We all have our favorite places to visit when we go vacation; but for those looking to experience something magical and truly unique, here are seven hotels and resorts that even photos don’t do justice.
Sextantio Le Grotte: Matera, Italy
Located in the hilltop village of Matera in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, the romantic, candle-lit Sextantio Le Grotte is built into a series of caves. This modern hotel, however, which features oversize soaking tubs and high-thread-count linens, has ancient origins. The caves have been populated from the stone and bronze ages all the way into the 1950s, when the Italian government declared living conditions unsanitary and relocated the town’s population. Today, the whole town of Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Sextantio strives to preserve a sense of the area’s past. Eighteen cave rooms are ideal for romance.
Tree Houses Hotel: La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Climbing into a tree house may remind you of your childhood; but chances are, you didn’t have one outfitted with comfortable beds, air-conditioning, and a peaceful back porch — like the ones at Tree Houses Hotel in Costa Rica. Guests staying in one of the seven houses in the jungle can opt for rustic-style rooms including The Sloth Treehouse and The Frog Treehouse. Birds, monkeys, and, yes, sloths can be seen and heard rustling in the trees just outside.
Deplar Farm: Skagafjörður, Iceland
Heading to a remote farming valley in Northern Iceland may not sound luxurious; but guests arriving at Deplar Farm — a luxury hotel set amid majestic, snow-covered mountains — will be transported to a fairy tale. In addition to biking, swimming, and hiking, uniquely Icelandic experiences — like ice climbing, salmon fishing, and whale watching — are available. Chances are, little here will remind you of your surroundings at home.
Canal Huís 58: Amsterdam, Netherlands
The exclusive, four-room Canal Huis 58 is located in central Amsterdam, where the Herengracht (Lord’s Canal) intersects with the Brouwersgracht (Brewers’ Canal). Surrounded by charming tree-lined streets, bike trails, and intricate waterways, the 18th century Canal House sits in the middle of what is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The property combines historic charm with modern, first-class amenities and convenience. It is designed for groups of eight to 10 guests who can customize their stay with the hotel’s property manager.
La Chalet Zannier: Mègeve, France
Historic private chalets rest on this vast property in the town of Megeve — a popular, picturesque, and well-preserved ski region in the Mont Blanc region of France. The luxurious Chalet Zannier consists of three wood and stone buildings and a large indoor pool that allows guests to experience the serenity of their surroundings. Described by the hotel as, “exceptional boarding houses and a space dedicated to wellness,” this property may make you feel like you’re nestled in a storybook in the middle of a snow-covered village.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp: Massai Mara, Kenya
Perched on the edge of the Massai Mara game reserve on 7,000 private acres, this tented camp has been run by the Cottar family since 1919. A commitment to conservation and responsible land use, and an authentic sense of style from the camp’s earliest days set it apart. Guests heading out on safari won’t ride in a standard minibus, but in a vintage open-air safari jeep. Instead of a sprawling lodge, there are tented common spaces, and the “bush villa,” a luxe, multi-bedroom home with views of the landscape and an infinity-edge pool. If you want to get especially cozy with the wildlife, the camp’s guides — some of the highest rated in the country — can take you on a walking safari, or you can enjoy a private outdoor bath or shower.
Badrutt’s Palace: St. Moritz, Switzerland
With its distinctive tower looming above Lake St. Moritz, this property is immediately recognizable, even amongst the tony resorts in this exceptionally tony resort town. Despite the airy mountain setting, 70% of its guests don’t ski. They hunker down instead for the impeccable service, palatial setting, and a long list of spa amenities, including a mist room, ice room, and salt steam room. Of course, winter sports are St. Moritz’s stock and trade, and if you desire a ride on a bobsled, you can take it on an Olympic track, or simply join a game of curling or ice hockey on the frozen-over tennis courts. Five restaurants and two bars mean that guests, including some very famous ones, don’t have to venture far between massages.
Phum Baitang: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Surrounded by lush jungle that serves as the gateway to the ruins at Angkor Wat, this high-style resort spins the traditional shapes and textures of South Asian design with signature French flair courtesy of its architect, Paris-based Reda Amalou. Grass-roofed villas on stilts and peaceful Buddha sculptures keep things relaxed, while a grand spa building truly emphasizes that the body is a temple.
One&Only Hayman Island: Queensland, Australia
It’s the only accommodation on the island — one of the Whitsundays, a gateway island to the Great Barrier Reef — but you won’t exactly be itching to leave. Rebooted by One&Only as a luxury resort, the property offers guests a perfect location to snorkel, dive, lounge in a cabana, go sailing, take a seaplane ride over the reef, or just be pampered by the attentive staff. Rooms offer plenty of variety, too. Book a beach villa with a private pool (pictured above), a multi-bedroom penthouse, or a room that opens up directly onto the resort’s swimming pool — the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.