Mondrian Doha Pool Day Designmarcelwanders

Grand Designs

Modern art in the lobby and a luxury bath robe no longer cut it when it comes to the world of groundbreaking international hotel styling and architecture, as Fleur Rollet-Manus discovers

Morpheus Macau

Designed by Queen of the Curve the late Dame Zaha Hadid (the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize), 770-room, £865m Morpheus has cemented Macau’s status as a design hub. In a city often compared to Las Vegas for its replicas of iconic monuments, Hadid’s bold build shines. Shattering records and glass ceilings in the process, the world’s first free-form, high-rise exoskeleton towers at 160m. Three horizontal vortices make up the voids throughout, and these house the hotel’s public spaces. Fluid movement is made easy as the geometric grid negates the need for columns or walls. Encased in a kaleidoscopic web of glass and steel, the atrium is bedecked in polished marble and illuminated shards. Ascend by elevator to the World of Ducasse, where Alain Ducasse reveals his first Asian restaurant, Voyages, plus a French outpost.

Morpheus Exterior Shot04 Lores

Travel Details

Request a cornersuite to benefit from city skyline and internal atrium views.

The nearest airport is Macau International, which is 2.5km away. Doubles from £349.

Mondrian Doha, Qatar

With a striking exterior designed to represent a falcon, this property gives an insight into the whimsical world of Dutch architect Marcel Wanders. It’s a project he describes as having ‘a marvellous story unfolding in every little corner’ of its 24-storey, 270-room structure, and is arguably the most extravagant on our list. A helter-skelter, jet-black staircase greets on arrival, before eyes are drawn to huge toadstool lampshades – if Alice were to jump out from behind the looking glass, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. The pool lies beneath a vast stained-glass dome, which splays beams of colourful light around the room to dance on the water’s surface. Bedrooms boast blinding white marble bathrooms and murals that tell stories of Doha’s past. The build’s opulence is matched by its food offering: pick up a pastry at Magnolia Bakery or snag a table at steakhouse CUT by Wolfgang Puck. There’s also a shisha terrace, cigar lounge, Qatari restaurant and a burger joint. Home to the region’s first ESPA spa, a pretty-in-pink, female-only relaxation area sports egg-shaped rattan chairs hung from dainty shell ropes. A showstopper.

Mondrian Doha Atrium Day Designmarcelwanders

Travel Details

The hotel is on the edge of the growing Lusail City development, so request a room at the back of the hotel to avoid any construction noise.

The nearest airport is Hamad International, which is 26km away. Doubles from £150.

Aman Tokyo Japan

Kerry Hill, long-term Aman collaborator and architect of this elevated urban retreat, has succeeded in creating an oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s financial district, Otemachi. Calling upon techniques used across Japanese homes, washi paper partitions and huge floor-to-ceiling glass windows blur the boundaries between inside and out. Light and shadow are manipulated using glass, camphor wood and stone to increase space and alter perceptions of depth. Employing the traditional Ma technique, which focuses on the importance of white space, as emphasised in the Japanese national flag, a breathtaking 420sq m paper shoji lantern fills the lobby ceiling and aims to encourage reflection. For a city that’s familiar with miniscule, pod-style hotel rooms, the ryokan-style spaces here feel huge and each one hosts a massive volcanic-granite furo bath, complete with step-by-step traditional bathing ritual instructions. Up your zen levels by taking a trip to the sprawling, two-floor spa, equipped with aroma steam rooms, seasonal Kampo herb products and a minimalist-style, 30m heated pool boasting intoxicating skyline views.

Aman Spa Swimming Pool  High Res 1010

Travel Details

Taxi metres in Tokyo tend to run away; instead take the Skyliner to Nippori Station then switch to the Tokyo Station. From here it’s a five minute walk. Expect to pay £18pp.

The nearest airport is Narita International, which is 69km away. Doubles from £639.

