Design can be an integral part of any resort experience. It can often set the entire tone of your journey, as the hotel is the starting point of any itinerary. Where you choose to stay provides an incredible sense of place, history and connection to the destination. Perhaps the property is a repurposed ancient structure, or built into its very surroundings, or so simply designed as to avoid disrupting an already beautiful landscape. The luxury hotels below are architectural marvels for these reasons. Each property will capture your imagination for a different reason, and will give you another reason to get traveling!
Benesse House | Japan
Benesse House is a unique property designed by Tadao Ando meant to immerse its visitors in nature and art, by merging a museum and a hotel into one. The design creates special places by situating modern art and architecture within the nature and the unique culture of the Seto Inland Sea, inspiring visitors to consider the meaning of Benesse – Living well. Visitors can unexpectedly encounter works of art, not only within the walls of the Museum but also while strolling around the grounds. You are surrounded by the elegance and simplicity of nature, featured in every aspect of the experience at this hotel from the design aesthetic to the island’s landscape.
Bambu Indah | Indonesia
This property, steeped in ancient tradition, is composed of 11 antique Javanese bridal homes. Combining antique architecture and design with modern and sustainable practices in a luxury environment, you can feel immersed in the history of the area without sacrificing comfort, quality or elegance. Experience these historic traditional homes built by native Indonesians over 100 years ago, and appreciate the rich culture of this incredible sanctuary.
Raas | Jodhpur, India
A property dating back to the 18th century, characterizes in every detail the history and tradition of days long past. With delicately carved stone panels, the hall-mark of Rajput Architecture, rooms designed to the tastes of former Indian princes for entertaining, and the use of Jodhpur’s very own ‘rose-red’ sandstone, this property reflects in many ways the Walled City itself. Modernity and tradition meet over and over again throughout, where contemporary designs and patterns add a revitalizing dimension to ancient stone carvings and sandstone backdrops. Enjoy the most spectacular view of Mehrangarh, rated Asia’s best fortress in 2008 by TIME magazine, from hand-crafted Jodhpur red sandstone jhali (windows) while staying in rooms designed with a simple and elegant aesthetic. Such a dichotomy of old and new is carried through the resort experience, including the restaurant. It serves fragrant dishes which smell deliciously of hand-ground old delhi spices, specially selected from a 200 year old shop hidden in the warren of old delhi. Seasonal vegetables, salads and herbs are homegrown in raas own organic garden.
This stunning property rests within a natural amphitheatre and overlooks Borobodur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Amanjiwo’s major design motif of circles, squares and crescents pay homage to this incredible structure and to Central Java’s centuries-old temple architectural traditions. Ancient architecture immersed within an idyllic landscape of rice fields and surrounding volcanoes, provides an inspirational backdrop in which to experience this Indonesian paradise in the rural heartland of Central Java.
Chem Chem Safari Lodge | Tanzania
Situated on over 8,000 acres in a privileged Wildlife Management Area between Tarangire National Parkand and Lake Manyara in northern Tanzania, expect to be completely captivated by the African bush during a stay at one of Tanzania’s most luxurious lodges: Chem Chem. Secluded, private and intimate with eight stylish and secluded tent-style suites, it is easy to forget the world and delight in the spectacular surroundings. The main lodge provides a grounding architectural backdrop to your immersive African experience, designed to evoke a landing flamingo with its two open big wings and with awe-inspiring views of Lake Manyara. From here, experience a “slow safari,” an excursion created especially by Chem Chem where guests are meant to explore all of their senses as they engage completely with the jungle around them, becoming one with nature like the animals they track.
Post Ranch Inn | California, USA
This former homestead offers luxurious accommodation in an inspiring landscape – with its cliffs, mountains, and panoramic ocean views featured throughout the property. Whether you’d prefer to peek out at the local redwoods or the Pacific sparkling below, you will be immersed in the natural beauty of Big Sur courtesy of renowned architect Mickey Muenning. His vision embraces luxury, sustainability and the natural beauty of the site itself. Thirty-nine sleekly designed guestrooms blend slate, wood, and marble together in luxurious elegance with a touch of rustic charm. Perched high atop the cliffs, the acclaimed restaurant Sierra Mark offers an unconventional fine dining experience. The produce is from the property’s organic garden and the dishes embody a sense of place and culture, as consistent with every feature of this unique resort.
The Siam Hotel Bangkok | Thailand
Meant to reflect the glory and splendor of a bygone era, this property is an urban retreat steeped in the luxury and elegance of former kings. With transplanted historic Thai houses, 1,000 sq ft rooms, exclusive Muay Thai training and a private antiques collection, you will be transported through history to encounter the ancient cultural, architectural and artistic traditions of the Siamese. And with the owner’s priority of injecting art into the guest experience, lead architect Khemvadee Paopanlerd drew inspiration from Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, stating that “My work is an expression of how I wish the world could be: serene, lush in natural beauty, yet quite simple.” This kind of distinct detail, and richly woven design story and aesthetic is exhibited through the property’s intimate private pool villas with rooftop terraces.
