Situated at the confluence of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina in the Daniel Campos Province of southwest Bolivia and lying at a nausea-inducing altitude of 3,656 meters above sea level, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and one of the most extraordinary sights in all of South America.
Stretching for more than 12,000 square kilometres, the salar was originally part of a prehistoric salt lake, Lago Minchín, which once covered most of southwest Bolivia. When it evaporated long ago, it left behind a few seasonal puddles plus several salt pans, one of which is Salar de Uyuni. Here, a thick crust of salt extends to the horizon, blanketed by quilted, polygonal salt patterns rising from the ground which make for an awe-inspiring spectacle. The salar’s famed mirror effect occurs during the wet season, after heavy rains, between January and March.
The first luxury lodge of its kind on the Bolivian Altiplano and unveiled just a few months ago at the foot of Tunupa Volcano, Kachi Lodge is a unique property resembling a space station, made up of six deluxe geodesic domes designed for optimal stargazing, each with a centrally positioned bed to provide the best possible views through transparent panels. Offering the creature comforts of a typical hotel room yet in the middle of an otherworldly landscape, each dome contains everything a discerning traveller needs to make the most of staying in this remarkable part of the world.
Top notch fare is provided by celebrated restaurant Gustu in La Paz helmed by Latin America’s best female chef Kamilla Seidler (so even the most discerning of gourmands will be happy!) and Kachi Lodge’s inclusive rates include soft drinks, wines, spirits, local airport transfers and local activities.
Feasting on delicious Bolivian food and wines, hiking to the lower lip of a volcano crater, exploring an island covered in giant cacti, visiting archaeological sites and biking on the salt flat make staying at Kachi Lodge an inimitable all-round experience and so much more than mere gazing at the beautiful star-studded sky.
One of Paris’s oldest, trendiest and most intriguing neighbourhoods and the quartier Parisians like to keep for themselves, Le Marais oozes old world elegance and is the closest you can get to the feel of medieval Paris. By day and night, its narrow, cobbled streets and crooked lanes are alive with bars, restaurants, fashion-forward boutiques, trendy shops, hip designers, fashionable art galleries and great museums, all crammed into a relatively small space.
In the heart of this happening melange, new 43-room hotel Sinner recently swung open its glamorous doors, dramatically blending 1300s religious buildings with an indulgent Parisian aesthetic.
The third Parisian addition to French hospitality group Evok Hotel’s portfolio, the former having been designed by Jean-Louis Deniot (Nolinski Paris) and Philippe Starck (Brach Paris), Sinner’s designer Tristan Auer worked closely on the concept with Emmanuel Sauvage, the hotel group’s co-founder, to forge a look which blends the beauty and grandeur of religious buildings with the sensuality of religious art. This has been achieved to great effect throughout the property by the use of vaulted ceilings, towering columns, tall stained-glass windows and antique wooden doors, which combine to give Sinner a unique, different and cutting-edge look which also exudes quintessentially Parisian style.
In the hotel’s ground floor restaurant, Sinner’s executive chef Adam Benthalha has fashioned a menu of ethnic and warm cuisine that draws influences from North Africa and South America.
Upstairs, 43 airy rooms include four decadent suites, all of which were individually crafted by Auer and feature a range of colours, patterns and statement pieces.
For those who need to recuperate after a busy day exploring the fascinating surrounding neighbourhood, the hotel also features a decadent spa and hammam, complete with a beautiful pool inspired by Greek and Roman baths in which to relax in supreme yet sinful fashion.
Located on the edge of Beijing’s Forbidden City, Büro Ole Scheeren’s strikingly cool Guardian Art Center elicited waves of appreciation when it was unveiled last year in one of the world’s most significant historical areas, where it neighbours governmental buildings, the National Art Museum of China and Beijing’s most popular shopping belt, Wangfujing.
Billed as the world’s first custom-built auction house, the massive structure is something of a hybrid between museum, gallery and market, accommodating a variety of facilities ranging from art galleries and art conservation facilities to event spaces and public transport infrastructure. A few months ago, the 92-key PuXuan hotel opened in the upper part of the building formed of translucent glass bricks, adding a hospitality element to the center.
