The 10 Best Luxury Hotels in the World According to Mr and Mrs Smith
Luxury travel no longer means checking into your standard cookie cutter Four Seasons style affair. We get it – you’re a special, unique, interesting individual and you want a hotel that matches your idiosyncratic interior life.
GQ caught up with James Lohan, co-founder with wife Tamara of Mr & Mrs Smith, a hotel booking service and boutique luxury travel club. James has a hard life scouring the world for the greatest luxury travel experiences. Here, he shares his top ten hotel picks from across the globe. And yes – they're all jaw-droppingly incredible.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains
What is it? Luxury lodging two and half hours drive out of Sydney.
Why’s it cool? Wolgan is Australia’s first conservation-based luxury resort. Offering culinary experiences is something of a house specialty and the Krug Picnic is a great example of indulgent fare in stunning settings. Offered in partnership with the house of Krug, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley offers guests a hamper brimming with local produce for $895 per couple.
Blakes Hotel, London
What is it? “It’s arguably the original boutique hotel. It’s where Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall used to hang out.”
Why’s it cool? Designed by New Zealand actress turned hotelier Anoushka Hempel, every single suite is different. From the all white Corfu Suite (pictured) to the darkened velvet of the Prague Suite, every room is brimming with opulence.
What makes it extra special is… “Tamara and I got married there. The front door of the Corfu Suite is really knackered, and I thought, why don’t they paint the front door? It’s looking a bit shabby. But it’s because the grooms lift their brides over the threshold and their heels hit it. And I quite like that that’s the honeymoon room.”
Ca’s Xorc, Mallorca
What is it? “The most wonderful hidden hotel up in the hills of Deyà, about an hour’s drive from Mallorca.”
Why’s it cool? Classic Mediterrean style with a 25-foot farmhouse table for breakfeast and dinner.
What makes it extra special is… the hundred year old olive trees down to the swimming pool.
Ett Hem, Stockholm, Sweden
What is it? Ett Hemm literally means ‘home’ in Sweden. An accurate label, if your home is stylish enough to fill a coffee table book or three of photos.
Why’s it cool? “Not only is it the most tasteful, most beautiful place I’ve ever been, it is like you’re being in someone’s home. But a home where the cook is in the kitchen, and you can go in to ask for something rather than going to a restaurant.”
What makes it extra special is… Ett Hemm was co-designed by Ilse Crawford, the British designer at the vanguard of the boutique hotel concept.
Alila Villas, Uluwatu, Bali
What is it? A contemporary cliff-hanger resort.
Why’s it cool? “Having those bird’s nest creations hanging over a cliff is out of this world.”
What makes it extra special is… “There's no better place for a cocktail.” Also, for surfers, there's a great reef break at Uluwatu.
Lime Wood, New Forest, Hampshire
What is it? “A really stunning stately home with a very good spa two hours out of London.”
Why’s it cool? “You’ll see wild ponies, cows and pigs.”
What makes it extra special is… “The spa is second to none. It has all these lovely plunge pools and Jacuzzis overlooking New Forest. In the spa, they have a raw and smoked menu if you want to be a little bit virtuous whilst you’re there as well.”
Soneva Fushi Resort & Spa, Maldives
What is it? “A resort owned by Sonu Shivdasani, a cool, Indian businessman and Eva Malmström Shivdasani, an ex model.”
Why’s it cool? “Some of the Maldivian islands can be a bit manicured, this is a bit jungly. You arrive on your boat, and they have this lovely phrase of “no news, no shoes. It’s totally about switching off.”
What makes it extra special is… “They have a chocolate room with their own on island chocolatier. The kids just go “oh my God.” They have an ice cream room, sixty different flavours all home-made. I would live there if I could.”
But get this… “They have an eco-centre. They do this with genuine integrity, not just for show. This is a part of a hotel most people wouldn’t show guests, and they take you on a tour of it. They show you how the bottles the beer or wine comes in goes through a bottle-chipping machine to make small beads of glass which they put in the cement mix that goes in the foundations of new villas they build.”
Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand
What is it? At thirty years old, it’s one of the original boutique hotels.
Why’s it cool? A beautifully maintained classic Thai hotel.
What makes it extra special is… the new Japanese room and Tapas room keep it up to date and contemporary.
Treehotel, Norbotten Country, Sweden
What is it? Probably the most bonkers and unique place you will ever stay.
Why’s it cool? A different architect has designed each “treehouse”. The UFO room has a ladder that comes down electronically as smoke is emitted.
What makes it extra special is… Go ice-fishing with the hotel owners.
Royal Malewane, South Africa
What is it? “Arguably one of the best safari hotels in the world.”
Why’s it cool? Spend the early morning out adventuring for the big five, then come back to absolute luxury.
What makes it extra special is… the hotel connects with the local village really well. Some evenings the villagers come to the resort to cook local food for guests.