Hotels can offer more than just a quiet night’s sleep, finds Katie McGonagle
Take a comfortable bed, a hot shower and a decent restaurant, and you’ve got the building blocks for a good hotel – but add the finer things in life and it becomes more than just a place to rest your head.
Some hotels double up as art collections, were designed by celebrity architects, or put on in-house music performances, while others cater especially well for guests who want to be wined and dined, or know every spa treatment from reiki to reflexology.
Here, we put together a handful of properties that clients will be raving about from the moment they check in and – most importantly – will impress them so much that they come back for another top hotel recommendation for their next break.
BEST FOR… ART
Who needs to go to a gallery when there’s an enviable art collection within their own hotel? Guests at The Dolder Grand in Zurich can navigate its impressive private collection with a new iPad app to guide the way between works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Salvador Dali, among 124 on show (superior rooms from £405 a night).
Similarly, Stockholm’s Lydmar Hotel is just a stone’s throw from museum and gallery district Skeppsholmen, but guests can whet their appetites with temporary exhibitions that in the past year have included photographs from the famous Rumble in the Jungle boxing match, and cutting-edge designs from Stockholm Design Week.
As its name suggests, the Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin has plenty to please art lovers, but the works on display in this Friedrichstrasse hotel also offer a window onto a unique historical period. The Junge Wilde (wild youth) movement developed in the decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the large-scale works across the hotel’s 11 floors showcase the city’s cultural and political change through the eyes of its up-and-coming artists.
Farther afield, the Surrey Hotel in New York is home to a 31-piece contemporary collection worth $30 million, including a floor-to-ceiling tapestry of Kate Moss by American artist Chuck Close.
The property is introducing art tours next month with the option to add out-of-hours access to some of the city’s top museums. For a less obvious ‘arty’ destination, Hotel Éclat in Beijing offers a mix of Salvador Dali – the largest private collection in China – with pieces by Andy Warhol and Chinese sculptors Chen Wen Ling and Gao Xiao Wu.
BEST FOR… DESIGN
Design hotels encompass everything from quirky one-off properties to brands with a focus on cutting-edge style such as Aloft Hotels, which is introducing funky Verner Panton chairs and Eames moulded plastic side chairs across nearly 20 hotels this summer.
Big-name architects also leave their signature style on a hotel, and never more than at Luxury Collection Hotel Marques de Riscal in northern Spain (pictured page 43). This titanium and stainless steel structure was designed by Guggenheim architect Frank Gehry in direct contrast with the site’s historic wine cellars. Its 43 rooms and suites are split between two wings connected by a suspended footbridge. A double room starts at £280 a night.
Also bearing cutting-edge design features is Faena Hotel & Universe in Buenos Aires, decorated by French designer Philippe Starck. Three nights with Travel 2 starts at £575, not including flights.
BEST FOR… MUSIC
Fancy jazzing up a jazz break, or rocking in the Caribbean? St Regis Doha is home to the first Jazz at Lincoln Center to open outside the US. Enjoy six live performances a week with views over the Arabian Gulf. A double room starts at £217 a night. Jazz fans venturing as far as Cape Town can get their fix with Sunday jazz brunches at Winchester Mansions.
Those who like their beats a bit louder can swap the saxophone for a guitar and act like a rock star. Eden Rock St Barths offers music packages at its luxurious Villa Rockstar, which has its own recording studio with the vintage console that John Lennon used to record Imagine. Fulfilling your musical dreams doesn’t come cheap – the Island Demo package starts at €1,600 per song – but with award-winning music producers on hand to help out, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
BEST FOR… WINING AND DINING
Barely a week goes by without a hotel introducing a Michelin-starred chef to its kitchens – one of the latest is award-winning Heinz Beck who is bringing daring flavour combinations to the Conrad Algarve’s Gusto restaurant – but good food isn’t all about high-profile chefs.
Shanti Maurice in Mauritius serves a 15-Mile Menu each Saturday using ingredients caught, farmed or bred within a 15-mile radius of the hotel – including its own herb garden. With options including chimichurry and coconut-crusted fish, or sea urchin salad with tom yam foam, it’s worth the €40 supplement.
Fellow Indian Ocean escape Banyan Tree Seychelles also grows 70% of its fruit and vegetables in its organic garden, now open to guests. The resort also offers simple yet elegant cuisine in its Raw & Champagne sushi dining experience (from €48, with a glass of champagne), and Martini mixology classes with a chance to taste the results (from €35).
If clients are keener on a fine vintage than a cocktail, The Yeatman in Porto takes wine more seriously than most: with an award-winning cellar, 82 wines by the glass, each room’s decor inspired by a different local winery, plus a decanter-shaped swimming pool, this is one for real enthusiasts (a double room starts at €154).
While it’s long been said that red wine has its health benefits, the latest trend in wine-inspired spa treatments means you don’t have to drink it to enjoy the effects (though you can if you like). Set in the heart of wine-making region Mendoza, Argentina, it’s no surprise 16-room boutique Entre Cielos has therapies such as a grape seed exfoliation, wine bath, and grape extract facials.
Back in Europe, Sani Resort in Halkidiki, Greece, also uses red wine in its new range of spa therapies. They include a grape seed body polish (£55), and a massage, body wrap and pumice massage (£235).
BEST FOR… SPA
The BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia carved out its niche in rejuvenating breaks, so its new ventures – non-invasive cosmetic treatments, and themed months such as its summer family bootcamp and October yoga – will only enhance its reputation for relaxation.
The One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives has also introduced private classes in meditation and yogic breathing practices in its overwater yoga studio and oceanfront cabanas, while sister property Le Saint Géran in Mauritius has added a seven-day Harmonia programme inspired by Chinese medicine. On the same island, Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa has brought in a range of men’s treatments including deep muscular massages and ayurvedic therapies.
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