The fifth property from Urban Resort Concepts and conceived as a pure, modern and authentic hotel that goes beyond conventional luxury, The PuXuan’s polished interiors were designed Shanghai-based MQ Studio which opted for a rich colour and material palette balanced with a combination of handcrafted and artisanal furniture and antique and contemporary art pieces. The result is a slick, calm and beautifully executed hotel that skilfully balances past and present and acts as a bridge between patrons and the auction house should one wish to purchase an artwork while in residence.
Lined in walls of light timber, bedrooms and suites juxtapose Beijing’s charm and heritage with a luxurious and contemporary aesthetic. The finishes are second-to-none throughout. State-of-the-art technology prevails. Intelligently-designed bathrooms can be seamlessly integrated into the room experience or enclosed as an entirely private space. Every room features a full-sized walk-in wardrobe. PuXuan houseguests can check in and out at any time of the day or night. A private TV channel is available for proxy bidding. And every guest room contains a safe large enough to contain a couple of small artworks.
Elsewhere within The PuXuan the legacy and creativity of Chinese culture are channelled through all of the hotel’s facilities, from the spa where ancient healing techniques are employed, to the fine cuisine served at Fu Chun Ju restaurant which pays resolute homage to traditional Cantonese flavours, and the Tea Room which goes way beyond the mere serving of tea to positively celebrate Asia’s rich tea history.
When Hotel Amparo opened at the beginning of this year in the heart of the Spanish-colonial cobblestoned center of San Miguel de Allende, it set a cool new standard in a town previously known for being somewhat stuck-in-time when it came to places to rest one’s head.
Occupying a 300-year-old former mayoral residence, Amparo is the brainchild of first-time hoteliers Mariana Barran de Goodall and Taylor Goodall who married in the town five years earlier, having fallen in love with its vibrancy, thriving arts scene and stunning architecture. When the characterful building came on the market, they positively leapt at the opportunity to give it a new lease of life by creating a residential-style hideaway influenced by their travels and offering amenities and experiences hitherto unavailable in San Miguel de Allende.
Texan designer Aaron Rambo was enlisted to help transform the historical property into a five room boutique hotel, by refreshing original architectural detailing and adding mid-century furnishings sourced from countries including France, India and Denmark, together with Aztec-inspired murals by local artist Lucas Rise and traditional textiles by Hibiscus Linens, Barran de Goodall’s own brand. The public spaces are punctuated by Belgian-wood panelling and concrete fireplaces and hung with vintage crystal chandeliers.
The individually designed guest rooms are all different, with king beds dressed in handmade linen, Bang & Olufsen bluetooth speakers, cool bathrooms and Le Labo toiletries. All have working fireplaces and double doors opening on to patios. The biggest room boasts a separate sitting area and an over-sized bathroom complete with double sinks and a deep soaking tub. The nightly rate includes homemade breakfast, happy hour on the terrace and a cutesy dessert hour in the evening.
Also onsite are a state-of-the-art chef’s teaching kitchen and an upscale full-service coffee shop, boasting the town’s first (and only) La Marzocco espresso machine. Meanwhile on the roof of the hotel at Bar Margaret, Latino-Caribbean small plates and an à la carte menu, served for lunch and dinner, fuse local ingredients, dishes and cooking styles from the southeastern United States, Mexican gulf coast and the chef’s Peruvian heritage. A wine list with a heavy emphasis on European small producers of low intervention wine, and a cocktail menu that reflects mixologist Gabriel Avila’s passion for herb infused mezcal and tequila cocktails complete Hotel Amparo’s bijou but perfectly formed food and beverage offerings, undoubtedly making it the coolest place to unpack your suitcases to explore everything that colourful San Miguel de Allende has to offer.
Rapidly capturing the hearts of discerning travellers with its thoughtfully curated one-of-a-kind hospitality experiences, positioned in prime European city locations, Sir Hotels group is slowly but steadily expanding its portfolio. Its latest offering, Sir Victor, was formerly Hotel Omm and is set just off of Passeig de Gràcia (Barcelona’s grand, humming shopping boulevard) a stone’s throw from Gaudí’s Casa Milà and close to the Avinguda Diagonal, home to many of Barcelona’s designer boutiques.
