Finding flaws in hotels is something at which we Hideaway Report editors excel. All too often, we discover that the new “it” hotel, hailed by glossy travel magazines as a paragon of design and luxury, fails to live up to its hype.
But every now and then, we encounter a property that defies any attempt to ferret out a fault. Sometimes a hotel accomplishes the Herculean task of combining efficient and friendly service with accommodations of great beauty and comfort. Even then, we might enjoy the property but not feel especially sorry to leave. We each stay in dozens and dozens of luxury hotels each year, after all. A property has to have something truly special to induce a feeling of regret at checkout.
The hotels and resorts below carefully considered every aspect of the guest experience, ensuring that the staff made us feel as if nothing could go wrong while we were in their care. And nothing did.
Royal Mansour is a sumptuous pleasure palace rivaling the Alhambra, made possible by the King of Morocco’s unlimited budget and more than 1,000 master artisans. The 53 one- to three-bedroom accommodations start at 1,500 square feet, accessible to staff by underground tunnels.
Our editor’s only dislike: “Checking out was a dagger to the heart.”
What makes it so special: Service that was incredibly attentive without being obsequious; the careful consideration of the guest experience from start to finish; the extraordinary craftsmanship of the palatial décor; the sumptuous restaurant; the sybaritic spa; the glamorous pool amid mature gardens; the vast and plush accommodations
On the design: “Very rarely have I experienced such a perfect combination of flawless service and exquisitely opulent décor. This hotel is reason alone to visit Marrakech.”
Read more: “Magnificent Marrakech and Its Showpiece Hotel,” from the May 2018 Hideaway Report
Sumba Island, Indonesia
Nihi Sumba is a sophisticated and distinctive resort set in a remote area of southwest Sumba Island, Indonesia. Comprised of 550 wooded acres that slope gently down to the sea, the estate encompasses 27 villas with 38 rooms, all of which come with private pools and designated butlers.
Our editor’s only dislike: “That it couldn’t be my permanent residence.”
What makes it so special: The pristine natural surroundings; the otherworldly atmosphere; the wonderfully comfortable accommodations; the encyclopedic range of activities; the consistently delightful staff
On the ambiance: “If ever a $1,500-a-night resort could be accurately described as ‘cool,’ then this is it. Nihi Sumba is supremely relaxing and strangely timeless. During my stay, I had the curious sensation that the clock had stopped in some mythic time zone and that I was the temporary inhabitant of an enchanted space where all the normal rules of life had ceased to apply.”
Read more: “Nihi Sumba: The Ultimate Hideaway,” from the June 2018 Hideaway Report
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Bisate Lodge is a remote ecolodge consisting of six thatched hillside villas in an eroded extinct volcanic cone, 60 miles northwest of Kigali.
Our editor’s only dislike: “The seemingly endless steep steps can be wearing, but the only really disagreeable thing about Bisate is the pain of leaving.”
What makes it so special: Everything: the extraordinary design; the program of excursions; the life-altering visits with mountain gorillas; the imaginative menus; staff that is extremely friendly and consummately professional
On the overall impression: “Having seen more wildlife lodges than I can remember, I am not easily impressed. But my first glimpse of Bisate left me breathless — both literally and figuratively.”
Read more: “Gorillas in Our Midst: The Rwanda Experience That Left Us Breathless,” from the April 2018 Hideaway Report
SingleThread Inn is a stylish, innovative hotel and restaurant in the heart of Healdsburg. With just five rooms, one of which is a 700-square-foot suite, service is attentive and warm.
Our editor’s only dislike: “Nothing whatsoever.”
What makes it so special: Light-filled rooms; exquisite restaurant; the complete dedication to hospitality
On the food: Every dish was compelling, not just for the flavors and textures but also for the plates and vessels, most of them created in Iga, 65 miles southeast of Kyoto.
Read more: “Idyllic Northern California Inns,” from the May 2017 Hideaway Report
Nelson, New Zealand
Set amid 50 acres, including eight of gardens, Edenhouse looks like a desirable country residence that has been standing for at least a couple of centuries.
Our editor’s only dislike: “Having to leave.”
What makes it so special: The sense of seclusion; excellent food; charming local staff; utterly delightful owners
On the hospitality: “Peter and Bobbie Martin are superlative hosts, in part, I suspect, because they are naturally gregarious people who love entertaining an endless procession of houseguests. Hospitality just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Read more: “A New Zealand Trout-Fishing Journey,” from the June 2016 Hideaway Report
Cape Town, South Africa
The Silo is a stunning hotel set in the repurposed elevator tower of a historic grain silo complex above the adjoining Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
Our editor’s only dislike: “Having to leave”
What makes it so special: Exceptionally imaginative architecture and interior design; incomparable panoramic views; utterly delightful staff; delicious, uncomplicated food; the unique association with the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
On the vibe: “I can’t recall the last time I visited a new hotel that I found so exhilarating and that seemed such an instantaneous addition to the life and character of a city.”
Read more: “The Silo: Cape Town’s Modern Masterpiece,” from the August 2018 Hideaway Report