Smith Travel BlogTravel tales and hotel news from the boutique hotel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith

Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius: hotel of the week

Posted by Editorial on November 7th, 2014

As the nights draw longer and the winter approaches, we’re dreaming of white sand beaches, translucent lagoons and secluded coves. In short, we’re craving sunny Mauritian serenity, and our friend Maurice knows all about that… Constance Le Prince Maurice hotel, that is.

 Constance Le Prince Maurice hotel in Mauritius

Style Thatch and gliz
Setting Chic-en-Flacq headland

Why this week? November is already upon us: Christmas is on its way. So as we embark on the season of stodgy festive feasts, treat yourself to an Indian Ocean escape that’ll serve as the world’s most delightful post-Xmas rehab – the hotel offers the freshest and most enticing dining you’ll find in the Indian Ocean. Maurice’s lantern-lit Barachois floating restaurant provides an idyllic sunset setting to sample Faye Faye crab or grilled lobster, plucked from the waters right below your table. And, while you’re at it, why not save 30 per cent on your stay with our special offer?

Constance Le Prince Maurice hotel in MauritiusConstance Le Prince Maurice hotel in MauritiusOur favourite bits We don’t know if its the Luxe Sisley spa, the floating-bar sunsets or the earthy yet lavish rooms, but Constance Le Prince Maurice has stolen our hearts. Enclosed by azure waters, the luxury resort hotel is both beachfront and lake-edged with palm-shaded suites making it the perfect whimsical escapade for the hedonist within us all. Its free-form pool, luxurious spa and host of delicious restaurants (be they floating, fire-lit, or decked with sun loungers) are dispersed across the impressive grounds where the attentive service is second to none. The Mauritian way of life is always something to behold – but at the Constance, its just that bit better.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… “When breeze blows through the grounds of Constance Le Prince Maurice, it’s enough to make you want to flop down on sand as soft as whipped cream and lull yourself into a delicious, woozy half-sleep with the sound of waves rising and falling in time with your breathing. Just as well, really…” Read the full Constance Le Prince Maurice review…

Compiled by Augusta Melia

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Smith Hotel Awards 2014 winners announcedWorld's best boutique hotel: Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, Bahia, Brazil

Congratulations to Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, the breathtaking Brazilian beauty that, at last night’s Smith Hotel Awards, was announced as winner of Best Smith Hotel 2014.

A massive thank you to everyone who attended the event, everyone who voted, all our amazing partners, and of course our esteemed judging panel for selecting the finalists. You can browse all the award-winners – from Sexiest Bedroom in the World to Best Hotel Pool and Hottest Hotel Bar – on the Smith Hotel Awards site. Come back soon for a full party debrief (when we’re all, ahem, a little less hungover)…

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Best hotel in the world? Here’s tonight’s Smith Awards shortlist…

Posted by Lucy Fennings on November 6th, 2014

It’s now only a few hours until we reveal the best hotel in the world… As Smith HQ goes into a frenzy of party preparation, champagne chilling and gong engraving ahead of this evening’s Smith Hotel Awards announcements and prize-giving celebrations, we bring you the public-voted shortlist for this year’s ultimate boutique hotel title: Best Smith Hotel 2014.

Here’s why we think these top 10 boutique hotels should win – but don’t just take our word for it: check out what other voters had to say, too. Which one do you think will be crowned champion?

World's best hotels: Alila Villas UluwatuALILA VILLAS ULUWATU, BALI, INDONESIA

You said… ‘You could be in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and this place would make you forget all of it. This is heaven on earth’ – Celeste Toffanello
‘It’s the most amazing place I have ever been to. It has earth-friendly architecture that doesn’t sacrifice design. Creative, relaxing and accommodating – it will knock you off your feet. Staff meet your every need and make your stay as amazing as possible
– Jeff Carmelo David

This architectural marvel stakes a stylish claim on the rugged Bukit Peninsula, and was a major contender at last year’s awards, scooping Best-Dressed Hotel 2013 as well as a runner-up spot for Best Smith Hotel. It’s a much-loved fantasy escape, a stand-out future design classic, and the iconic bar gets it top spot on many a Smith member’s wish-list.

Why should this hotel win? Each villa echoes the dramatic modernist look of the main buildings, with private pools sunk into leafy, day-bed-bedecked terraces. Each villa has elegant minimalist interiors and a butler on call. If your in-villa pool isn’t dreamy enough, slip into the cliff-top infinity pool, followed by authentic Indonesian fare in the sultry restaurant. Did we mention the spa? Just US$200 a day buys you unlimited sessions with their therapists (there are also special kids’ treatments). There are also free daily yoga sessions but if this is a tad too healthy for you, your personal butler isn’t averse to delivering some late-night drinks.

Best hotels in the world: Qualia, Great Barrier Reef, AustraliaQUALIA, GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA

You said… ‘Whenever I think of or hear the name, Qualia, it instantly brings in a rush of happiness and a big smile. It’s perfection. The best service that I have ever had, in combination with an extraordinary concierge, Penny, in the most beautiful setting, helped to create memories that will last a lifetime’ – Lauren Piper
‘Perfect setting, exquisitely designed guest pavilions… Qualia has no comparison and should be on the bucket list of every seasoned traveller’ – Joe Matula

This hip Hamilton hotel has shown up in categories from Sexiest Bedroom to Above and Beyond – and this is its second time in the Best Smith Hotel spotlight. Built by billionaires, the high-end island hideaway spares no expense making the most of its utterly spectacular setting, among acres of breath-taking natural beauty.

