The most common type of hotel is the chain, found near a highway or an airport or just a tired part of town. Often forgettable, but sometimes necessary, you’ve come because it’s either a deal or a means to an end. Then there’s the boutique, smaller in scale and unique to its setting. The experience of staying in one is singular, and, if you’re lucky, reveals something larger about the place you’ve traveled to see.
The third, and least accessible, is the destination hotel. This class of overnight, often lavish, reflects a certain lifestyle, if just for a short time. It’s that special place where people come to honeymoon, to reconnect as distant lovers, to simply get away for a while and clear their heads. Maybe it’s a desert oasis, a former palace or a ranch in the middle of nowehere, there’s just nothing else like it, and that’s as good a reason as any to book a ticket and go — no matter the price, no matter the distance. Just book a ticket, and go.
Location: Canyon Point, UT ⇱
Closest Airport: Page Municipal Airport (17 miles)
The Amangiri resort, an outpost of the Aman hotel group, is located on 600 acres in Canyon Point, Utah, near the Arizona border. Though remote — the closest town, Big Water, had a population of 417 at last count — and far from affordable, it’s surrounded by the great icons of the American Southwest: the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, the Grand Staircase — Escalante, as well as Bryce and Zion National Parks.
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel St. Moritz
Location: St. Moritz, Switzerland ⇱
Closest Airport: Samedan Airport (4 miles)
First opened in 1896, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has since become on icon of Swiss luxury. Overlooking Lake St. Moritz, the hotel is home to 157 rooms, a quarter of which are suites, six different restaurants and a rotating collection of guests’ Italian supercars.
Location: Calistoga, CA ⇱
Closest Airport: Sonoma County Airport (24 miles)
Tucked into a secluded canyon in the Napa Valley, Calistoga Ranch finds peace in its lush 157-acre property, lined with mossy oak trees and miles of undisturbed hiking. The hotel itself is composed of individual lodges, tiered on amenities that include luxuries from a wellness spa to a personal Mercedes-Benz car.
Explora Patagonia Hotel Salto Chico
Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile ⇱
Closest Airport: Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (209 miles)
Designed by two of Chile’s most respected architects, José Cruz Ovalle and Germán del Sol, Explora’s flagship location, opened in 1993, is the only hotel within the Torres del Paine National Park boundaries to stay open throughout the entire year. Much of its appeal, however, is its excursion program; highlights include gaucho-led lessons in horseback riding, full-day hikes to the park’s famous torres and relaxing strolls around the grounds to learn about the unique flora and fauna of southern Chile.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
Location: Mahe Island, Seychelles ⇱
Closest Airport: Seychelles International Airport (12 miles)
Resort Seychelles is a refined standout of Four Seasons’ ever-growing portfolio, made up of 67 individual villas overlooking the beach and island jungle. Amenities include floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies with infinity pools.
Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel
Location: Nesjavellir, Iceland ⇱
Closest Airport: Reykjavik Airport (33 miles)
Once an abandoned inn, situated under an hour from Reykjavik, the property of ION Adventure Hotel was transformed into a minimalist hotel in the context of Iceland’s vast, rugged landscape. Located near the Thingvellir National Park, the hotel is also the perfect starting point to drive Iceland’s famed “Golden Circle” route.
Location: Minaret Bay, New Zealand ⇱
Closest Airport: Wanaka Airport (25 miles)
The only way to Minaret Station, New Zealand’s most exclusive and expensive overnight lodge, is by helicopter. There are only four rooms, called “alpine chalets,” complete with sheepskin carpets and hot tubs. But beyond that, 50,000 acres of farmland, hugged by beech forest mountains, lay open and undisturbed, promising all the fishing, hunting and general roaming a man comes to expect from New Zealand’s South Island.
Location: Castiglioncello del Trinoro, Sarteano, Italy ⇱
Closest Airport: Florence Airport (90 miles)
Rustic in its aesthetic, Monteverdi Tuscany sits atop a hill overlooking the idyllic Tuscan countryside, surrounded by cypress trees, cobbled streets and a 12th-century castle. Playing into this narrative, the hotel’s spa features natural skincare products from the storied Florentine apothecary Santa Maria Novella.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates ⇱
Closest Airport: Abu Dhabi International Airport (126 miles)
Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort is an oasis in the heart of the Rub’ al Khali (the “Empty Quarter”), the largest contiguous sand desert in the world. The rooms feature oversize bath, separate rain showers and Molton Brown toiletires, while a communal infinity pool overlooks the lonely desert landscape as far as the eye can see.
Location: Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana ⇱
Closest Airport: Maun Airport (141 miles)
The selling point of San Camp is its nothingness. The resort is an outcropping of white tents dotting the shore of what remains of an extinct super lake: The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. When visitors aren’t enjoying the unrivaled privacy of their own tent, they are in the mess tent enjoying local cuisine, sipping homemade tea, stretching out in the yoga pavilion or thumbing through the small natural history museum and library.
Taj Lake Palace
Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan, India ⇱
Closest Airport: Maharana Pratap Airport (15 miles)
Built in 1746 under Maharana Jagat Singh II, the hotel, surrounded by a lake, was designed to face the rising sun — a point of worship for the prince. Other accounts, of course, suggest it was built as a sex palace. Today, guests arrive to a shower of rose petals and are escorted to their rooms under sequined umbrellas.
Location: Hokkaido, Japan ⇱
Closest Airport: Okadama Airport (61 miles)
Located in the secluded Hanazano woods of Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido, this ryokan (the Japanese equivalent of a bed and breakfast) is modeled, albeit loosely, after the concept of a samurai village. The cozy communal building features an open fire place, a 36-foot bar and large glass windows that overlook Mount Yotei. The rooms themselves, furnished with modern furniture and appliances, wrap around an inner garden and include private wooden outdoor, promising that proper Japanese onsen experience.