For years, the world has been captivated by hotels that have taken hospitality to new heights; pushing modern traveller demands and transforming pure design concepts into extraordinary sanctuaries for the few, not the many.
Taking this concept up a level, while answering to the call for slow travel, hotels already on the curve of luxury, and all competing to offer the biggest and the best, have torn up the rule book to go all out when designing their top residences and villas. In the below edit you will find island havens, Bond-esque pads, cliff-edge retreats overwater mansions – from the world’s tallest residences to the most remote. In this round-up what we believe are the jewels in the crowns, size, style and substances matter.
No. 7: Four Seasons Resort Nevis
Starting our list at number seven, Four Seasons Resort Nevis’ charm is its unpretentious, naturally relaxed and authentic island charm – it is the way the the Caribbean used to be (untouched), where no building is allowed to be built taller than a palm tree. The hotel, one of only four on the island, gives Nevis’ luxury status for modern travellers around the globe. For guests wanting total seclusion, there is arguably nowhere more private than the resort’s Private Residences, which offer quiet, spacious villa interiors and poolside private terraces.
No. 6: SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences
Taking things up a level, the two bedroom duplex residences inside SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences exude a cosmopolitan sophistication and refine authentic design style, with playful accents of colour and texture to maintain a comfortable setting. Framing unmatched views over the city’s skyline, the residences are located in the glass corners of the building and offer 180-degree views of Dubai.
Each apartment has a contemporary sophisticated feel, offering owners the finest in furnishings, materials and finishes. The spacious living areas use light-toned colour schemes of grey and purple, with rose-gold touches, with windows that allow sunlight to stream in.
No. 5: Six Senses Yao Noi
Phang Nga Bay has become of the world’s most spectacular seascapes. In true Six Senses style, Koh Yao Noi hotel is effortless at one with nature in a way that elevates the hospitality experience without compromising on luxury. ‘Stilted and thatched’ sets the mood for all-pool villas and suites that perch like plush treehouses within tropical greenery. The most luxurious accommodation, though, is without doubt the three-bedroom Ocean Retreat with panoramic views overlooking Phang Nga Bay and direct access to the beach.
No. 4: Chalet Eglantine, Hotel Le Cou Cou
Up in the Alps mountains, in Meribel, France, Hotel Le Cou Cou emerged on the hospitality scene in 2020. Designed through a haute couture lens by the one and only Pierre Yovanvitch, the hotel shelters its own style.
The Eglantine and Eléonore chalets – complete with large kitchens, dining areas and even their own spas – are located in private nooks of the hotel. Unique and different from the rest of the building, the chalets are in their singular decoration, with layout and personalised services designed to share real moments of happiness. The chalets feature fully equipped kitchen to try traditional mountain recipes, a large cathedral living room with vaulted ceiling and a huge bay window are just some of its impressive and unique offerings.
No. 3: Private Villa, Matetsi Victoria Falls
Exclusive, vast and ideal for those seeking non-curated luxury moments, the Private Villa at Matetsi Victoria Falls rests on the edge of the Zambizi River, framing scenes of crocodiles bathing, elephants wondering and hippos clashing. Untamed and seamlessly blending into the local vernacular, the villa, like the rest of the hotel, has been designed by Kerry van Leenhoff so that on the other side of the river you would not tell where the villa starts and ends.
The private villa, featuring four en-suite bedrooms and open-plan indoor and outdoor living areas with wide verandas and a sparkling private pool, has a design scheme inspired by natural materials mixed with luxurious furnishings and creative art pieces.
No. 3: Villa North, North Island, Seychelles
Travel to the far north of an Indian Ocean archipelago and you will discover North Island, a remote tropical paradise that offers the ultimate luxury escape and consummate privacy. Acting as a ‘haven for discerning travellers’, checking in to North Island is a bespoke, personalised experience that evokes total relaxation and restoration.
Also known as ‘Villa 11’, Villa North is perched on the granite boulders at the far east of East Beach. The travel experienced is unimaginably decadent as the large villa spreads out across multi-tiered levels, cascading down through a coconut grove, with direct beach access to the ocean below.
No. 1: The Private Reserve, Gili Lankanfushi
Naturally, we saved the biggest (and perhaps the best) until last. The Maldives was the original barefoot luxury destination. Taking ‘no news, no shoes’ to the extreme, cue the arrival of The Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi, which is the largest standalone overwater villa in the world. It may be large in size, but anyone checking in to Gili Lankanfushi will know that this hotel is all about unpretentious, castaway hospitality – it even has its own timezone, ‘Gili time’.
In the North Malé Atoll and set across more than 1,700 square metres, the sprawling Private Reserve perches atop a turquoise lagoon, 500 metres from the island and 300 metres from the nearest residence, ensuring utmost privacy and serenity. It features four bedrooms, an open-air cinema, wellness centre, 21 metre infinity pool and even a water slide straight into the lagoon.
Comprised of five vast buildings linked by open-air walkways, The Private Reserve can accommodate up to 12 guests in four bedrooms with spectacular lagoon views, extensive private living space and open-air bathrooms with deep-soaking bathtubs. With a rustic-chic design inspired by the resort’s natural surroundings, handcrafted, upcycled furniture is combined with a warm, neutral colour palette and luxurious fabrics. Put simply, it has made a splash on the global hotel design and hospitality scene.
Main image credit: Gili Lankanfushi