Why should this hotel win? Qualia makes people passionate: voters heaped not only praise but respect and genuine love on Qualia – and almost every comment featured an engagement, anniversary or misty-eyed memory. With as many staff as guests, everyone gets VIP treatment; elegantly outfitted Pavilions (each with a private sundeck) are perfectly placed for Coral Sea gazing, and hidden among the hillside greenery, which guests explore by golf buggy, there’s a spa with indigenous treatments. Qualia also offers imaginative Australian fine dining and a well-stocked wine cellar.

Top 10 best hotels in the world: Ampersand Hotel, LondonTHE AMPERSAND HOTEL, LONDON, UK

You said… ‘They care about your stay. It’s easy to make a hotel look nice, but it’s much harder to make it feel nice. Immaculate boutique hotel in a stunning location. A winner every time’ – Ian Burgess
‘The best hotel I’ve stayed in in the world (and I’ve been to a fair few!). Staff are wonderfully friendly and knowledgable. The interiors are gorgeous, the beds are luxurious, and the little touches make all the difference. Honestly, this hotel is just pure joy. I can’t wait to go back again (and again, and again…)’ – Heather Noonan-Hargroves

Set in a peaceful position within walking distance of museums, shops and cafés, the Ampersand’s charms include a pretty tea salon with excellent cakes, a brilliant basement restaurant with clever cocktails, and bright bedrooms with blissfully comfy beds.

Why should this hotel win? Since it opened, the Ampersand has impressed by ticking all the boxes required of a great Smith stay: it’s independent, stylish but unpretentious, has a great location, and serves knock-out cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere. Chef Chris Golding’s lovingly crafted menu for Apero scores extra points for its tasty sharing plates and hip NY-style decor. Voters consistently mentioned the friendly service and the attention to detail that made their stay, from the in-room extras (treats from the chef; rubber ducks; great minibars) to the borrowable brollies (with tongue-in-cheek ‘cats and dogs’ print).

World's best boutique hotels: Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, Bahia, Brazil

You said… ‘Tropical birds singing in my bathroom, sloths in the garden, funny monkeys waiting for a banana during breakfast and huge turtles in the sea… Uxua’s amazing’ – Giulio Volpe
‘I love the backstory: I’m drawn to a place whose founder has a passion for the people, place, and history. Wilbert Das does such a phenomenal job integrating the indigeneity of Trancoso with his rustic vision of sustainability. And the spa amenities are a plus!’ – Cydney Hedgpeth

Tucked between clifftop Trancoso village and postcard-perfect Bahian beaches, beautiful bolthole Uxua Casa is a collection of restored fisherman’s casas and treehouses bestowed with island-chic interiors worthy of Wallpaper*.

Why should this hotel win? Another repeat visitor to the Smith Hotel Awards, this Best-Dressed nominee has a strong style pedigree, courtesy of Diesel’s former creative director. Bahian detailing – mini stained-glass windows and small oratorios – add a traditional touch to rustic-chic villas, which include features such as outdoor showers, private plunge pools and repurposed eucalyptus-branch pipes to create breathtaking eco-friendly boltholes. All-natural spa treatments in tree-flanked pavilions, a glittering aventurine-quartz-lined pool and inventive Brazilian cuisine (using garden-gathered ingredients) in informal surroundings have turned this former hippie haven into a hip hangout.

World's best boutique hotels: Lake House, Daylesford, AustraliaLAKE HOUSE, DAYLESFORD, AUSTRALIA

You said… ‘This exquisite hotel suits its breathtaking rural setting. The service was exceptional – professional, friendly and casual – and the restaurant was outstanding’ – Georgina Dircks
‘Everything was magical – the staff were warm and friendly, every meal was great, and the room’s garden surrounds were so romantic’ – Glenys Morphett
‘The hotel exceeded our expectations, with its impeccable service, imaginative meals, outstanding wine selection, beautiful accommodation and blissful spa’ – Judith Galloway

Chef Alla Wolf-Tasker’s culinary genius has lured in-the-know foodies to rural Daylesford for 30 years and counting. However, this hotel will sate more than one sense, with Salus spa’s treetop hot tubs and its soul-soothing countryside.

Why should this hotel win? Waiters will happily natter about foraging, farmers use the kitchen’s open-door policy to donate windfall produce and the six-acre garden is more like a farm – there’s no better destination for a gastronomic getaway. Wolf-Tasker’s championing of Victoria’s diverse produce secured a Best Hotel Restaurant nomination; however, Lake House’s place in the Best Smith Hotel top 10 was won by the peaceful and green lakeside setting – where kookaburras graze – romance-inspiring rooms, the spa’s treetop hot tubs and lauded staff, including a switched-on sommelier – all the right ingredients to win.

