(Reuters) - Boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) have announced the winners of their first hotel awards celebrating the world’s best boltholes, a marker of the evolution of the boutique hotel industry over the last decade.
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1. Best-Dressed Hotel Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali, Indonesia - Staking a stylish claim on Bali’s rugged Bukit Peninsula, this is a cool, contemporary cliffhanger of a resort which delivers dramatic eco-friendly design in a jaw-dropping setting.
2. Sexiest Bedroom in the World Blakes Hotel London, UK - Arguably the original boutique hotel, Anouska Hempel’s wickedly opulent Kensington hideaway has been discreetly looking after lovebirds for over 25 years. It’s hard to imagine a more alluring setting for seduction than the honeymoon-perfect, white-on-white Corfu Suite.
3. Hottest Hotel Bar Ace Hotel New York New York, USA - Hip, quirky and brimming with confidence, the Ace’s bar channels the spirit of its home city perfectly, and bustles with moving, shaking New Yorkers both day and night. They come for the cocktails, ingeniously crafted by Milk & Honey’s Sasha Petraske, they stay for the electric ambience.
4. Best Hotel Restaurant Bastide de Moustiers Provence, France - Alain Ducasse’s Provençal hideaway is a love poem to the surrounding area, a gastronome’s daydream that showcases the finest local produce in a daily changing menu of delectably inventive dishes. There’s no frippery or unnecessary extras; just simple, seasonal ingredients, intelligently prepared and served in a truly beautiful place.
5. Best Spa Hotel Como Shambhala Estate Bali, Indonesia - Como’s flagship retreat in Ubud renowned for its holistic back-to-nature approach, and promises to soothe, relax, cosset and revivify - while surrounding you in totally tropical, thatched-pavilion, wall-to-wall waterfall luxury.
6. The Eco Award Sextantio Albergo Diffuso Abruzzo, Italy - Albergo Diffuso is more than a hotel, it’s a whole new accommodation concept built around restoration and sustainability. Spread around the buildings of what was an abandoned village high in the Italian Apennines, the project hasn’t just created an utterly unique place to stay, it has reinvigorated an entire mountain village that would otherwise have been lost to history.
7. Best for Families Soneva Kiri Koh Kood, Thailand - With a breathtaking jungle-meets-ocean setting, switched-on service and fun-loving attitude, eco-friendly Soneva Kiri takes luxury family holidays to a new level. The free kids’ club the Den is beyond impressive: Dutch eco-architect Olav Bruin asked groups of children to design their dream play area - and then built on that.
8. Best Budget Hotel Brody House Budapest, Hungary - More than just a boutique bolthole, Brody House is also a members’ club with a stylish bar, a sometime film and fashion-shoot set, and a hub of local creativity with a calendar crammed full of art events and book readings. The very reasonable room rate gives you honorary membership to Brody’s members’ club rooms and events.
9. The Greatest Outdoors Dunton Hot Springs Colorado, United States - This unique mountain hideaway takes you straight back into the big-sky wilderness of the Old West, complete with log cabins, snow-capped peaks, not-so-lonesome pines and a perch on the porch to admire it all from. And, of course, there are the hot springs, which ensure that Dunton is a year-round alfresco spa haven.
10. Above & Beyond The Upper House Hong Kong - The Upper House may be in the heart of the city, but you’ll feel a tranquil world away from the moment you’re met in the lobby by your personal ‘guest experience manager’. This hotel prides itself on making stays simple, sedate and hassle free.
11. Best Newcomer Fogo Island Inn Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada - This Todd Saunders-designed beauty is a heartfelt home-from-home set against a sublime crashing-ocean backdrop. Although the bold, Scandinavian-style architecture is as modern as it gets, the inn is inspired by long-standing community tradition. Every detail - from the eco-conscious practices right down to the hand-loomed rugs - connects back to the island and its end-of-the-Earth remoteness only adds to the allure.
12. Best Smith Hotel 2013 Post Ranch Inn California, USA - Clinging to a clifftop along California’s wild west coast, this big-name Big Sur sanctuary manages to melt into the dramatic surrounds while showcasing dreamy design within. Cabins and cottages hover at the rocky edge (or teeter among the trees), each offering an eyeful of Pacific Ocean 1,200 feet below. The setting alone would put this hotel on most travellers’ wish lists, but combined with the luxury of a fireside massage, three infinity pools, clifftop hot tubs and a one-of-a-kind restaurant, it offers, quite simply, one of the world’s very best places to stay.
Editing by Michael Roddy and Tom Pfeiffer