Extreme escapism: The best hotels in the world

Have you found yourself whiling away hours on travel sites recently? Apparently, February is a peak time for booking vacations for the rest of the year. It must have something to do with the cold weather in much of the world or the post-holiday blues. Whatever it is, we’re especially prone to daydream right now. And although I’m always looking for a new adventure, I secretly wish I was planning a trip back to one of these five hotels — the best I’ve ever visited.


Governor’s Camp in Kenya. It was the 1990s — at least a decade before we had a word for “glamping” — when my family stayed at Governor’s Camp on the Masai Mara National Reserve. The luxurious canvas tents house what are four-star hotel rooms in the middle of Africa’s wildlife. I’ll never forget watching the sun set across giraffe silhouettes or when a hippopotamus strolled through the dining area. This is a magical, once-in-a-lifetime place that I’m hoping to see twice in mine. (From $340/night).


Grand Hotel Nord-Pinus in Arles, France. This place is right out of a Hemingway novel with art deco furnishings, Peter Beard photographs and an intimate bar for late night apéritifs. In my opinion there is only one time of year to visit — over Easter weekend — when the Spanish bull fighters take over Arles’ ancient Roman amphitheater. If you can’t stomach bullfighting, join the all-day paella party in the town square. Arles and its cyprus trees may feel familiar if you’re a fan of Vincent Van Gogh who spent his most prolific days here. (From $200/night).


The InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam in Koh Samui, Thailand. I meant it when I wrote that this hotel is where I visualize myself when I go to my mental “happy place.” White sand beaches, windswept palm trees, turquoise waters and the most incredicle spa I’ve ever seen. Each room has a stunning view of paradise. I truly believe it would be impossible not to relax while staying here. (From $190/night).


Jake’s Treasure Beach in Jamaica. I stupidly thought Jamaica was one big, smoke-filled reggae party that I had no business attending until I visited in 2014. Jake’s is a prime example of the vibrant, local culture steeped in history. Instead of a traditional hotel, Jake’s has a collections of cottages and villas. Each one is unique, so book your vacation around when the room you want to stay in is free. You can while away the day playing dominos and drinking planter’s punch or take off in a boat to snorkel. (From $90/night).


Manka’s Inverness Lodge in California. California is home to so many incredible hotels it is difficult to choose one, but the tiny, 100-year-old fishing lodge on Northern California’s wild coastline has to be the coolest. There isn’t much to do outside of hiking, enjoying nature and sitting fireside. Hot coffee and breakfast arrives outside your door each morning with a real, honest-to-goodness print newspaper. (Price upon request.)

Do you have a favorite hotel? Is it a tropical bungalow or a mountain-top lodge? Maybe it’s in Manhattan. I only realized in putting this list together that none of my favorite hotels involve a big city. For me, I suppose vacation is getting away from the familiar. Meanwhile, here are a few links to get you through the rest of the week:

This California hotel has been my dream to visit for years

This hotel is where I want to stay for my 40th birthday

…and maybe this one for my 50th

Travel + Leisure just released their  ‘best hotels’ list

I’d pack this raincoat in my spring suitcase (on sale!)

Have you ever fallen in love while traveling?

Where we’d like to be this August


Photos via here, here and here


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There are California girls and there are Bakersfield girls. I am the latter.

One thought on “Extreme escapism: The best hotels in the world

  1. I have been interested in visiting Africa for a very long time but it is hard to find the right place to stay or figure out where to go. I am contacting Governor Camp with your recommendation. Thanks!

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