Best hotels in the world: 1888 Hotel, Sydney, Australia1888 HOTEL, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

You said… ‘Perfectly located; exceptional service and gorgeous rooms with excellent facilities. 1888 has totally renewed my belief in the personal touch being found in Sydney. I can not rave about it enough’ – Jennifer Sheppard
‘An edgy, interesting hotel (which provides a great experience), a wonderful re-use of a heritage building  (which provides emotional satisfaction) and an eminently home-like environment (which provides an urge to stay longer)’ – Bruce Curtis

1888 Hotel was built in, yup, 1888, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about its gorgeous young staff or vibrant interior. The hotel champions old and new Australia, with reclaimed Ironbark beams and period windows in rooms, and a smart bar menu. And it’s smack-dab in the heart of Pyrmont, putting you within rambling reach of the city’s best restaurants and bars.

Why should this hotel win? This is an historic hotel, but it has thoroughly modern credentials: each room comes complete with its own iPad, and there’s a designated selfie spot in the lobby. But they haven’t forgotten the basics: the food is delicious, and the bedrooms stylish and cosy.

World's best boutique hotels: The Sarojin, Phang Nga, ThailandTHE SAROJIN, PHANG NGA, THAILAND

You said… ‘They work together with local charities. All staff get to stay a couple of days in the hotel to experience what it’s all about. And you can tell they love working there. It’s not a hotel: it’s a big family’ – Joris Laenen
‘It was a dream come true. We had an amazing holiday: food was incredible, location out of this world and service the best and most attentive I have ever experienced. The beach was amazing and a beautiful setting for dinner, and the spa is a world-beater’ – Angie Robinson

The Sarojin is sitting pretty in the top 10 for Best Hotel Pool – not least for its veil-swathed poolside pavilions – but this wish-fulfilling resort on Phang Nga’s coast
has oh so much more to experience: a floating spa, daydream-worthy dining and a mind-reading level of service. ‘Tranquil’ doesn’t begin to cover it…

Why should this hotel win? Your assigned ‘imagineer’ will craft a personalised itinerary for your stay, with a host of activities, ranging from simple sightseeing to white-knuckle thrills. Soothing Thai massage rituals in an award-garlanded spa, dining à deux on a private island or chartered yacht, and high-octane jungle-set adventures – all conjured up by genie-like staff, in a luxuriant tropical setting – are just some of the Sarojin’s winning qualities; add a beatific Phang Nga setting, and spoiling that starts before check-in, and you have a strong contender indeed.

World's best Smith hotels: Calcot Manor, UKCALCOT MANOR, COTSWOLDS, UK

You said… ‘I now compare every hotel I stay in to Calcot, and none live up to its amazing service, fabulous activities and outstanding food’ – Amanda Heard
‘Home as you would dream it’ – Aislinh Bucknell
Whether we visit in the winter and sit star-gazing in the outdoor hot tub, or in the summer, when we can cycle through the rolling hills, it will always be our number one’ – Sally Skan

Hotels that swear ‘nothing is too much trouble’ are often sorely tested when faced with screaming toddlers, yet voters have used almost every superlative in the dictionary to describe the attention to child-friendly detail, with the remainder applied liberally to lavish praise on the award-winning, parent-pampering spa.

Why should this hotel win? Calcot wins hearts time and time again for its brilliant, classic mix of style, service and comfort. It’s a romantic weekend destination, a firm family favourite and a long-time Smith love. Don’t feel like fancy fare? Cosy up in the open-hearthed gastropub. On a romantic retreat? The main house has couples-only rooms. Need to distract hyperactive infants? There are activities aplenty. Calcot Manor caters to every whim for every age.

Best hotels in the world: Secret Bay resort, DominicaSECRET BAY, DOMINICA

You said… ‘Sleeping in the middle of a rainforest atop a volcanic island and rolling onto the beach whenever one fancies is almost impossible to beat‘ – Mark Lam
‘We felt happily cocooned in a hidden, private world that was oh-so-luxurious and stunningly beautiful’ – Jackie Henry
‘Simply the most perfect, romantic and enchanting vacation we have ever had’ – Tara Riddle

This eco-luxury resort is tucked deep among groves of fruit trees and tropical flora in a verdant off-the-grid patch of Dominican jungle, where peace and privacy are offered in spades and the panoramas are as near perfect as you’ll get.

Why should this hotel win? The soaking tub for two, the sea-facing king-size beds, the deserted beaches – even the most affection-averse will come over all Casanova in these romantic surrounds. Add to that a chef who’ll cater to your every craving, a jazz band who’ll serenade you on your terrace and massages on tap and it’s no wonder Secret Bay is hailed as a honeymoon haven.

Best Smith Hotel shortlist: Dormy House , Cotswolds, UKDORMY HOUSE, COTSWOLDS, UK

You said… ‘Beautiful and very charming. The staff are amazing, nothing is too much hassle. If I could stay at one place for the rest of my life, Dormy House would be it’ – Abbi Yates
‘A magical Cotswolds location; a place to create memories; wonderful food and accommodation… it is our second home’ – Neil Clarke

With nominations for Best Newcomer and Best Spa Hotel already under its belt, the Cotswolds’ most appealing re-opening was a shoo-in for this winner-takes-all category. A honey-hued 17th-century farmhouse turned beautiful boutique bolthole, Dormy House has a destination spa, 400 acres of gorgeous grounds, and romance in spades.

