Unsure where to head this winter (if not a dive retreat)?
Small Luxury Hotels of the World has put together the ultimate sun vs snow guide to help make the decision easy. From Australia to Sri Lanka; the beach awaits in its full glory to help you forget about the winter waiting at home.
Halcyon House: Cabarita Beach, Australia
Rooms from $532 per night
Halcyon House is a stylish coastal retreat just moments from Cabarita Beach in New South Wales. The hotel looks as if it has stepped out of an interiors magazine, the vision of Brisbane designer, Anna Spiro. Many of the 21 individually-styled suites offer sea views and are stylishly decorated with blue hues and nautical touches. The saltwater pool offers a touch of the Mediterranean with candy-striped daybeds and palms fringing it. Halcyon House’s poolside restaurant, Paper Daisy, is headed up by ex-Noma chef, Ben Devlin, an Aussie native who puts emphasis on local produce and casual fine dining.
French Coco: Tartane, Martinique
Rooms from $407 per night
This brand new all-suite hotel which opened in July offers guests a relaxed yet luxurious Creole experience. Located on the northeast coast of the island, French Coco sits in the lush grounds of the Caravelle Peninsula nature reserve, a marvellously unspoiled, protected haven, famed for its tropical flora and wildlife. The 17 elegant suites are decorated with raw and natural materials, with soothing shades that bring the outdoors in. After spending the day barefoot on the beach or exploring the charming fishing village of Tartane, guests can enjoy French-style Caribbean-inspired cuisine made with organic, seasonal produce, straight from the hotel’s gardens at the French Coco restaurant.
Milaidhoo Island: Baa Atoll, Maldives
Rooms from $1300 per night
This tiny island in the breathtaking Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has been transformed into a brand new contemporary luxury resort, opening this November, where coconut palm-thatched villas sit nestled among pristine beaches and lush greenery. A 30 minute trip by seaplane from Male international airport, and with its closest neighbouring island home to just 420 residents, this resort provides the perfect secluded location for an exotic luxury break this winter. With 50 rooms ranging from lodges to land and overwater villas, each with a private pool, guests can indulge in all aspects of island life from rejuvenating spa treatments, yoga and meditation classes to sensational gourmet food at one of three restaurants. The resort’s no infant and informal dress code policy makes for a tranquil and casual stay.
Owl and the Pussycat Hotel: Galle, Sri Lanka
Rooms from $240 per night
One of Sri Lanka’s newest boutique hotels, having opened in January 2016, the Owl and the Pussycat Hotel is a luxurious coastal retreat with a laid-back feel. Situated close to the historic Galle Fort and Buddhist temples, the hotel provides access to an unparalleled authentic Sri Lankan experience. The property was designed by New York architect Udar Dhar. The hotel’s furniture, colourful textiles and artwork are hand-made by 20 artists from all over the world, including local craftsmen. Together with its jazz band and selection of musicians playing at the weekend, and its local learning programme and philanthropic heart, this new hotspot is inspired by local influences, whilst still promising sophistication and style.
Storfjord Hotel: Skodje, Norway
Rooms from $320 per night
This forest retreat, handcrafted from Norwegian wood, offers guests panoramic views of dramatic fjords and Alpine peaks in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. The 23-room hotel puts a designer spin on the traditional log cabin with raw timber and sleek grey tones with a sense of Scandi-chic. The bedrooms are the epitome of comfort, with four-poster beds and cosy fur throws draping stylish sofas, many offering fireplaces or private balconies from which to enjoy the forest framed views of Alpine Norway. The restaurant at Storfjord hotel is a relaxed and unpretentious fine-dining experience, showcasing local delicacies and flavours with a four-course feast every evening, accompanied by the hotels own brewed ale – Storfjordbrygg. Guests looking to explore the west coast of Norway can go fishing around Ålesund or paddle to Gloms et Cove in a Kayak. The hotel’s ethos is ‘luxury the Norwegian way’ so guests can expect an intimate and relaxed experience with warm and friendly staff who are happy to meet guests needs any way they can.
El Lodge: Sierra Nevada, Spain
Rooms from $440 per night
El Lodge is a magical alpine-style retreat in the midst of Sierra Nevada’s enchanting landscape with mountain views from every window. The hotel’s 20 rooms are kitted out with vintage ski posters, antler chandeliers and snug fur throws by interior designer Andrew Martin. El Lodge is a haven for skiers, offering everything from private lessons to a boot warming service and pret-a-porter equipment hire. Guests can enjoy après ski on The Terrace with ski in, ski out access, or warm up in the spa’s heated pools, sauna and steam rooms. 45 pistes and six off-piste ski runs surround the hotel and Chairlift Parador is just 50km from the front door. Head just 30 minutes out of the resort and explore the stunning city of Granada with the Alhambra and local flamenco bars.
Das PostHotel: Tyrol, Austria
Rooms from $175 per night
Das PostHotel is a classic alpine lodge with an eco-conscious design, deeply rooted in mountain traditions. The hotel oozes with character with its contemporary furniture and colourful fabrics and is rich in raw pine, oak and native spruce. Sustainability is at the heart of the resort which shows in the many design features like the solar-heated pool as well as in the kitchen with the organic menus at HeLeni restaurant. Das PostHotel is situated in the Zillertal ski area of Austria, boasting optimally groomed pistes, super modern lift facilities and guaranteed snow – you can even ski all year round on the snow-sure slopes of the Hintertux Glacier.
Hotel Pashmina Le Refuge: Val Thorens, France
From $285 per night
Opening just last season, Hotel Pashmina Le Refuge is the newest five-star hotel in Europe’s highest ski resort, Val Thorens. Guests have access to the entire Val Thorens domain and the rest of the Three Valleys beyond. A cosy home-from-home, the hotel is the ideal mountain hideaway combining the traditional and the modern. All rooms have views over the surrounding valley and peaks and are very spacious, perfect for families and groups. For a night to remember, book the rooftop igloo which lets you sleep under the stars. Gastronomy is at the heart of the hotel, with two restaurants overseen by award-winning French chef Romauld Fassenet. End the day at the Pashmina Spa by L’Occitane which overlooks the mountain, for the ultimate in relaxation.
Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) matches independently minded guests with independently spirited hotels. The diverse collection of over 520 hotels in more than 80 countries around the world includes everything from cutting-edge design hotels and city centre sanctuaries to historic country mansions and remote private islands – all SLH hotels are consistently different, however, they are all united by the fact that they offer the best locations, highest quality, personalised service and a truly authentic way to discover a destination. Reservations for any SLH hotel can be made online at www.slh.com.