Culture

Our Favorite Hideaways on the Planet

Some hotels hit all the right notes: impeccable service, exceptional character and a strong sense of place.

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all - and you don't want to go where everyone else has already been. So we tapped the editors from The Hideaway Report - a luxury publication specializing in boutique hotels that are "hidden" from the majority of travelers - to tell us their favorite spots.

Every year, the travel editors of the Hideaway Report visit and review upward of 150 luxury hideaway hotels. In the 40 years we’ve been covering every corner of the world, we’ve seen it all—and we are not easily impressed. That said, some hotels hit all the right notes: impeccable service, exceptional character and a strong sense of place. We asked our editors, if they could choose only one hideaway hotel in the world, which would be their favorite.

Hoshinoya Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan)

Hoshinoya Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan Hoshinoya Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan. Hideaway Report

You don't often associate the word “hideaway” with hotels in the busy center of a major city, but Hoshinoya Tokyo proves that with thoughtful design a hideaway can be found anywhere. The hotel occupies a 17-story high-rise in downtown Tokyo with each floor essentially operating as an independent six-room ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). During our stay the hotel was almost at capacity, but it felt as if we had the place entirely to ourselves—I hardly saw another guest. I’ll never forget the transcendent feeling of soaking alone at night in the rooftop onsen (hot spring) as the clouds drifted slowly overhead with the city humming quietly in the background. — T.W.

Poetry Inn (Napa Valley, California)

Set amid Cliff Lede’s Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, Poetry Inn is an exclusive hilltop hideaway in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. This private gated estate, designed by Howard Backen and encompassing just five rooms and suites, enjoys a glorious location that affords spectacular views of the pastoral valley below. As we relaxed beside the swimming pool, a colorful hot air balloon drifted past at eye level! The serene setting is augmented by sumptuous private guest accommodations (no rooms share a wall), a remarkable wine cellar and a superlative staff that anticipated our every need. This is one of those rare one-of-a-kind havens where life slows down. Within a few hours, the thought of moving in and never leaving sounded ideal. — A.R.

Bisate Lodge (Ruhengeri, Rwanda)

Bisate Lodge in Ruhengeri, Rwanda Bisate Lodge in Ruhengeri, Rwanda. Hideaway Report

An extraordinary arrangement of cocoonlike structures made of shaggy thatch, which from a distance resemble a collection of gigantic weaverbird nests, Bisate Lodge is stacked up the steep flanks of an eroded volcanic cone. Located at the edge of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park—famous for its huge mountain gorillas—each of its six “villas” has a jaw-dropping view of 14,787-foot Mount Karisimbi and 12,175-foot Mount Bisoke.

Essentially, Bisate is the African safari lodge in its most high-evolved form. The stunning accommodations and public areas are a tour de force of fluid lines, soaring ribbed ceilings and sinuous balconies, all patterned on the traditional forms of the old Rwandan Royal Palace at Nyanza. The staff are enchanting; the food is unexpectedly delicious; and the activities, which, besides gorilla viewing, include spectacular hikes, cultural village visits and days spent helping on the lodge’s reforestation projects, are superbly well-organized.

As well as being remote, unique and aesthetically pleasing, Bisate is a model of sustainable tourism, one that promotes the well-being of the environment, endangered wildlife and local communities. It is a wholly admirable place, in which it is a privilege to stay. — W.H.

Phum Baitang (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Phum Baitang Siem Reap Cambodia Pool Phum Baitang in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Hideaway Report

The red-dirt road to Phum Baitang had us questioning exactly where we were headed. Low-slung shanties, an abandoned produce stand and housing construction didn’t exactly portend a secluded sophisticated hotel just minutes away. But that is what we found. Set on eight lush, manicured acres, Phum Baitang replicates the look and feel of a traditional Cambodian village. Wooden boardwalks crisscross the tranquil property, leading to 45 stilted villas surrounding working rice paddies. Some have plunge pools; all offer soothing minimalist design. The private yoga lessons, sundowners on the farmhouse veranda and the breezy breakfasts overlooking the 174-foot infinity pool set the tone for a relaxing stay. But it was the kind staff and the serenity of the place that was so deeply affecting. Like watching reruns, second visits are something I tend to avoid. Still, I would like to think that I’ll get back to this idyllic spot, seemingly a world away from one of Southeast Asia’s biggest attractions, Angkor Wat, but in reality just 6 short miles. Phum Baitang is one of those finds that you just happen upon but find yourself never wanting to leave. — A.T.

Domaine de Murtoli (Sartène, Corsica)

Many travelers dream of disappearing into a beautiful and unspoiled landscape and living like a local. And that is exactly what this magnificent 6,100-acre seaside estate in southern Corsica has to offer. When Paul Canarelli inherited the property from his grandfather, it had no roads or electricity, and the stone farmhouses and barns scattered around the property were in ruins. A dream was born: He’d renovate the buildings into a resort with a working farm that offered serenity and privacy, plus miles of empty white sand beaches. The comfortable and stylishly rustic accommodations would come with well-equipped kitchens and many would have private pools. The guiding idea of the Domaine is that your holiday can be as autonomous as you wish: You can cook the vegetables you’re invited to gather from the farm’s gardens, along with the locally raised meat and freshly caught fish that is delivered to your door daily along with fresh bread. Alternatively, a private chef will prepare a meal in your cottage on request. Otherwise, you can dine at one of the estate’s four restaurants. For activity, you can play the 12-hole golf course, hike through the maquis—the low fragrant wild scrub that covers much of Corsica—go deep-sea fishing or just do nothing at all. One thing you’ll surely never forget about a stay here is sitting by a fire on the beach under a night sky so clear that the constellations overhead resemble a glittering embroidery. — P.O.

Tierra Chiloé (Chiloé Island, Chile)

Tierra Chiloé in Chiloé Island, Chile. Tierra Chiloé in Chiloé Island, Chile. Hideaway Report

Beguiling Chiloé Island, 660 miles south of Santiago, remains as yet undiscovered by mass tourism. Between the island and the mainland, the coastline fragments into picturesque archipelagoes. Where it meets the Pacific Ocean, Chiloé terminates in a series of surf-pounded sea cliffs. The excursions included with our stay were unforgettable, whether a day-cruise aboard the property’s elegant wooden yacht or hiking in a temperate rainforest that smelled like an upscale flower shop. The 24-room hotel itself cuts a dramatic profile. Perched on a hillside overlooking pastureland and the sea, the sculptural main building has a prism-shaped second floor hovering over a glass-enclosed lounge and restaurant. Each morning, we awoke to mesmerizing views of the Rilán Peninsula and distant Quinchao Island. And each evening before dinner, we would relax by the fireplace with pisco sours and canapés, watching grazing chestnut horses gleam in the setting sun. — J.F.

William Howard is the pen name of the editor-in-chief of the Hideaway Report, a travel editorial brand that publishes the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels and experiences. As a longtime travel writer and editor, he has visited nearly 140 countries and traveled to every continent in the world, including Antarctica. Like the other editors at the Hideaway Report, he travels anonymously to retain his journalistic independence.

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