Why should this hotel win? Spaces given a twice-over by the design talents of Todhunter Earle are a refreshingly elegant update on classic Cotswolds style; the grounds are presided over by eminent gardener Chris Beardshaw; and the kitchen’s helmed by talented chef Jon Ingram. Fast-becoming a Smith favourite, Dormy House’s laid-back take on luxury charms and impresses in equal measure.

Find out which hotel is crowned Best Smith Hotel 2014 – and see all the other category winners – live on Twitter tonight, or by visiting the Smith Hotel Awards site first thing tomorrow! 

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Top 10 best new hotels: the Smith Awards 2014 shortlist

Posted by Lucy Fennings on November 4th, 2014

The Best Newcomer award is a hotly contested one in the travel industry: these hip new hotels are gunning for stardom from the moment the doors swing open, and this latest crop of cool getaways is no exception. The results of the public vote are in: here are your top 10 new hotels for the Smith Hotel Awards 2014 – but which one will take top prize?
Best new hotels: The Pig – on the Beach, Dorset


Killer details Magical thatched-roof dovecotes and shepherd’s huts • Acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant supplied with delicious ingredients from on-site walled garden • Thoughtful touches like colourful striped mats to take to the beach

With a postcard-perfect clifftop setting overlooking the lake-still expanse of Studland Bay, The Pig – on the Beach in Dorset would win us over purely for its location, even if it weren’t also a revived 16th-century manor house brimming with charming vintage-style finds and home to the glorious kitchen gardens that are all hallmark Pig. Whimsically outfitted in quirky collectibles and rustic accent pieces from French flea markets, this little Piggy has the same cosy, contemporary country-house style as its siblings, with marble sinks, reclaimed floorboards, super-comfy beds and soothing views.

Best new hotels: Drift House, Australia


Killer details Modern art gallery-inspired aesthetic in updated Victorian architecture • All suites have kitchenettes and maxibars stocked with snacks • Charming beach town and steps-from-the-water location

Part chocolate-box Victorian residence, part artsy metal modern addition, Drift House is the southwestern Australian beach house you never knew you wanted. But, from the moment you step into one of its four roomy, impeccably decorated suites – and get a whiff of the fresh-baked treats in your daily, overflowing breakfast hamper – you’ll never want to leave.

Best new Hotels: Dormy House, Cotswolds


Killer details Spa including candlelit infinity pool, Veuve Clicquot nail parlour and rhassoul-mud room • Wildly inventive West Country cuisine at the Garden Room restaurant • Countryside walks on the Vale of Evesham with complimentary hampers and the key to Farncombe Estate’s secret Japanese garden

The 400 acres of the 17th-century farmhouse Dormy House seem sprung from the quintessentially English imaginations of Beatrix Potter and Jane Austen. With its elegant modern style, coiffed gardens, two renowned farm-to-table restaurants and one seriously spoiling spa, this hotel is ripe for romance. Designed by the minds behind Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, the rooms reflect the hotel’s history with either era pastel hues, whitewashed wooden beams and four-poster beds, or mod William Morris-style prints alongside antique statement pieces.

Best new hotels: Ham Yard Hotel, London


Killer details All rooms individually designed with their own mix of art • Prime central location next to Piccadilly Circus • Psychedelic blue-walled bowling alley with bar

Riffing on Kit Kemp’s signature multi-patterned, multi-coloured style, the Ham Yard Hotel  – perched by Piccadilly Circus – is the designer’s coolest hideaway yet. With a retro bowling alley, rooftop terrace boasting London skyline views and a restaurant-supplying garden, film screening room and honesty bar in the guests-only library, there’s much to love.

Best new hotel: Iconic Santorini, Greece


Killer details Panoramic caldera views from balconies of each room • Exceptional locally-sourced Greek cuisine at water-facing Pergola Restaurant • Private plunge pools with most rooms, plus shared cliffside infinity pool

Hugging the caldera’s dramatic cliffside, Iconic Santorini‘s cave-carved rooms, sunlounger-dotted patios and wow-worthy terraces sprawl over five levels of Imerovigli village, perched at the highest point of the island. A sea-view pool, cosy spa and breezy whites and blues have freshened the traditional dwellings, now the perfect spot for a luxurious break with dazzling Aegean Sea views.

Best new hotel: Hotel Hotel Canberra, Australia


Killer details Art-gallery worthy design • Hot-spot restaurant and bar with hidden garden and live music • Prime NewActon location in cultural hub Nishi building

Canberra’s first true boutique hotel doesn’t do things by halves. New York via NewActon in style, the sultry Hotel Hotel lies in a cultural hotbed, rubbing shoulders with art galleries, designer boutiques and a basement cinema. The hotel has a pedigree of artists, designers and curators that would render gallerists weak-kneed with excitement. An artsy mélange of retro-inspired textiles and furniture, Aesop bath products, gallery-worth art and mood lighting, the hotel’s rooms are spacious and sexy home bases for your explorations of the lively local neighbourhood.

