One of our favourite parts of frequent travel is choosing a hotel. This is particularly true of weekend travel when our time is limited and lodging is usually the biggest expense. We’re loyal to small and independently run hotels, hidden gem hotels if you will, and over the years, we’ve found some truly amazing gems out there, tucked away on TripAdvisor lists and Google searches.When we find ourselves at such a property, one that makes us grin like kids and giggle at our good fortune, we can’t wait to tell everyone we know. Seriously, friends and family are sick of hearing about it.
But when you love something, you want to tell everyone. And we thought it was time that we gave a proper shout out to our favourite lodgings in recent memory.
(By the way, none of these hotels know who we are or that we’re writing about them. We just want you to go there, the sooner the better.)
Phranakorn Nornlen, Bangkok: I vividly remember arriving at this Bangkok hotel after navigating a long flight from Hong Kong and the insane local taxi system. The hotel is an oasis, and I don’t use that word lightly. The outdoor courtyard was the place where we decompressed each night with smoothies and beer, tired and sweaty from a day exploring the city. The rooms are quirky and whimsical, they serve an incredible vegetarian breakfast each day complete with fresh juice and that courtyard was probably my favourite part of Bangkok. Is that crazy? Maybe, but it’s true. I’ve sent loads of people to this hotel over the years and the feedback is unanimous. It is the place to stay if you ever visit, hands down.
Moab Under Canvas, Utah, USA: As we travelled across the US this summer we decided to try our hand at ‘glamping’ for the first time in our lives. Verdict? It’s absolutely fantastic. I want to be a professional glamper, if that’s a thing. The contrast of the ridiculous landscape and the sturdy and well-equipped tents was just the thing we needed after a long day in the car. We did our best to keep our phones turned off, we watched the sunset, had a picnic and then woke in the morning with the sun. This type of indoor/outdoor living feels glamourous in a way that I wasn’t expecting, and comfortable for even the pickiest of sleepers.
Loisium Langenlois, Austria: I have no clue how we heard about this hotel, located in the middle of a vineyard in Austria. We wanted to explore some of Austria’s famed wine region, but didn’t have a lot of time, nor a car. So we hopped a series of increasingly smaller trains from Vienna, eventually finding ourselves on a one-carriage train to the tiny town of Langenlois. There, a huge wine resort complete with tasting rooms and a full on underground ‘wine experience’ greeted us. We lived a luxurious life for 24 hours, relaxing in the spa and sauna, swimming in the pool, relishing in a great wine-paired tasting menu in the onsite restaurant and finally, spending a few hours getting tipsy at the ‘wine experience.’ This is the hotel where I’d like to fly my entire family out for a reunion or small wedding, once I have access to a private jet and all.
Petit Amor Villa, Seychelles: On an island chain like the Seychelles, giant resorts are king. Visitors on once-in-a-lifetime vacations or honeymoons like the comfort of an all-inclusive, and I get that. But we are restless travellers, and love exploring all the nooks and crannies of a place, which you most certainly don’t get from a lounge chair. Enter Petit Amor Villa, the best of both worlds. Essentially a massive refurbished house on a hill, the owners have converted the villa to 5 guest suites. It has just the right amount of luxury to make it feel like you’re in a tropical heaven, but it is small enough to relax with the owners every evening over cocktails, and park the tiny rental car outside for daily island exploration. This would also be a great destination for my immediate family, all 10 of us, so I’ll add it the itinerary of the private jet.
Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, Florida, USA: We’re certainly biased about this hotel, because we stayed there during our wedding weekend. But we’ve spent tons of time in North Florida over the years (Drew’s parents live there) and this hotel is still my favourite. It’s small, intimate, their breakfast offering is decadent and delicious, and it’s on the beach. The beach is critical for Florida visitors, and this one is amazing, all white and squishy. Just the way I like it.
Old Swan & Minster Mill, Cotswolds, UK: We have done a fair bit of travelling in the UK, and have kept an eye out particularly for dog-friendly hotels. Early this year, we did a swing of a few dog-friendly properties but really fell in love with this one. It’s in the Cotswolds, one of the UK’s most picturesque regions. It’s old and full of stone walkways and massive fireplaces. The decoration scheme is decidedly ‘medieval chic’. The onsite pub was delicious and we chowed down there a few times. We also loved walking on the nearby footpaths, one of which led to ruins. Plus, Basil got his own bed, treats and lots of attention, which is just the way to our hearts.
Veranda Natural Eco Resort, Cambodia: I was dying to sleep in a treehouse. We went to Kep, Cambodia and found this resort where the rooms are connected via raised walkways, you have breakfast on a large covered patio, and basically play Tarzan for a few days. They have done massive renovations of the property since we visited in 2011, but from what I can tell, it still retains that jungle vibe, which we loved so much. By the way, my interpretation of the rooms as ‘treehouses’ is tenuous, because we didn’t literally climb a tree to get home. But the rooms are raised, so when I was reading from the balcony hammock, we were suspended over the ground about 15 feet. Good enough for me!