As we approach World Poetry Day, on the 21st of March, what better time to reflect on the immortal words and advice of Robert Frost to take the road less travelled. In honour of that mindset and with the intrepid traveller in all of us seek out a few boutique properties which might not be on your radar, but definitely should be…
Castello di Vicarello, Tuscany
Castello di Vicarello is a 12th century castle in the rolling Tuscan hills, complete with nine beautifully designed suites, two outdoor swimming pools, its very own vineyard and olive oil production and an open-kitchen for authentic Italian dining. Owned by the Baccheschi Berti family, the property is available for private use, playing host to up to 22 guests, families and groups of friends will have the run of the sprawling estate, which is located in the picturesque region of Maremma. Lazy days can be spent by the pool, enjoying spa treatments at the outdoor sala overlooking the olive groves, tasting the estate’s very own red and rosé wines and enjoying the delicious food the Italian way, over long languid lunches and suppers served in the rustic open kitchen.
Exclusive hire of Castello di Vicarello starts from €12,000 per night (currently approx. £10,842) on a B&B basis, inclusive of nine suites (sleeping 18 guests) with a supplement of €150 (currently approx. £135) per night for an extra guest per room. A minimum stay of two nights is required from November to April and three nights from May to October.
62°NORD’S ‘Owners Cabin’, Norway
Perfect for travellers looking to get away from it all, and enjoy 'hytte kultur' (cabin lifestyle) the Owner’s Cabin is a small cottage surrounded by untouched land with direct access to the sea. Home to three double bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, spacious dining room and living room with an open fire, the house is perfect for small groups looking for some solitude and beauty. When it comes to dining, guests can either have the team pre-stock the fridge or choose to simplify life further by enlisting the services of a private chef who will cook local Norwegian delights. The cabin is located just steps away from the Nordic sea where guests will find a white sandy beach on the right and charming rocky tide pools to the left. Giske island’s small size and comparatively gentle landscape does not betray the unique part it has played in the history of Norway, as home to noble Viking families. It is perfect for outings – bike to see the curious mix of well-tended farms and swathes of wild forest and kayak to experience the uniqueness of the North Sea – home to colonies of seals and passing orcas.
Rates in the Owner’s Cabin start from NOK 6,000 (currently approx. £517) per night, excluding food and drink. www.62.no/en
Lopud 1483, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Lopud 1483 is located on the northern tip of Lopud, Dubrovnik, in a Franciscan monastery that has been overlooking the island for centuries. The property has been lovingly restored over the past 20 years by Creative Director Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza and her family. She worked with the Arhitektri Studio in Zagreb to ensure that every aspect was carefully designed in order to preserve the incredible history of the building. The 13 original cells of the 5,000 square metre monastery have been transformed into five exquisite suites, with wooden ceilings, windows and floors and views onto the sea or medicinal garden. Each room features a unique combination of renaissance furniture, from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection as well as bespoke new pieces by Italian designer Paola Lenti and contemporary art from the TBA21 collection. This undiscovered island sanctuary has been designed as a place where history, art and botanical exploration ignite the senses. The property is also home to a Sacred Garden, complete with nine stations designed for meditation and contemplation, a traditional Franciscan Pharmacy.
LOPUD 1483 is available for exclusive hire during April - October. The rate for all five suites, sleeping 10 guests, is €10,000 (currently approx. £8,825) per night on a half board basis. In April and October, individual suites may be available to book from €2,000 (currently approx. £1,765) per night on a B&B basis.
Deplar Farm, Iceland
One of Eleven Experience’s most unique properties, the iconic, 13-room Deplar Farm has been transformed from a working sheep farm into the ultimate Nordic-inspired boutique retreat. The lodge is located on the stunning Troll Peninsula and surrounded by 3,000 ft snow-dusted mountains, allowing guests to have unrivalled access to over 1,500 square miles of untouched mountain terrain. The Nordic interiors are cosy and stylish and guests can come together in the evening to enjoy cocktails mixed by the resident mixologist and feast on local Icelandic delicacies cooked by the chef. Guests will delight in the extensive wellness area which comprises a steam room, indoor and outdoor saunas, hot tubs, flotation tanks, three treatments rooms and an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, heated to 38 degrees from thermal springs, with a built-in sound system and a bar. Thanks to its unparalleled location, the unique lodge serves as a fantastic base to explore the surrounding area and embark on adventures led by the expert Eleven Experience guides.