Best new hotel: Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, United States


Killer details Stylish loft-like rooms with beds for the best sleep of your life • Star-studded LA Chapter restaurant and Upstairs rooftop bar • Trendy downtown location in the only LA area where cars aren’t mandatory

Where else can Spanish Gothic, art deco, LA noire, rocker chic and hipster cool coexist so peacefully but at the Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles? Some LA hotels have views, others have historic architecture, some host concerts and movie premiers, others have rave-worthy cuisine, a handful offer friendly service and even fewer have the causal, modern style of our daydreams. Revamped United Artists Theatre building, The Ace, is the rare beast that has it all.

Best new hotel: Point Yamu by Como, Phuket


Killer details Signature spoiling Como Shambhala spa • Private island with guests-only beach and ferry from hotel • Two exceptional restaurants, serving authentic Italian and top-notch Peranakan-Thai

Point Yamu by Como’s take on Thai luxury has an Italian spin, thanks to Paola Navone’s sleek Med-inspired styling and La Sirena’s flawless Italian food. Sleek white lines punctuated by accent hues, whimsical furniture and covetable curios, jaw-dropping views of Phang Nga Bay and the Andaman Sea, plus sprawling private balconies for making the most of the vistas, are among the best Phuket has to offer.

Best new hotel: Soho House Chicago, Chicago


Killer details Four eateries, including a buzy lobby cafe-bar and the club-level signature restaurant • Year-round, heated rooftop pool with panoramic skyline views • Exceptionally spacious loft-like rooms, even for Chicago

The newest addition to the Soho House group brings the artsy, quintessentially boutique members’ club to Chicago’s ideal and trendy Fulton Market neighbourhood, and it might be the best Soho House yet. A Cowshed Spa, three open-to-the-public restaurants (including a craft-beer-and-cocktail bar) that hold their own in a foodie city and a guests-and-members-only rooftop bar and pool with exceptional downtown views. Its pretty much perfection.

Best new hotel: Casacau, Rome


Killer details Right in the heart of Rome’s iconic landmark- scattered centre • Well-connected hosts who know hidden hot-spots • All rooms equipped with kitchenettes for the freedom of apartment living

In a 17th-century building just a coin toss from the Trevi Fountain, Casacau‘s fabulously faded boutique apartments are the perfect place to live la dolce vita and feel like a Rome native. Each crash pad is decked out in impeccable 1960s-inspired design with era-spanning art prints and a sprinkling of antique trinkets and hosts Flavia and Kevin are the most welcoming and knowledgeable you could hope for.

Find out who’ll win our judges’ hearts when we reveal the Smith Hotel Awards winners on 7 November…. or browse more beautiful boutique hotels at

*Editorial assistant: Augusta Melia

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Treehotel in  Norrbotten County, Sweden

We’ve a truly global array of unusually lovely hotels this month. We started our trek up in a remote part of Swedish Lapland, were Treehotel’s unique treehouses dangle from branches and cling to trunks in a Norrbotten County  Casa de la Flora hotel in Khao Lak, Thailand Twin Farms hotel in Vermont, United States forest. It was joined in our hand-picked collection by a trio city-dwelling Swedes, Ett Hem, Lydmar and Miss Clara in Stockholm.

Next up, we were England bound to meet two London stays, first-class classic The Berkeley and towering art deco grand dame The Beaumont. From there, we hopped over the Atlantic to Vermont, where rustic-luxe haven Twin Farms has 20 romance-reviving suites and an eye-popping collection of world-class artwork, all dotted 300 pine-flecked, private-ski-run-crossed acres.

Then, on to Asia! Taylors Hill hotel is decked out in eye-catching brights and a dash of contemporary whimsy high in Sri Lanka’s Kandy mountains, and over in Thailand Casa de la Flora and Sala Phuket caught our curators’ eye…

We’ll be introducing you to our final new finds of 2014 right here a month from now. See you then?

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Top 10 hotels for service: the Above and Beyond award shortlist

Posted by Laura House on November 3rd, 2014

Best hotels for service | Smith Awards top 10

At some hotels, going the extra mile isn’t just about great service and staff that can’t be cracked, but an almost psychic attention to detail and obsessive quality control. These hotels are laying on niche niceties – from gourmet-packed minibars to drive-your-own golf buggies – and doling out amusing job titles – we’re talking tech advisors and sunglasses concierges; salt gurus and imagineers. This top 10 shortlist – drawn from your votes – is currently under the scrutiny of our expert judging panel to see which buttoned-up boutique hotel deserves the distinction of Above and Beyond….


Best hotels for service | Chewton Glen, Hampshire, UK

With a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one, it’s hard not to feel like a royal at this 18th-century manor. The nothing-is-too-much-trouble service and gorgeous grounds makes this five-star hotel with its spoiling spa, elegant restaurants and country club as seductive as it is suave.


Best hotels for service| Cocoa Island by Como, Maldives

Need something? There are personal butlers on hand to arrange your dinner on the beach (or anything else you fancy), guides to lead scuba tours, the talented therapists will soothe away aches and pains in the world-class spa, as well as yoga and meditation instructors on staff.


Best hotels for service| Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Once you arrive, everything is taken care of, truly: the bountiful food, drinks and activities are all included in your stay. Solitude, serenity and privacy are what guests stay here for; staff take a refreshing first-name-basis approach, and the vibe is casual and unfussed.


