From cool and calm to riotous colour, the hottest hotels turn tradition on its head.
The lowdown The traditional Italian farmhouse gets a modernist makeover.
Best for Easy Italian living with serious style credentials.
Italy and excellent design go together like bread and butter, so it’s no surprise that one of the hottest hotels in our travel plans this year is an exciting combination of the two. Masseria Moroseta, a little gem in the Brindisi region of Puglia, takes the concept of a typical agricultural masseria and rethinks it for today’s sensibilities.
A temple to rustic minimalism, the white, geometric architecture cuts an arresting silhouette against the reliably blue skies. Inside, interiors are a study in farmhouse chic. Wide windows looking out over open terraces flood internal spaces with light, while a smattering of design classics nod to the good taste of owner Carlo Lanzini.
Wellness buffs will delight in the spa and the outdoor pool with views over olive groves. Breakfast is a generous affair of local produce, including eggs from the farm’s own chickens, and communal dinners of home-made pasta and seafood delicacies are available on demand. Best of all, Moroseta only has six rooms so peace is all but guaranteed.
Book it High-season rates are from £210.
SALT of PALmAr
The lowdown Colourful, eclectic, over-the- top design in the Indian Ocean.
Best for An alternative to cookie-cutter island resorts.
This rainbow-painted playground is the first of a new group of establishments by Paul Jones, the founder of LUX* Resorts & Hotels. Designed in collaboration with artist Camille Walala, SALT serves as a perfect antidote to the many tropical resorts that deploy a near ubiquitous design language of over-water villas and driftwood furniture.
Interiors are nothing short of loud, with a palette of sunset yellow, royal blue and vivid orange. The hotel is the first in Mauritius to call itself an eco resort, with an ethos that promotes sustainable, green living.
White bedrooms offer a respite from the flamboyant public spaces and are the most environmentally friendly rooms on the island: beds are decked out in organic, unbleached linens, toiletries and water bottles are refillable, and you’ll even find slippers and yoga mats made from recycled rubber.
Guests can take advantage of a number of bliss-inducing activities – from beach meditation and sunrise walks to salt scrubs in the spa and tours of local town Port Louis’ street food scene.
Book it Double rooms from £160.
The lowdown A converted Sixties sugar mill set in magnificent countryside.
Best for Design-conscious travellers seeking a pared-back oasis.
Bypass the Great Wall, skip Beijing and head straight down to the south of China for Guangxi’s winding rivers, pagoda-dotted lakes and dramatic limestone landscape. Just outside of the ancient city of Guilin you’ll find Yangshuo, an area so picturesque it’s been a popular item on backpackers’ lists since the Eighties.
Slightly off this well-worn path is Alila Yangshuo, a new wellness retreat flanked by tree-covered peaks that straddle a curve of the Li River. The hotel’s imposing architecture comprises a series of mid-century industrial buildings, with lofty public spaces that are a minimalist’s dream
Head to the subterranean spa for a black sugar scrub, take rock climbing lessons in the hotel’s gardens and dine on southern Chinese classics in Philip Zhu’s Sugar House restaurant. Alila’s pièce de résistance, however, is a pillar-lined lap pool looking out over the spectacular mountains and valleys beyond.
Book it Double rooms from £240.
Villa la Coste
The lowdown A contemporary cultural haven in the grounds of Château La Coste.
Best for World-class art displays and sublime French gastronomy.
Think of the perfect modern art museum. It would probably contain an Alexander Calder sculpture, one of Louise Bourgeois’s spiders, something by Brit art queen Tracey Emin. No doubt a luminary such as Tadao Ando would have been brought in to design a wing. And, finally, there’d be an encompassing sense of tranquillity, an ambience that would allow visitors to relax completely and embrace their surroundings.
Well, all those components come together at Villa La Coste: a new hotel built around the art collection of vineyard Château La Coste. Situated in the cypress tree-filled grounds, the villa is a dream of Zen simplicity where the art does the talking.
Guests are spoilt not only by the roster of international names on display – at what other hotel would you find an Emin hanging over the bed? – but also by the bounty of Gallic indulgences on hand.
There are spa treatments using locally harvested lavender, free tastings of La Coste’s wines and exceptional cuisine at Le Restaurant. Don’t leave without taking the estate’s art and architecture walk, almost certainly the most enchanting gallery tour you’ll ever experience.
Book it Double rooms from £580.