Due to limited light-pollution in Iceland, Deplar Farm’s impressive geo-thermally heated outdoor pool is the perfect spot from which guests can stargaze across the clear Icelandic night-sky and catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights from October to March – the ultimate bucket list trip to tick off.
Rates at Deplar Farm start at £1,370 per person per night (based on double occupancy). This includes customised adventure itineraries, all gear necessary for activities, pre-arrival planning with an Experience Manager, all in-house meals, house alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages, daily housekeeping and airport transfers to/from Akureyri.
La Bastide de Marie, Provence
Nestled among 57 acres of vineyards and gardens, in the heart of Luberon Natural Park, La Bastide de Marie is a fully-restored 18th century farmhouse estate, with just 15 suites. The owner, Jocelyne Sibuet, has lovingly restored each room with its own style and sense of décor. The stylish Provencal retreat has an old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen, library and expansive terrace restaurant, overlooking the Mediterranean gardens and adjoining the Domaine de Marie vineyard. Maisons & Hotels Sibuet’s Pure Altitude Spa offers massages using lavender and neroli oil and runs yoga classes with views overlooking the Luberon National Park. The Bastide’s head winemaker welcomes guests for a tour of the wine cellar, followed by a tasting of the reds, whites and rosés and for fine wine lovers, the Domaine de Marie is the perfect stopover to discover the different grape varieties of the region. Those looking to explore the region are well placed to do so: the villa is a short drive from the Provençal villages of Opio and Valbonne whilst beach-lovers won’t have to venture far. The nearest can be found at Cagnes sur Mer, just 10km away, or St Paul de Vence, just a 30-minute drive.
Rates at Bastide de Marie start from €330 (currently approx. £292) per room per night on a B&B basis.
Singita Sweni Lodge, South Africa
Tucked into the banks of the Sweni River, Singita Sweni Lodge located in Singita’s private 33,000-acre concession in South Africa is the ultimate ultra-boutique safari retreat. With just seven intimate suites, the property sleeps 14 at a maximum. The suites themselves are hidden in the trees – each featuring open-plan interiors, a generously stocked minibar, two bathrooms and an outdoor shower overlooking the river – adding to the feeling of being enveloped by an ancient forest. The cosy but stylish lodge is a hidden jewel entwined in nature that provides a bold, new African context for contemporary design, architecture and safari dining. Guests have private access to 33,000 acres of pristine wilderness in the world-renowned Kruger National Park, ensuring unforgettable game-viewing experiences. With the lodge’s proximity to the river, guests are also treated to up-close sightings of numerous animals and birds frequenting the area to drink or wallow in the water.
Rates for Singita Sweni Lodge start from £1,422 per person per night. This includes all meals, drinks (excluding French Champagne), twice-daily open Land Rover safaris, walking safaris with accompanied guides and trackers, and return road transfers between Singita’s airstrip and the lodge.
Sala's Camp, Kenya
Made up of seven tents, Sala’s Camp combines tradition with comfort, offering a model of understated luxury. Situated in the southern, wilder corner of the Masai Mara game reserve, Sala’s Camp is close to the confluence of the Sand and Keekorok Rivers – an idyllic geographical feature that attracts teeming wildlife. The location of Sala’s Camp is a big draw – close to Tanzania with wonderful views of the Serengeti National Park, it is one of the first camps in the Mara to witness the legendary annual migration of wildebeest, which thunders by from June to September each year. Sala’s Camp also offers the best of the Masai Mara’s wildlife and birdlife year round. A typical day at Sala’s would include exhilarating game drives with an abundance of wildlife viewings before returning to the tent to relax on the deck or taking a dip in the plunge pool before heading for sundowners and dinner under the stars.
