• Natascha Mirosch

ExtraVirgin Blog Post: Nine Luxury Hotels You Need to Check Out (and Check Into) in 2020.

Updated: Jul 4


AirBnB, but sometimes the occasion warrants something more flash.  And so we present to you some of our favourite stays from around the world in the “that’s a bit more than we’d usually spend” caetgory; from cave hotels to safari lodges.


The prices we’ve given are based on the accommodation’s own website or booking.com (not an affiliate) and, apart from a couple, we’ve priced them all on one night in June –(generally shoulder to high season) for consistency and where relevant, in local currency. Of course, you may find better bargains at other times of the year.


Sant’ Angelo Resort, Matera, Italy

Why you need to go there

To sleep in a cave for one! Matera in Basilicata in southern Italy is said to be one of the world’s oldest continually occupied towns, dating from 9000 years ago. It’s built on ‘sassi’ cave dwellings, occupied by families right up until the 1950s. Today these caves have been turned into shops, bars and cave hotels.




The Property

Sant’Angelo is a five star boutique property (the ‘resort’ part of the name is a bit of a misnomer) consisting of a collection of luxury rooms set among the cave-pocked hillside. Some are actual caves, others more conventional rooms. Luckily there are porters to carry your bags, as it’s foot traffic only up the winding maze of paths on the hillside.


Room are spectacular – the cave walls covered in white plaster, double beds romantically draped with netting, candles set on the bedside tables and glass-walled bathrooms. A short climb up is the breakfast room, a vast cave opening onto spectacular views of the valley carved by the Gravina river.

We Recommend

A junior suite. And don’t skip breakfast – it’s one of the most impressive spreads we’ve seen in a boutique hotel.

Price

Around €260 for a junior suite

Our Tip

Take a tour of Palombaro Lungo, the town’s ancient underwater reservoir

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa

Why you need to go there

Taking a safari to see South Africa’s unique animals in the wild is an extraordinary and (for most of us) once in a life time opportunity. If you’re going to do it, do it in style and make it memorable. South Africa also offers lots of other things to do once you’ve done with safari-ing.

The Property

The outside of the Sabi Sabi’s Earth Lodge may be purposely low-key to echo the local environment, but inside it’s pure luxury; from the staff greeting you with cool towels at the door as you arrive back from safari, to your private (unless an elephant decides to take a bath!) plunge pool. Villas appear to be part of the landscape too, mud-brick ‘ant hills’ decorated in gorgeous earthy colours, with lots of designer touches. Even the glass fronted bathrooms with deep stone baths and indoor and al fresco showers offer wildlife view opportunities. Safaris, escorted by the lodge’s enthusiastic and very knowledgeable rangers are offered morning and night.



We Recommend

Pack your best camera. There are over 200 species of wildlife on the private game reserve

Price

From 19,900 rand per person twin-share including all safari activities

Our Tip

Book a dreamy massage at the Amani spa

*Natascha Mirosch was a guest at Sabi Sabi


Hotel Tugu, Bali

Why you need to go there

With cheap flights and relatively short travel times, Bali is an easy destination for Australians in particular, but the rest of the world are slowly discovering it’s charm too; including its incredibly hospitable people, fabulous food, great shopping and loads of stunning scenery and sights. The up-and-coming Canggu has a more chilled vibe and slower pace than the popular beaches of Seminyak or Kuta.

The Property

Outside, motorcycles with riders clutching surfboards zoom past in the steamy Bali heat. Step inside the Tugu however and it’s dark, cool and fragrant, the huge entrance lobby decorated with antique furniture. Scattered throughout the verdant gardens are Balinese statutary and wooden bridges cross lotus-filled ponds and accommodation is in in suites and bungalows, some with beach views, others with private plunge pools.


We Recommend

The upstairs traditional ‘Indonesian house’ Kampong suites. Spacious and beautifully appointed luxury suites with wide wooden teak floorboards, original art work and more.