Tierra Patagonia | Chile
This property is set in one of the most dynamic landscapes in the world, looking out over Lake Sarmiento to the mountain peaks of Torres del Paine National Park–the centerpiece of Chilean Patagonia and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site since 1978. Literally immersed in this scenic picture, the luxury resort emerges from the hillside, becoming part of the skyline instead of obstructing it. The award winning architecture complements the flow of the geology in this surreal location, showcasing the magnificent views of the Park. You cannot help but feel part of the culture of this place, experiencing firsthand the furnishings and textiles hand made by Chilean craftspeople, the natural materials from the region, high quality workmanship and the clear inspiration from the surrounding estancias as well as the influence of the native Tehuelche people.
ADRÈRE AMELLAL (SIWA OASIS) | Egypt
Overlooking Siwa lake and located at the foot of White Mountain, this hotel is as unique as they come. Each of the 40 rooms are built in the traditional Siwan style, with walls made of salt-rock, and palm used for the roofs. The earthen buildings blend seamlessly into the landscape, and all furnishings pay tribute to the talented local craftsmen. Other special features include ancient olive and palm groves, a pool fed by a natural spring, and exquisite cuisine that includes traditional dishes cooked in honey-glazed clay pots. All herbs and vegetables are handpicked daily from the organic garden. The entire property is in perfect harmony with its natural surroundings as torches, beeswax candles and infinite stars illuminate this magical setting.
Southern Ocean Lodge | Australia
Southern Ocean Lodge is an ideal example of where modernity, hipness and luxury come together in an inspiring aesthetic. With glass fronted accommodations that cantilever over the ocean, and furnishings created by local artisans, this property captures perfectly Australia at its best. Mesmerizing views of the Southern Ocean and surrounding wilderness can be found throughout, providing an immersive experience of this breathtaking landscape. Rooms feature artworks commissioned from local Kangaroo Island artisans, creating a pervasive authentic quality about the property. This authenticity is continued with a distinctly local epicurean culture, supported by an abundance of fresh seafood and unique regional produce.
Saffire Freycinet | Australia
The epitome of a structure built to complement its surrounding landscape, this property’s award winning design is innovative, sustainable and beautiful. Tasmanian architect Robert Morris Nunn captured the richness of environment in every single detail, with a roof that presents a very simple view without dominating the entire structure, and where the unmistakable peaks of the Hazards Mountains are framed by the main building’s roofline, and the suites below are characteristic of waves crashing ashore. Similarly, the colors, hues and textures used throughout create an almost seamless transition between the inside and outside. And notably, the design is as unforgettable as the experiences offered by this resort, where there is a focus on providing authentic, enriching, and memorable opportunities to guests. Even the cuisine takes care to encompass a local connection, with every glass of regional wine, every dish of local produce or fresh seafood, and every herb grown in the chef’s garden.
Babylonstoren | South Africa
Just an hour’s drive from Cape Town lies Babylonstoren, one of the Cape’s oldest and most historically significant properties, dating back to 1690. A private homestead until 2010, it was recently converted to 12 cottage property, owners making sure to preserve its original 17th and 18th century Cape Dutch architectural style. Each of the immaculately restored whitewashed cottages have ornate gables and thatched roofs, decorated with care by owner Karen Roos, former editor of Elle Décoration in South Africa. Set on a 692 acre working fruit farm comprised of vineyards, fruit groves and 12 acres of contemporary gardens with more than 300 varieties of edible plants, visitors are promised an unexpected combination of aesthetic and culinary gratification. Guests are encouraged to pick their own salads to eat at the hotel’s restaurant, Babel, a converted cowshed offering a bevy of locally sourced seasonal produce. Even the pool’s design reinforces the pastoral experience – it resembles a traditional farm dam. The entirety of the property blends landscape, climate, and comfort seamlessly, with every detail made to delight and inspire.
Six Senses Resort & Spa Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
Built and designed to blend seamlessly into the existing landscape, this property epitomizes a sustainable luxurious aesthetic. Sitting on the bay, surrounded by intricate rock formations and miles of secluded beach, in villas meant to capture the traditional Vietnamese architectural style and made with locally sourced sustainable materials, guests feel an immediate sense of history and place. Tradition is carried throughout the property in both style and experience; you can enjoy traditional bamboo massage, sip on tea grown in the on-site organic garden, spend a day with local fisherman learning an age old practice or relax in your deep soaking tub made of locally sourced wood in an immersive rock pool villa and take in the beautiful surroundings.