Having spent the best part of the past year indoors, our collective longing for escapism feels more urgent than ever. Allow yourself to be transported to new worlds with design-led hotels created with an elevated experience in mind. We explore the philosophies behind these spaces that have been built to enhance and transform your outlook on life.
Words: Ellen Millard
Main image: Amanjiwo, Indonesia
Wanderlust strikes when we feel a desire for change – when we want to discover something new and exciting beyond the boundaries of our daily lives. A source of escapism – both emotionally and physically – hotels have the power to be transformative, providing a space in which to reset, rise to new challenges and discover something truly incredible. From breathtaking locations to mood-boosting colour palettes, the world’s leading hoteliers are striving to create spaces that elevate your experience at every turn. All you need to do is leave reality at the door – there’s plenty to discover beyond it…
The best way to get away from it all is to literally get away from it all. Hugged by the rolling hills of the Banks Peninsula and the glistening Pacific Ocean, the working farm and four luxury villas that make up Annandale in New Zealand are so secluded they could be on another planet. Touch down at the cedar-clad beach house Scrubby Bay after a spectacular helicopter flight that takes in the criss-crossing cliff-top farm tracks and undulating landscape.
This is the destination for total privacy and relaxation, a place in which to lose track of time wandering along the coastline, skimming stones across the water and breathing in the salty sea air. Designed to maximise on the views with expansive windows and a large sun-drenched terrace, Scrubby Bay acts as an extension of the landscape, leaving you feeling enveloped by nature at every turn. With space for 14, it’s the perfect location for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of family and friendship, offering a fresh perspective with moments of calm and solitude alongside the gentle hubbub of communal laughter, story-telling and memories.
If you seek escapism in a warmer part of the world, nothing could be more thrilling than rising to the challenge of a safari on Kenya’s Laikipia plains. Segera Retreat’s Nay Palad Bird Nest gives new meaning to close encounters. Forget about crowded jeep trails; this towering structure sleeps just two, taking the safari experience to new heights with a 360-degree bird’s-eye-view of the surrounding wilderness. Following a wildlife drive or bush walk, take refuge on the nest-inspired open-air terrace, where champagne and a picnic dinner will be served overlooking the plains. Spend the night on the terrace under the stars and in the morning, rise from your slumber to the sound of wildlife beginning a new day; the sight of an elephant taking its morning drink will be one you’ll never forget.
It’s this connection with the wilderness that offers therapeutic effects – relieving stress, increasing energy levels and restoring attention. From one corner of the globe to another, Fogo Island Inn is a striking architectural feat perched off the coast of Canada that offers similar environmental succour. Here you are a 15-minute drive away from civilisation, which means the floor-to-ceiling windows enjoy completely uninterrupted views of the moon-like landscape and the wild waves of the North Atlantic beyond.
The hotel’s biggest draw is its relief from modern times; built on the principles of sustainability, the building is immersed in the landscape, and those who visit will feel their worries begin to fade as they reconnect with nature. The 43,000 square-foot Inn was designed by Newfoundland-born, Norway-based architect, Todd Saunders. It is perched on stilts to echo the temporary houses ancestral settlers used to build while they fished here before returning home.
Every aspect of your stay anchors you back to the island – whether it’s the whitewashed decor that allows the dramatic views to steal the spotlight or the bespoke furnishings designed by local artisans. It brings you closer to discovering new adventures with ocean swims, self-guided hikes and beach walks, or even the once-ina- lifetime opportunity to see whales, dolphins and seals flit beneath the waves.
Designers don’t just use nature to inspire health and wellness individually, but also collectively in our efforts to support the planet. Patina Maldives, Fari Islands is one of the country’s most sustainable destinations, with a considered and informed design based on biophilic principles, a method of bringing humans and nature closer together.
Its eco-conscious ethos allows you to travel consciously, knowing that your stay will help protect the planet for future generations. You will feel nature’s presence at all times, with materials such as wood, linen, rattan and natural fibres creating a synergy between the hotel and the island. Feel your worries ebb away through the wellbeing philosophy here: Flow. Through everything from natural spa treatments, engaging with the rhythms of the island, nutrition, deep sleep to ocean conservancy and enrichment, the wildlife and surrounds are embedded in every movement and breath you take.
When we travel to see the world’s most beautiful sights, we want to feel immersed in them at all times. This is the sentiment that interior designer Patricia Urquiola had in mind when creating Il Sereno Lake Como, which evokes a sense of place at every turn. Luxury living meets nature in this contemporary retreat, where a calming palette of green, blue and taupe recall the colours of the lake. Flooded with natural light and surrounded by a panoramic terrace, the Penthouse Suite is designed to lighten your mood and keep Lake Como in view at all times.
The interiors encourage you to see the water from a different perspective, perhaps from one of the hotel’s exclusive boats or from the top of a mountain after a hike for a more challenging view. You can also soak up the scenery in the vertical garden, designed by esteemed botanist Patrick Blanc. The terrace is inspired by the colours and movement of Lake Como, with a sensitive design that enhances the already stunning setting. Linger here a while before you dine at the resident Michelin-starred restaurant.
Ingenuity and creativity can transport you to new worlds the moment you walk through a door, and at Amanjiwo in Java, Indonesia, the experience begins as soon as you step off the plane. There’s no greater way to arrive at this retreat than a luxury train journey that takes you past vibrant paddy fields and countryside villages to the foot of the Menoreh Hills. Overlooking Borodubar, a sacred Mahayana temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Amanjiwo is an otherworldly escape.
The stone terraces and large Javanese stone swimming pools are inspired by Borobudur and are as equally calming and tranquil. With views to the temple itself and the surrounding valley you’ll be inspired to expand your knowledge of the area with visits to local villages and temples, a trek up the steep flanks of Mount Merapi, or a picnic and walk to Selogriyo, an 8th-century Hindu temple on the slopes of Mount Sumbing – the enchanting views will leave you in awe.
From the tropical and verdant Indonesian jungle, discover a new world at Atlantis The Royal Resort in Dubai. Treat yourself to the best view in town and sleep amongst the clouds in the Sky Terrace Suite, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer endless scenes of the Arabian Sea and Palm Island. Crafted by the world’s leading designers, architects and artists, the suite features your very own expansive terrace and is the perfect spot to enjoy your morning coffee or evening cocktail. Lounge by Cloud 22, the spectacular 90-metre infinity pool on the 22nd floor and eat your way around the world at the eight restaurants, each overseen by a celebrity chef and inspired by a different corner of the globe.
When our daily lives begin to overwhelm, it’s moments like these that give us release. We travel to find something new, something exciting, something beyond our wildest imaginations, and the right hotel, in the right location, can provide the escapism we all crave. Let go of reality – a whole new world is waiting for you.