From luxurious island lodges to ice-bound icons in the far-flung Arctic, we shine a light on some of the world's most incredible hotels and the holidays that showcase them best.
All tried and tested by our destination specialists, highlights include Venice's world-famous Cipriani, an indulgent wine-inspired hideaway in Porto and even a luxury lodge in Chile's Atacama Desert powered entirely by the sun. There's also a stunning cliff-side retreat on the Greek Island of Santorini and the magical Alila Villas Uluwatu on the island of Bali, surely one of Asia's most stylish hotels.
Frequently cited as the world’s coolest hotel, both literally and figuratively, the ICEHOTEL in the frozen reaches of Swedish Lapland first emerged beside the Torne River, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in 1990. The original ice hotel and first property of its kind, it set a new standard in unusual overnight stays. Today, ICEHOTEL is bigger and better than ever, even offering a summer iteration on the very same site, its frozen rooms kept cold by the Midnight Sun.
Set on a slope south of the Douro River, just across from the old city of Porto, the Yeatman is a hotel with wine on the mind. Indeed, it stands in Vila Nova de Gaia, the traditional home of port. From the 25,000-bottle cellar to the decanter-shaped infinity pool and grape-pip treatments in the spa, life here revolves around Portugal's most famous export. Plus, and perhaps just as impressively, it's host to its very own Michelin-starred restaurant.
This is the romantic Santorini of glossy magazines, a white-washed delight hosting uninterrupted views over the sleepy town of Oia, which tumbles dramatically down a steep hillside, and to Nea Kameni - the volcanic crater now partially submerged in the Aegean sea. The hotel has been built into these same rocky cliffs, meaning each room, infinity pool and gourmet restaurant overlooks the volcano and impossibly blue sea – sheer perfection.
Part of the luxurious Belmond group, Cipriani by Belmond is true old-world Venetian glamour at its best, prestigiously located on Giudecca Island filled with authentic eateries, a charming promenade and neo-Gothic architecture. Private, complimentary rides take you to the likes of St Mark’s Square, but inside’s charms are hard to overlook. Opulent chandelier-adorned rooms and marble bathrooms feature lagoon vistas and private terraces, whilst evenings offer al-fresco fine dining accompanied by a Venetian sunset and fine wine.
This is one of Australia’s most luxurious properties, set amid one of its most paradisiacal islands, flung hundreds of kilometres into the Pacific Ocean. Here, days will be spent relaxing on empty white sands as your return to minimalist chic and ultra-fine dining. Lord Howe, a 10 km stretch of paradise island, is one of Australia’s hidden gems. And, with visitors limited to a lucky 400, it’s nothing short of utterly exclusive, with a privileged few making the 600km flight from the mainland. These pilgrims will be welcomed with perfect sweeps of golden sand that front a forest-clad interior of jutting hills.
In Chile’s northern deserts, the landscapes are some of the most dramatic on earth – moonlike valleys and rust-red volcanoes set the scene for kaleidoscopic lagoons peppered with the bright pink of flamingos. And it’s here that the Tierra Atacama showcases its unique blend of award-winning service, Andean-inspired gastronomy, spa relaxation and action-packed adventure. It's even South America's only hotel that's entirely powered by the sun.
Just as its Uluwatu Temple neighbour, Alila Villas is perched dramatically on limestone cliffs, towering 100 metres above the Indian Ocean. However, this innovative getaway has swapped dramatic temple tiers for cutting-edge modern design, with butler-served villas host to private pools and fine dining served up in sunset cabanas. It’s all been recognised by a dazzling array of awards, from the likes of Condé Nast, The Telegraph and Honeycombers.