What a long, strange year it was. We all deserve some time away to unwind. Thankfully, there are some hotels designed to help us do just that.
There’s a certain kind of hotel out there — typically near a beach, sometimes on an island, occasionally in a jungle — that is designed for the specific purpose of helping you lie back, relax, and just be unconcerned for a while. It might have a thatch roof and thick wood beams, it might have flowing linens and a boatload of shiplap, it might have large open windows and sea views and a refreshing cross breeze. In other words, it might look a lot like the ten hotels below — some of our favorite new examples of the form. After a stressful year, this is the kind of reward you deserve.
A new generation of impeccably conceived and designed boutique hotels is changing the face of the Mexican hospitality scene, and this one, fresh off a thorough renovation that more than doubled the resort’s size, is the antidote to the overly polished resorts of Cancún. With its rustic, handmade look and its homey atmosphere, Be Tulum steps aside and lets you enjoy the beauty of its setting.
Labuan Bajo, Indonesia
Waecicu Beach is perfectly picturesque, and Plataran Komodo’s oceanfront villas look out over the islands that rise dramatically out of the waters of the Flores Sea. Even the most basic villas are more than luxurious enough, and as you ascend the scale they quickly cross over into extravagance, adding private gardens, outdoor bathrooms, and even private pools.
Sentidos Beach Retreat
It’s a long way for most of us to go for a beach holiday, but Sentidos Beach Retreat, on the coast of Mozambique, is the sort of place that’s worth making an effort for. It’d be difficult to draw up a more perfect seaside escape; with the Indian Ocean on one side and a lagoon fringed with coconut trees and mangroves on the other, Sentidos is blessed with an ideal setting.
San Juan del sur, Nicaragua
On the Pacific side of Nicaragua, just to the north of the Costa Rican border, Morgan’s Rock occupies 4,000 acres of jungle alongside a beautiful crescent-shaped beach, and fully half the land is a private reserve — which means not only do sea turtles nest and hatch here, but the woods are full of howler monkeys, white-tipped deer, and sloths. With neighbors like these you’d settle for an ordinary hotel — but Morgan’s Rock’s bungalows and villas are far from ordinary.
Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort
Ribeira Grande, Portugal
Santa Barbara’s modernist villas are nothing if not photogenic, their rough and rustic materials formed into perfect Euclidean shapes. And they’re pleasing to more senses than just the visual — luxe contemporary comforts put you at ease, especially in the top-of-the-line Retreat Villas, and your tranquil surroundings do their bit as well, whether you’re looking over the gardens or the sea.
An Lam Retreats
Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
Getting here is half the adventure: a few airport transfers, an hour-long drive, and then a boat journey, because An Lam Retreats isn’t accessible by road. It’s a lot of travel, yes, but the payoff is spectacular. There’s an embarrassment of natural riches — mountains, waterfalls, the South China Sea, and a white sand beach — and then there’s the resort itself, with 33 perfectly luxe timber cabins, complete with butler service.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
The name means “green village,” and it’s an apt description. Thatched-roof wooden villas rise up on stilts amid landscaped gardens and paddy fields, and the large swimming pool, like a mirror, reflects the image of towering palms overhead. Expect a traditional Cambodian colonial aesthetic, but new construction, with open-plan living and first-class materials from aged wood to smooth stone.
99 Surf Lodge
If you were to try, without doing any research at all, to design the kind of hotel Tablet would be likely to have in Nicaragua, chances are you’d come up with something remarkably similar to 99 Surf Lodge. A sleek, low-slung modernist hotel, stylish but unpretentious, situated right on Popoyo, a legendary surf beach, in a part of the world that’s developed enough to be hospitable but nowhere near overdeveloped — on paper, it’s perfect. And the best part about it is that it’s actually a real place.
The Sanchaya, grand and gleaming, is impossibly photogenic at dawn and dusk, the colonial architecture and towering palm trees reflected in the still water of an Olympic-sized infinity pool. There’s rainforest and a manmade lagoon on one side, and clear blue sea on the other; inside, the hotel is like a museum of Southeast Asian art and artifacts — plus 21 villas and nine suites spread out between the main house and the lagoon-facing Lawan Village.
Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa
Saint Barthélemy, French West Indies
True to stereotype, this French island is always a bit more stylish, a bit more upscale than its neighbors. And the first newly-built hotel on St. Barth in twenty years turns out to have been worth the wait, thanks to a pair of Parisians on holiday: designer Sybille de Margerie and Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin combine to make Le Barthélemy one of the Caribbean’s hottest tickets.