Our Tip

The hotel owner is the largest collector of priceless Indonesian antiques in the country- ask staff for a tour of his fascinating collection.

Price

From 4,200 000 Indonesian rupiah

*Natascha Mirosch was a guest of Hotel Tugu


Patagonia Camp, Chile

Why you need to go there

Scenery, animals, adventure. Chilean Patagonia is breaktaking. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the glacial lakes, volcanoes, hiking in the surreally beautiful Torres del Paine mountain peaks, and the plethora of wildlife, including penguins, Andean condors, deer, guanaco (relative of the lama) and more.


The Property

If this is camping, sign us up for more! Set among the trees overlooking a stunning blue glacial lake with a backdrop of snow-tipped mountains, these 20 well-spaced luxury yurts come with heating, comfortable double beds and ensuite bathrooms. There’s a main lodge, with bar and dining area (and of course more fabulous views) as well as a lounge where the following day’s excursions can be mapped out with the camp’s guides.




Packing a bottle of good Chilean wine to drink on the deck of your yurt and take in the views.


Our Tip

If you’re not into hiking, consider the accommodation-only option as it’s pretty easy to DIY with a car picked up from Punto Arenas Airport.

Price

From US $550 per night or $US 2475 for 2 for 2 nights all-inclusive.

SoprArno Suites, Florence

Why you need to go there

Because.. Florence. Okay, it’s an expensive city but it’s a culture-lovers dream destination, home to some of the best art and architecture (such as Brunelleschi’s Duomo) in the world. The shopping’s also top notch – with representation of all the best international labels as well as artisan craftsmen. Take a walk up to Piazza Michaelangelo for a panoramic view of the red tiled roofs and spectacular dome of Florence’s most recogniseable landmark.

The Property

In the atmospheric Santo Spirito quarter, a five minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio, SoprArno Suites, (the name means ‘above the Arno’, the river that runs through Florence) this urbane boutique hotel, tucked away behind large anonyomous wooden doors is owned by an architect; a lawyer and vintage furniture collector, a carpenter and a designer-calligrapher. Rooms are large in this converted 16C palazzo, and stylish – with clawfoot bath, a spread of all the latest hip magazines on a writing desk, beautiful linen, eclectic furniture and art and wood-beamed or frescoed ceilings.


We recommend

Room 8 – The Typography Room. And be sure to look out the window and up!

Insider Tip

Don’t leave Florence without trying the famous ‘bistecca alla Fiorentina’ a t-bone steak from the famous Chianina cattle. It’s simply brushed with rosemary and oil and grilled over coals. Try it at the congenial Osteria Santo Spirito.

Prices

Around € 309.00 for a deluxe room with breakfast

Vila Planinka, Slovenia

Why you need to go there

Postcard scenery, clean mountain air and organic food and wine are just 40 minutes away from the neat, green capital Ljubliana, and a few kilometres from the border with Austria.  The village of Jezersko feels surprisingly remote and it’s not just the fresh mountain air that feels incredibly wholesome; there’s the gingerbread architechture, placid jade lakes and snow-tipped peaks surrounding the village.

The Property

From the outside it looks like a typical Alpine hotel, inside it’s designer chic, created with more than a nod to sustainability. Hand in your phone and have a digital detox – the hotel is said to sit on a special energy point and certainly outside contemplating the fairy tale surrounds will offer an instant recharge. Luxurious rooms have incredible valley views, small wooden verhandahs and beautiful bathrooms whose fittings you’ll want to crib. Go to dinner hungry, chef Jakob Jerala has worked at some of the world’s best restaurants.

We Recommend

Booking a wine tasting with sommelier Marko, for an engaging journey through the hidden gems of  the country’s best winemakers

Insider Tip

Fill your water bottle from the mineral-rich spring in the village

Price

337€ per night for a junior suite.