Best hotels for service| Aenaon Villas, Santorini, Greece

Privacy and exclusivity are this hotel’s hallmarks. The attentive, yet unobtrusive, owners welcome guests like family to their secluded seven-suite retreat of spacious rooms, with fireplaces, private terraces or plunge pools for a throng-free escape.


Best hotels for service| Qualia, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

True to its name (Latin for deep, multi-sensory experience) this retreat strives to heighten the senses. Indulge in a custom-designed private-dining event, give yourself over to an Aboriginal spa treatment or have the concierge arrange a picnic at a private snorkelling beach.


Best hotels for service | One & Only Palm, Dubai, UAE

Dine at one of three restaurants overseen by a Michelin-starred chef or call for round-the-clock room service. Lounge poolside where attendants offer cold beer, ice-cream and more. This hotel excels with its signature style of attentive, friendly – almost intuitive – service.


Best hotels for service | Le Royal Monceau Raffles, Paris, France

It’s hard to stray from this retreat with rooms with enormous beds, and guitars or pianos to play, and the two Michelin-starred restaurants in-house. Unwind at the city’s biggest spa or hunt for souvenirs at the high-end boutique crammed with clothing, vintage furniture and art.


Above and Beyond | Villa Cora, Florence, Italy

Aristocratic luxury plus passionate, personal service will have you feeling like the nobility who once roamed these halls. Baroque details and Florentine frescoes are balanced by modern perks: the city’s largest heated outdoor pool, a glassy Tuscan eatery and a subterranean spa.


Best hotels for service| One Eleven Bali, Seminyak, Indonesia

The nine secluded villas all have their own private pools and spa gazebos for side-by-side spa treatments. Your personal chef will attend to breakfast in bed and late-night snacks, and, if you need anything else, your private butler has you covered. It’s pampered privacy at its best.


Best hotels for service | No 131, Cheltenham, UK

The attentive staff are focused on earthly pleasures: expect inventive cuisine and explosive cocktails, and rooms boast enormous beds and roll-top baths. Even the small details – creative minibar snacks, in-room tea kettles, fresh breakfast pastries – make a big impact.

Curious about the sexiest bedroom or best hotel bar? See all the Smith Awards 2014 categories…

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Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica: hotel of the week

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on October 31st, 2014

Round HIll Hotel & Villas in Jamaica

What better time to make a bee-line for an exquisite Caribbean hotspot than right now, as winter draws in? And we know just the place: 18th-century plantation turned lavish romantic getaway Round Hill Hotel & Villas in Jamaica offers an all-round sensory experience. With transcendent views of Montego Bay, the serene sensation of the ocean breeze, and the glamour of some of its former residents (JFK, anyone?), Round Hill’s a splendid place to soak up some winter sun.

Style Polo-inspired plantation
Setting Rolling Greens on Montego Bay

Why this week? To make the most of the sunshine, take the gardener’s tour of Round Hill’s exquisite grounds – you’ll explore the rare tropical orchids and check out the chef’s organic garden, where the produce for the hotel’s fresh and flavoursome food is grown. And if you’d rather explore greens of another sort entirely, just hop on Round Hill’s shuttle to the Tryall Golf Club and tee up on one of the Caribbean’s best courses. And, we’ll give you 25 per cent off!

 Round Hill Hotel & Villas in  Jamaica Round Hill Hotel & Villas in JamaicaOur favourite bits The impeccable grounds, five tennis courts and guest-only library form just the foundation of Round Hill’s captivating allure. Book your space at the luxury seven room spa, set in a restored eighteenth century house. Treatment includes local lemongrass, ocean-plucked stones and a hangover massage should you happen to take full advantage of the Ralph Lauren Cocktail Bar’s exceptional 550-bin wine list. Enjoy your stay in the elegant Pineapple house, where suites are blessed with a private pool and bar, mahogany four-poster beds and easy access to the Montego Bay’s sandy shores. As for food, whether you’re enjoying the contemporary Caribbean dishes of Chef Martin Maginley at the ocean-side Grill, or indulging in the hotel’s calypso band-accompanied beach barbeques, the dining experience at Round Hill is quintessentially Jamaican, with a sophisticated twist.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… “Think Jamaica is all mega-resorts mobbed with rum-swilling revellers? Then prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the timeless slice of family-friendly island paradise that is the Round Hill Hotel & Villas. Today, it retains its classic charm and entices families with a free activity-packed kids’ club, loads of watersports, a pristine private beach and a kitchen helmed by a James Beard-awarded chef (take that, picky eaters). And don’t worry, with themed family nights with Jamaican-style beach barbecue and live music, you’ll still get an authentic dose of local culture, too.” Read the full Round Hill Hotel & Villas review…

Compiled by Augusta Melia

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Top 10 budget boutique hotels: the Smith Hotel Awards shortlist

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on October 29th, 2014

Smith Hotel Awards 2014: Best Budget Boutique HotelYou want style, you want service, you want a stay to make your friends green with boutique-bolthole envy… but you don’t want to entirely empty your piggy bank. Smith to the rescue! The hotels on our super-chic shortlist for the Best Budget Boutique gong at the Smith Hotel Awards 2014 boast all of the above in spades… without walloping your wallet too hard.