The Silo Cape Town, South Africa

Not to be overshadowed by the Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary African Art), which opened to global acclaim last year, this hotel sits on the sixth floor of the same building. It’s a flamboyant display of contemporary African art, luxurious fabrics and striking monochrome styling. Cushioned behind architect Thomas Heatherwick’s pillowy, bubble-wrap windows are 28 rooms whose plush interiors soften the industrial, 1924-built grain silo’s elevators that run up its exterior. The 5.5m windows flood the room with natural light, while panoramic Table Mountain views are standard from iron bathtubs. Guests also have access to MOCAA’s small and exclusive private gallery The Vault, which is adorned with evocative indigenous artwork selected by The Silo’s interior designer, Liz Biden. The most arresting feature is found in the lobby, where celebrated local designer Haldane Martin has suspended chandeliers from original grain hoppers. The Silo is a true destination hotel that lays out the best of Cape Town before you’ve even left the granary doors.

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Travel Details

Sink sundowners on The Silo’s rooftop before heading to nearby Ash Restaurant, a basement bar where small plates are cooked over charcoal.

The nearest airport is Cape Town, which is 21km away. Doubles from £909.

Singita Sweni Lodge Mpumalanga, South Africa

Even using safari-strength binoculars, you’d have to strain pretty hard to pinpoint this lodge on approach across the plains. Tucked away in a private 14,000ha swathe of Kruger National Park, a stealth-like facade is exactly what the team behind its design was aiming for. Conceived with integrity, the entire aesthetic is driven by sustainability, conservation and energy management. Drawing inspiration from what she considers the continent’s most iconic architectural form, its trees – top-heavy acacia, tall baobab, the sculptural quiver – architect Sally Tsilliyiannis’s vision was to have the six lodges slip seamlessly into the reserve. Driven by a desire to ensure minimal impact both in terms of materials used and wildlife considerations, structurally, it acts as a carbon copy of its surrounds. Rectangular frames made from reclaimed timber are camouflaged beneath eucalyptus roofs and a clever use of reflective glass extends the sense of space while reflecting the bush to entice local wildlife. Elsewhere, bold interiors by Cécile & Boyd take their colour palette – peacock blue, gold, emerald, pink – from the birdlife flitting near the river. It’s a new wave of African design that’s helping to sex up responsible travel, allowing the likes of groundbreaking solar technology – the same as in Tesla cars – to go unnoticed. Animal print might be so last year, but this lodge is a thing of the future.

Singita Sweni Lodge Swimming Pool

Travel Details

The Sweni Pool Suite is the room to book. It’s located in a favourite bathing spot for curious elephants.

The nearest airport is Hoedspruit Airport which is 139km away. Doubles from £2,567.

Bisate Ruhengeri, Rwanda

Six thatched domes peer out stealthily from Rwanda’s rolling hillside, concealed by the same jungle canopy that hides its famous resident – the mountain gorilla. Built into an eroded volcanic cone, the eco-friendly conception by Johannesburg based architect Nick Plewman is designed to echo Rwanda’s traditional buildings and the Rwandan Royal Palace in Nyanza, as the curving lodges are clad in dried and woven grass matting to blend into the topography. Inside the spheres, the rooms create a sense of sleeping inside an oversized hot-air balloon basket, with ribbed walls and full-length windows that look out over Mount Bisoke. Contrasting splashes of green geometric furnishings decorate the exposed walls, most of which were created using imigongo, an art form unique to Rwanda that uses cow dung mixed with different-coloured soils. Adding to the distinctive local flair, Bisate called upon fashion designer and one of Forbes’ Most Promising African Entrepreneurs for 2017 Teta Isibo to source locally produced items such as the kitenge fabric staff uniforms and Africology bath products. With eight staff to each lodge, service is at the fore and each guest is given the opportunity to end their expedition by planting a tree that forms part of Bisate’s pioneering reforestation effort and helps provide a habitat for mountain gorillas. Over 15,000 trees have been planted since the initiative launched.

Bisatelodge 13

Travel Details

Go on a guided visit to the neighbouring village of Iby’wacu, where guests can buy artisan baskets directly from the workshop benefiting the craftspeople who made them.

The nearest airport is Kigali International, which is 109km away. Doubles from £1,810.

