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Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
Forget Paris, these 20 Asian hotels are the best places for pillow talk, whether your dream honeymoon is one spent on the beach, G&T in hand, or dipping your toe in a new culture before candle-lit dining for two.
This is luxury living at its most salty and sandy. Accommodation at Song Saa is set over two private islands in the remote Koh Rong archipelago, with a 45-minute speedboat ride separating you from the red trouser brigade gap-year-ing their way through party city, Sihanoukville. You’ll sleep (or not) in thatched villas towering over the shallows on wooden stilts, get bendy in daily yoga sessions, indulge in couples treatments at the Buddhist-influenced alfresco spa, enjoy intimate tête-à-têtes under starlight at the overwater restaurant and sip champagne at the toes-in-the-sand Driftwood bar.
Although Vietnam seems to be #ladsabroad territory, the city shouldn’t be dismissed when thinking of honeymoon destinations – especially when staying at Anantara Hoi An Resort. Enjoying a seat on the Thu Bồn River, this colonial-style hotel is aptly positioned for exploring the city’s historic quarter, teahouses and shrines – ideal for honeymooners who want to venture further than their bed (although the garden courtyards, plunge pools, and four-hand massages do make getting any further than the daybed a tougher task than usual).
The largest, most dramatic, most awe-inspiring palace in India, Umaid Bhawan Palace isn’t the place for anything low-key. The golden sandstone palace stands imposingly atop Chittar Hill, exuding a distinctly Indian old-school glamour that would make Gatsby envious. You’ll be welcomed with ceremonial drums, red carpet, rose petals and champagne. To splash (even more) out, the Royal Suite is expectedly lavish with a mirror-finished terrazzo, marble lined bathroom and a private balcony with views of Jodhpur with Mehrangarh Fort in the distance. It’s utterly exclusive – there’ll be no need for a “do not disturb” sign here.
An onslaught to the senses (in both the good and bad ways), Bangkok doesn’t exactly scream romantic – but The Siam hotel changes all that Expect chic art deco-meets-South East Asia decor with a heavy helping of greenery (courtesy of the 15ft-high birds of paradise plants stretch around the atrium’s pool) and scatterings of film ephemera. Rooms are a minimum of 900sq ft minimum, so you’re unlikely to be rubbing shoulders with anyone else – and if you do, it’s likely to be an A-lister. When the bed life gets too much, go for a couples workout at the fully equipped Muay Thai gym.
Not exactly the glittering waters and white sands typical of your honeymoon Pinterest board, Benesse House offers a different kind of romance. On Japan’s “art island’” Naoshima, Benesse a museum-cum-hotel and a mecca for contemporary art lovers. If you’re looking for courtship with a side of first-class art, it’s a no brainer. Rooms are pared back but stylish; neutral colours and minimalist furnishings are designed not to detract from the sweeping vistas of the Seto Inland Sea and Shikoku mountains. When you’re not exploring the island’s scattering of masterpieces (Monet, James Turrell, Yayao Kusama included), go for a couple’s soak in the Japanese bathhouses.
If you’re putting off writing thank you cards and avoiding the well-wishes, Mongolia is calling – Mongke Tengri Camp specifically. This summer camp pitched on the Orkhon River National Park offers off-the-beaten-path luxury looking out onto the endless Mongolian steppes. The 40 traditional felt-walled gers (round tents) are rustic enough for the adventurer and chic enough to satisfy the prince or princess of the couple. Days are to be spent horseback riding and learning archery, dinners taken in candlelight, and nights spent stargazing without a glimmer of light pollution. Mongolia might be one of the harshest environments in the world, but Mongke Tengri makes it a smooth ride.
