After gathering votes from 22,000 savvy travellers and 50 tastemaker judges, we’ve whittled down 1,000 of the world’s best boutique hotels to 12 amazing award-winners…
At a buzzing party in central London, Mr & Mrs Smith doffed caps to the most heart-stealing hotels around the globe. From Best-Dressed Hotel to Hottest Hotel Bar, consider them your travel to-do list for 2016. Huge congratulations to all the winners – especially The Pig – on the Beach, which scooped Best Smith Hotel 2015.
Design highs Interiors by Ilse Crawford • Hand-picked pieces from around the world • Tactile, covetable furnishings • Chic Michael Anastassiades lighting
You’ll have heard the word ‘hygge’ used a lot recently (usually in the context of cashmere socks, mugs of cocoa and tea-light-strewn fireplaces), but the Scandinavian passion for snuggling finds its best expression at Stockholm hotel Ett Hem. Owner Jeanette Mix and designer Ilse Crawford have given in to their love of beautiful objects and striking design, and so deft is their handling of mismatched Modernist chairs, rich muted tones, gleaming cabinets and vintage stoves that you’ll find yourself instantly at home.
The Roccia Suite Hand-hewn solid rock walls • In-room hydro-massage pool • King-size four-poster bed with sheer drapery • Romantic views
When judging which of the many incredible boudoirs in our collection deserve this title, we ask ourselves: could you happily hole up here for a weekend? Is this somewhere you can shut the door and feel entirely alone together – a romantic retreat in the truest sense? In the case of this particular hidey-hole, the answer’s a resounding yes, yes, yes! Housed in an ancient grotto, the Roccia Suite aces ambiance, with exposed-stone walls and a private balcony overlooking the Bay of Naples.
The Cocktail Lounge Encyclopaedic drink influences • Historic Clerkenwell home • brilliant bar nibbles • Tony Conigliaro’s wizard concoctions
Patrons rub elbows with finely dressed taxidermy at this perennial Smith favourite, where invented patron Aunt Wilhelmina partakes in spirit. We love the Zetter Townhouse‘s carnivalesque drinks, stiff-upper-lip setting and mad-genius cocktail menu, but that’s not the only reason it still racks up awards and attracts in-the-know barflies – mixology maestro Tony Conigliaro’s magic touch keeps the excitement fizzing at the bar, and it maintains its well-kept-secret reputation.
Magic ingredients A true destination restaurant, with romance built in • Impeccable sourcing of fresh, seasonal produce • Impressive Tuscan wine list
If you’re going to eat locally sourced, farm-to-table food, where better than this richly gastronomic region of Italy, and who better to cook it than a chef who’s a pioneer of the raw-food movement? After 20 years wowing Miami diners at her acclaimed Italian restaurant Escopazza, Giancarla Bodoni now crafts mouthwatering Tuscan menus at Oreade. Each takes inspiration from its sensual surroundings; with panoramic views of the vineyards and farmland outside, it’s likely you can see where most of your meal was grown.
Dive in It’s Instagrammer catnip • Naturally jaw-dropping setting • King-size overwater day-bed • Fire pit to ward off evening chills
Calling this a swimming pool is almost an insult: it’s more like a monumental art installation. The 600-acre sprawl of untouched desert surrounding Amangiri’s pool ensures unspoilt views of soaring Studhorse Mesa, the colourful striations of Utah’s Grand Staircase and terracotta-hued desert flats. The pool itself curves around the base of a sandstone escarpment, its bulk elegantly contrasted with backlit day-beds and a sunken hot tub.
This spa’s a star Eco-friendly and organic products, including Voya, Ila and SpaRitual • Traditional south-east Asian techniques • Serene spa suites
This paragon of pampering helps seal The Nam Hai‘s reputation as one of the best luxury resorts in Vietnam. Floating serenely above a peaceful koi-filled lagoon, the spa’s eight treatment pavilions – designed by Reda Amalou – are visions in glass, dark wood and embroidered textiles. Each has an open-air relaxation deck, deep soaking tub and cushioned day-beds – private, intimate spots for the spa’s 21st-century take on traditional treatments from Vietnam, Thailand, Bali and beyond.
Great for parents Dreamy dive sites • Free babysitting • Relaxing spa and yoga
Great for kids Fantastic kids club • Trio of family pools • Watersports and beach
This Fijian paradise for parents was pipped to the post last year, but took the top spot for 2015. As well as the five-star PADI dive centre (as you’d expect to find at a resort run by the son of the legendary scuba pioneer) there’s a beautiful private beach with free watersports, glass-bottom boat trips to take and a non-stop roster of daily activities – all included in your room rate. Families are a real focus – with nannies assigned to every child at the Bula Club (also free) – but opportunities for quiet time as a couple abound: lantern-lit date-night dinner at the end of the pier, anyone?
Natural highs The region’s first-ever marine reserve • Inventive waste- and water-management schemes • Community-supporting charity
The dedication to preserving, protecting and celebrating the environment at Song Saa Private Island is remarkable – not only because it demonstrates dyed-in-the-wool environmental principles, but also because it’s part and parcel of the offering at this exclusive luxury resort. Sustainable practices include reintroducing native vegetation, and treating and reusing water; and as part of the spa’s wellness programme, guests are invited to teach art to children supported by Song Saa’s own charitable foundation.
Luxe-for-less 16th-century charm meets modern-minded design • Eco-friendly ethos • Pugliese cultural immersion
This southern Italian boutique bolthole stole everyone’s hearts with its out-of-the-way location, authenticity and passion for hospitality. The decor’s contemporary rustic; the food’s plucked from the grounds or farms nearby; and the trullo houses are typical of the region. From folk-dancing lessons to traditional cookery classes, the experiences laid on by your hands-on hosts will have you feeling like a native Pugliese by the time you bid them arrivederci.
Staff perks Personal but unobtrusive service • Attention to detail • Unrivalled intimate atmosphere
This 1920s-style hunting lodge is one of the world’s top retreats for lovers of the great outdoors: with angling in summer and skiing in winter, Huka Lodge is your passport to a giant natural playground. But what gets guests raving is the staff: a whip-smart team that’s happy to help with anything, from getting the best out of the surrounding area (jumping off the bus to redirect guests they’ve spotted going the wrong way, for example) to making the most out of a night in: impromptu starlit dining is a speciality.
In the know Dramatic interiors by Ken Fulk • San Francisco’s hippest address • Community-spirited art and music residencies
The result of a four-year project by designer Ken Fulk and FME Architecture + Design, The Battery’s interiors tap into the style lingua franca of times-past speakeasies, urbane country estates and mid-century ad agencies: the exposed-brick walls and polished brass fittings are given a decadent spin with rotating art exhibitions, taxidermy and glossy leather tub chairs. Restaurant 717B shares its industrial good looks with the rest of the hotel; the buzz starts at breakfast and continues until last orders are called at the bar.
Why it’s a winner Attractive setting • Cleverly devised menus • Produce plucked from the garden • Fairytale-romance dovecote suites
This little piggy could have won us over based purely on location, even before taking into account the fantastic food, quirky decor and obliging staff. The diminutive clifftop manor has been restored to greatness as though tickled back to life by a troupe of benevolent elves: whimsical thatched dwellings, a walled garden and quirky glamping-style shepherd’s cabins dot the grounds; fruit-laden bushes, herbs and flowers spring obligingly out of the soil in the kitchen garden to populate the amazing menus; and staff magically materialise beside you with a tray of drinks. Judges, guests and the Smith team alike declared undying love for this higgledy-piggledy hotel – and its refreshingly down-to-earth price tag.
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