Famous for its unique limestone façade designed by Catalan architect Juli Capella, which orientates the windows in such a way as to allow maximum sunlight in yet maintain the privacy of hotel guests, the Omm was innovative in Barcelona when it first opened in 2004 and Sir Victor has gone some way to maintaining this uniqueness.
Tel Aviv-based designers Baranowitz + Kronenburg, renowned for their clever design of W Amsterdam hotel across two historic buildings, were engaged by Sir Hotels to work their architectural magic on the property’s multifaceted ground floor space. The result is a journey through contrasting landscapes, inspired by the seaside and the mountains, that engages when you first enter the building’s bright and playful lobby, and changes as you delve deeper into the hotel, where earthier tones create a more intimate and intriguing ambiance.
Upstairs, 91 rooms and suites ooze understated grooviness and are laden with the kind of uber-cool mid-century modern designer trappings that one expects of a hotel with such style-led credentials, including a drinks trolley for whipping-up a cheeky pre-dinner cocktail and a selection of booked inspired by Catalan author Victor Català, after which the hotel is named.
Crowning Sir Victor is a secluded rooftop bar, restaurant and pool where guests can swim, eat and sip whilst drinking in captivating views of Gaudí’s Casa Milà and La Sagrada Familia to a backdrop of funky sounds provided by some of the city’s hippest DJs.
Bounded by West Madison Street to the south, West Fulton Street to the north, Ogden Avenue to the west and the I-90/94 expressway, the Windy City’s Fulton Market District was historically home to food packers and distributors and was a largely industrial area dating back to the late 19th century. But this has all changed in the past decade, fuelled by the opening of the Morgan Street subway stop in 2012, which caused a surge in new restaurants in the district, followed by increased interest from companies looking for non-traditional loft-style office space.
Almost gone are the warehouses and meat-packing factories that contributed to Chicago’s economic boom. Now it’s an edgy neighbourhood brimming with funky boutiques, one-of-a-kind art galleries, trendy cafés, new office buildings (including Google’s Chicago headquarters), desirable apartments and some of the most popular eateries in the city.
Slap bag in the middle of all this inner-city rebirth is The Hoxton, built within a gritty former meatpacking warehouse. Right in the heart of Chicago’s cultural buzz, the hotel couldn’t be more “now” if it tried, surrounded by a hive of round-the-clock activity and urban coolness, and is perfectly located for visits to Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate and the Art Institute of Chicago.
182 rooms offered in three basic types from snug to roomy, are designed to echo the building’s industrial past with panelled leather headboards and warehouse-style floor-to-ceiling windows allowing plenty of light to flood in. Bespoke bed linen, mid-century-inspired furnishings, locally sourced art, a selection of books and a Marshall bluetooth speaker complete the retro-urban aesthetic. Free wi-fi, free international calls “to anywhere but the moon”, free light breakfast bags and late checkouts for just USD 10 per hour make the Chicago Hoxton’s offering super travel savvy and tourist friendly.
Sharing much of its history with the neighbouring states of Yucatán and Campeche, the “Free and Sovereign State of Quintana Roo” (as it’s officially known) was made for vacationing and in the past few decades its Caribbean shoreline has grown into a major tourism destination. Not only does this divine little corner of Mexico lay claim to hundreds of kilometres of white sugar-sand beaches, but it is also home to wildlife-rich jungles, coral reefs and mysterious underwater cave systems, small communities oozing local Mayan-Mexicano character and fascinating ancient ruins and archaeological sites.
Due its proximity to the world’s second largest reef, Quintana Roo also boasts some of the world’s best snorkelling and diving. A magnificent assemblage of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses and coastal lagoons, the Mesoamerican Reef extends for several hundred kilometres from the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula to Belize, the eastern coast of Guatemala and the northern coast of Honduras.
