Off The Beaten Track

Explora, Patagonia

At the very tip of South America, this hotel is pretty much as remote as remote gets – and, as a result, the scenery is as beautiful as beautiful gets, too. Chile’s Explora Patagonia is separated from the rest of the world by mountains and ice, a modern building made conspicuous by the most natural of surroundings. Here, in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park, an almost comically good-looking assemblage of mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers mark ‘the end of the world’: as far south as you can travel before crossing into the Antarctic Circle. Its mountainous majesty and crystal-clear lakes have made this region the most popular in the country for hikers, too. Reward a day of trekking by holing up in your room to soak in views of the snow-dusted Paine Massif and revel in your isolation – there’s no wifi in the rooms, and no television. Bliss.

Rooms from: £3,500, based on two sharing for four nights.

Mona Pavilions, Tasmania

In the glorious setting of a private peninsula above the Derwent River, yet only a short drive from the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Mona Pavilions crams a lot into its serene location: an avant-garde array of angular pavilions, a vineyard and a microbrewery, plus – to cap it all – the Museum of Old and New Art (the Mona of the name), Australia’s largest private museum. The latter boasts works by St Kilda-born painter and Aussie legend Sidney Nolan, and British artist Damien Hirst. Rooms from: £206 per night.

Lakshman Sagar, India

An artful blend of traditional architecture and modern comforts, Lakshman Sagar, in the heart of rural Rajasthan, is a slice of lakeside bliss and solitude for the world-weary. You’ll stay in one of 12 individual mud and stone cottages, set in a 32-acre former hunting preserve, now an eco-retreat that blends discreetly into the rugged surroundings. With thatched rooftops and private plunge pools, the lodgings are centred on a small, serene lake in an impressively remote location: the blue city of Jodhpur is a 2.5-hour drive away. Nature walks and tours of local villages are as high-octane as this escape gets.

Rooms from: £150.


Ace Hotel, Palm Springs

Once upon a time, this was a tired former Westward Ho motel with a Denny’s pancake house attached – but then Ace freshened it up with a lick of the hipster style they previously used with great success in both Seattle and Portland. Now its whitewashed 1960s look is accented with cool vintage furniture and local arts (though the ghost of Denny’s remains). Communal fireplaces dotted about the property encourage your clinking craft beer bottles with fellow cool customers; on weekends there’s a DJ by the pool. Though slightly off the beaten track around a mile from the centre of downtown, you can spend your days lazing by the pool, browsing the vinyl record library or sculpting that hipster beard in the onsite barbershop – it’s the perfect retro-chic hideaway for a city so self-consciously steeped in nostalgia. The hot tub outside is open until 2am too, which always seems like a good idea once you’ve sipped one too many martinis in the local piano bars… Rooms from: around £90 per night.

Mama Shelter, Paris

This budget design hotel buzzes late into the night thanks to a top bar boasting live music on weekends (the in-hotel pizzeria and busy French restaurant keep things lively, too). It’s out on a limb in the 20th arrondissement (think of it as Paris’s trendier version of Shoreditch), but what Mama Shelter lacks in convenience, it makes up for in style. Philippe Starck’s interiors are cool and quirky, featuring a wealth of unique touches including Darth Vader masks as bedside lights. Despite attracting an international trendoid set and arty types, rates don’t break the bank. A cool enough combo to have inspired outposts in Istanbul and, coming soon, LA.

Rooms from: around £63 per night.

Ushuaïa Beach Hotel, Ibiza

Party central on party island this one, to the extent that you can stand on the balcony of your room to watch world-class DJs like David Guetta, Avicii and Armin Van Buuren spin tunes to huge crowds thronging around the hotel pool. This is luxe turned up to the max: stay at the original beach club for a view of that pool stage, or head up the newer Tower for built-in Jacuzzis and outdoor terraces that give a bird’s eye view of the beautiful things (and people) below. And if you tire of the all-day parties, the legendary Playa d’en Bossa is just below, where the party just keeps on going…

Rooms from: £194 per night.

Weird and Wonderful

Treehotel, Sweden

There are hotel rooms, and then there are tree houses – and the big kid in us knows which we prefer. Deep in a Swedish pine forest near the tiny village of Harads, this hotel suspends its living spaces up in the trees, high above the ground, so you can feel truly at one with nature. Each tree room is unique (designed by a different architect), and getting into some of these space age-style creations includes entering by ramp, bridge or escalator. As you’d expect from such a progressive place, there are myriad eco innovations, too: think electric toilets and low-energy LED systems. It’s also a great escape for any season, whether you want to go out stalking the Northern Lights by dog sled in winter or kayak the nearby Lule River in summer.

Rooms from: around £370 per night.

