When you hear the word “lodge,” what’s the first thing you think of? You’re probably picturing something a bit different from these hotels, each of them lodges in their own unique way.
A bunch of us were sitting around the proverbial water cooler the other day, talking about hotel names, when someone noted that an awful lot of hotels call themselves lodges. And not just the obvious ones, either, like ski lodges. Hotels of all styles and in all kinds of locations — hotels with very little in common — slap the lodge descriptor onto their name.
It got us wondering, what exactly is a lodge? We’ve all heard the word used to describe things like mountain cabins and meeting places, but is there a set of specific criteria that a structure must meet before it can call itself a lodge? Turns out, not really! Must it use wood beams, or have a fireplace, or be in close proximity to trees or animals? Not even a little bit! So it’s basically just any place that hosts a lodger, right? Not quite! According to Merriam-Webster, lodge predates lodger by a few hundred years.
We’ll end the suspense. One of the dictionary’s many definitions of lodge is, simply, “a resort hotel” or “inn,” which is awfully broad, and totally unsatisfying, but at least explains the depth and breadth of hotels on Tablet that refer to themselves as lodges, including these, some of our most interesting examples.
Brussels is a major city, but a compact one, and you don’t have to get very far out of town before urban life gives way to peaceful countryside. Indrani Lodge is less than an hour’s drive from the city center, in the village of Loupoigne, but that’s more than far enough for this restored medieval farm to serve as an escape for all sorts of travelers, from couples on the run for a weekend from Brussels to a full house of guests attending one of Indrani Lodge’s yoga retreats. (Yoga is a year-round specialty here; it’s worth knowing that Indrani offers discounted lessons for hotel guests.)
The Surf Lodge
Montauk, New York
The Surf Lodge is meant to be a window into an older, more authentic Long Island, a place where fishermen and surfers rub elbows, and champagne is still for occasions less common than the setting of the sun. Of course, despite the bohemian-rustic look and the relentlessly casual vibe of the place, this is still a boutique hotel, one with a bar that’s stylish, if unpretentiously so, and with a quality modern restaurant, applying the expertise of the Australian chef Chris Rendell to the local fresh-caught seafood.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
There was a time when Asia’s luxury villa hotels were pretty uniformly modernist and minimalist. But lately the traveling public has developed a taste for something a little more rustic, a little more handmade, and Sala Lodges, in Siem Reap, just a few miles from the temples at Angkor, are precisely that. These houses are no reproductions — they’re authentic handmade houses, some fifty years old or more, transported from all across the Cambodian countryside and reassembled here on this site.
Calistoga Motor Lodge
California’s Napa Valley hasn’t exactly had trouble attracting travelers, thanks to its phenomenal food and wine scene and its incredibly pleasant climate and landscape. It’s been a touch late, however, to embrace the boutique motel trend, tending rather toward ultra-luxe wineries and resorts. With the Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa, however, that’s all changed; here’s a ’40s motor lodge reimagined in a retro-influenced contemporary style by the design firm AvroKO (whose work is on display in a fair number of other Tablet hotels).
Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge
There’s no place quite like Cappadocia, the region in central Turkey that’s known for its unique rock formations and its inimitable cave dwellings. And while there are more than a few boutique hotels carved into these stone hillsides, there’s room for many more — our appetite is far from sated. Part modernist structures, part traditional cave dwellings, Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge goes perhaps heavier on contemporary design and lighter on heavy stone architecture than many other Cappadocian hotels, and its eleven rooms and suites are among the finest in the region.
Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge
Ladysmith, South Africa
The safari experience has changed in many ways since Hemingway’s day. For one thing, you’re here to photograph the wildlife, not bring it home. Perhaps most important, from the perspective of a lover of high-end hospitality, is that safari lodges are only getting more and more luxurious. Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge is a case in point. Its setting, in the Nambiti private game reserve, is stunning, varied, wild, and chock full of animals. And back at the lodge, the living is easy indeed: it’s a Relais & Châteaux hotel owned by a French couple for whom “savoir vivre” is serious business.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
Machu Picchu, Peru
Clearly the attraction here is the proximity to the ruins of the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, hidden away almost eight thousand feet up in Peru’s Andes mountains. There are other places to stay in the general area of Machu Picchu, but there’s only one luxury hotel within the protected sanctuary itself, on a mountain top literally just yards from the walls of the citadel, offering unparalleled access — you’ll watch the sun rise and set over the ruins, and have the opportunity to visit in the afternoons and evenings, after the tour groups have packed up and gone home.
Cambria Beach Lodge
If Cambria, California, doesn’t sound quite as familiar as Monterey or Santa Barbara, well, you’re certainly not alone. The proprietors here argue that their hotel occupies part of the last piece of unspoiled, undiscovered beach town along the central California coast — and they’re trying to keep it that way. But this is a part of the country that deserves to be explored, enjoyed, and protected. And the Cambria Beach Lodge, a Highway 1 roadside hotel in that stunning stretch of country between San Francisco and Los Angeles, allows a traveler to do just that.
Herdade da Rocha – Boutique Lodge
It’s not just Portuguese tourism that’s on the ascendant, but Portuguese winemaking as well. Which means it’s the perfect time for a hotel like Herdade da Rocha – Boutique Lodge. It’s set on a winemaking estate in the Alto Alentejo, the site of the Couto Saramago winery, whose vineyards and gardens are now joined by a stylish contemporary lodge. After all, there’s only so much you can learn about the land from the wine’s terroir — there’s no substitute for being there yourself.
DonnaCarmela Resort & Lodges
This part of Italy is rightly proud of its agricultural heritage, and DonnaCarmela Resort & Lodges retains evidence of its humble beginnings in rough stone walls surrounding the elegant old farmhouse. To that they’ve added a modern lodge, separated from the original villa, which they describe as “avant-garde bio-architecture” — and all of this is surrounded by a vast nursery garden filled with an astonishing variety of subtropical and Mediterranean plants. Rooms and suites range from rustic-chic to ultra-modern, and even the smallest come with expansive views.
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, naturally, is that it’s actually a real place.
Palm Springs, California
Take a hint from the word-of-mouth publicity, the quiet poolside crowd in retro swimwear, and the understated logo — a minimalist illustration of two little birds perched on a branch. Sparrows Lodge is not aiming for the mainstream. Recycled from the Fifties and refreshed for a style-conscious clientele, this woodsy hideaway is the kind of place where people play horseshoes, swing wooden tennis rackets and read books by their private campfires. At night, the property’s original red barn opens for dinner and drinks. It’s like a dreamy hipster version of the summer camp of your childhood — complete with artisan cocktails and deep, luxurious bathtubs fashioned out of old horse troughs.
Charming Luxury Lodge
San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
There’s more than one resort on the shores of Argentina’s Lake Nahuel Huapi, and maybe, given the extraordinary setting, a certain humility is called for on the part of the local hotels. Still, we’d say the name of Charming Luxury Lodge & Private Spa rather undersells the product. Make no mistake, this intimate little compound certainly is charming, but with these views, in this idyllic location, “sublime” might not be too strong a word.
The Lodge at Tikana
Southland, New Zealand
New Zealand lodge living doesn’t get much more exclusive, or much more intimate, than the one-suite Lodge at Tikana. You read that right — you’ll have this splendid South Island farmhouse all to yourself, with only your hosts Dave and Donna for company. You’ve got the run of the place, from the espresso machine and the library full of books and DVDs to the double soaking tub with a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Cozy doesn’t even begin to describe it — the floors are heated, and the living room features a wood-burning fireplace.