like behemoth Marina Bay Sands somewhat hogging Singapore’s hospitality limelight, I.M.Pei-designed Swissôtel The Stamford remains one of the city’s most desirable addresses for its incredible views, excellent facilities, superb location and easy access to Singapore’s stores and eateries. And following a recent top-to-bottom refurb of its 1,252 rooms and suites spread over 73 floors, the Stamford offers some of the best value and most spacious rooms in town: entry level Premier rooms are a very respectable 40 square metres of beautifully functional space, complete with stunning city views from private balconies that really instil a sense of being in Singapore.
Located at City Hall MRT station – with direct links to the East-West and North-South lines, which will take you almost anywhere in Singapore – makes staying at the Stamford the ideal choice for a first time visitor who wants to get around quickly and see as much as possible. Pick-up a local SIM for SGD 15 in the shopping mall under the hotel and you’re good to go!
Perched on levels 64 and 66 of the Stamford, The Cultured Traveller road-tested one of the hotel’s 26 redesigned Crest Suites, which skilfully marry Swiss sophistication, precision and simplicity with deluxe facilities, 21st-century technologies and contemporary hospitality touches. Replete with inimitable sweeping panoramic vistas of Singapore Bay towards Gardens By The Bay and the Singapore Strait beyond, make these Crest Suites some of the most desirable and well-designed lodgings in the city, and the perfect base from which to explore. The views alone from a Crest Suite are quite literally breathtaking.
Feeling very much like a chic city-centre apartment, every Crest Suite boasts separate living and sleeping rooms characterised and unified by the liberal use of woods imparting a sense of warmth throughout.
In the spacious living room, an oversized modular sofa, large ergonomic desk, various bijou side tables and a 65-inch television all function efficiently and make lounging and working in the space an utter delight. A variety of beautiful detailing throughout the rooms, channelling a Swiss aesthetic of innovation and simplicity, lend an air of restrained sophistication to the entire space. The solid wood flooring includes hexagonal inserts reminiscent of a Swiss lodge. Subtle references to the Swiss cross are apparent in stitchings, book shelves, robe hooks, door pulls and wall details. Even the rugs echo the timber flooring in their design. Contemporary artwork subtly weaves Singaporean and Swiss subjects into a continuous narrative. The Swiss home-away-from-home aesthetic is completed by the liberal use of vases, accessories and books carefully placed on the shelves of floor-to-ceiling bookcases which fill an entire wall of each room.
Next door in the generous bedroom, a large armchair begs to be sat in and one of the bedside tables appears to be a modern take on a Swiss life-saving brandy barrel. Everything is controlled by easy-to-use buttons on either side of the bed which operate the curtains, lights and air-flow. Another 65-inch screen directly facing the bed makes spending a night under the duvet watching a movie a very tempting prospect.
Separated from the bedroom by a glass partition, guests can luxuriate in a deep soaking tub while peering out towards Singapore’s skyline. A walk-in shower, his and hers sinks and luxe fixtures by Laufen complete the ample bathroom. Plus there is a guest half bath in the suite’s entrance foyer.
On the 65th floor, guests staying in Crest Suites are afforded entry to a private gym and access to the exclusive “Living Room” for complimentary breakfast, all day soft drinks, evening bites and wines, the latter being just what the doctor ordered after a busy day pounding Singapore’s streets!
For a suite stay at a sweet price in almost certainly the best location in Singapore, the Stamford’s Crest Suites are hard to beat on numerous levels and have undoubtedly injected I.M.Pei’s iconic hospitality tower with a new sophisticated lease of life.