Post wedding you’re likely to feel on top of the world, so why not actually venture there? Shakti 360 Leti perches 8,000ft above sea level, towering amidst the lofty peaks of the Indian Himalayan mountains. Its four cabins are rustic-luxe, crafted in stone and wood and boasting floor-to-ceiling windows so you can wake up to glorious views. While there’s no internet, cell service or television, there is a private terrace with a firepit, hot-water bottles waiting for you in bed, a well-stocked library, plus hiking and swimming opportunities aplenty… so we’re really not complaining.
It’s hard to believe Amanyangyun is in Shanghai. The product of a 15-year long initiative to relocate and reconstruct a village of Ming- and Qing-Dynasty houses and a forest (yes, really), this place is all about culture. Upon arrival you’ll be invited to water the ancient Emperor Tree, and the immersion continues with an itinerary including tea-ceremonies, calligraphy classes and stress-relieving Chinese spa therapies. Culture doesn’t compromise on luxury, however; the Antique Villas each have a private courtyard, alfresco bath, jacuzzi, original stone carvings and gloriously high ceilings. Newly-weds will come away relaxed, wooed and packing new calligraphy skills – what’s not to like?
The Maldives is up there with the most covetable of honeymoon destinations, and Cheval Blanc Randheli is the height of romance. From the same brains behind the luxury conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Celine and the like), the resort is expectedly chic; French elegance is married with a barefoot mentality – although, when not bare you can rest assured it’ll be Dior sandals afoot. Sleep amidst coconut palms or in gorgeous lodgings stilted above the water, each adorned with cinnamon wood and French linens. Looks aside, service goes the extra mile here with handwritten notes and turtles drawn in the sand by thoughtful staff.
Forget Bali; head instead for this chic beach getaway on Bintan Island. The Sanchaya is a 30-room-and-villa resort where memories of wedding planning stress dissolve in the presence of a British Butler Institute-trained butler, Egypitan cotton sheets, a well-stocked complimentary minibar and, of course, the green-screen-perfect beach views outside your door. As well as its uber-luxe rooms, the imposing colonial mansion is home to some of the best service imaginable, checking off every detail, including remembering the size of your non-slip sandals at the pool to what time you’d like your evening hot chocolate (or nightcap). Bespoke cocktails and shisha at The Bar are an evening ritual we encourage.
Rough and rugged (while not actually being rough at all), Wild Coast Tented Lodge fits in perfectly in the wilderness of Yala National Park. Couples are cocooned in egg-shaped tents crafted from thick French canvas, with freestanding copper bathtubs, teak floors, butter-soft leather chairs, WiFi, sound system and air-conditioning. Communal areas such as the hotel’s restaurant have been impressively crafted with the help of local fisherman, with thick, woven strands of bamboo supporting the roof. Bring two pairs of binoculars because, although loved up, you won’t want to share when you’ve spotted a leopard on safari.
A world of its own, Sumba is Bali but without the hordes of tourists to encroach on your romance. Teetering on the edge of wilderness, this tropical haven isn’t the kind of place you’ll K-Marts or mopeds. When you’re not sleeping in and admiring the beach from your four-poster bed at Nihi Sumba Island Hotel, surf the revered breaks, explore the jungle on horseback, swim beneath waterfalls, feast on everything cocoa at the in-hotel chocolate factory, or simply while away the hours doggy-paddling in your private pool.
One for the couples who get restless lounging on the beach for hours on end, The Upper House occupies one of the most coveted addresses in China, perfectly situated for exploring Hong Kong. Perched on top of the JW Marriott, the hotel used to be serviced apartments, meaning rooms are large and made for comfort. Everything here is crisp, clean and slick in design, flaunting stand-out features such as swimming pool-sized bathtubs and cushioned window seats to take advantage of the marine views. Step outside the serenity of Upper House, and you’re fully immersed in Hong Kong’s bustling metropolitan life.