From hip city hubs to sprawling country estates, these are the 10 best budget-friendly hotels, as chosen by you:


 Hotel Pulitzer in Barcelona, Spain

HOTEL PULITZER – Barcelona, Spain

Bang for your buck A superb city-centre location, just steps from Plaça Catalunya • The rooftop bar has a serious party vibe • Some of the city’s best cocktails are available in the lobby

As you’d expect from a hotspot near the famously ornate edifices of the Gothic quarter, Hotel Pulitzer is a design-conscious delight, right from the moment you walk in and spy the gilt-edged panels of the front desk…

Brody House hotel in Budapest

BRODY HOUSE – Budapest, Hungary

Bang for your buck Unique, art-led design in every room • Selective, but not stuffy, members’ club atmosphere • The revitalised mansion retains its historic charm

More than just a boutique bolthole, Brody House – last year’s winner in this category – is also a members’ club with a stylish bar, a sometime film and fashion-shoot set, and a hub of local creativity with a calendar crammed full of art events and book readings.

 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia

1888 HOTEL – Sydney, Australia

Bang for your buck Darling Harbour location • Historic architecture • Brilliant, young staff

1888 Hotel was built in, yup, 1888, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about its gorgeous young staff or vibrant interior. The hotel champions old and new Australia, with reclaimed Ironbark beams and period windows in rooms, and a smart bar menu.

 The Pig near Bath hotel in Somerset, United Kingdom

THE PIG NEAR BATH – Somerset, United Kingdom

Bang for your buck Tasty hyper-local food • Acres of deer park • The potting-shed spa

The third little piggy in the Pig array of boutique stays is the grandest and perhaps most succulent of them all. The food alone is worth the price of admission at any of the Pig properties, and The Pig Near Bath edition is no exception.

 Château les Merles hotel in Dordogne, France

CHATEAU LES MERLES – Dordogne, France

Bang for your buck Affordable chic • Family-run hospitality • Innovative menu in a fabulous dining room

This family-run château near Bergerac is the sort of spot where the welcome’s warm, the gardens are pristine and the food’s très bien. (It’s fantastically kid friendly, too.) Want the full country-manor-in-the-Dordogne experience but aren’t related to some sort of French aristo? Château les Merles is the place for you.

 Borgo della Marmotta hotel in Umbria, Italy


Bang for your buck Historic hamlet setting • Warm Italian hospitality • Country-paced living

Borgo della Marmotta is the kind of hotel you lose your heart to: a 17th-century hamlet set amid 12,000 olive trees, with views of Spoleto Valley and deliciously romantic rooms.

 The Wheatsheaf Inn hotel in the Cotswolds, United Kingdom

THE WHEATSHEAF INN – Cotswolds, United Kingdom

Bang for your buck A gourmet gastropub • Serene Somerset surrounds • Utterly laid back

Rustic charmer The Wheatsheaf Inn hotel in the Cotswolds brings the trad British coaching inn bang up to date, with stylish design, tasty regional food and beer, and even a petite spa room.

 Claska hotel in Tokyo, Japan

CLASKA – Tokyo, Japan

Bang for your buck Young, fashionable feel Offbeat location • Lively bar and restaurant

Claska’s at the heart of one of Tokyo’s coolest neighbourhoods, and the hotel doesn’t let down its location, thanks to Tei Shuwa’s exceptional design and the ever-evident traditional Japanese hospitality…

 Ekies All Senses Resort in Halkidiki, Greece


Bang for your buck Nearby beach and pool • Open-air spa and bar • Romantic private dining

Ekies All Senses Resort’s ridiculously jewel-coloured bay is the sort of sea you don’t want to leave: calm, warm and shallow. But when you’re out of the water, the delicious dining, serene spa and stylishly minimal rooms are almost as delightful, too.

 Cabochon Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand

CABOCHON – Bangkok, Thailand

Bang for your buck Sukhumvit setting • Characterful design • Delicious food

This Bangkok bolthole revels in its eclectic 1920s-inspired interiors: Cabochon is low on price but high on style (features range from red velvet Shanghainese sofas to cheetah skulls and ostrich legs).

We’ll be revealing all the winners of the Smith Hotel Awards 2014 on 7 November. Till then, why not book yourself a stylish stay at one of our 200-plus budget boutique hotels?

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Travel with #smithtaste: the winner!

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on October 28th, 2014

Well, that was delicious. You served up several hundred drool-inspiring dishes for our #smithtaste food photography competition all last week, and yesterday we spent a stomach-rumbling hour choosing our menu of photographic favourites for our judge, Ollie Lloyd (founder and CEO of Great British Chefs, creators of the Great Global Chefs iPad app).

Now that we’ve deliberated, cogitated and digested, here’s our winner:

A photo posted by Bobbie and Lola (@bobbielola) on


Congratulations, @bobbielola! Your £250/$400 Smith voucher prize – to use at any of the 950+ hotels in our carefully curated collection – will be winging its way to you soon. And if you’re after a particularly tasty place to spend it, perhaps perusing out Travelling with Taste guide to eating your way around the road will help…

And, well done to the very worthy runners-up!

