The TOP TEN hotel count down -10-6!
Number 10- The Kuramathi Island Resort, Maldives
Scraping into the top 10 is the Kuramathi Island Resort, Maldives. Because what top 10 can NOT have a few gratuitous Maldives shots! The hotel itself was nothing special, but the room was one of those glorious stilted hut affairs which let you sleep in the gentle breeze with no mozzies and wake up to the slapping of hapless fish flinging themselves to the surface, as if desperate to be noticed. A lot of people say that a week is enough, anything more and you’ll get bored. I say, it takes A LOT of reading, ambling, swimming, eating, gazing and relaxing before I start getting itchy feet. Of the overwhelming number of island options we chose this one because it was a) big enough to enjoy a gentle stroll around and feel like we had had some exercise b) offered on a B&B basis which meant we could eat at any of the 3 resorts on the island (and therefore didn’t suffer death by tedious buffet cart) c) had over-water bungalows at a slightly less extortionate price than some.
Our luxury stilted hut
Number 9- Cardynham House, Painswick
A change of pace for number 9…picture this: small countryside village on the edge of the Cotswolds; long early summer evenings in hazy pub gardens; a 15th century boutique hotel tucked away in the narrow streets; creaking floorboards and a 4 poster bed; and, quite randomly, your very own, private, secluded swimming pool! For a mid week sneaky break it was a perfect get-away, made more memorable by unexpected events such as being offered an after dinner joint at a Thai restaurant (did it come as standard?!) and failing to find the hotel several times post pub, the front door being so well hidden within the weathered walls. A proper English countryside treat. I’ve come over all patriotic.
A quaint English village
Number 8- Hotel Ranga, Iceland
If you are partial to a Nordic lodge complete with giant stuffed bears, floor to ceiling timber and scenery unrelenting in its starkness, this could be just the ticket. The high points of this place were the outdoor hot-tubs overlooking said marvellously inhospitable views, and of course, the northern lights (we were lucky enough to get a show around 9pm on Chris’ 30th birthday bang on schedule!) There are some great places to explore round here and the staff are super friendly. All in all, a great alternative break. Watch out for the prices though, Iceland is the sort of place you need to smuggle bread and cheese off the breakfast buffet to cover lunch.
View of the mountains from our room
Number 7- Sengigi Beach Hotel, Lombok, Indonesia
Memory is a bit hazy on this as I visited here as the guest of my backpacking friends parents in 1998, so I can’t gurantee the quality now! But I do remember huge expanses of pool and waterfall flanked bar side lagoons; the sea being too warmto swim in; experiencing my first proper taste of luxury- and liking what I found! Lombok is lovely but the neighbouring Gilli islands are spectacular. I have never managed to beat the snorkelling at Gilli Trawangan for the sheer extravagance of neon pinks, blues and purples. We stayed in a shack behind a tethered buffalo though so cant quite give the Gillis a placing in their own right this time!
Number 6- La Posado del Angel, Antigua
Well, the other Antigua anyway- the one in Guatemala! This place was beautiful. As boutique hotels go, it’s in a class of its own. Tucked away behing a high wall and through a flower fringed courtyard, this colonial gem is quaint and elegant all at once. They had totally nailed the little details- hundreds of church candles eerily flickering all along the open air corridors as soon as dusk fell; luxurious baskets of lilies strategically placed in nooks and crannies along the flagstones; a lap pool interior to the hotel but outside at the same time (as cold as ice as it turned out); an abundance of soft furnishings for lounging (and as it turned out volcanic eruption watching!) on the rooftop terrace. I felt stylish just being there.
Open air courtyard lap pool