A Hilltop Hideaway in the Scottish Highlands
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A Highlands Cottage With Expansive Views
By Chris Schalkx
When the London-based policy and human rights expert Mumtaz Lalani first visited the Scottish Highlands on a work trip in 2015, she fell in love with the light. “In spring and summer, the skies never seem to fully darken but merely dip into an inky blue over the lochs,” she says. “In winter, the days are short but the light is beautifully soft.” It led her to launch 57 Nord, a croft house-inspired couples’ retreat on the shores of West Scotland’s Loch Duich. Last summer, some three years after the brand’s debut, she added a second outpost with families in mind. The two-bedroom Hill House, named for its perch on a slope above the original retreat, is a modern interpretation of a shieling, a traditional Scottish dwelling with a rectangular floor plan and a gabled roof. Its large windows, positioned to capture the changing light from dawn to dusk, frame panoramic views over three lochs, the Kintail mountains and the meticulously reconstructed Eilean Donan Castle. For the airy interiors, Suzi Lee of Suffolk’s Outside In Studio fused Scandinavian designs, such as Carl Hansen & Søn chairs, with Scottish crafts, including soft-toned ceramics by the Edinburgh-based Spanish ceramist Borja Moronta and hand-cured sheepskin rugs from rare seaweed-eating sheep native to northern Scotland’s Orkney archipelago. Other materials, such as timber, wool and travertine, reflect the surroundings and further blur the lines between the exterior and interior spaces. Even the amenities draw on local bounty: The welcome hamper is filled with cheeses and charcuterie, and a private chef is on call to prepare a dinner with creel-caught langoustines sourced just down the street. “We wanted to foster a deep connection between our guests and the elemental beauty of the landscape to offer an antidote to hectic, modern living,” says Lalani. From around $1,410 for three nights; 57nord.co.uk.
A Vintage Throwback in Bad Gastein
By Yulia Denisyuk
Midcentury modern meets mountain refuge at the Cōmodo: That was the idea that Barbara Elwardt and Piotr Wisniewski, the Berlin-based architects behind the interior design agency WeStudio, wanted to bring to life with Elwardt’s first hotel property. The Cōmodo has taken over an old health clinic on the edge of Bad Gastein, a Wes Anderson-esque spa and ski town in the Austrian Alps about 65 miles south of Salzburg. A gold-mining settlement turned vacation spot favored by Austrian emperors for its healing waters, the town was largely forgotten in the 20th century. In recent years, though, it has re-emerged as an in-demand alpine destination thanks to an influx of creative entrepreneurs opening properties in the valley, including Hotel Miramonte, by the Viennese architect Ike Ikrath, and the Regina Hotel, by the German duo Olaf Krohne and Jason Houzer. The 70-room Cōmodo adds a touch of nostalgia to the mix, with a spacious lobby that has floor-to-ceiling windows and showcases a mix of vintage furniture scouted by Elwardt and Wisniewski (including Italian-designed finds like the Camaleonda sofa by Mario Bellini and the Elda chair by Joe Colombo). The Cōmodo’s spa uses Gastein’s thermal waters for treatments, while the restaurant serves sparkling wine from nearby vineyards at tables topped with Verde Lapponia granite, which echoes the shade of Bad Gastein’s dense forests. The work of established and emerging artists is displayed throughout the property: Gosia Warrink and Katja Koeberlin of Berlin’s Amberdesign created abstract renderings of the surrounding mountains for the wool rugs; another Berlin-based studio, Fundamental, designed a series of goddess-inspired glass vases and candleholders; and the Polish sculptor Iwo Borkowicz crafted a gold-leaf-covered statue that doubles as a working weather station. “The goal is to evoke the nostalgia of a 1960s alpine resort mixed with Viennese cafe culture,” says Wisniewski. “Instead of trying to erase the hotel’s past, we chose to continue telling its story.” Rooms from $260; thecomodo.com.
An Intimate Villa in Tangier
By Monica Mendal
After serving for years as the general manager at the renowned El Fenn hotel in Marrakesh, the Dutch designer and art collector Willem Smit realized that many travelers crave intimate sanctuaries where they can share experiences with friends. That’s when he decided to start his own project, House of Augustine, a collection of properties that combine his love of Moroccan culture and design with five-star hospitality. The brand is launching with two guesthouses: Villa Augustine in Tangier’s Marshan neighborhood, which opened late last month, and the 10-room Riad Augustine in Marrakesh, coming in March. The five bedrooms in the villa include features such as a fireplace, a copper tub, midcentury furniture and a seating nook with books about local history. The communal kitchen comes stocked with snacks from the region, and cocktail trays from which guests can pour drinks at their leisure are scattered throughout the living room. There is a baby grand piano in the lounge and a plunge pool for hot afternoons. On the night of their arrival, guests are treated to dinner prepared by the house chef (grilled fish on Tuesdays, chicken tagine on Thursdays, couscous on Fridays). A future artist-in-residence program plans to invite creatives such as the Dutch Moroccan photographer Mounir Raji to stay for a few weeks; at the end of the program, the artists are expected to host a small exhibition at Studio Augustine, Smit’s new boutique near the Riad Augustine in Marrakesh. The shop alone is worth a visit, carrying unisex clothing by Marrakshi Life and perfumes from Héritage Berbère. Rooms from around $240 per night, including some meals; houseofaugustine.com.