A photo posted by Gabriella (@gabriella_lp) on

A photo posted by carista (@carista) on

A photo posted by @acaciapferraz on

A photo posted by on

A photo posted by serenavsmith (@serenavsmith) on

A photo posted by Bernadette Hendry (@blb003) on

A photo posted by Mardam (@mardamldn) on

#smithtaste food photography competition runners-up

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Top 10 sexiest bedrooms: the Smith Awards shortlist

Posted by Sarah Jappy on October 27th, 2014

Prepare to drop your pants: it’s sexy o’clock. We asked, you replied – when it came to the Smith Hotel Awards 2014‘s Sexiest Bedroom in the World, our voters were vocal. So which romantic retreat is ripest for seduction? Which billowing bed could you bury yourselves in? Warning: we will not be held accountable for the consequences of you reading this blog post, particularly if you do so in close proximity to an attractive human.


Sexy bits Easy access to the sea from the private sunbathing deck • Terrace built for cocktail drinking • Private hydrotherapy bath tub 

When in a hotel built on the remains of a Roman villa, do as the ancient Romans do and bed down in a grotto. Here’s introducing the eye-bogglingly beautiful Roccia suite, whose hydrotherapy bath tub (opposite the canopied four-poster bed) is more like a mini ocean, and whose sea views will have you booking a return stay before you’ve left.

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Sexy bits Sun butler  • In-room massages • Private plunge pool 

If your bedroom doesn’t have a massage area, a huge terrace that faces a pine forest, and a leafy garden with a plunge pool, get the decorators in. The Allure Suite has two elegant bedrooms, a living room and a library – play lord and lady in its creamy splendour. Want to tan on the terrace? Call your sun butler, who will bring up (and even apply) sun lotion.

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Sexy bits  In-room spa treatments • Siren-red decor • Canal views

For Venetian va-va-voom by the gondola-load – canal views, Murano chandeliers, damask fabrics and unabashed red-and-gold opulence – opt for Ca Maria Adele’s Sala del Doge, an irreligiously good-looking suite clad from top-to-toe in red velvet, with a custom-made chandelier. The suite pays handsome homage to the city’s past (except, perhaps, for the Jacuzzi).

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Sexy bits Personal host service • Private pool • Tranquil terrace

Hop onto volcanic black sand as glittery as the Balinese night sky from Ocean Pool Villa 202, which has a sea-view bath tub and a prime position on the beach. This handsome villa is shrouded by greenery, meaning maximum privacy, and there’s an emerald patch of lawn at the front where you can recline, holiday read in hand.



Sexy bits The ravishing fresco • Sultry interior • Ancient stone bath tub 

The Italians ace romance; nowhere is this more apparent than in Il Salviatino’s Affrescco Suite – whose ceiling is decorated with a Domenico Bruschi mural that dates back to 1886, whose walls are hung with two oil canvases by Gabriel van der Leeuw and whose bath tub is fashioned from a sarcophagus. Chesterfields and fireplaces add cosiness to couture. And the bed – oh, the bed…

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Sexy bits Ladder access to the ocean • Private plunge pool • Mini wine cellar 

Nothing as common as a door leads to Six Senses’ five ravishing water villas, set right on the ocean, overlooking a coral reef; instead, a private seaside staircase yawns down to the hillside. Water Villa 5 is the pick of the bunch: we love its private plunge pool set amid boulders, the ladder that drops into the sea and the wood and white furnishings.

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Sexy bits Panoramic city views • DIY Martini kit • Two-person tub

Let your hair down (or don a red wig like the lobby’s door gals) at QT Sydney’s Corner Suites, decorated with splashes of vermillion red and kooky ceramic animals. QT Junior Suite 07 is the quirky queen of QT’s rooms, with sweeping views of Market and George Street, a round bath tub and more space than the Junior Suites. N.B: any suite with a minibar martini kit is fine by us.



Sexy bits  A magical four-poster bed • Anouska Hempel design • Antique bath tub 

Marble, mother-of-pearl and milk-white furnishings won Anouska Hempel’s Corfu Suite the gong for ‘Sexiest Bedroom in the World’ in 2013. This year, our money’s on the Cardinal Suite, the vampy red bridesmaid to the Corfu Suite’s pallid bride. Scruple-loosening lures include a four-poster bed swathed in rich ruby fabrics and an enticing bathroom with an antique tub.

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Sexy bits More window than wall • Freestanding bed • 400 sq feet of space to romp in

André Balazs gives good bedroom: the Empire Suite – an expanse of pearlescent perfection – is as white and shiny as an A-lister’s smile. Walls and ceilings glitter with custom lacquer, the bath tub surveys the Empire State Building, windows eyeball Midtown and there’s even a powder room for lucky guests.



Sexy bits Custom-made bed • Superior sound system • Half a floor of privacy

Sometimes, a mere room isn’t enough. Sometimes, only an entire floor will do. That’s why we love Suite 57, which sprawls across the north side of the hotel’s 28th floor. The parquet floor is as lustrous as honey, the views of Central Park and Manhattan’s urban playground will make your eyes widen and the sound system comes courtesy of Dr Dre.

Find out who tempted and tantalised our judges when we reveal the 2014 Smith Hotel Awards winners on November 7… or browse more irresistible hotels at

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