Rates start from US$950 (currently approx. £692) per person on a fully inclusive basis. www.thesafaricollection.com
Xigera Safari Lodge, Botswana
Situated in Botswana’s unspoilt wilderness on the western side of the Moremi Game Reserve, Xigera Safari Lodge opened this January and is the first purpose-built safari lodge developed by the Tollman family, the renowned South African born hoteliers. Guided by their deep love of the Delta and its wildlife, Xigera offers just 24 guests an extraordinary opportunity to explore the richness of this UNESCO World Heritage Site to the tune of their own individual imagining. Touching the earth lightly, the lodge’s 12 individually designed air-conditioned suites, including one two-bedroom family suite, extend over two islands. Architect Anton de Kock designed the buildings in complete synergy with their surroundings, using torched timber cladding and softly undulating roofs inspired by the wingspan of the region’s rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. The lodge’s interiors have been conceptualised by Toni Tollman and Philip Fourie, who collaborated with Southern Guild Gallery in a ground-breaking project that spanned over two years. They commissioned work from more than 80 artists and artisans from Botswana, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Eswatini. Those seeking an even closer encounter with nature can experience a life-changing sleep-out under the stars in a three-story steel baobab tree located 1km from the camp.
Rates at Xigera Safari Lodge start from $2,320 (currently approx. £1,695) per adult per night sharing. This includes accommodation on a fully inclusive basis, park fees and all activities. Spa treatments are additional. The baobab experience is bookable at the camp for an added cost of $250 (currently approx. £183) per night.
Bawah Reserve to launch Elang Private Residence in 2021
Situated in the remote Anambas Islands, Indonesia, 160 nautical miles from the closest city Singapore, Bawah Reserve is made up of six tropical islands, 13 white sand beaches and three crystal clear lagoons and is only accessible by private seaplane. In addition to its current 36 lodges, Bawah is launching six brand new cliffside lodges on a previously untouched island named Elang this year. Further enhancing the reserve’s private island experience, guests over 18 can opt to book the entire island for them and up to 14 guests – the perfect escape for those looking to reconnect with family or close friends. They will have exclusive access to the islands own clubhouse which has been carefully designed around a rock formation and inspired by tribal communal houses in Indonesia as well as a beachside restaurant and bar, spa, private beach and salt water infinity pool, created from a natural hollow and refreshed with every tidal change, complete with a water slide. Guests of Elang can take part in the plethora of activities included in the all-inclusive rate, in addition to full board dining experiences and daily spa treatments.
Rates to hire the island of Elang start from $21,000 USD (currently approx. £17,478) per night and can host up to 14 guests. Rates include full board, daily spa treatments, laundry, in-room minibar and a host of land and water-based activities.
Eleven Experience, creator of bespoke, boundary-pushing adventures, offers up its latest fly-fishing and adventure retreat on the South Island of New Zealand, Cedar Lodge – reopening for the 2022 fishing season in January. Sleeping eight across four rooms, and available by room or for exclusive buyout, Cedar Lodge offers incredible views of the majestic scenery New Zealand has to offer. The lodge has an expert team of in-house chefs preparing delicious meals for guests to enjoy every evening – using the best ‘clean and green’ produce from the area alongside the region’s world-class lamb, fresh seafood and award-winning New Zealand wines. Well-off the beaten path and set in beautiful surroundings on a five-acre plot – in the rural valley of Makarora, otherwise known as the 'timeless land' and considered a special place to the locals – guests are only minutes away from some of New Zealand’s most remote streams from which to fish rainbow and brown trout. Fly fishers in the know consider New Zealand the trophy trout capital of the world for good reason. The lodge has for over 30 years been renowned for its exclusive helicopter fly-out angling programme – now sitting within Eleven’s collection of world-class angling focused properties, to carry on the legendary tradition of Cedar Lodge. Ideal for anglers and non-anglers alike, guests can embark on intimate tours of New Zealand’s most renowned wineries, heli-hiking, and world-class heli-fishing led by highly knowledgeable local guides.
Rates for Cedar Lodge start at £7,370 per person for 7 nights and 6 days of fishing (7 January 2022 to April 2022), based on double occupancy and two anglers per guide, as well as meals, drinks and daily helicopter fly-out. www.elevenexperience.com/cedar-lodge