Wild Coast Tented Lodge Yala, Sri Lanka

Poised within leaping distance of Yala National Park and on the wild shores of the Indian Ocean, this is the region’s first luxury safari camp. Laid out to mimic a leopard’s paw print when viewed from above, the architecture references natural rock formations in the landscape – huge round boulders found throughout the park and termite mounds and their conical design. Although the beach is on your doorstep, the rugged sands and fierce ocean are not the place to bring a bucket and spade. Instead, days are spent chasing leopards (Yala has the highest concentration of them in the world) and watching herds of elephants stampede across the wild sands. Each cluster of buildings overlooks a natural watering hole and is designed to attract wildlife. These are complemented by rock sculptures from artist Adrian Gray, made from local materials: stone, quartz and mud brick. The cocoon-like interiors adopt a colonial-feel worlds away from their brickwork exterior. Inside, dreamy four-poster beds and handmade copper baths provide creature comforts. Budding Attenboroughs will want to stay in the suites overlooking the watering holes, but those seeking solitude should check in to the pool suites. Moonlight dips in the private plunge pools to the sounds of courting leopards are a must.

Wild Coast 29

Travel Details

Before heading out on safari, spend some time genning up in the leopard research centre funded by the hotel.

The nearest airport is Colombo, which is 245km away. Doubles from £480.

Punta Caliza Isla Holbox, Mexico

This is the kind of hotel where guests are encouraged to dive right in. Wade through the interconnecting pools that lap against the polished concrete walls to reach the main canal in the central atrium of this visually arresting, family-run property, which owes much of its influence to the sea. Tiffany-blue water floods the space between angular, almond-coloured corridors, intensifying the contrast between the materials in play. The body of the hotel has been constructed from sustainable cedar wood grown on the family’s farm and the thatched roofs mirror the ancient Mayan buildings indigenous to the region. Family connections are deeply rooted here, as local architects Estudio Macías Peredo worked alongside the family’s daughter Claudia Muñoz to design the property, which has been chosen to represent Mexico at the 2018 Vienna Biennale, an esteemed international art and design exhibition. Climb the soaring, Flatiron-style central tower for a morning yoga classes and far-reaching views. The sun-drenched Isla Holbox (pronounced ole-bosh) is our tip to be one of the hottest destinations in 2019. Immaculate blonde-sand beaches are dotted with rent-by-the hour hammocks positioned for the perfect siesta, while restaurants serve red snapper ceviche in white conch shells and hippy boutiques selling locally made clothes line the buzzy port.

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Travel Details

Rise early and stroll along the idyllic Punta Mosquito sandbar for flamingo and stingray sightings.

The nearest airport is Cancún International, which is 75km away. Doubles from £160.

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SJCC Glamping Resort, Suncheon SOUTH KOREA
In an upgrade to the glamping canon, the Atelier Chang team has designed 16 brightly-coloured pod units equipped with double beds, ultra-modern bathrooms and vaulted ceilings. Encouraging guests to interact with South Korea’s scenery, the pods resemble fireflies hidden deep within the sprawling Suncheon forest, 300km south of Seoul.

Six Senses, Paro BHUTAN
In an unprecedented move, Six Senses is opening five properties in quick succession in the Land of the Thunder Dragon. In typical Senses style, ultra-luxury is the vibe. A 14-night trip will see you visit all five sites, your itinerary arranged for you – with each giving a different look at the landscape that makes up this beguiling country.

ME Dubai UAE
Hovering across Dubai’s shape-shifting sands is the new Opus building, set at the centre of the Burj Khalifa Business Bay district. Another Zaha Hadid Architecture creation, it’s the first project in which the firm has designed both interiors and exteriors. With an emphasis on interconnection, expect to see (or not) Hadid’s signature: a lack of columns.

Svart, Meløy NORWAY
Proving that Nordic design is ahead of the curve, Snøhetta has created the world’s first ‘Powerhouse’ hotel, which will produce more energy than it uses. Modelled on a traditional rorbu (fisherman’s house), the structure will extend from the Svartisen glacier into the icy-cold waters of the Arctic fjord.

Travel Details

SJCC Glamping Resort, Suncheon SOUTH KOREA; Opening autumn 2018

Six Senses, Paro BHUTAN; Opening November 2018 and early 2019

ME Dubai UAE; Opening early 2019

Svart, Meløy NORWAY; Opening 2021

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