The lowdown An olive grove farm turned art-filled retreat in rural Portugal.
Best for Isolation with a cultural edge.
Portugal is having a travel renaissance, with globetrotters rediscovering the artistic and foodie delights of capital Lisbon. But it’s in the more remote areas where the real cultural marvels are hiding. Dá Licença is a new design hotel and art haven in the Alentejo region, best known for its olive grove savannahs and hilltop towns.
Victor Borges, the former director of textiles and silk at Hermès, and Parisian gallerist Franck Laigneau conceived the project, remodelling a series of neglected farm buildings into a monastic, limewashed oasis.
The property’s interiors were clearly a passion project, and many of the artfully styled guest rooms have sun-drenched private terraces for admiring the surrounding countryside. Dá Licença’s pièce de résistance, however, is its world-class gallery, housed in the estate’s original olive press.
The space displays historical works from Scandinavia’s Arts and Crafts movement, including sculpture and furniture from Norway and Finland that wouldn’t be out of place in the world’s best museums.
The lowdown The Maldives’ first art and design-led resort.
Best for Couples who don’t want to lift a finger.
Places like the Maldives are probably the closest thing we have to a heaven on earth. Honeymooners and couples head to these scattered islands in the Indian Ocean for turquoise seas, tranquil isolation and the indefatigable thrill of an over-water villa. But so far, most tropical resorts have been quite cookie-cutter, one more or less indistinguishable from the next.
Joali, a new property built on the previously deserted island of Muravandhoo, is stepping up to fill that void.
Unusually for a Maldivian hotel, design, art and architecture have been given the central focus; the place is strewn with contemporary works by a host of international names, including South African artist Porky Hefer (known for his collaborations with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation) who has designed the Manta Ray tree house where you can have dinner. Finish off at Lajoie, the artisanal chocolate and ice-cream parlour.
Spacious villas feature a covetable mix of modern furniture and traditional Maldivian objects, and all with infinity pools, electric curtains, printed silk kimonos, and even a juicer for that feel-good morning vitamin fix.
The lowdown Contemporary cool in a Copenhagen landmark.
Best for Exploring the city’s cultural district from the hotel’s front door.
Once occupied by the Royal Danish Academy of Music, the building now home to Nobis Copenhagen was prime fodder for rebirth as a hotel. The transformation has been a sympathetic one, with original features preserved and incorporated into the contemporary Scandinavian design.
You’ll find all the grand architectural trappings of a former conservatoire, while a series of striking design elements, including a concrete block reception desk and simple black wooden four-poster beds, lend the property an air of hipster-chic.
Chef Fredrik Sandberg leads the kitchen at impressive in-house restaurant NOI where dishes such as artichoke dumplings and mallard with blueberries make the most of Scandinavia’s exceptional produce.
To finish off the evening, enjoy a nightcap in the eco-minded Marble Bar, which continues the hotel’s hipster vibe with its choice of cold infusion liquors, homemade artisan syrups and 100 per cent biodegradable cocktail straws.