Name-checked by The Travel Channel as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, no doubt due to its vast strip of white sand fringed by the stunningly turquoise Caribbean, Punta Maroma is located 30 kilometres south of Cancun International Airport and 10 kilometres north of bustling Playa del Carmen. Quiet and chilled with minimal waves make Punta Maroma ideal for a relaxing holiday of sunbathing and reading.
Designed for guests to reconnect with the beauty of Mexico, surrounded by tropical jungle and set on an exclusive 200-metre stretch of beach, sublime all-suite resort Chablé Maroma is a secluded hospitality gem that honours its beautiful location with its back-to-nature approach to healing and wellness focus.
Served by three members of staff per room, every thatched villa at Chablé comes with its own private pool, outdoor living area and sun deck. Bedrooms are contemporary, calm and pampering with huge beds bedecked in sumptuous linens by Paulina Moran and headboards hand-woven from palm leaves. Vast, super-luxe bathrooms stand-out for their indoor-outdoor showers, towelling-covered daybeds, walk-in wardrobes and all-natural amenities custom-made for Chablé.
Two onsite dining options offer delectable Mexi-Cali fare there’s a rooftop bar perfect for mescal sundowners to a backdrop of incredible views.
Completing Chablé’s leisure facilities are a bijou glass-walled gym, a schedule of fitness classes and a blissful spa with seven thatched treatment rooms and a trio of hydrotherapy pools. Healing treatments are based on ancient Mayan therapies.
A typical day at Chablé begins with a hamper of freshly baked pastries, strong coffee from Chiapas and mountain spring water delivered to your door, followed by an à la carte breakfast. After sunbathing, swimming in the crystal-clear waters and flicking through a novel, indulge in a herbal massage before sipping handcrafted sundowners on the terrace at Raw Bar by Bu’ul. Post a dinner of sopa de lima, octopus ceviche and the freshest local catch of the day, retire to your private, candlelit villa in the jungle to sleep like a baby. Getting into the swing of things at Chablé is the easy part. It’s the leaving which is tough.
Facing the Mediterranean from the centre of an extensive estate, Masseria Torre Maizza is just a few kilometres away from the charming seaside fishing village of Savelletri di Fasano in north-eastern Puglia on the Adriatic coast, just 45 kilometres from Brindisi. A small fishing port, sandy beaches, small rocky reefs and a variety of excellent restaurants make that this corner of Puglia perfect for a relaxed vacation away from crowds of holidaymakers.
Surrounded by ancient olive groves and skilfully blending local heritage with contemporary luxury, recently rebranded as a Rocco Forte property and having just undergone a major refurbishment at the hands of talented designer Olga Polizzi, Masseria Torre Maizza is brimming with thoughtful design accents and beautiful detailing which come together to provide a special hospitality experience in a unique place.
The original 16th century masseria (fortified farmhouse) buildings at the centre of the sprawling property house the reception, a Rocco Forte Spa, Bougainville bar and a new Torre Suite in the original tower, offering sensational views over a sweeping expanse of Puglian countryside, out towards the Adriatic beyond.
The rest of the hotel’s 40 rooms and suites typify elegant Italian living, exquisitely marrying contemporary style with a carefully curated collection of local art and objets d’art. Polizzi excels at soft furnishings, accessorising and ensuring that Rocco Forte properties feel warm and welcoming while also smart and sophisticated. While sumptuous king-sized beds, stone bathrooms and state-of-the-art amenities are de rigueur throughout Masseria Torre Maizza, the hotel’s pièce de résistance is its stylish private beach club on the shores of the Adriatic where guests can lounge, sunbathe, eat, drink and enjoy aperitivo hour from the comfort of their luxe sunbeds while being waited on hand and foot.
Just 30 years ago Shenzhen was a small seaside town. Today it is an economic powerhouse, one of China’s largest and most important cities and the mainland’s coolest metropolis. Upon closer inspection it’s not hard to see why. The city’s urban sprawl and cloud-piercing towers make for an imposing metropolitan silhouette. Connected to Hong Kong via bullet train means that tourists can reach Shenzhen from downtown Kowloon in around 20 minutes. And what Shenzhen lacks in ancient temples and historic monuments to typically lure cultured travellers, it more than makes for with strikingly modern architecture, artsy pedestrian districts, excellent cocktail bars and exceptional Cantonese cuisine.
