BEYOND FOUR WALLS
A look at some of the world's most extraordinary hotels
Let us take you beyond the standard four walls of a hotel with this round-up of some of the world’s most surprising and unusual places to stay. From decadent glamping in the Australian outback to sleeping in a pod on a Peruvian cliff edge, these hotels are redefining the rules.
Skeletons in the Closet
Shipwreck Lodge - Skeleton Coast, Namibia
This aptly named lodge comprises ten guest cabins hunkered down amid the dunes of Namibia’s spectacular Skeleton Coast, with widescreen views of South Atlantic rollers barrelling to shore. The remote stretch of coastline has seen many a shipwreck over the years and each luxury cabin is designed to look like it “could have been put together by castaways”, with whimsical touches that run from whalebone detailing to ropes, driftwood and porthole windows. King-size beds allow you to drink in the soul-stirring views and wood-burning stoves keep you cosy in the evenings.
Castaway life revolves around the pleasure of being totally immersed in nature, with reading, dining and wildlife viewing all high on the agenda. Enthusiastic guides will take you to the seal colony at Mowe Bay, along the Hourasib River to find chacma baboons, out into the wilderness to see real-life shipwrecks, or into Skeleton Coast National Park in search of desert-dwelling elephant and lion.
“The first and only permanent lodge in Namibia’s wild and windswept Skeleton Coast National Park.”
There’s more to enjoy here than just splendid isolation. Ask the team to prepare you a private beach picnic, spend the day beachcombing for whale bones and the debris from shipwrecks, spot Cape fur seals and desert-adapted elephants, or sit atop dunes and watch the mesmerising sunset.
LIFE ON THE EDGE
SKY LODGE ADVENTURE SUITES – SACRED VALLEY, PERU
Imagine spending the night in a transparent pod suspended from the side of a cliff, 600m above the floor of Peru’s Sacred Valley, with mystical Machu Picchu just eight miles away. At Sky Lodge Adventure Suites, you can do just that. Be sure to pack your sense of adventure, as to get there you’ll first need to tackle an adrenaline-inducing via ferrata route of 170 metal steps and aluminium wires dressed in hard hat and harness. Your guide will lead the way, carrying with him all the food and drink you’ll need for your stay.
Upon arrival, you’ll find three overnight capsules fixed to the rockface alongside a separate dining pod. Capsules can sleep up to four guests, with one double bed and two singles. Apart from the aluminium framework and the primitive toilet cubicle, everything is Perspex, allowing you to take in the heart-stopping views and dazzling night skies from literally every angle. A four-course dinner is served in the quirky dining pod, along with a healthy breakfast the next morning before you zipline to the valley floor.
“Climbing in and out of the pods, dressed in a hard hat, gloves and a harness, is as close to a spacewalk as you’re likely to ever get.”
Although wine is provided with dinner, we suggest going easy as you’ll still have to climb back to your pod after you eat – but don’t worry, the multi-lingual guides are there to ensure safety at all times.
INTO THE WOODS
TREEHOTEL - SWEDEN
Set just outside the village of Harads in Sweden, 60km south of the Arctic Circle, the Treehotel is a high-design, back-to-nature retreat where guests can slow down, switch off and breathe more deeply. With the help of some visionary architects, owners Britta and Kent Lindvall have created a slice of magic that no only combines childhood fantasies of sleeping in the trees with the latest in comfort and sophistication, but manages to do so with the lightest of environmental footprints.
The seven unique treehouses are each built high in the pine forest near the Lulea River Valley and come with more mod cons than you might imagine, including electricity, wi-fi, underfloor heating and air conditioning. Options include The Bird’s Nest, which looks exactly as its name suggests; The Cabin, a capsule in the trees with a viewing deck that looks over the treetops to the valley below; The UFO, a flying saucer in the trees that looks ready to blast off at any minute; and The Mirrorcube, whose mirrored outer walls provide perfect camouflage and incredible illusional effects.
"Childhood fantasies meet high design in the forests of Swedish Lapland”
The Treehouse is open year-round, meaning you can bask in the glow of the Midnight Sun in summer, or head out on snowmobiles in search of the Northern Lights in winter.
LONGITUDE 131 – ULURU, AUSTRALIA
Although it’s not quite the only accommodation in sight of Uluru, Longitude 131 is certainly the most luxurious. Set deep within the crimson scrub of the outback, its decadent tents provide front-row seats to Australia’s majestic monolith. Wake to your own private sunrise, as you enjoy uninterrupted views of the red-hued rock from your luxury king-sized bed.
This is glamping taken to a whole new level. Tents are raised on stilts and feature expansive decks, bespoke furniture and bathrooms with generous rain-showers. Exceptional guides will lead you on exclusive walking tours around the base of the rock and to nearby Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), a dramatic series of rock domes, some 200 metres taller than Uluru itself. Then savour outback cuisine and fine wine at Table 131, where dinner is served under a sparkling star-filled sky.
“Blinds open at the touch of a button, offering unobstructed views of one of the world’s greatest natural landmarks from the comfort of your king-size bed.”
Don’t miss the chance to wander through the astonishing solar installation Field of Light near the base of Uluru. This interactive artwork is made up of 50,000 bud-like stems crowned with radiant frosted-glass spheres, which bloom and appear to sway as darkness descends over ancient Uluru.
The Ultimate Travelling Camp - Ladakh, India
In the shadow of the nearby Thiksey Monastery, you emerge from your Maharaja-style tent as the atmospheric sound of morning prayers fills the valley. Panoramic views of mystical mountains encircle you under a clear Himalayan sky. Your private butler, who has already unpacked your suitcase for you, then lays out a sumptuous breakfast spread. This is a rare chance to live like the travelling kings of old.
India’s first ultra-luxury nomadic camp is dedicated to providing unique adventures in some of the country’s farthest flung corners. During the summer months, the camp makes its home amid the high-altitude deserts and glacial lakes of the remote Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. Gentle hikes to undiscovered villages and sunset camel rides over the dunes will immerse you in the landscape, while white-water rafting on the Indus River provides an adventurous adrenaline rush.
“The Ultimate Travelling Camp uses ultra-luxe mobile camps to offer one-of-a-kind access to some of the most remote and spectacular corners of India.”
Explore the wonders of Leh, shopping in the old bazaar and observing time-honoured rituals in the home of the last undisturbed Tantric Buddhist population on earth.
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Into the Outback
Into the Outback
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