*Natascha Mirosch was a guest of Vila Planinka

Six Senses, Ko Krabey, Cambodia

Why you need to go there

Absolute relaxtion with a focus on calming the mind and body. Cambodia may be better known for backpacker-friendly accommodation, but Six Senses shows the country is changing as are its visitors. Off the south coast, abutting the border with Thailand, Ko Krabey is a private island in the beautiful bay near Sihanoukvilleowned by the Six Senses group. It offers a welcome indulgent break  from the frentic pace of Cambodia.


The Property


It’s luxe from the moment you’re whisked there on your private boat, greeted by staff at the dock and transferred by golf cart to your room. There are 40 independent villas across the side of the leafy island tucked a discreet distance away from each other – all facing the sea. In fact you may feel like the only guests on the island until sunset when everyone gathers at the bar to watch the sun sink into the ocean.  The villas are huge and provided with every amenity you can imagine (and a few you can’t.) Each has a wide private deck with infinity plunge pool, muslin-draped beds, and curtains and lights controlled by an ipad. There’s a gorgeous uber-luxury spa too.

We Recommend

The beach-front villas with their own small sandy beach

Insider Tip

Do one of the classes in the ‘lab’ where you learn how to make your own herbal beauty products

Price

Villas from $US663 a night including breakfast

*Natascha Mirosch stayed as a guest of Six Senses

Watanabe Inn, Miyajima Island, Japan

Why you need to go there

Forests, deer, shrines and the famed Japanese sense of zen. Miyajima (the name means “Shrine Island”)  is a small island just off the coast of Hiroshima, famous for its giant red tori gate in the water and its tame deer who greet arrivals at the ferry. It may be small but there is plenty to do, including exploring the Itsukushima Shrine, and like the tori gate, built over water, the Diasho In temple, one of the most important temples of Shingon Buddhism.

It’s an incredibily romantic and evocative place, especially when the day tourists go home.


The Property

For anyone seeking a taste of authentic Japan, this traditional family-owned inn will fit the bill. Duck through the noren hanging above the door and back in time. Rooms are simple in the Japanese way, featuring tatami mats (staff will set up for you in the evening) sliding paper doors and a bathroom with a cedar bath controlled by computer to always stay the perfect temperature. It also has views of a stream with a small red bridge and the forest and temple behind.

Put on your yakata and make your way down to the tiny dining space for ‘Kaiseki-ryori’ – a myriad of courses, served on all types of exquisite pottery and ceramic ware.


We Recommend

Setting your alarm to wake up to walk up Mt Misen (1.5hrs) to watch the sun rise

Insider Tip

It’s a short walk from the ferry, but if you have a lot of luggage they will happily pick you up.

Price

Overnight stay including 2 meals (dinner and breakfast) ¥17,280 – ¥21,600 (including tax) per person


Old Drift Lodge, Zimbabwe

Why you need to go there

Done the African bush safari? Book-end the perfect southern Africa holiday by nipping across the border to Zimbabwe, best known for its wildlife and dramtic landscapes, including Victoria Falls, one of the most impressive natural wonders of the world.


The Property

Fronting the Zambezi River, with a national park at it’s back  Old Drift Lodge is perfectly positioned for both aquatic and land-based safaris. Then, of course, there’s the thunderously awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, a bucket list item for many travellers just a short drive away.  Suites are luxury air-conditioned safari tents with indoor shower and outdoor tub and plunge pool. The chic main lodge has a restaurant, bar, lounge and firepit.


At dusk sit back on your deck with a G&T and watch as elephants make their way through the grounds to the river, monkeys with babies on their back swing through the bush and  semi-submgered hippos regard you warily from the water.


We Recommend

Ask the lodge to arrange a helicopter trip over the Victoria Falls

Insider Tip

Check with your bank about which currency to use (or use your credit card) the Zimbabwean  monetary system has been in a state of flux for so long, there’s a lot of confusion what to use and even whether you can change foreign currency at all.

Prices

US $625 per person per night all inclusive in high season

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FOR GOURMANDS WHO LOVE TO TRAVEL AND TRAVELLERS WHO LOVE GOOD FOOD