Some hotel owners are continuously carving new niches and pushing boundaries to create the next best place to see and be seen. Staying at these retreats gives you that sensation of newness and exclusivity rare in the modern age of travel. Many aren’t the usual names you’d associate with luxury hotels, either; they are singular visions brought to fruition by a handful of passionate individuals.
Read on for the ultimate places to stay, as chosen by A&K’s private client specialists.
Holy Deer, Rome
When in Rome, do as a Roman aristocrat would do: stay somewhere magnificent. Overlooking the city’s historic Piazza Navona, Holy Deer is the former home of Pope Innocent X and retains many features from its storied past – including 17th-century ceiling frescoes by Francesco Allegrini. The property’s 350sq m, horseshoe-shaped interior is laden with lavish details, from burnished mirrors in baroque frames to crystal chandeliers and vividly veined marble doorways. It’s also a showcase for Italy’s modern artisans, with commissioned ceramic, mosaic and tile work proudly on display. This two-bedroom apartment is one of three luxury lodges established by San Lorenzo but is genuinely singular in its offering.
Kachi Lodge, Bolivia
In southwest Bolivia is a place that must be seen to be believed: the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. During the rainy season, this snow-white, pancake-flat expanse floods and you’ll see ripple-free lakes that mirror the sky above. It’s the most photogenic time to be here. There are several hotels in the city of Uyuni from which to visit, but nowhere like Kachi Lodge. Comprising a handful of pod-suites in the salt flat’s centre, this remote property feels a little like a space base – especially at night, with a crystal-clear, star-spangled sky overhead. The comfortable interior of each dome is tastefully adorned with local art and textiles, while a segment of the wall serves as a window out onto the gleaming salt flat. Kachi is the suitably extra-terrestrial option for experiencing such an otherworldly wonder.
Mesa Home, Utah
Typified by tufted scrubland and huge, peach-coloured boulders, there’s a strange beauty to Utah’s desert. In the south of the US state lies the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, an enormous wilderness containing slot canyons, teetering hoodoos and sandstone arches – just the place for an adventure. Putting you in prime position to experience these wonders is the Mesa Home, one of Amangiri resort’s accommodation options. Set against pink cliffs and under blue skies, this standalone, four-bedroom property impresses with its contemporary aesthetic. While outside the temperature can plunge from scorching highs to teeth-chattering lows, Mesa’s underfloor heating and air-conditioning will keep you comfortable. Head out onto the large terrace, and a 15m infinity pool granting views across the desert greets you. Staying here also gives you full access to the main resort’s facilities, from the Aman spa to the range of enticing restaurants. Privacy and luxury, with the desert on your doorstep: it’s the ultimate way to experience Utah.
Whichaway Camp, Antarctica
When you think of camping in Antarctica, images of wind-battered tents and frostbitten explorers probably spring to mind – but time has moved on since Scott’s era. Luxury vessels take travellers into the waters of this frozen continent regularly, aeroplanes can whisk you off to the South Pole with relative ease, and the best accommodation promises warmth, comfort and even luxury. Like Kachi Lodge, Whichaway Camp comprises a cluster of pods in a vast white expanse. Unlike Kachi, however, it’s ice and not salt on your doorstep. This unique, boutique camp accommodates just 12 guests at any one time and boasts an unparalleled location in the Antarctic interior. It’s also eco-friendly, designed to minimise its impact on the environment without sacrificing guests’ comfort. Between intrepid excursions to see the wonders of the White Continent, swap stories over cuisine prepared by Whichaway’s award-winning chef, relax in the communal lounge or thumb through Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage in your cosy pod.
Sanctuary Olonana, Kenya
Kenya is synonymous with the “classic safari”, evoking visions of long-tusked elephant, long-necked giraffe and long-clawed lion. With the country’s well-established tourism industry, you aren’t short on places to stay; however, not all safari lodges and camps are created equal. Sanctuary Olonana wraps you up in contemporary comforts while immersing you in the heart of the Masai Mara. Set on a riverbank, the 14-suite property is in balance with the wilderness on its doorstep – so much so that it’s garnered a sought-after Gold rating from Ecotourism Kenya. It isn’t beholden to old-fashioned notions of what a safari lodge should look like; expect sharp, clean lines, floor-to-ceiling windows, sumptuous furnishings and modern interior design. The crème de la crème in-room options is undoubtedly the Geoffrey Kent Suite. It spoils guests with two en-suite bedrooms and a children’s room, wraparound private decking with river views, an in-suite chef and private safari guide, a spacious open-plan design and more. For comfort and luxury in Kenya’s wilds, there are few equals.
Four Seasons Voavah Private Island, Maldives
From tech entrepreneurs to Bond villains, private-island hideaways hold an enduring appeal to the rich and powerful. For those who don’t wish to foot the bill for the upkeep (or the secret underground bunker), but do want the romance of their far-flung retreat, Four Seasons has just the island: Voavah. You can book the entirety of this seven-bedroom Maldivian islet for your use. Throw an exclusive beach party, indulge in cocktails aboard Voavah’s 19m yacht, or head out for a spot of reef snorkelling and shark diving in the Unesco Biosphere waters. All the while, not a single uninvited soul will disturb your fun. The two-storey Beach House and its white-sand surrounds form the focal point, here, offering plenty to keep you as busy or relaxed as you like. Warm-up in the gym, cool down in the library or soak in the beachside pool as the palms sway under the sun – it's s little corner of paradise.