In the cultural hodgepodge of Singapore’s Little India district, this kooky boutique gem is the flashiest kid on the block. Four design studios were each given a level of an old 1920s school building to let their imaginations run wild, and the result is a spectacular testament to imagination.
Check into one of the unique themed rooms and marvel at the whimsical fantasy land they’ve created. From the disco-style jacuzzi to the foosball table in the bar and the shopping trolley chair in the lounge, Wanderlust is cheeky and vibrant down to the funkiest detail.
This cool spot in the Masuria region of Poland packs in plenty of Eastern European charm. About a three-hour drive from Warsaw in the country’s north-east, the ‘funky village for urban people’ – as it is described by its owners – is tucked in between a pine forest and a lake.
An old barn with a fireplace, library, cinema and bar forms the social heart of the camp, but each shelter is well equipped with a wood fire, fridge, wi-fi, bathroom and hammock strung up on the veranda.
Campers can gather provisions from the town a kilometre away, but for a more luxurious approach opt for full board and start the day with ostrich egg scramble followed by Polish and Mediterranean cuisine – think cured meats, grilled vegetables and ukha, a traditional soup made with fish caught from the nearby lake, washed down with a bottle of Zywiec, the local lager. Na zdrowie!
During the day go scuba diving, splash around the lake on kayaks or cool off in the swimming pool. Back on shore there’s beach volleyball and badminton, as well as trekking and bike riding. Once you’re done exploring, relax with a range of spa treatments.
Wake to the calls of the rainforest. Set on a hill in a national park, Canopy Tower hotel offers guests an experience that’s nestled in nature, with the lights of Panama City glimmering in distant view. Built in 1965 by the US Air Force to house radars, this unusual structure has had numerous identity changes – including a stint as a control tower used to detect aircraft suspected of carrying drugs – before its transformation into the bird-watching haven it is today.
Grab a set of binoculars and search the canopy for toucans, fruitcrows and hawks, and keep your eyes peeled for sloths and howler monkeys. During the day, kayak the Panama Canal, go fishing, hitch a ride on the Birdmobile to top ‘twitching’ spots or just chill in an indoor hammock.
An ever-changing bank of dunes hems this empty stretch of pale sand. Drive five hours south from Muscat along the Omani coastline and you’ll find one of the Middle East’s best beaches. Just back from the lapping waves, a luxury camp operated by Hud Hud Travels is the perfect romantic getaway. Amble straight from your tent into the Indian Ocean and soak away the sultry heat of Oman’s south. Here, flamingos wade with pink legs into gentle waves and eagles swoop on the surface, rising with fish glistening in their talons. During the day jump in a 4WD and take the ferry to nearby Masirah Island, where sea turtles breed, or head to Barr al Hickman, a saltpan where migratory birds flock. Otherwise just enjoy the seclusion on the sand or snorkel off the shore.
Inspired by his work on the TV show ’71° Nord,’ Norway’s answer to ‘Survivor,’ Jan Fasting cobbled together nine yurts by one of the country’s lakes to create Canvas Hotel, striking a perfect balance between comfort and outdoorsy thrills. As a guest, you can hire a bike and spend your days throttling the 100 kilometres of granite tracks twisting through the bush, or head on one of the hotel’s organised tours. At the end of the day, return for refreshments from the beer tap on wheels, and enjoy a feast cooked on a raclette tabletop grill.
Soak your aching muscles in a vintage bathtub by the lake then simmer in the sauna and, if you’re game, do as the locals do and dive into the ice-cold water. Once you’re ready for bed, bunk down in your yurt where carpet, a layer of wool insulation and a log fire keep things comfy.
Add a touch of the bizarre to your experience by booking a lakeside concert with Keith Austin, a former member of the rock band Dr. Hook who lives in a nearby village, and relax with a massage. For the ultimate showstopper, explore the countryside by helicopter.
There’s just one tent Hurunui Jacks’ amazing property, which forms part of the wild and remote west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The closest town is Hokitika, a link in the chain of the best coastal drives in the world, and you can break up your tour with a couple of nights at this getaway, which appears rustic but has every creature comfort you could imagine, from an outdoor bathtub to a special heater that keeps the canvas cosy. It’s completely surrounded by bush brimming with robins, fantails and wood pigeons, and a stream flows just metres from the tent, making for a natural lullaby after the sun goes down.
Grab supplies on the way, and cook meals in the fully equipped camp kitchen or over the open fire. During the day, hike through the bush or, if you’re feeling a little more daring, take one of the mountain bikes out for a spin – you’re right on the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Visit the 12-hectare property’s lake, which brims with rainbow trout.
It’s not every night you get to bed down in a former brothel. If the walls of Cocomama could talk they would have some sordid stories to tell, but fear not, you won’t find any icky notches on the bedposts here.
Touted as Amsterdam’s first boutique hostel, Cocomama combines the elegant style of a luxury hotel with more informal comforts. Located in the heart of the city, the building boasts high ceilings, chandeliers and quirky Dutch ornaments hanging from the walls.
Travellers can keep to themselves or hang out in the ‘movie corner’ with Joop, the resident cat. Go for a private pad and choose between the Dutch-themed rooms – think tulips and forests – or grab a bed in the ‘red light district’ dorm.
In the desert sprawling below the snow-capped Atlas Mountains sits Scarabeo Camp, a luxurious offering created by a graphic designer and photographer duo. The surrounds may be striking, but the camp itself is the true visual feast. Crisp, white cotton tents stand in the desert plain, each furnished with a queen-size bed, local artwork and Berber rugs.
Located about an hour from Marrakech, the camp takes you on a journey back in time to when pioneers settled the secluded area. Not to be outdone by the explorers of yesteryear, the camp comes equipped with ensuite showers and a separate tent for dining. Bread is baked daily in a traditional earth oven and regional produce is turned into authentic Moroccan cuisine.
During the day the camp offers board games, boules and a projector, and there are plenty of more adventurous activities to partake in, including hot-air balloon rides, paragliding, trekking and horse rides. Relax by booking a massage, enjoying picnic or joining an astronomy class, or check out a nearby hammam.
Shack up in a bungalow hemmed with succulents near the tiny coastal town of Puerto Escondido. To retain a beach-bum vibe, the architecture at Hotel Escondido (a member of Design Hotels) utilises traditional aspects – palapa roofs, wooden floorboards and regional artefacts – combined with modern touches. Each hut, for example, has a private plunge pool with sun deck and polished concrete bathroom.
There’s a spa on site, and a restaurant serving simple Oaxacan cuisine. While it might be a challenge to drag yourself from the sunlounger, think about picnicking at the nearby lagoon, surfing the region’s legendary breaks or jumping on a horse and galloping movie-star-style along the shore. At night, play cards in the bar or sweat it out in the underground nightclub.
This beautiful mid-city retreat so well-hidden among the backstreets of KL’s busy shopping avenues that you wouldn’t even know it’s there. And that’s the appeal. Step from the bustling city streets into a private tropical oasis.
Choose from a Thai-style loft room or large villa with outside decking that opens directly into the blue lagoon-like pool. Bathe in a super-size jacuzzi, dine on sweet treats delivered to your room every afternoon or order an in-room massage. With poolside cabanas and a rooftop bar with free cocktails and canapes, who needs shopping?