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Luxury Hotels in Weird and Wonderful Places Around the World

Here are 10 of Smith’s most interesting places to pass a night, picked just for Concrete Playground.

By Mr & Mrs Smith
September 05, 2013
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By Mr & Mrs Smith
September 05, 2013
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Cave hotels, tree-house hotels, and hotels next to natural wonders: the bedroom-pros at Mr & Mrs Smith have seen it all (well, we’re still waiting for our first spaceship hotel, but hey). Here are 10 of Smith’s most interesting places to pass a night, picked just for Concrete Playground.

1. LONGITUDE 131° by VOYAGES, AUSTRALIA

What: Safari-style desert camp
Where: Up close to Uluru

What could possibly be any more awe-inspiring than waking up to views of the world’s biggest monolith, Uluru? It’s remote, for sure, but Longitude 131° by Voyages can be reached via a flight to Yulara, where guests are greeted by a member of staff in a four-wheel drive. The villas are called ‘tents’, but you can banish memories of uncomfortable camping trips from your school days. These impressive specimens are on stilts, with ensuite bathrooms and fully automated blinds. Tours of the national park are included in the rates and the curvy pool is kept ice-cold at all times – perfectly refreshing after unforgettable treks up Uluru.

2. HAPUKU LODGE AND TREE HOUSES, NEW ZEALAND

What: Architectural meets arboreal
Where: Deer-dotted pastures and peaks

Simultaneous views of mountains, the sea, olive grove and a deer-park… where else other than New Zealand? A top-spot for whale-watching, Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses is a true get-away, with fully equipped villas nestled high amongst the tree-tops, so you can coo at the local birds (or just kiss your lovebird). The lodge’s knockout 600-hectare grounds, between the towering Kaikoura Seaward Mountains and surf-lashed Mangamaunu Bay, include the family farm’s oil-producing olive grove and deer stud. For a cool canopy experience, the modern, wood-clad Tree House Rooms, set in a manuka grove remote from the main lodge, are a must.

3. SIX SENSES YAO NOI, THAILAND

What: Rustic-chic castaway
Where: Yao Noi island hillside

Perched on a cliff-side over-looking Phang Nga Bay, Six Senses Yao Noi makes each night feel like an adventure. A selection of nine different types of villa are available, each with stylish interiors, some with pools, and every one offering the best views we’ve ever clapped eyes on. Privacy-seeking couples or families would do well to book a Hideaway Two-bedroom Pool Villa, which has two levels, an open-air bathroom, private ensuite and its own infinity pool.

4. OHLA, BARCELONA

What: Classic Catalan cool
Where: Beside Barrio Gotico

With a neoclassical exterior but minimalistic interiors, Ohla Hotel in Barcelona never quite makes up its mind. Originally the palace of the first Count of Barcelona, then a department store and police office, and now a hotel renovated with assistance from artist and sculptor Frederic Amat, Ohla is an eclectic mix of history. Hundreds of ceramic eyeballs adorn the outside walls of the hotel, thanks to Amat. The rooms have wooden floors and refrain from over-decoration; in-room massages are available on request.

5. GORAH ELEPHANT CAMP, SOUTH AFRICA

What: Bastion of imperial glamour
Where: Stunning South African savannah

The wilderness of Addo Elephant National Park is right on the doorstep of Gorah Elephant Camp. Combining Victorian colonial style with classy mod cons, the tent-like suites have thatched canopies, four-poster beds, private deck and panoramic views of the savannah. The Gorah house itself is a mid-18th-century heritage manor, and serves as the main building on the site. Unabashed luxury abounds in the tents themselves: expect silk-soft Egyptian cotton linen and glossy toffee wooden floorboards.

6. SAFFIRE, TASMANIA

What: Elemental sanctuary
Where: Curving Coles Bay coastline

Saffire must confuse the seagulls swooping overhead: is it a giant starfish? A huge silver oil spill? A resting spaceship? If only we could tell them: no, it’s a stingray-shaped sanctuary with eye-widening architecture, an excellent restaurant, a pampering spa and a prime natural location (iconic Wineglass Bay is just minutes away). If you fancy your own private courtyard plunge pool, snaffle one of the four Private Pavilions (rooms 1 to 4, aka Mayson, Amos, Dove or Baudin), which include cat-swingingly spacious living and bedroom areas, a kitchen, dining zone and front deck. Saffire's chef can even come and cook for you in-room.

7. GILI LANKANFUSHI, MALDIVES

What: Water world
Where: Lapis lazuli lagoon

Be prepared to come home feeling lonely, or with a Mr Friday stuffed illegally in your suitcase: this hotel’s service is flawless, and every villa comes with a Ms/Mr Friday who will look after you so well, you won’t want to leave them behind. You’re not allowed shoes here, and you won’t find any newspapers, but these are the only limits at this beautiful beachside hotel, which must prompt proposals left, right and centre. Gili Lankanfushi’s villas are all overwater: we like the 210sq m Villa Suites best. They’re open-air, apart from the bedroom (which is also the only bit with air-con; everywhere else gets a sea breeze) and have a large living room with day beds and an overwater sundeck with stairs leading to the ocean.

8. QT SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

What: Theatrical temptress
Where: Sydney's happening heart

This super-central design diva is carved out of the historic State Theatre and Gowings department store buildings, blending Gothic, art deco and Italianate architecture with quirky-but-cool interiors. Door gals dressed in saucy uniforms, buzzy drinking and dining, and a hip day spa? We're smitten. Sexy, sassy and stylish, QT Sydney has her party shoes on and is ready to dance. Helmed by chef Paul Easson under the creative direction of Sydney restaurateur Robert Marchetti, Gowings Bar & Grill is an edgy, European-style all-day brasserie, which lures diners with its fresh Australian produce (sourced from artisan providores), so-now culinary techniques (we're talking wood-fired rotisseries and ovens) and smart list of up-and-coming wines.

9. SEXTANTIO LE GROTTE DELLA CIVITA, ITALY

What: Boutique Bedrock
Where: Matera’s grand canyon

If Fred Flintstone were looking for a romantic crash-pad for him and Wilma, he could do a lot worse than check into this cave hotel, set in the ancient stassi (stone settlement) of Matera, a mysterious, overlooked patch of Basilicata in southern Italy, flanked by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. Sextantio le Grotte della Civita has a prehistoric birthday and old-world charm: bed sheets and furniture are antique; candles flicker in corners; bath products feature olive oil and packaged simply, and there’s a tasting room set in the old church. Whole families once bedded down in each cave, so expect buckets of space.

10. SAMODE PALACE, INDIA

What: All that glitters
Where: Fairytale desert fort

Mirror-tiled walls, mural-lined walls, marble swimming pools and antique-filled suites: Samode Palace in the heart of Rajasthan, Jaipur, sounds like the stuff of far-flung fairy tales, but it’s deliciously real. This blue-blooded getaway began life 300 years ago as a maharaja's mansion, so it’s had a while to perfect its poise; modern additions include a gym, sauna, steam room, day spa and boutique. (Of course, kings and queens need to keep in touch with their subjects, so there’s free WiFi in the central courtyard and business centre.) Wander through the Sheesh Mahal, a series of glittering rooms, each more breath-snatching than the last. Once a royal reception space, it's now used for chichi cocktail sessions.

Published on September 05, 2013 by Mr & Mrs Smith
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