Shenzen also boasts an array of luxury hotels, the newest of which, Raffles, opened just a few months ago in prestigious One Shenzhen Bay tower in Nanshan District, topped with a helipad for VIP access and helicopter sightseeing tours of Shenzhen Bay.
Occupying floors 33-45 as well as 70-71 of the 72-storey tower (which also contains Raffles residences), arriving guests check-in on the 34th floor which serves as a veritable lobby in the sky. As with every Raffles property, the service is attentive and discreet.
Occupying floors 35 through 45, the hotel’s 168 sumptuous and overly spacious rooms and suites offer breathtaking views across the sea and cityscape. At 60 sqm, entry level rooms are larger and more decadent than many European hotel suites. Meanwhile, spanning a whopping 434 sqm, the immense lounge area of the sprawling 2-bedroom Presidential Suite connects to a private dining room, full kitchen, steam room and fitness area. Every guest room in the hotel is served by Raffles’ inimitable 24-hour butler service, providing everything from morning newspapers to freshly brewed coffee at the touch of a button.
The onsite Raffles Spa is a welcoming haven of relaxation after a busy day on Shenzhen’s bustling streets and offers a range of rejuvenating treatments to restore mind, body and soul.
Atop the hotel, Raffles’ six sky-high food and beverage venues include top notch Yun Jing restaurant which showcases Cantonese fare and boasts 10 private dining rooms, and Kokoni which offers a Japanese culinary adventure spanning everything from kaiseki and premium steaks to sushi and sashimi.
Also at the top of the hotel is a Raffles signature Long Bar. Because some things never go out of fashion, here one can sip an iconic Singapore Sling, created in 1915 at Raffles Singapore by Chinese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon.
Hyatt’s lifestyle brand celebrates the individuality of every guest, and each Andaz hotel reflects the destination’s culture in the uniqueness of the property.
Located in close proximity to Vienna’s main train station, within the city’s rapidly emerging new Quartier Belvedere, Andaz’s fourth property in Europe opened in April 2019 offering more than 300 rooms and suites inspired by the man behind the iconic Belvedere Palace, Prince Eugene of Savoy.
A collaboration between celebrated architect Renzo Piano and renowned interior designers Claudio Carbone and Gabriel Kacerovsky, the pet friendly hotel comprises two separate buildings connected by interwoven bridges, sharing a voluminous lobby lounge on the ground floor. The cool cat interior design aesthetic smoothly blends the classic and the contemporary, resulting in a warm and inviting yet fun and energetic hospitality experience from the get-go.
Lit by floor-to-ceiling windows and infused with a variety of local touches and artistic detailing, guest rooms are crisp, modern and function efficiently, are well laid out and straightforward to use, and are amply equipped to suit both leisure and business travellers.
A huge state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness center, looking out towards the green space fronting the hotel, boasts every conceivable piece of gym equipment needed to stay fit whilst on-the-go. And a small onsite spa offers a limited range of treatments. But where the hotel really excels is in its food and beverage venues.
Inspired by the Northern Lights, the hotel’s popular rooftop bar on the 16th floor, Aurora, offers sweeping panoramic views of Vienna together with a reasonably priced Scandinavian-inspired cocktail menu and a good range of bar snacks.
On street level, contemporary Austrian tavern Eugen21 skilfully combines classic and modern cuisines in a comprehensive menu inspired by what Prince Eugene would have dined on, with added modern twists. Offering something for everyone in a spacious and comfortable dining room, delicious, hearty fare and good portions are matched by excellent service in Eugen21 undoubtedly making it a destination restaurant for the Viennese and visitors alike.
Also on the ground floor but offering healthy food to take-away, Cyclist has already become an urban meeting spot for visitors, athletes and anyone health-conscious. Offering flexitarian food, sandwiches, salads and grilled dishes alongside daily specials served by friendly staff, Cyclist’s food is scrummy and filling and its fresh homemade smoothies and coffee specialties are worth cycling across town for. NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU
For decades, the 60 kilometres of uninterrupted Atlantic Ocean beach, verdant rice fields and estuary-fronted nature reserves known collectively as Comporta were a closely guarded secret among the wealthy, who made the area their off-the-grid summer place to escape to. But such jaw-dropping natural beauty could only be kept a secret for so long.
