Top Ten Cool Hotels 2017

I have often been drawn to a city or beach town because I wanted to experience a specific hotel… this was the case with the stunning Viceroy in Bali (monkeys tapping on my window!) and Fanari Villas in Santorini (that sunset!). So here is a bucket list of beautiful hotels that are currently on my radar. Happy daydreaming!

Jade Mountain, St Lucia


Set amid a jungle on a high hill top, this stunning architectural wonder in the south of St Lucia is majestic. Each room is accessible by its own little wooden bridge and once you’re inside, get ready to pick your jaw off the floor. One wall is completely open to nature, so birds will fly in and out of the room, and a private jacuzzi or infinity pool juts out into the fresh air. Many of the rooms overlook the famous Pitons mountains. It’s honeymoon heaven.


Giraffe Manor, Nairobi


This hotel is run by a couple who fell in love with Kenya. Hugged by vines, the beautiful brick home with red tiled roof has a colonial vibe to it. The main attraction is that giraffes hang out right outside and often stick their heads in the windows to say hello. They even pass by the cocktail hour on the terrace every day. This looks like a super fun place for a family with young children.


Jumeirah Naseem, Dubai


I’ve always had a soft spot for this Dubai-based hotel chain and loved visiting Jumeirah hotels in London and NY (when they had the Essex House). The newest entrant to their portfolio is a lovely, sprawling hotel right next to the Burj Al Arab. I dropped by to have a coffee (with Burj and sea views!) and marvel at the undulating layout, Emirati-inspired architecture and beautiful art. My favorite is the metallic calligraphy behind the reception desk in the lobby.


Explora Patagonia, Chile


I’ve always wanted to see more of South America – the ranches of Argentina, the white salt plains of Bolivia, the vibrant dance scene in Colombia – and none seem more exotic than staying at the edge of the Earth surrounded by glaciers. Located inside the Torres del Paine National Park, Explora Patagonia hotel hugs a lake and has waterfall views. And its all-inclusive package includes horse back riding. Just… wow!


Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

This one has been on my wish list for years. I’d love the chance to see the green Northern lights from an igloo-inspired glass room. The architecture of the hotel – with each room as a private suite complete – and the fairytale setting makes this a must-see on my list.


Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius


Spread across 60 hectares of completely unspoiled private land, Constance Le Prince Maurice is a wonderland of tropical gardens and nodding palm trees by the sea. Foodies can enjoy various cuisines in restaurants scattered on this island. I’ve got my eye on Le Barachois, pictured above: a unique seafood restaurant comprising of five decks, floating among the natural fish reserve, accessible only via a wooden pathway.


Hotel Design Secret de Paris


One of my favourite cities in the world… I would be happy staying in a box under a staircase as long as its in the city of love. Yes, the fancy hotel chains do a fantastic job in Paris (Le Royal Monceau Raffles, Mandarin Oriental Paris and Plaza Athenee are standouts for me), but I also really like the vibe of this trendy, design oriented hotel tucked in the flashier side of Paris near the Pigalle district. Each room is modeled around a different theme – Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, Artists Chambers – and this one, after the Opera Garnier, is the one on my radar.


Out of the Blue Capsis Elite: Crete

Out of the Blue Capsis Elite Resort

I grew up in Greece and love everything about it. Mykonos is popular for its party atmosphere, while couples love Santorini for those sweeping sunset views, but Crete is one of my favourite islands because it’s got a little of everything. This is an all-suite hotel with private infinity pools and sea views that go on for ages. I wish I could live like this.


Villa D’Este, Lake Como

Villa D'Este

We had lunch here during a trip to Lake Como and it felt like visiting a palace. It was formerly a summer home of a British princess. The manicured gardens and pool jutting out into the lake make this former royal estate a destination in and of itself. I’d love to see the rooms and try some of the restaurants for dinner.


VIVANTA by Taj, Sri Lanka

Taj Sri Lanka

Beautiful beaches, elephant orphanages and a nearby visit to a UNESCO world heritage site? Sign me up. I had visited Sri Lanka in the past and fell in love with the delicious seafood curries, warmth of the people and amazing tea blends. I’d love to go back and try this hotspot.


COMO Cocoa Island, Maldives

Como Cocoa Island Maldives

Only four hours away from bustling Dubai is a haven of peace and quiet. I’ve wanted to visit the Maldives ever since I moved to Dubai. I have extensively researched all the beautiful hotels dotted along the islands and have zeroed in on the COMO group, which has two stunning hotels that offer the epitome of relaxed elegance. Ultimate wish list!

Guest Post by Rupert Wright of Ashbright
Paris holds no terrors for well-heeled travellers, who can check into one of the city’s eleven palaces such as ­ the Georges V, Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol or my favourite, Le Meurice. But for those on any kind of budget, finding a decent place to stay in the French capital can be a challenge. Bedrooms smaller than a bathroom, bathrooms smaller than a bidet, we’ve all stayed at one of them and lived to regret it. So, it’s with great pleasure that I have found almost the perfect Parisian hotel – and you don’t need to be a tech billionaire to afford it. The Bedford has been family owned and run for more than a hundred years, combining Swiss roots, French flair and English tradition. It benefits from strong leadership, attention to detail, and a staff eager to look after you. With just 140 rooms, it is large enough to intimate, but not so large that you are anonymous. It’s a 4 star, but deserves more.
The rooms
Parquet flooring; high ceilings; comfortable beds and pillows; keys rather than plastic cards; and best of all, real switches, that turn the lights on and off. The Bedford has sensibly ignored many of the technical traps that can make staying in a hotel room more challenging than setting up your own satellite transmission site. The result is a place that combines understated elegance with modern touches and old school service. Some rooms overlook the rue de l’Arcade, others look over a courtyard, but all are a decent size and a muted colour. There is air-conditioning too, which is a relief when the summer strikes.
Breakfast is a buffet in a glorious belle époque room, boasting stucco reliefs and a glass roof. Dinner happens here too, French cuisine and fairly formal. There’s also a relaxed bistro/bar that serves meals and cocktails.
A stone’s throw from the Place de la Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, and the Opera, this is one of the best areas to stay in Paris. (Marcel Proust used to live just around the corner). It is a lively area, with great boutiques, wine bars and an eclectic mix of restaurants, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Lebanese and French too.
Don’t miss
The Bedford knows that many people like to travel with their pets, so they are allowed to stay too.
HOTEL BEDFORD, 17, RUE DE L’ARCADE 75008 PARIS Tel. : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 77 Fax : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 97 More information at
Rooms from €250; Suites from €450


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Sara Hamdan

Welcome to a magazine editor’s guide to luxury hotels and what to wear when you’re there! My work has appeared in: The International New York Times, Rolling Stone, Variety and CNN Travel. I’ve held editorial roles at VIVA Magazine, Dubai Magazine and Stylist Arabia.  Now, I freelance for the likes of Google, CNN and Savoir Flair!

Editing travel pages was always my favourite part of working for lifestyle magazines. I started this blog out of a love of beautiful hotels that provide the fairytale escape of a day as a princess where breakfast is a buffet and chocolates appear on my pillow.

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