Rest Your Head - HABITAS

HABITASTulum, Mexico

Tulum’s spectacular coastline, 1,000-year old ruins, new age vibe, cobalt waters and idyllic beaches have made this trendy yoga town 90 minutes south of Cancun one of Mexico’s hottest travel destinations.
Formerly a sleepy beach resort, even non sun worshippers find it hard to resist Tulum’s white sand beaches, balmy breezes and swaying palms. Coupled with a smattering of world-class nightlife including beach parties, happening bars and jumping jungle-shrouded restaurants, it’s not hard to see why Tulum has become a perennial favourite amongst upwardly mobile millennials especially.
Built in collaboration with local carpenters and artisans, sustainability is key at environmentally-aware Habitas, a boutique lifestyle hotel with a hippie-chic vibe, cocooned in Tulum’s beachfront jungle. Offering everything and more to satisfy savvy millennial travellers, booking one of Habitas’ tent-like lodgings is to commit to a full-on eco experience.
Arriving guests are invited to take pinches of ground copal-tree resin (prized by the Mayans for its spiritual properties) and sprinkle it on glowing embers while mindfully releasing their worries.
Habitas’ 32 roughly-hewn but stylish guest rooms are built on elevated platforms so as to not disrupt the area and surrounding jungle. Each is constructed from indigenous materials including a natural palapa roof. Inside, furniture is handmade from local hardwood and married with raffia lamps, vintage dressers, animal hide stools, mismatched rugs and local textiles. Bathrooms feature private outdoor rain showers and bespoke all-natural toiletries. Sliding glass doors on semi-enclosed terraces open up to vistas of the Caribbean Sea crashing over slate grey rocks.
In the resort’s clubhouse (the only fixed structure onsite), using local ingredients, chef Federico Cappi creates delectable fare such as wood-fired octopus with purple-sweet-potato purée and cheesecake made with goat’s curd and served with guavas and pistachios.
Visit Habitas to vacation sustainably and revitalise your mind, body and soul.

Rest Your Head - MOMBO CAMP

MOMBO CAMPOkavango Delta, Botswana

Designed to take full advantage of its incredible location and offering unparalleled luxury in the thick of the African wilderness, Mombo Camp and Little Mombo (next door) together offer a dozen super deluxe tents on the northern tip of Chief’s Island, within the Okavango Delta’s 45,000-hectare Moremi Game Reserve.
Chief’s Island is so named because at 70 km long it is the largest isle within the delta; was once the sole hunting ground of the local chief and is quite possibly home to the richest concentration of wildlife in Botswana. Consequently, the plains surrounding the camp are teeming all year round, making Mombo one of the most lusted-after safari destinations in the world for more than three decades.
The camp’s design aesthetic is distinctly vintage throughout (think antique brass, Chesterfields, clubby chairs, embroidered cushions and a tonal colour palette) combined with top-end luxuries including crisp Belgian bedding and handmade Mervyn Gers ceramics.
A regularly changing menu offers everything from nourishing buddha bowls, pastas and curries to blow-out burgers with truffle fries, all of which is served wherever and whenever guests wish. Home-cooked breakfasts, brunch, late lunches, afternoon tea on your private terrace while watching zebras meander by or dining under the stars are all possible at Mombo, where nothing is too much trouble for the camp’s gracious staff, many of whom have been at the camp for years.
In between game drives, guests can partake of a private yoga class, relax in the library, swim in the infinity pool, have a massage in the small onsite spa or workout in the gym which boasts views of giraffe and other wildlife gently grazing on the plains. There’s no wi-fi or TV at Mombo, but who needs television when you’re surrounded by the best live wildlife show on the planet?

