When Absolute Travel recommends Asian luxury hotels, it’s not just because the hotel boasts 5-star status and finds its way onto lists of the world’s best hotels each year. The Absolute Travel team prefers to be a bit more selective, sending its luxury travel experts to seek out hidden boutique gems you have perhaps never heard of, but should know about. When choosing a hotel that’s considered an Absolute Travel standout, the team looks for superb location, thoughtful design with a sense of place, a commitment to a light footprint, cuisine that is so good you will not want to go outside the hotel to eat, and a staff that makes its guests feel so at home they never want to leave.
Here are three Asian luxury hotels that stood above the rest among all the hotels where the Absolute team stayed in 2016:
Phum Baitang, Siem Reap — Cambodia
Setting: A Khmer “green” village set on eight acres of paddy fields and jungle gardens in the serene rural countryside outside Siem Reap.
Design: Phum Baitang has reimagined a traditional Cambodian village as an enclave of luxury villas on stilts complete with thatched roofs, plunge pools, and charming tuk-tuks to get around. The original onsite farmhouse has been converted into the sumptuous main lodge with high-backed rattan loungers, oriental carpets, and lofted post-and-beam ceilings. There are glassy swimming pools, romantic boardwalks over the paddy fields, and secret corners with fluffy linen chairs for contemplative moments all your own.
Food: Sip fresh-squeezed juices by the pool and dine on traditional Cambodian recipes made with herbs and produce from the garden and rice harvested from the property’s paddies.
Adventure: See the spectacular temple complex of Angkor from the sky by helicopter or zip through the UNESCO World Heritage Site on a Vespa to see newly opened sections of the complex.
Amanemu – Japan
Setting: Natural hot springs feed Amanemu’s onsens perched above picturesque Ago Bay in Ise Shima National Park.
Design: Contemplative, minimalist design puts the emphasis on relaxation, mindfulness, and melding man-made space with the natural surroundings. The focal points of each suite are a private onsen, glass walls, and a private outdoor tea terrace.
Food: Taste renowned seafood caught fresh in the bay or Matsusaka Wagyu beef.
Adventure: Witness the pearl rafts and oyster divers in the bay and visit the holy Shinto site of Ise Grand Shrine and hike the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails in the hills above Amanemu.
Jamtara Wilderness Camp — India
Setting: Surrounding a massive banyan tree on the outskirts of a pastoral village, just beyond the Pench National Park where wild tigers roam the forest.
Design: Jamtara effortlessly marries an elegant take on the safari look, traditional art, and repurposed materials for a fresh view on camp life. Striking tribal art is mounted on the walls alongside slide images taken by the owner’s grandfather who helped Indira Ghandi found India’s first wildlife parks. The floorboards used throughout the property are recovered old doors with a worn turquoise hue that hint at their past life. Each of the canvas tents has a private wooden deck with teak chairs and overstuffed floor cushions, perfect for restful afternoons drawing your surroundings with the brightly colored pencils provided in each room.
Food: Of course, the fare is fantastic, but it’s the dining atmosphere that stands out. Meals are served family-style by candlelight at the long wooden table or under the shelter of the central banyan tree.
Adventure: Spend a night in the star bed modeled after a Machan, or elevated platform, used by farmers for nights spent watching over their crops. During the day, enter Pench National Park through an overlooked gate. With fewer crowds, your chances of spotting a tiger increase – we were most certainly so lucky.
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Map of Recommending Lodging Around The World
In the map below, pins mark the exact location of all the luxury hotels, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and other places to stay that are mentioned in our many destination articles. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information.
Anaconda Amazon Island- Brazil
Experience the real Brazilian Amazon with a stay at an eco-lodge located on its own exclusive island. Situated in Iranduba, one of the most stunning regions of the Amazon, Anaconda Amazon Island is surrounded by primary rainforest, giving guests the chance to encounter a rich variety of wildlife whilst enjoying a uniquely authentic experience in the world’s largest rainforest. The lodge consists of 22 rooms in total – 12 en-suites overlooking the Rio Negro and 10 rooms within a river-facing bungalow. Described by Eco Companion journalist Laura Fairbourn as a haven for a digital detox, the Island also boasts a reception-bar, swimming pool and dining area, allowing guests to live in comfort and harmony with nature.
There is a fantastic range of jungle activities on offer at the Island, with different packages designed to show-off the Amazon’s staggering array of animal and plant life. Begin your adventure in nature with a Reconnaissance Trip, floating through waterways by canoe to spot parrots and flowering orchids. Depending on your choice of package, embark on a moonlight Caiman Alligator-watching excursion, or visit the indigenous Caboclo people to learn how they use natural resources and traditions to survive in the jungle. Trek through the Amazon on a jungle walk, camp overnight under the rainforest canopy, paddle through flooded forests and enjoy the richly varied wildlife, landscapes and sounds of nature in the heart of the rainforest.
