We’re always on the lookout for the most unusual places to stay, which also take luxury to new heights – those places that go beyond a standard hotel experience and offer something truly extraordinary, from candlelit caves and regal retreats to a scenic train journey and your very own private island… Here are our top 10 picks.
Best for… sleeping under the stars
Africa has no shortage of unique places to stay, in prime wildlife-spotting areas, but undoubtedly one of our favourites is Lion Sands in Greater Kruger, where you can sleep under the stars in the heart of the wilderness as elephants amble to the waterhole for a drink. If you can drag yourself away, enjoy bespoke game drives to see the rest of the Big Five.
Best for… a spa break with a difference
At the Retreat at Blue Lagoon, as well as a superb views over Iceland’s distinctive volcanic landscapes and a spa which makes the most of the natural resources on the doorstep, you can enjoy direct access to your very own section of Iceland’s famous lagoon, with your bedroom opening directly onto the water.
Best for… sleeping on a train
The luxurious Belmond Andean Explorer winds its way around Peru’s epic mountain, valley and river landscapes on one of the highest and most scenic train journeys on Earth. Sleep in a plush cabin and sip cocktails accompanied by a pianist as you enjoy the views from the panoramic windows and take in sights such as Lake Titicaca and the Colca Canyon.
Best for… living like royalty
The stunning Aman Summer Palace sits in the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, and was formerly where guests of the royals stayed. The pavilion-style suites, showcasing traditional Chinese architecture such as high wood-panelled ceilings, bamboo blinds and Jin clay tiles, are set in private courtyards, a stone’s throw from the palace’s serene lakes and gardens.
Best for… sleeping in a cave
The Italian city of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is dotted with caves which date from the Paleolithic era. Some of these now form a romantic retreat, the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, where you can sleep in a cave lit by candlelight and dine in a restaurant created from a historic church carved into the stone.
Best for… venturing into the heart of the desert
Amangiri is a secluded luxury retreat nestled in 600 acres of Utah’s incredible desert landscapes. Experience their vastness from a hot air balloon and soar over mountains, lakes and cliffs. Back on the ground, Amangiri's spacious suites feature cool stone interiors and uninterrupted desert views, while there’s a blissful spa and an irresistible pool hewn from desert rock.
Best for… sleeping in a tropical rainforest
Set high in the tropical rainforest of Phuket in Thailand, Keemala’s villas, cottages and houses have gorgeous canopied beds inside, leading to outdoor terraces and pools. With a heavenly spa as well as yoga and meditation, it’s all about relaxing in supreme style here. After a busy day doing as little as possible, sip a cocktail while watching the sun set over the beach.
Best for… a wildlife glamping adventure
The Chena Huts in Sri Lanka come with beautiful interiors including lavish bathrooms, alongside palm-thatched roofs and private plunge pools. They sit above a pristine beach and are just ten minutes from Yala National Park, which is home to leopards and elephants, while you can also spot flamingos and sea turtles on the sands.
Best for… wine lovers
With its distinctive swirling titanium ribbon exterior, nestled on a hillside in Spain’s Basque Country amongst traditional houses, you can’t miss Hotel Marques de Riscal. Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, the interiors are just as eye-catching, and you can also enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine and wines from the surrounding Marques de Riscal vineyards.
Best for… staying on your very own private island
Experience the most luxurious Robinson Crusoe adventure possible with a holiday at the Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah in the Baa Atoll, which is the world's first exclusive-use hotel in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Not only will you have an island in the Maldives all to yourself, a stay here oozes luxury from every pore, from arriving by private plane to lazing on secluded white-sand beaches, snorkelling in pristine waters and enjoying sunset cruises on the hotel's own yacht.
And we can’t miss out one of our perennial favourites…
Best for… a one-of-a-kind winter escape
Bed down in a room made entirely of ice at the iconic ICEHOTEL in Swedish Lapland, a truly unique retreat. Each room is carved to a different theme by expert sculptors each year, before melting away the following spring. Have drinks in an ice glass at the bar, head out on a snowmobile to witness the Northern Lights and warm up by dining by the fire or indulging in a session in the sauna.
If you fancy a stay at one of these hotels, contact us on 020 7337 9010 or make an enquiry. You can see more of our favourite unique places to stay here.