Time Magazine recently released its list of “World’s Greatest Places.” While it includes places to visit as well as to eat and drink, in this issue we look at several of the most interesting places to stay, adding in for you the top accommodations in each, definitely not your typical Presidential Suites.
1. Alila Fort Bishangarh, Rajasthan, India
Time says: “Two centuries ago, this hilltop fortress housed royalty and guarded the kingdom of Jaipur. Now, after a seven-year restoration led by the Alila Hotels and Resorts, it has been reborn as a luxury hotel—while still retaining many of its original features, such as turrets, dungeons and secret passageways. “We laid immense emphasis on detailing to take [guests] back to the era of the Mughals,” says general manager Binny Sebastian. Modern amenities include several gourmet restaurants, guided tours and a state-of-the-art spa as well as a 360° view of the rolling Rajasthan landscape”
The 912 sq. ft. one-bedroom Regal Suite is the top suite. It features king bed, oversized round bathtub.
2. Treehotel, Harads, Sweden
Time says, “Tree houses aren’t generally synonymous with splendor. But the seven elevated cabins at Sweden’s Treehotel—located in a tiny village in the country’s Arctic region—could easily give the Swiss Family Robinson a run for its money. For starters, there are the extraordinary exteriors: one resembles a UFO, another resembles a bird’s nest, and the bottom of the latest edition—the aptly named 7th Room, which opened in 2017—features a life-size photograph of the canopy view it displaced. Inside, the cabins, which start at just under $500 per night, are more refined, with sleek, minimalist furniture and cozy lounge areas. Although some guests may have to travel to a separate facility to shower, fans argue that that’s a small sacrifice to make for a one-of-a-kind camping experience, especially when it’s under the Northern Lights.”
With its 580 square feet and 22 metric tonnes, the Dragonfly is the biggest room. Unique in many ways, this room can function both as a conference space as well as private suite. A 50-foot long ramp takes you up to the Dragonfly, where big panoramic windows give you a magnificent view of the valley. It is built out of wood, with an exterior made out of sheet metal that will eventually turn rust-brown and blend in even further with the pine-tree forest. The design and the spectacular interiors are the makings of Rintala Eggertsson Architects. The conference space has one lounge, two group rooms and a conference table with seating for 10. The room has all types of modern conference equipment, Wi-Fi, toilets, shower and air conditioning. If you want to live a private experience in the Dragonfly, this also can be a room for four people. The room is spacious enough to suit two couples or an entire family.
3. Shipwreck Lodge, Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia
Time says, “With its expansive dunes and beaches, Skeleton Coast is among Namibia’s most stunning natural parks. It’s also among its least visited. This all-inclusive lodge, which opened in June, may change that. Its name and design pay homage to the region’s reputation as a hazard for boats, thanks to its coastal fog. Once there, guests (who generally arrive via car) can take guided tours of the Namib Desert, a seal colony and more.”
The camp is designed to re-enforce the remarkable scenery of the Skeleton Coast, and each of the 10 rooms have been constructed to resemble the shipwrecks that line the beach. There are eight twin or double rooms, and two cabins can take extra beds if you’re bringing the kids, all ensuite and solar-powered. There are wood burning stoves for chilly evenings and mornings. In the center of camp, you’ll find an equally as innovatively-designed lounge and restaurant with a wide, wraparound deck and uninterrupted views across the sand, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
4. Icehotel 365, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Time says, “There’s no hotel quite like Sweden’s new Icehotel 365, whose suites—featuring ice sculptures of animals, staircases and more—remain open all year. To prevent melting, the structure relies on solar-powered controls, which keep temperatures at 23°F. By day, guests can unwind in a hot sauna or take a dogsled ride; by night, they can sip on arctic-inspired cocktails at the hotel bar, which is also made of ice.”
Coldroom Deluxe Sauna 365 Johka
This is the largest cold suite and features a heated relaxation area with designed en-suite bathroom. The relaxation area in Johka holds a bathroom, two comfortable armchairs and double waterfall showers, directly connected to the bedroom. The design is a combination of local culture and history in the building material and details. It was designed by Majolein Vonk and Pia Sandgren. The heated relaxation area also provides storage for your belongings. The suite is furnished with an exclusive Carpe Diem Bed. The bed is covered with reindeer hides and on top of this you sleep in a thermal sleeping bag. The sleeping room holds a temperature of -5 to -8 degrees Celsius. The suite has doors with locks for your privacy. You can combine one night in a cold suite with several nights in a warm suite.
5. Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland
Time says, “After its economy melted down in the late 2000s, Iceland invested heavily in tourism, which may be why your Instagram feed is dotted with people dipping into the creamy alien waters of the Blue Lagoon. Now the country’s most popular attraction has its own hotel, carved into an 800-year-old lava flow. It features a gourmet restaurant, a subterranean spa and 62 rooms, four of which are suites with access to private pools of the lagoon.”
The Lagoon Suite
The 646 sq. ft. Lagoon Suite opens to your private lagoon with a 320 sq. ft. private terrace. On the lower level is a living area with sofa. Floor-to-ceiling windows dissolve the boundary between interior and exterior, transforming this two-room sanctuary into an experience of the geothermal waters that surround the retreat. The mineral-rich warmth of your own private lagoon is just a step away.
6. Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya
Time says, “Who needs the zoo? At this Kenyan retreat, guests can get up close and personal with a local herd of Rothschild’s giraffes that roam the grounds—140 acres of indigenous forest—and even pop their heads into the main dining room during meals. The estate has served as a sanctuary for the endangered subspecies since the mid-1970s, when it was purchased by conservationist Betty Leslie-Melville, who established a breeding program that continues today. Since then, its 12 stately bedrooms—one of which is furnished with the belongings of Out of Africa author Karen Blixen—have hosted thousands of visitors, including Mick Jagger, Brooke Shields and Ellen DeGeneres, whose stay (and accompanying Instagram posts) made headlines earlier this year. Rates start at $565 per person per night, including food and transport to local excursions, such as the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where guests can help care for orphaned baby elephants.”
Karen Blixon Suite
The 680 sq. ft. room is situated on the ground floor of the main manor house behind the kitchen and adjacent to the outdoor terrace where lunch is usually served. It has a king-size bed on the ground level and two single beds on a loft level accessed by a small spiral staircase. A small day bed can also be added to this room to accommodate a young child if required. The room has a large fireplace with seating area as well as shared en-suite facilities with a bathtub and shower. Much like traditional British homes of the same period, the room has a separate water closet with toilet. It is important to note that the giraffes do not have access to this room and it does not have a view of the sanctuary.