When Indian palaces do it big, they do it really big. The Leela Palace New Delhi is a royal dream rendered in white marble, unimaginably high ceilings and gilded everything. Although newly built in 2011, everything about the hotel exudes old-school opulence, from the imposing Murano chandeliers and hand-woven carpets to the damask wallpaper and heavy silks that adorn every room. The option to choose from 13 types of pillows pretty much sums up the kind of experience you can expect, and with an iPod next to your bed controlling everything from the curtains to the lighting you’ll find little reason to ever leave it – however, the four restaurants, rooftop pool, and ESPA spa certainly make a compelling case. This is a bubble of grandeur, decadence and everything lavish – and you won’t want it popped.
Since it opened in 1995, Soneva Fushi has been hailed as the escape of all escapes. Arriving at this isolated haven by seaplane, you’re met with natural scenes akin to Cast Away (if you replaced impending starvation with ice-cold towels and organic sheets). Everything here is light and airy, from the laid-back (but impeccable) service to the white cotton curtains rustling in the sea breeze at your open window. Surrounded on every side by gin-clear waters, lush palm trees and warm air, it’s the definition of tropical paradise, boasting a “no shoes, no news” policy that lets you both truly disconnect from the outside world. Come night-time, sip on cocktails on netting right over the waves at Out of the Blue restaurant – wet bottoms are worth it.
Burrowed in the untouched Hanazono woods of Hokkaido, Zaborin is an intimate escape ideal for honeymooners looking to destress from the wedding. A luxury traditional ryokan comprised of only 15 villas, this is ultimate privacy. Those looking for a traditional Japanese experience should book into a Washitsu room where Western-style beds are replaced with the traditional futons. All villas feature no less than two onsen baths (one inside, one alfresco) filled with pure, mineral-rich volcanic spring waters. The only stress here is deciding whether to look out onto the serene forests or the nearby meadow.
Another Indonesian treasure in the chest, Yogyakarta is a secret among those bored of Bali and in-the-know. With gloriously high walls, curved colonnades and domed ceilings, Amanjiwo is crafted with locally quarried limestone and makes a worthy neighbour to the ninth-century temple of Borobudur. Spend days overlooking rice fields and volcanic peaks from your wooden lounger by the infinity pool, dining on delightful Indonesian and Western mix of cuisine at the hotel’s open-aired restaurant and sipping on martinis at the black marble bar, before retiring to your four poster limestone-crafted bed. Dreamy…
Worlds away from the usual high-rises and chain hotels that dominate Phuket’s city centre, Keemala is a serene haven of warmth and hospitality. An architectural feat, the Bird’s Nest Pool Villas are cocoons crafted of woven wood with a glass feature wall looking out onto the rainforest and Andaman Sea – if you want to get even closer to nature, just step into your alfresco shower for a soak amongst the trees. You’ll have a villa host on hand to meet every wish and cater to every whim; they’ll whisk you to your room via golf buggy, and arrange activities – because who wants to do more admin when you’ve just planned a wedding?
Chain hotels are not the rule but some definitely are the exception, and Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is one of them. Set on its own crescent-shaped bay accessible only by boat, the boutique retreat comprises a number of villas dispersed amongst colossal boulders, wedged between glittering seas and dense forests. Villas are at one with nature: private pools are carved right into boulders, steps lead out into the ocean and rooms are decked out in wood and straw, with natural linen blinds that pull up to reveal see-it-to-believe-it scenes of glittery green waters stretching endlessly ahead. Mouthwatering Vietnmaese foods are served by the pool, high on the cliffs or in the immensely romantic Wine Cave.
Exuding a quieter kind of luxury, The Henry is more artsy than affluent. Retro chic interiors pay homage to the hotel’s roots as a 50s artists commune. Mid-century decor manifests as Eames-style chairs, mod furnishings, colourful tiles and a generous sprinkling of art throughout. Black-out curtains make the perfect environment for sleeping (or lack thereof). Aperitifs are best enjoyed at the uber-stylish Scrapyard bar where, alongside an array of refreshing cocktails, you’ll find a number of reclaimed artefacts from Manila, Baghdad, Berlin and Shanghai.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
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