A Community-Minded Inn in Guatemala City
By Michaela Trimble
Five years after opening its first Central American property in a restored mansion in Guatemala’s cobblestone colonial city of Antigua, the Amsterdam-basedhospitality brand Good Hotel has returned to the country to open a second location in Guatemala City. Launched in late November, the 29-room property in the bustling Cuatro Grados Norte neighborhood was laid out by the Dutch interior design firm Ninetynine. The rooms, some with private terraces framed by concrete breeze-blocks, are on the building’s seventh and ninth floors and feature refined artisanal elements such as bed frames made with pinewood procured from the coffee- and cardamom-growing region of Cobán and pastel-hued organic-wool wall rugs by the Guatemala City-based brand Nan Textiles, each hand-knit on traditional looms by Guatemalan weavers from the Momostenango region in the western highlands. On the hotel’s seventh floor is an open-concept living room with a coffee bar roasting beans from Finca San Jerónimo Miramar, a regenerative farm on the eastern slopes of the Atitlán volcano, as well as the restaurant La Capirucha, overseen by the Guatemalan chef Debora Fadul. Dishes and craft cocktails are inspired by local culture: Housemade sodas with achiote, a peppery spice found throughout Central and South America, are paired with plates such as grilled papaya “carnitas” and tamales colorados, lathered in a creamy tomato-based recado sauce. The name of the hotel reflects its mission: to put money back into local communities by working with organizations such as Niños de Guatemala, a nonprofit that provides education to children from low-income families. Rooms from $80; goodhotel.co.
A Jungle Retreat in the Sámara Highlands
By Michaela Trimble
Set in the verdant Sámara highlands, where monkeys and hummingbirds dart amid a canopy of flowering ylang-ylang and roble de sabana trees, this two-story boutique property offers a luxurious respite in an area known for its biodiversity. The owners, Amanda Judge and Chris Carmody, a couple with backgrounds in fair-trade jewelry and engineering, respectively, tapped the Nosara-based architecture firm VA Design Group to help create their coastal project, a sprawling five-bedroom space nestled in the dense jungle of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. Guests enter the house through a blond-stained teak door, which leads to a kitchen and living area that blends seamlessly with an expansive, palapa-style terrace. A 12-seat teak dining table sits beside a saltwater infinity pool with turquoise Sukabumi stone tiles. Adjacent is a bar area framed by handwoven-cord bar stools by Masaya Co., a sustainable-furniture company in Nicaragua. While there’s a ground-level bedroom with an oversize soaking tub and private patio, most of the guest rooms are on the second floor: A long glass hallway connects each of the four bedrooms, including a bunk room ideal for children and suites with balconies and ocean views. The surrounding gardens — planted with papaya, mango, orange and lemon trees — supply many of the ingredients found in the refreshments and meals on offer, from fruit smoothies fragrant with lemongrass and citrusy juanilama to fresh fish dishes accompanied by passion fruit or chimichurri sauces. As for outdoor activities, surfing, kayaking and swimming at one of several beaches are within an hour’s drive. Property buyouts from $1,500 per night; casaniri.com.
A Wellness Beacon in the Hawaiian Islands
By Devorah Lev-Tov
“‘If you can’t find it in nature, you won’t find it here’ is our guiding design principle,” says Barry Sternlicht, the chairman of SH Hotels & Resorts and the founder of 1 Hotels, the biophilic, design-focused brand behind 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, scheduled to open Feb. 15 on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. His company spent some $300 million renovating the old St. Regis Princeville Resort, transforming its public spaces and 252 rooms and suites, which now feature native materials like puka lava rock and basalt flooring, handmade reclaimed-teak furnishings and local artwork. Wellness is a focus, with an 18,000-square-foot spa and an 8,400-square-foot fitness center and yoga studio. Guests can arrange consultations with nutritionists, integrative-medicine doctors, physical trainers and meditation guides; sign up for holistic therapy and infrared sauna sessions; or book four-, seven- or 10-day retreats with personalized physical and nutritional programming. Some rooms even come with circadian lighting and sleep-tracking technology. The property has three pools with ocean views and seven bars and restaurants (including a shave ice kiosk) sourcing ingredients from on-site gardens and neighboring farms, ranchers and fishermen. “My family and I vacationed in the area for decades,” says Sternlicht. “This stunning location feels like a harmonious extension of the natural world.” Rooms from $1,500 per night; 1hotels.com/hanalei-bay.