Ever wanted to stay in an extravagant palace literally fit for a king? What about running into a 100-year old tribal woman while exploring sand dunes outside a world-class luxury accommodation in the middle of nowhere? Perhaps enjoy some wild elephant gazing while you lounge in your private jacuzzi amidst an African national park?
Some of the best boutique hotels in the world aim to embark guests on unforgettable experiences, unreplicatable anywhere else. There is, however, a common thread among the cream of the crop in the boutique hotel world.
Pondoro Game Lodge
There are five essential values common in all of this year’s winners of the World Boutique Hotel Awards.
The hotel seamlessly integrates with its environment
This is so vital that it always seems understated. Rather than drone on about the importance of creating a space that compliments an excellent environment and vice versa, here are some great examples:
Set in the Thar Desert, Suryagarh is built with Jaisalmer sandstone, situated in the middle of nowhere, with stretching dunes and arid land creating a strangely beautiful backdrop.
Embodying Paris’s inimitable combination of class, history, architecture, cuisine and art, the Grand Hotel is located in the middle of the city’s biggest attractions, including the Louvre and Opera house. With a story stretching back to the 18th century, it’s no surprise that this hotel naturally takes in the culture and feeling of the historic city surrounding it.
Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal
The service is beyond expectation
This not only means taking guest from the airport and back, or even anticipating needs. The best boutique hotels in the world have staff that are interesting personalities in themselves, making them just as memorable as the hotel itself.
For example, Pondoro Game Lodge in Africa has Robbie, the owner of the resort and your personal ranger, guiding you around the African bush in his jeep. One of the staff in Suryagarh is an expert on the theory of relativity. The owners at Awarta Nusa Dua Luxury Villas & Spa in Bali tend to their garden themselves, including four bonsai trees over a hundred years old, and two merged frangipani trees, meant to symbolize unity.
Owners, managers and service staff at the best boutique hotels in the world are your friends and family. They genuinely care about their property and are glad to relay this appreciation to their guests - they feel like they’re at home, and make you feel the same way.
Pondoro Game Lodge
The hotel is beautiful, inside and out
This seems obvious, and, well… it is. Words don’t help as much as pictures do in this situation. The hotel must be beautiful, architecturally unique, reflective of the environment and the culture, and spotless. Here are some of our favorite examples:
Saffire reflects the natural environment it is built in: The Hazards mountains’ pink granite, the white beaches and sapphire waters, and the grey-green native bush land.
The Royal Mansour in Morocco was commissioned by King Hassan the 6th for his most honored guests. The palatial riads all reflect a kingly aesthetic - in fact, over 1,500 artisans were employed to work on the facility.
The Royal Mansour
Venetian luxury is intertwined with a relaxed atmosphere at Ca Maria Adele in Italy, where guests are meant to forget what century they are in.
Ca Maria Adele
The focus is on creating new, unique experiences
A genuinely unforgettable experience goes beyond a comfortable stay and great F&B outlets. The best hotels in the world aim to have their guests fully experiencing the environment in and around the facility.
Besides a rounded experience that includes likeable staff, great food and drinks, a beautiful environment in and out of the hotel, and so on, the key element in creating a unique experience for guests is a series of small touches and moments that make the experience unforgettable.
Some examples include:
Swimming in your private infinity spa pool while watching the sky redden and the sun set across the horizon at Spicers Peak Lodge in Australia.
Spicers Peak Lodge
Reading your favorite novel with a glass of excellent wine by the magnificent grand piano at The Library Hotel in the United States.
The Library Hotel
F&B is on par with the best restaurants in the country
For many, the food and drinks at a hotel make or break the experience. Those who can afford the luxury are more often than not serious foodies with an appreciation for fine cuisine. It’s no surprise that the best hotels in the world also have some of the best dining outlets available in the region, and even the country.
The Royal Mansour in Morocco employs three-Michelin-star chef Yannick Alléno for both of their restaurants. Chefs at the Pondoro Game Lodge in South Africa serve local cuts of ostrich and buffalo steak in generous portions. Awarta Nusa Dua in Bali has some of the best Chinese food in the country.
Awarta Nusa Dua
Wrapping it all up
All these five points are intimately wrapped up and interconnected with one another. Take one out, and you very likely have no chance at achieving a World’s Best title. And while there’s definitely something to be said about the boutique hotels mentioned, this doesn’t stop operators of smaller hotels, or even corporate entities, from learning from this year’s winners and employing the very same elements to make the best experience possible for their guests.