Whitepod Resort, Switzerland

Amid sweeping vistas of alpine beauty, a cluster of geodesic pods sit on wooden platforms, coming off like some sort of futuristic hippie commune. If those hippies were also embracing a five-star lifestyle, that is. Here, in the Swiss countryside, guests ‘camp’ in self-contained pods, each fitted with king-size bed, bathroom, stove, kettle, bay windows and a mezzanine level. Think more luxury igloo than tent. If you can tear yourself away from your kooky living quarters, there are mountain dishes and spit-roasted specialties on offer in a nearby chalet, and a sauna in the central pod house. And if this isn’t striking you as quite off-the-wall enough, the resort also offers dog-karting, where you’re pulled along the sunny mountain trails by a pack of panting mutts.

Rooms from: around £250 per night.

Brody House, Budapest

Warning: only committed trendies need apply. This self-styled ‘hub for creativity and innovation’ comprises a portfolio of venues for short stays and long-term tenancies, its hotel rooms, apartments and houses all uniquely furnished to inspire those who stay. The result is a thriving community of talented customers, meaning you can expect art events, book readings and film and fashion shoots as background noise. The staff even has its own record label, Brody House Sounds. But don’t fret, you won’t feel left out of all this cutting-edge coolness: all guests are invited to members’ club events, which include art tasting dinners.

Rooms from: £56.


ME hotel, Madrid

Don’t be fooled by the external look of this hotel, which has been created within the four splendid walls of what was once the historic Hotel Reina Victoria. Inside, United Designers have created something ultra-modern and stylish (think clean, straight lines and airy lobbies) complete with a sprawling rooftop bar that has been voted one of Madrid’s ten best places to drink. There’s designer furniture and an eclectic range of art alongside its restaurant Ana la Santa, which brings traditional Madrilenian tapas up to date with inventive flavours and combinations.

Rooms from: £220 per night.

Michelberger, Berlin

Trendy, arty, relaxed and informal in that way Berlin does so well, this buzzing hotel is located near the nightlife hotspot of Friedrichshain, and its fresh and original look is the brainchild of internationally renowned designer Werner Aisslinger. (Even the website is unusual, showing the hotel as a space station.) Back on terra firma, Michelberger’s 119 rooms are modelled on a variety of different themes, there’s plenty of junk shop chic furniture, the crowd is eclectic and there’s regular concerts on the patio outside, which also hosts ‘Hollywood swings and huts’, whatever they are.

Rooms from: around £50 per night.

Gladstone Hotel, Toronto

This is a boutique art hotel par excellence, with its high-ceilinged, big-windowed Victorian rooms having provided artists from all over the place with 37 different blank canvases on which to create… whatever they wanted. The result is a wonderful mishmash of looks, feels and colours in the city’s up-and-coming neighbourhood of Parkdale. Unsurprisingly, it’s an art hub for downtown Toronto (there are over 70 exhibitions a year), alongside live bands and regular late-night DJ sets and kareoke, to really get you going after dark.

Rooms from: around £90 per night.


Kanifushi, Maldives

Imagine being surrounded by the bluest water imaginable, and preparing to settle down for the day on some of the whitest sandy beaches you’ve ever seen. Well, that’s pretty much the picture at Kanifushi, set in the Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldives. It’s one of the most sought-after all-inclusive resorts on the beautiful island cluster in the Indian Ocean. If you can tear yourself away from the beach, or your traditionally styled beach villa with its simple and stylish Maldivian interior, you could even indulge in a little snorkelling, fishing, swimming or boating in a serene natural lagoon. I mean, it’s a tough life, isn’t it?

Rooms from: around £240pppn in a Sunset Beach villa, based on three people sharing.

Asia Gardens, Spain

This is something else – an Asian garden in a Mediterranean climate – and it’s every bit as stunning as that would suggest. The outskirts of Benidorm might not be the first place you’d expect to find a five-star tropical Thai-style resort, but don’t think that Asia Gardens isn’t pure luxury, despite being nowhere near a desert island. Rather than packed beaches, there’s an acre of lush gardens (with 200 Asian plants that have been brought over, including a 200-year-old bonsai and more than 40 varieties of bamboo), seven swimming pools and a Thai spa that rivals the real deal. The site, 150 metres above sea level, benefits from idyllic views over the Costa Blanca but, really, the place to wander – once you’ve sauntered out of your individually designed bedroom – is the garden.

Rooms from: around £160 per night.

Outrigger, Mauritius

Mauritius is hardly lacking in places to lay your head after a hard day sunbathing,windsurfing, or if you’re really feeling energetic, a hike through its verdant interior. But none come cooler than Outrigger’s Hawaii-styled Mauritius outpost: all the rooms in the private beachfront resort face the azure Indian Ocean, white Ibiza-style daybeds line up around the palm-fringed pool, and there are cabanas dotted along its private stretch of beach. It gives a nod to the island’s multicultural heritage with its wide range of bars and restaurants, including self-styled ‘party palace’ and cocktail joint Bar Bleu, or Willie’s Rum & Crab Shack, serving, er, fresh crab dishes and a top selection of rums.

Rooms from: £595pp for seven nights on a half board basis until 30 September.