Rest Your Head - BRANCO

BRANCOMykonos, Greece

Located on one of Mykonos’ most popular beaches, providing endless people watching opportunities during the summer months when literally thousands of people descend upon Platis Yialos attracted by its golden sands and crystalline waters, boutique hotel Branco popped-up last year in the very middle of the melange introducing another design-led fashion-forward hospitality offering to the painfully hip Greek island.
Something of a contemporary take on classic Myconian architecture, designers K-Studio skilfully combined mid-century modern styling with Cycladic minimalism in a classic cluster of whitewashed cubes. Inside, natural materials in earthy and sandy tones are married with pale wood furnishings and slate grey floors, allowing vistas of the turquoise Aegean to shine.
Deluxe Sea View rooms come with a private sun lounger adjacent to the pool, where visually pleasing staff attired in khaki linen swish around serving fruit platters and hand-crafted cocktails to guests, to a trippy soundtrack of house beats.
Meanwhile, in the pergola-covered restaurant, an inspired menu curated by Athinagoras Kostakos spans the gamut of health-conscious salads, Greek dishes and global fare. Wagyu souvlaki is a favourite, as are Branco’s special Bloody Marys made with horseradish vodka, homemade Worcester sauce, local tomatoes and salted Greek honey.
For those who don’t mind missing out of the poolside parade for an hour or two, detox massages are a speciality in Branco’s spa cabana on busy Platis Yialos beach. For when you are staying at Branco, even when you’re having a massage, you’re still in the middle of it all. That’s Mykonos for you.

Rest Your Head - W KUALA LUMPUR

W KUALA LUMPURKuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A sure sign of Kuala Lumpur’s continued growth, the skyline of Malaysia’s sultry capital, once dominated by the Petronas Towers, is increasingly becoming filled with new skyscrapers and high-rise developments. Whilst the Islamic-inspired 88-storey Cesar Pelli-designed buildings are still the world’s tallest twin structures, they will soon be dwarfed by the new Exchange 106 tower once it has topped out in the new fast-rising financial district a dozen blocks away.
A veritable feast for all the senses, visitor numbers to Kuala Lumpur have been steadily growing year-on-year, driven by an interest in the local Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures balanced with a constant drive to be moving at the same speed as the rest of the modern world. This increase in tourists visiting KL has spawned a spurt of new hotel openings, including a swanky St. Regis and a funky Aloft.
Undoubtedly topping the bill in the city’s fashion stakes, and located in the very center of KL just a few minutes’ walk from KLCC, 150-room W Kuala Lumpur opened towards the end of last year, after a delay of many years. Housed on floors 8 through 24 of a 55-storey tower, and fronted by an eye-catching glass and aluminium facade, it was almost certainly worth the wait, not least for the hotel’s WET Deck on the 12th floor which is dominated by an incredible vista of the Petronas Towers.
Views from the guest rooms facing the towers are similarly breathtaking and the hotel really makes the most of its superb position, which affords guests easy access to massive Suria KLCC shopping mall and public transportation facilities. Countless bars and restaurants are also close-by, should you tire of the hotel’s many in-house F&B offerings.
As with all W properties the focus is on flirtatious fun and so a sense of playful decadence is unsurprisingly apparent throughout the hotel. Yet, Veritas Design Group which collaborated with American firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill have struck just the right balance between playfulness and luxury at W Kuala Lumpur, with all of the hotel’s F&B venues being bright, vibrant and slick without being at all tacky.
The hotel’s signature restaurant YEN serves a contemporary take on traditional Cantonese cuisine in a modern-imperial setting.
All-day dining restaurant FLOCK is all about its open kitchen concept, where chefs serve Australian-style farm-to-table dishes made using organic produce, with a focus on sustainability.
WOOBAR is the hotel’s chic all-day meeting place, where inventive cocktails and a vast array of spirits are offered and weekend DJs ramp up the volume.
Helmed by chef patron Emmanuel Stroobant, contemporary French restaurant SAINT PIERRE is privately-owned, but has already earned a Michelin star at its Singapore location, so no doubt KL’s star will follow soon.
Set on the 12th floor of the building, WICKED nightclub is also privately managed, but residents of the hotel are afforded preferential access and the place apparently rocks at the weekends.
Restoring the equilibrium of guests and locals alike is a huge and very good AWAY spa, boasting five treatment rooms, vitality pools, chroma-therapy steam baths and bio infrared saunas. And for those wanting to detox before they party, guests can work out in the hotel’s FIT gym which features an array of state-of-the-art equipment complete with floor-to-ceiling views of the city’s skyline.
Everything one needs to sleep, chill, eat, drink and party is conveniently offered in one uber-fashionable package at W Kuala Lumpur. The danger is, will you ever leave?!