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The Most Unusual Places To Stay

Swords Travel are always on the lookout for the some weird and wonderful places to stay, which also take luxury to new levels – those places that go beyond a bog standard hotel experience and offer something truly extraordinary, from candlelit caves and retreats to a stunning train journey and your very own private island escape… Here are our top 10 picks for 2018.


Best for… sleeping under the stars

Lion Sands, Africa

Africa has an abundance of unique places to stay, in prime wildlife-spotting areas, but  one of our favourites is Lion Sands in Greater Kruger, where you can sleep under the stars in the heart of the wilderness as elephants amble to the waterhole for a drink. If you can pull yourself away, enjoy bespoke game drives to see the rest of the Big Five.


Best for… a spa break with a difference

Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland

At the Retreat at Blue Lagoon, as well as a stunning views over Iceland’s volcanic landscapes, a spa which makes the most of the natural resources on the doorstep, you can enjoy direct access to your very own section of Iceland’s famous lagoon, with your bedroom opening directly onto the water.


Best for… sleeping on a luxury train

Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru

The luxurious Belmond Andean Explorer winds its way around Peru’s epic mountain, valley and river landscapes on one of the highest and most scenic train journeys on Earth. Sleep in a super plush cabin and sip cocktails accompanied by a pianist as you enjoy the views from the panoramic windows and take in sights such as Lake Titicaca and the Colca Canyon.


Best for… living like royalty

Aman Summer Palace, China

The beautiful Aman Summer Palace sits in the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, and was formerly where guests of the royals stayed. The pavilion-style suites, showcasing traditional Chinese architecture such as high wood-panelled ceilings, bamboo blinds and Jin clay tiles, are set in private courtyards, a stone’s throw from the palace’s serene lakes and gardens.


Best for… sleeping in a cave

Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, Italy

The Italian city of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is dotted with caves which date from the Paleolithic era. Some of these now form a romantic retreat, the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, where you can sleep in a cave lit by candlelight and dine in a restaurant created from a historic church carved into the stone.  What could be more romantic?


Best for… venturing into the heart of the desert

Amangiri, USA


Amangiri is a secluded luxury retreat nestled in 600 acres of Utah’s incredible desert landscapes. Experience their vastness from a hot air balloon and soar over mountains, lakes and cliffs. Back on the ground, Amangiri’s spacious suites feature cool stone interiors and uninterrupted desert views, while there’s a blissful spa and an irresistible pool hewn from desert rock.


Best for… sleeping in a tropical rainforest

Keemala, Thailand

Set high in the tropical rainforest of Phuket in Thailand, Keemala’s villas, cottages and houses have gorgeous canopied beds inside, leading to outdoor terraces and pools. With a heavenly spa as well as yoga and meditation, it’s all about relaxing in supreme style here. After a busy day doing as little as possible, sip a cocktail while watching the sun set over the beach.


Best for… a wildlife glamping adventure

Chena Huts, Sri Lanka

The Chena Huts in Sri Lanka come with beautiful interiors including lavish bathrooms, alongside palm-thatched roofs and private plunge pools. They sit above a pristine beach and are just ten minutes from Yala National Park, which is home to leopards and elephants, while you can also spot flamingos and sea turtles on the sands.


Best for… wine lovers

Hotel Marques de Riscal, Spain

With its distinctive swirling titanium ribbon exterior, nestled on a hillside in Spain’s Basque Country amongst traditional houses, you can’t miss Hotel Marques de Riscal. Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, the interiors are just as eye-catching, and you can also enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine and wines from the surrounding Marques de Riscal vineyards.


Best for… staying on your very own private island

Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah

Experience the most luxurious Robinson Crusoe adventure possible with a holiday at the Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah in the Baa Atoll, which is the world’s first exclusive-use hotel in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Not only will you have an island in the Maldives all to yourself, a stay here oozes luxury from every pore, from arriving by private plane to lazing on secluded white-sand beaches, snorkelling in pristine waters and enjoying sunset cruises on the hotel’s own yacht.


Best for… a one-of-a-kind winter escape


Bed down in a room made entirely of ice at the iconic ICEHOTEL in Swedish Lapland, a truly unique retreat. Each room is carved to a different theme by expert sculptors each year, before melting away the following spring. Have drinks in an ice glass at the bar, head out on a snowmobile to witness the Northern Lights and warm up by dining by the fire or indulging in a session in the sauna.

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