Treehouse Lodge - Peru
If you’re looking for a totally unique experience of the Peruvian Amazon, then look no further. Discover the rainforest, and all its wild inhabitants, from an entirely new perspective that most travelers never get the chance to experience, with a stay high in the treetop canopy. Treehouse Lodge is the only lodge of its type in the Amazon Rainforest, allowing guests to quite literally immerse themselves in nature. Located at the confluence of the Yarapa and Cumaceba rivers at the start of the mighty Amazon, each of the lodge’s eight treetop bungalows nestle within the trees, allowing guests to enjoy the unforgettable experience of watching monkeys and birds at eye-level. It’s a full safari before you’ve even got out of bed!
Treehouse Lodge sits on 350 acres of preserved, primary Amazon Rainforest surrounded by thousands of acres of additional protected land. Nearby is the famous Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve – one of the largest protected areas in Peru, boasting of the greatest biodiversity in the world. Iquitos is considered the capital of the Peruvian Amazon. During the 20th century, it expanded during the rubber boom, but is now known as a major river port, surrounded by 3 rivers. The area is also known for hosting the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon and it’s amazing floating city that comes out during high water.
The Pig Hotel Near Bath
Come and experience THE PIG-near Bath – a 29 bedroom mellow country house perfectly situated near Bath and Bristol. This is a real get-away location, truly rural, with quintessentially English views of this undiscovered part of Somerset. Designed in the style that has become THE PIG’s signature, it features a greenhouse restaurant, a private room for dinner parties, 29 bedrooms and massage treatment rooms. A touch of luxury combined with a homely charm. In our 29 bedrooms you will find assorted furnishings, great beds, oversized showers, ‘larders’ stocked with snacks and Nespresso machines.
As sumptuous and romantic as the city itself, Aman Venice – set in a 16th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal – is home to museum-quality treasures including Tiepolo frescoes, gilded ceilings and centuries-old leather wall coverings. With views of the hotel’s private garden or the Grand Canal, many of the 24 Rooms and Signature Rooms feature protected frescos and reliefs. Aman Venice’s Rooms and Signature Rooms, which vary in size and configuration, feature works by a number of Italy’s greatest artists – including 16th-century architect Sansovino and 18th-century painter Tiepolo. Contemporary furnishings complement authentic silk wall coverings, chandeliers, wood panelling, chinoiserie and painted ceilings, while many Suites offer Grand Canal views.
Kinloch Lodge is a historic destination hotel and restaurant on the Isle of Skye off the north west coast of Scotland. Our family-run hotel combines the relaxed comfort of highland hospitality with world-class food at head chef Marcello Tully’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Our mission is to give our guests an unforgettable experience, to feed the body and soul.
Kinloch Lodge is a special place. It is somewhere to escape the noise and speed of modern life. Somewhere to relax and recharge, where you can take things at your own pace.
The Isle of Skye is frequently, justly described as one of the most spectacular places on earth. Kinloch is in a particularly beautiful part of the island: down a long drive, at the foot of a mountain and at the head of Loch na Dal. Here you will find some of Scotland’s best food, roaring fires, whisky on tap and giant beds. It can be hard to leave.
Cotton House Hotel - Barcelona
Deserving of all the buzz, the Cotton House hotel in Barcelona is part neoclassical hideaway a la Catalan bourgeoisie, part contemporary tropical oasis. Original elements like a 1957 suspended spiral staircase and parquet floors have been seamlessly incorporated into modern interiors with airy glass walls, globe chandeliers, and touches of teal upholstery. Our content partner, Absolute Travel, says: “Our adventure travel expert, Brooke Garnett, stopped over in Barcelona for a few relaxed days. There, she sampled tapas and took in Gaudi architecture before heading to the snow-dusted Dolomites for trekking beautiful landscapes and enjoying après-climb champagne picnics prepared by renowned chefs.”
The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat
Described by Ecotourism Australia as ‘arguably the most unique rainforest resort of its type in Australia’, The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat offers a truly enchanting rainforest experience. Each of the resort’s 13 wooden chalets is named after a different character from the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; from ‘Prince Charming’ to ‘Sleepy’, each chalet is located within its own private piece of rainforest, and is imbued with its own unique ‘personality’ and charm. The resort itself is set within a World Heritage listed rainforest, where the beauty of towering trees, and the soothing sounds of native birdsong and bubbling brooks will take your breath away.
As soon as you’ve arrived, you’ll feel instantly at home in your cosy and intimate chalet; any stresses will immediately begin to drain away, to be replaced instead with a sense of peace and tranquillity. Perfect for couples, honeymooners and nature-lovers alike, you’ll be ideally placed to explore stunning Springbrook National Park. Trek through the bush, cross ‘natural bridges’ and discover fantastic lookout points deep within the forest as you explore your wonderful natural surroundings. After a day’s adventure, return to your private chalet, light up the fire, and relax in your indulgent massaging Spa bath as you look out over the rainforest.
Eumarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat
The award-winning and eco-accredited Eumarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat blends nature and luxury to create a simply unforgettable experience. With a sublime lakefront location and fully self-contained accommodation, Eumarella Shores is a ‘home away from home’ that allows its guests to discover the very best Noosa has to offer, including golden beaches, national parks and outstanding restaurants. The retreat offers a stunning selection of four to five-star cottages and lakehouses, each individually themed and boasting private lake access. Explore Lake Weyba by canoe, take a bushwalk through a wildlife-filled nature refuge, or simply kick back and relax on your private lakefront verdandah as you listen to the gentle lapping of the water.
Thala Beach Nature Preserve
Discover tropical Australia’s breath-taking natural beauty at Thala Beach Nature Reserve. Situated on a two kilometre stretch of pristine coastline between the rainforests of North Queensland and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, this resort is a haven of peace and tranquillity. Thala offers a unique range of stunning accommodation options including sea-view and forest canopy bungalows, all nestled deep within the beachfront forest to provide guests with total seclusion and immersion in nature.
The resort’s bungalows and suites are designed for supreme comfort and privacy, giving you the chance to enjoy a perfectly intimate experience of the rainforest. Rise early for a sunrise walk along a stretch of white beach, before taking a refreshing morning dip in one of the freeform pools. During the day, follow walking trails through the forest for some wonderful wildlife-watching, or head out onto the Great Barrier Reef for some world-class diving and snorkelling. Later, return to Thala for dinner in the treetops at the sublime Osprey’s Restaurant, before heading back to your bungalow. As the evening draws in, cocktail in hand, you’ll sit back and take in the panoramic views that stretch from rolling sandy dunes to the shimmering Coral Sea – all from the comfort of your private veranda!
Kanha Jungle Lodge
Beautiful, powerful, endangered. The tiger is India’s National animal, and the country is home to the world’s largest wild population. The Kanha Jungle Lodge nestles deep in the woods of the Kanha Tiger Reserve in central India, within the very forest that provided inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. Here, the endangered tiger is still ‘burning bright’. The lodge offers guests the opportunity to enjoy jungle tiger safaris in an open-top 4×4 jeep or, depending on availability, by elephant-back. Accompanying you on your tour will be one of the lodge’s resident ‘naturalists’: a wildlife expert and ‘encyclopaedia of knowledge’ whose job it is to narrate the secret stories of the forest.
The lodge offers 18 expansive rooms and two luxurious cottages with stunning forest views. All rooms have modern furnishings and facilities including baths, writing tables, lounge chairs and single, twin or double beds.
Hotel del Sal
Each room in the Hotel del Sal is shaped like an igloo except the blocks are not snow they are salt. It really is amazing. The hotel is right next to the salt flats that cover an area just over 4,000 square miles.
Kunming Business Hotel
Hotel Melia Panama Canal
In Colon, the historic Hotel Melia Panama Canal was our home and base for all our adventures. It is not only situated within the remains of the former U.S. Army post Fort Gulick, but also was the actual building for the School of the Americas, often called the “School of the Assassins” by its former detractors. Read more about Panama here.
In Bocas del Toro, we stayed at the rustic Bocas Inn, which is fantastically located: The front door opens onto the main strip of the capital of Bocas Town and the back opens to the ocean – which made water taxi pick up a snap. (One warning though: this lodge may be a little too rustic for some families, and it could probably use a little remodel at this point.) Other Bocas Town accommodations can easily be researched via our affiliate partner Booking.com. Learn more about Panama by clicking here.
Country Inn & Suites, Panama Canal
In Panama City, we stayed at the Country Inn & Suites Panama Canal which has great poolside service for parents to relax when kids enjoy their mandated pool time, all with Panama Canal shipping passing by in the background. To learn more about Panama and the Panama Canal, click here.
Hotel Gästehaus Englischer Garten
A superbly located place to stay in Munich is the Hotel Gästehaus Englischer Garten. Family owned and quaintly tucked into a corner next to the park, the hotel provides a convenient and friendly base to explore the English Garden and, of course, Munich. Note some rooms have en suite bathrooms and some do not, plus there are a few small apartments the hotel also manages a couple of doors down with small private patios. Transportation is convenient too, and you’re as good as smack in the middle of the hopping university area with restaurants, clubs, bars and theaters.
Hotel Vorhof Zur Hölle, Quedlinberg
Cobblestone streets are cute but the chatter of cars rolling down them even slowly echoes straight into some hotel rooms. We highly recommend the Hotel “Vorhof zur Hölle” (Foyer to Hell – www.vorhofzurhoelle.de ) that is more of a series of 4 tiny, adventuresome guesthouses than a true hotel. Click here to read our complete story on visiting Quedlinburg.
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