The highest honor a hotel can receive is to make our list of the best hotels for having sex. It means they’re firing on all cylinders, with a dramatic interplay of scenery, seclusion, nature, design, fantasy, and most importantly, sustainability.
We recently surveyed a group of our clients. One question asked them to rank the types of hotel content they’d most like to read. Coming in dead last was “stories that leverage holidays and events, like ‘Best Hotels for Valentine’s Day’.”
Message received. You’re not a prudish bunch. You don’t want some lukewarm list of hotels that have the softest robes, or the best chocolate-covered strawberries. And you certainly don’t need me — with my dad bod and permanent slouch — to explain what makes a hotel sexy. You might get turned on by tiny shampoos, or the silver domes they put on top of the room service. I might like those open showers where the water slops all over the bathroom floor. Whatever. We don’t kink-shame here.
But you probably would like to know the best hotels for having sex. That’s information you can use year-round, and it’s one of the more impressive honors we can bestow.
Sex is drama. It’s a play in multiple acts, and it’s made better when the actors feel free to experiment, and the scenery feels fresh, inspiring, even a bit dangerous. So when identifying the best hotels for getting biblical, we look for hugely dramatic places that have astonishing views. We look for clever, uncommon designs that have an edge to them. We look for locations that are in conversation with nature (befitting the most natural deed one can do), and that have some measure of seclusion from the real world (lending themselves to a little make-believe). Before any of that, though, we look for properties that operate sustainably, because we know that the best sex is sex with a clean conscience.
The hotels below are leaders in sustainability. Each has completed our sustainability assessment, which means you can see the steps they’re taking to make a positive impact on the planet and in their community. They’re doing the hard work; all you need to do is get lucky. No shame in that.
Minos Beach Art Hotel isn’t the biggest, the flashiest, or the most expensive hotel on this stretch of Cretan coastline, heading north out of the town of Agios Nikolaos all the way up to Elounda, but it still manages to stand out. It’s long been a low-key favorite for high-profile guests who love its sense of seclusion — though not hard to reach, it’s set on its own little peninsula and feels as private as can be.
Bahía Ballena, Costa Rica
Kura owners Martin and Alejandra, an architect and a biologist, sought to bring to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica a level of boutique-hotel style and tropical-minimalist luxury that hadn’t been seen here before. This is a glamorous hotel, with serious modern design and locally sourced materials from gray slate to teak wood. And it’s adults only, befitting the seriously seductive edge of the jungle suites.
The Negev Desert of southern Israel is the setting for Six Senses Shaharut, whose 60 suites and villas are constructed from rough and rustic stone, timber, and plaster, a style that belies the polished comforts and professional hospitality that lie within. The most basic suites are large and extravagant, while the villas double in size, and the three-bedroom Private Reserve is the stuff of daydreams.
Koh Kood, Thailand
Not many resorts can boast of such a dramatic arrival. You’re flown to Koh Kood island by Soneva’s private plane, taken to the resort via speedboat, then driven to your bungalow in an eco-buggy. Those bungalows, with personal infinity pools and open air bathrooms, create an effortless and organic type of luxury that seems to just grow up out of the ground, while aiming to keep environmental impact at a minimum.
Kizikula is surprisingly cosmopolitan for its location on Zanzibar’s south coast. The architecture is both inventive and site-specific, the buildings’ distinctive forms constructed from locally sourced coral limestone, which, in combination with expanses of raw concrete, creates an extraordinary richness of texture. It’s complemented by wooden furniture and local textiles, resulting in a visual simplicity and a tactile warmth.
San Lorenzo, Panama
Isla Palenque means Sanctuary Island in English, which sounds exactly right. This 400-acre private island off the Pacific coast of Panama is an extraordinary escape, offering seven secluded beaches. Each of the resort’s eight thatched-roof casitas is tucked away in the forest, out of view of all the others. They’re thoughtfully laid out and stylishly designed, with bedrooms that can be opened to the breeze.
Zafferana Etnea, Italy
Monaci delle Terre Nere sits directly on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily’s most salient geographic feature. The hotel is a little bit baroque, a little bit rough-edged in classic Sicilian style, with a patina of exquisitely weathered stone. Where there’s weathered stone, of course, there ought to be some plush comforts to balance, and these rooms and suites, lack for nothing when it comes to physical luxury.
San Vicente de Tagua Tagua, Chile
Alexander Vik’s sense of drama is evident at Vik Chile, a 29-suite hotel and winery perched on a hilltop in one of Chile’s famed wine-growing regions and surrounded by vineyards. All guest suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows that provide unobstructed views over the pristine surroundings — some overlook the vineyards and the Colchagua Valley beyond, while others face the snow-capped Andes.
Baa Atoll, Maldives
Life at Vakkaru Maldives is not exactly difficult. Your villa, whether on the beach or over the water, will contain all the luxe necessities, from espresso machines to butler service. Some add private pools — for when the ocean isn’t quite enough — and grow to palatial proportions. There’s even a marine biologist on staff, as well as excursions to watch dolphins or explore the surrounding atoll.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Community underpins everything at Hotel Aguas Claras, a labor of love established by an artist from San José and her daughter. Each space at the hotel is uniquely curated with works from local artists, and there’s a sense of winking playfulness that can be found in the design of everything from the suites, lit up with bright colors and eye-catching modern furniture, to the five-bedroom Casa Floralia.
San Juan Bautista, Spain
Six Senses Ibiza is set at the end of a peninsula in the far north of the island, a setting which maximizes its private-island atmosphere. It’s as luxurious as you’d rightly expect, and extraordinarily green as well, the first BREEAM-certified resort in the region — meaning not only that its construction and operation are low-impact, but that it works with local agencies to constantly improve its environment and surrounding communities.
Yala, Sri Lanka
Wild Coast Tented Lodge engaged a group of architects, whose creations — called “cocoons” and “urchins,” the latter for kids — feel futuristic, or maybe retro-futuristic, right down to the copper basins and bathtubs. Sandwiched between a gorgeous beach and the utterly wild Yala National Park — home to elephants, leopards, monkeys, and more — you’ll feel like an adventurer here, albeit one for whom no comfort is too plush.
Hotel categories aren’t as rigid as they sometimes seem. Where, after all, is the line between a boutique hotel and a luxury resort? Better to follow Keemala’s lead, and call them what they call themselves: an “all pool villa wonderland.” It certainly gets the point across; the point being that every villa here, on the edge of Phuket’s coastal rainforest — perched just above the coastal town of Kamala — comes with its own pool.
If you want to stay at a resort with three infinity pools and five restaurants, go to Barbados or Anguilla. If you want to hike through the rainforest and meditate at dawn on a treetop platform and sleep in a clifftop villa sustainably built with native tropical wood, you go to Dominica, nicknamed “Nature Island,” and check into Secret Bay. The hotel has just 12 villas, one more lavish than the next.
Song Cau District, Vietnam
We’ve written extensively about the lengths to which Arnaud Zannier goes to ensure his hotels are fully immersive experiences, venues for creating the kinds of unforgettable memories that travel, at its best, is all about. Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô is another extraordinary addition to the family, set on 240 acres alongside a powder-white beach on a secluded peninsula in Vietnam’s seaside province of Phu Yen.