Comporta now regularly features on lists of the planet’s most coveted travel hot spots, with the 2016 opening of the drop-dead-gorgeous Sublime Comporta country retreat playing an instrumental part in the area’s increased visibility, not to mention finally providing an accommodation option worthy of Comporta’s breathtaking charms.
Pine, olive and cork trees along with herb and flower beds combine to create a veritable Portuguese Garden of Eden throughout Sublime’s grounds of 17 hectares. Meanwhile, the extensive and clever use of natural materials to create modern structures are in total harmony with the resort’s setting. And the liberal use of glass walling in the public spaces ensures plentiful views of the mesmerising landscape.
While the design alone justifies visiting Sublime, it is the excellent service, warm hospitality and luxe amenities that persuade one to stay. The property has two swimming pools, tennis courts and a stand-alone spa housed in the owner’s original ranch-style home. A state-of-the-art fitness centre will open soon.
Foodies will love Sem Porta, the property’s main dining venue, which, under the stewardship of chef Tiago Santos, has become a destination restaurant, serving contemporary Portuguese cuisine with a focus on the local Alentejo region.
All of the room categories at Sublime – from Friends Rooms located in the main house to the recently inaugurated lakefront Bio-Pool Suites – combine a chic, pared-back aesthetic with nods to local culture. A signature of the Sublime experience, all rooms have private outdoor spaces ensuring that guests are connected with nature. ALEX BENASULI
Sofitel’s flagship London property is in the throes of a sweeping GBP 16.5 million transformation, including an update to all 183 guest rooms by Parisian designer Pierre-Yves Rochon which is introducing a contemporary British flavour to the French art of living.
Upon entering the hotel’s grand lobby, the immediate and most exciting change is directly to your right. In early June, one of London’s most respected chefs, Anthony Demetre, launched Wild Honey St James (in the space previously occupied by The Balcon), with a focus on English-influenced contemporary French cooking fashioned from the best quality in-season produce and a commitment to nose-to-tail sustainability.
Underlying the serious business of gastronomy and the overarching emphasis on allowing fresh flavours to shine, there is a playfulness in the culinary mix of French and Anglo influences, and Wild Honey’s spacious new 110-seat dining room is a statement in old-fashioned grandeur blended with modern design. Boasting double-height ceilings and huge arched windows looking out to the majestic architecture of St James’s, the grand room is set over two levels punctuated by long velvet banquettes, striking lighting and a smattering of contemporary art, including two huge portraits by Scottish artist Elliot Killick.
Next door, the refurbishment is also complete of St James Bar, where a marble bar top, deep blue velvet banquettes and new lighting have updated the ambience of the classic space inspired by Coco Chanel’s 1920s apartment.
The hotel’s ladylike Rose Lounge, decorated as the name suggests in a romantic mix of blush pink and florals and the venue for indulgent afternoon teas, will undergo a makeover by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the guestrooms are being infused with a sense of swinging London amid specially commissioned pop art works and abstracts: think Andy Warhol prints of Debbie Harry and Twiggy, along with objets d’art carefully selected to enhance the colour scheme of each room and coffee table books to lend a cultured home-away-from-home feel. Original oversized headboards, classic black and white bathrooms with art deco mirrors and marble-topped vanities have not been touched.
Opulent SoSPA, which has won a string of awards, is genuinely in no need of improvement. Opened in 2009 in a neighbouring building, it features treatment rooms across three levels, a private hammam, state-of-the-art spa bath and a dark oak pavilion space used for private functions.
By retaining the best of the old and introducing some welcome new touches which add to its overall offering, Sofitel London St James is masterfully reinventing itself in the best possible way. And the addition of Wild Honey St James is particularly exciting in this match between French savoir faire and English class. Long may this international hospitality liaison continue in the heart of London’s West End! DAWN GIBSON