Great Hotels in Unexpected Places
When you think of the greatest hotels in the world, what regions do you think of first? If you thought of cities like New York City, Rome and Paris, you wouldn’t be alone. The assumption is that these big, ritzy cities must have their fair share of extravagant and luxurious hotels. We’ve seen such hotels in the movies or the news. So this thinking isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is narrow. While these cities are indeed home to some of the finest hotels known to man, a lot, maybe even a majority of the world’s best hotels are located in places that few would expect.
When you were thinking about regions for the world’s best hotels, you may have thought about western Europe and New England, but you did consider Sub-Saharan Africa? The Amboseli/Tsavo region of Kenya is host to the ol Donyo Lodge, consistently listed as one of the finest hotels in the world. The lodge is smack dab in the middle of the 275,000 acre Mbirikani Group Ranch. Due to its location, guests will have an unrivaled view of Mount Kilimanjaro, and it is in the path of elephant migrations, depending on the season. The lodge comes with only 20 beds, but each room is designed in a unique and luxurious way. But it’s not just the comfortable rooms that make a stay at this hotel a truly captivating experience; it’s the environment around as well. Guests are not only welcome, but indeed encouraged to participate in the 4×4 open game drives, guided bushwalks and tours of the nearby local villages. It’s not only a getaway, it’s a cultural experience.
In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, travelers can find another glorious hospice called Fairmont the Norfolk. The hotel, which just underwent a $12 million renovation, has long been known as the country’s most luxurious hotel. It’s also been open the longest, having celebrated its centennial anniversary back in 2004. This hotel is known for its lush rooms, thanks to the plush carpeting and deep velour soft furnishings. Fairmont also has a famed tearoom that offers a fair sampling of the finest teas the region has to offer. Due to the fact that Fairmont is located in downtown Nairobi, which is in stark contrast to the location of the ol Donyo lodge, Fairmont does not have quite the same outdoor benefits as the aforementioned property. But if you register for the appropriate package, you can find a tour guide through the hotel who will escort guests out into the outskirts of the country to spy on the exotic animals.
Just south of Kenya, you will find another one of the world’s most highly thought of hotels. It’s called the Singita Grumeti Reserves, and it is located in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Singita Grumeti offers an unparalleled opportunity to view some of the most exotic game ever witnessed by the human eye, while at the same time maintaining a semblance of solitude. It is split into three separate, nearby properties, all noted for their supreme luxury. At the Singita Grumeti Reserves, guests can wake up in the morning after having a good night’s sleep in a luminous suite, go to the window and watch the rhinos hydrate in the Grumeti River. And just like the ol Donyo Lodge, Singita Grumeti offers guests a chance to get an even better view of the beautiful landscape via guided tours and horseback rides.
Tanzania also offers travelers the beautiful Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge. This hotel, which year after year gets rated as one of the finest in the world, sits on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater the largest volcanic crater on the planet (don’t worry, it’s a safe place to say). The crater is indeed frequently labeled as one of the unofficial eighth wonder of the world. Explore the crater on which this property sits, and guests will have the ability to find everything from bull elephants to rhinos (okay, so that may not be safe). Forgetting the solid amenities that this hotel provides, the unique look of this hotel alone makes the trip worthy of the cost paid. The walls are decorated prehistoric cave paintings that are lit by torches. The rooms themselves have a few of these astonishing cave paintings. And each room has its own rock-enclosed balcony from which guests can either stare down at the volcanic atmosphere down below or stare out at the gorgeous African countryside.
Zambia is home to another incredible hotel that is located in the beautiful continent, and the name of that property is The Royal Livingstone. The Royal Livingstone, located in Victoria Falls (known for its famous waterfalls), has 173 rooms, each with its own private veranda built along the Zambezi river bank, giving guests a fantastic vantage point of the waterfalls. The beautiful acacia forest is in view as well. Like the Ngorongoro Lodge, rooms in the Livingstone are decorated with paintings specific to the cultural history of Zambia and its surroundings. Apart from that, the rooms are famous for being spacious and of impeccable Victorian design. And for guests that don’t want to just stare at the river, they can raft down the Zambezi, which is notorious for providing some of the best rafting in the world (jet boat cruises down the river are available as well). Travelers should also take note that The Royal Livingstone takes pride in being a socially conscious hotel. Employees at the hotel encourage travelers to not only take in the luxurious hotel, but arrange for travelers to participate in t-shirt tye-dyeing with the local women who sell them at the markets. Not only does the Livingstone provide a relaxing and comforting experience, it also provides a rich cultural experience as well.
Travelers can find lodging gems in unexpected places outside of Africa as well. Park Hyatt has a property in Buenos Aires, Argentina named Palacio Duhau. Just like other Park Hyatt properties, the Palacio Duhau offers a surplus of wonderful amenities, including a world-class spa and even an art gallery, which celebrates the finest painters the region has to offer. Guests at the hotel can even enjoy a slew of tango lessons if they so desire. And oh yeah, you’re in the middle of Buenos Aires, one of the most beautiful cities on this planet.
In Asia, travelers can discover the Uma Paro, located in Paro, Bhutan. Despite the fact that most Americans could not even begin to know where to point to Bhutan on a map, it offers American travelers a solid deal to stay at one of the finest hotels. The isolated property is located in the remote Bhutan countryside. The property puts a large emphasis on providing a peaceful and subdued energy, and has only 29 rooms as a result. But guests lucky enough to state at the hotel will be rewarded by staying in rooms designed by supremely talented local artists. Each room has a unique, but consistently sensational feel. Uma Paro is most well-known for its dynamic Bukhari restaurant, which serves geographically distinct and savory menu items like forest mushrooms and buckwheat. Those guests who enjoy spending time outdoors can enjoy the walking and biking treks in the sumptuous hills arranged by the hotel, and guests that aren’t as acclimated to outdoor activity can enjoy the world-class therapy treatments provided by hotel staff. There are yoga sessions conducted throughout the day as well.
But you don’t even have to venture outside of America to find splendid hotels in unexpected locales. Darby, Montana is home to Triple Creek Ranch, which was recently voted as the best hotel of its region by accommodation experts. The property, which sits on top of 600 acres in the Bitterroot Mountains, is divided into 23 plush log cabins, each designed to fit the different quirks of different guests. The hotel offers guests a surplus of fun outdoor activities and classes, including fly fishing and cattle driving. The favorite activity for guests tends to be the snowshoe excursion across the Chief Joseph Pass, the same pass traveled by Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago. Depending on the season, exemplary skiing and outstanding whitewater rafting can be on a guest’s itinerary as well. But if you’re a traveler that’s not sold on outdoor activities, stay in and enjoy the noteworthy wine cellar, which has won Wine Spectator Award of Excellence six years running. There are over 500 delicious wines on the menu, coming from some of the finest wineries in the world, mostly emphasizing the Pacific northwest and France. Oenophiles will certainly be enticed by the fact that Triple Creek Ranch offers seminars every weekend, delivered by the most distinguished winemakers in the world. Those who like to vary from wine a little shouldn’t fret; the rooftop of the main building has a full bar that serves the finest microbrews in the region.
So next time you think about the best hotels in the world, don’t limit your view to places like the Ritz-Carlton in New York. There are many hotels that rival that legendary one, and they aren’t necessarily in Manhattan.