Unconventional and Unexpected Hotels

Make your holiday one to remember with these experiences

If you hanker after something more exciting than a week spent horizontal on a sun lounger, we’ve got just the ticket for some unforgettable adventures. Head to the Colorado mountains for camp-style camaraderie and myriad outdoor pursuits at luxury resort Taylor River Lodge. You’ll find a slower pace of life at Zimbabwe’s cool safari spot &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge, lulled by the sounds of the Zambezi flowing past the camp. Closer to home in Oxfordshire, rethink the country house break by staying in one of Soho Farmhouse’s all-frills bell tents. From the English fields to a tropical jungle, Mexico’s Chablé Resort & Spa sits on the site of one of the Yucatán’s sacred natural pools, so you can dip your toes into Mayan culture and spirituality with a host of wellness treatments. Finally, raise a glass to Torre de Palma Wine Hotel, a tranquil oasis deep in rural Portugal. Bottoms up!

&BEYOND MATETSI RIVER LODGE

ZIMBABWE, AFRICA

The lowdown Authentic safari chic beside the Zambezi.

Best for Those hunting style alongside their big game.

On the banks of the Zambezi, just a 30-minute drive from the iconic Victoria Falls, sits this intimate contemporary safari lodge from &Beyond. Its two camps, each made up of nine river-facing suites and a family suite, sit beneath shady trees, with a shared guest area, including a variety of dining spaces, kitchen, bar and blazing fire bowl.

The suites are spacious and restful, with rustic woods, abstract artwork by a local artist and woven accents. There are indoor and outdoor showers, or you can cool off in your own private plunge pool while soaking up the sights and sounds of the surrounding wilderness. Pick from an impressive line-up of land- and water-based safaris – the 123,500-acre private game reserve has herds of elephants and buffalos, a pride of lions, hyenas, leopards and antelopes. While giving the sundowner cruise a whirl, make sure you sample the lodge’s signature frozen mojito while taking in that incredible sunset on board.

Book it Rates from £550 per person per night

TAYLOR RIVER LODGE

COLORADO, USA

The lowdown An exclusive holiday camp for Colorado-style R&R.

Best for Adventure lovers with a penchant for the great outdoors.

Summer camps have long been an American staple and now you can enjoy your own at Taylor River Lodge, a luxury mountain retreat in scenic Taylor Canyon. The resort’s eight private cabins sit above the banks of the river – you can even do a spot of trout fishing right from your front door.

Cabins offer everything required for a home away from home, with luxury bathrooms and plush beds. You’ll need your sleep after days packed full of outdoor pursuits such as mountain biking, hiking, archery, rafting and rock climbing – the expert guides will create a customised itinerary so you don’t miss a thing.

For something less intense, make your way to the riverside Bath House, with its indoor saltwater pool, hot tub (where a floor-to-ceiling glass door means you can hear the river), steam room and sauna. Spend your evenings hanging out in the main lodge, a gathering spot with a dining area, bar, fireplace lounge, riverside seating and barbecue pit, while the kids can disappear to the tepee lounge or games room. Going off-grid never looked so good.

Book it From approx £1,300 per night

CHABLÉ RESORT & SPA

YUCATAN, MEXICO

The lowdown Mayan-inspired wellness in a tropical paradise.

Best for Wellness buffs seeking the ultimate restorative escape.

At this luxury enclave of 40 deluxe casitas tucked in 750 acres of tropical jungle, ancient Mayan culture and mysticism are woven into every aspect of Chablé Resort & Spa. Each standalone villa has its own pool, open-air shower and outdoor living room with pure cotton hammocks.

The interiors are crafted from warm wood and stone with the original 19th-century hacienda walls left untouched, adding a sense of place and history. The real star of the show is its spa with an epic offering of Mayan-inspired treatments including a three-hour Signature Ritual session, which draws on elements of traditional Mayan ceremony to offer a healing journey from purifying and de-stressing to heart-opening and rhythmic exploration.

What makes it extra-special? The spa has its very own cenote – a well full of sacred natural caves. In addition to the spa’s nine treatment rooms, there’s a salt cabin and floatarium. When you’re ready to kick back in the evening, pay a visit to the expansive cellar with the world’s largest private tequila collection. So if you don’t know your blanco from your añejo, you will by the end of your stay!

Book it Prices from £835 per night for two people in a casita, including breakfast.

SOHO FARMHOUSE

OXFORDSHIRE, UK

The lowdown Luxury tents at Soho House’s countryside outpost.

Best for Campers who like their creature comforts.

If you fancy nights spent under the stars, but you’re not so keen on the idea of pitching a tent or the middle-of-the-night
trek to a spider-infested toilet block, this is your kind of camping – we promise. You might be under canvas, but this is glamping Soho House-style, with a six-foot bed, wood-burning stove, fluffy sheepskin, armchairs and cuddly bathrobes. The bathroom, shower and sauna facilities, complete with all the toiletries you could possibly need, are handily located in the Boathouse.

There’s also an outdoor living area with tea, coffee, a hot-water bottle station and hay bales around a fire pit, perfect for toasting marshmallows. And a couple of extra heaters are added during the colder winter months to make sure the tents are always kept at suitably toasty temps. And if that wasn’t enough, all the members’ club amenities are on your canvas-doorstep, including the all-day mezzanine Main Barn restaurant, Cowshed spa, gym and indoor and outdoor pools. And the best thing about all this pastoral fabulousness? You don’t need to be a Soho House member! Talk about all inclusive…

Book it From £165 per night.

TORRE DE PALMA WINE HOTEL

ALENTEJO REGION, PORTUGAL

The lowdown A whitewashed gem in the heart of the Alto Alentejo.

Best for Sublime isolation for wine devotees.

When a hotel is dedicated to living life Roman-style, centred around wine, olive oil, horses and spas, it’s a safe bet you’re in for something special. And from the moment you pull up to the complex of traditional, pristine whitewashed estate buildings and elegant, sympathetically renovated manor house, you won’t be disappointed.

Climb up the central tower for welcome drinks on your first evening to take in the sunset and vast views across the estate’s 14th-century vineyards and you’ll fall instantly under Torre de Palma’s spell. Inside is a fusion of old and new, with 18 rooms and suites decked out in sophisticated neutrals, vintage touches and layered textures.

Pay homage to Alentejo wine at the hotel’s traditional winery, where an array of wine-related activities are on the menu, from tastings to harvesting and stomping grapes. There are also majestic Lusitano horses waiting for you at the stables and a stunning spa for some chill-out time. Then head to the bar to grab a perch on a rope swing to continue sampling the best wines from the region. The house Vinho Branco, made from the prized Antão Vaz grape grown in the hotel vineyard is well worth a tipple. Total bliss.

Book it Double rooms from approx £120.

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