THE HOT LIST 2017: HOTELS

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Awards season has been and gone. And we’re not talking about the Oscars. Hotel and travel awards ceremonies come thick and fast in the lead up to Christmas; the World Luxury Hotel Awards, European Hotel Design Awards and World Travel Awards all took place in December. Now we’ve had some time to digest the results – and the Christmas Turkey – we’ve polled our own in-house experts to bring you our 2017 Hotel Hot List.

In order to consistently deliver the best incentives in the game, our dedicated team are regularly dispatched to all four corners of the globe to hand-pick the finest hotels. They scrutinise the details of client briefs, make use of our worldwide network of expert contacts and think beyond the ordinary to invent original flourishes that push the experience to the next level.

We’ve spent years crafting exceptional and unique incentives that motivate employees to strive for targets, reward them for their hard work when they outstrip them and create memories that last a lifetime. Experience has taught us that the hotel forms an integral part of that experience… so here is a selection of our favourites:

The luxury safari one

Angama Mara safari camp overlooking the Maasai Mara at sunset

Stepping onto the decked veranda is enough to take even the most seasoned traveller’s breath away; with the great Maasai Mara plains stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction. Built on a hilltop overlooking the Mara Triangle, Angama Mara is a lodge that plays to its strengths in the most beautiful way.

Its name translates from Swahili as ‘hanging in mid-air’, an apt moniker for a camp where luxury tented suites perch on the edge of an escarpment, with floor-to-ceiling windows that turn each one into a private panoramic viewing platform.

Everyone knows that a safari guide can make or break the safari experience and Angama Mara’s guiding team is second to none. Hired as much for their expert knowledge as their ability to tell great stories; their commitment to safe practices, ability to find animals hidden deep in the bush and knowledge of the surroundings, all stems from a desire to delight and inspire.

This is far from your standard colonial-style safari lodge; exquisite modern décor and first-class staff provide you with the dream combination a true bush experience and ultimate luxury that make it the finest safari lodge we’ve ever visited.

The mountain village one

Whitewashed Piazza Borgo at the stunning Borgo Egnazia hotel

At the heel of Italy’s boot, Borgo Egnazia is a cool stone haven set amongst Puglia’s gnarled olive groves; highlighting the ancient traditions and warm hospitality of the region, while providing modern luxury service and a pleasing slice of la dolce vita.

Guests arrive into an exclusive gated courtyard that belies the vastness of the sprawling property beyond; the scent of lemons that wafting from the reception on the breeze. The imposing main building and surrounding townhouses reproduce the tranquil atmosphere and characterful architecture of local villages; complete with paved alleyways, expansive piazzas, and elegant arches adorned with wildflowers.

Borgo, as it is affectionately known in the office, has a list of facilities that means you never actually need to leave the resort. We certainly wouldn’t mind staying forever. Play a round of golf on the championship course, recline with a drink in hand at either of the two beach clubs, slink off to the luxury spa, or lose yourself in a book in the shade of an olive tree. The resort’s elegant restaurants showcase the best of Puglia’s celebrated cuisine – seasonal local dishes, fresh organic ingredients and traditional recipes.

All in all, a flawless chic retreat.

The glass igloo one

Kakslautannen glass igloos lit up at night in a snowy winter landscape

Not to be confused with a freezing night kipping on a reindeer skin in an ice hotel, a night’s sleep in one of Hotel Kakslauttanen’s unusual glass igloos surrounded by boreal forest is a magical bucket-list experience; like sleeping out under the stars only with the heating on.

Located 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the specially designed thermal glass structures shield you from the sub-zero temperatures (and the occasional wolf) outside and provide a perfect place to marvel at the ghostly northern lights from the snug comfort of your own bed. Of course, nothing can beat an actual northern lights expedition, and the hotel offers excursions by sleigh or snowmobile under the cover of darkness. You’re also likely to be roused by an alarm should the elusive aurora make an appearance during the night.

The resort is also home to the largest smoke sauna in the world, where you sweat it out for as long as you can handle the heat before running out into the Arctic forest to make snow angels – an absolutely insane Finnish tradition that is supposedly great for your circulation. True or not, it’s an experience not be missed.

The hipster one

The lobby of 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin

Berlin is on the bleeding edge of cool contemporary culture – a multicultural utopia where personal freedom and creativity are placed ahead of material gain – but its City West area has flown under the radar until now.

Originally built in the 1950s, Bikini House has been transformed from bland high-rise into the chicest hotel in West Berlin by celebrated designer Werner Aisslinger. 25hours Bikini hotel retains the perfect amount of exposed concrete so beloved of Shoreditch’s and Williamsburg’s trendier establishments. Shattering the severe industrial vibe with bicycles suspended from the ceiling, walls plastered with photo collages, playful illustrations straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie, and neon signs to indicate what you can use the hotel’s communal areas for.

Located right by Berlin Zoo’s so-called Elephant Gate, the hotel engages with its location in a way that creates an authentic Berlin experience. The hotel’s bespoke spaces, such as its rooftop bar-restaurant with panoramic views of the city, demonstrate an intimate understanding of Berlin and provide a perfect environment to retreat from the urban jungle; 25hours Bikini should be on every design lover’s wish list.

The tropical beach one

View from Andaz Peninsula Papagayo common area

There are beach hotels and then there are beach hotels. Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, overlooking the electric blue waters of Culebra Bay and designed by renowned architect Ronald Zürcher, is definitely the latter. Andaz has created an exclusive modernist getaway that takes inspiration from the beautiful natural surroundings.

The interior of the hotel is all natural materials and organic shapes: bespoke wooden furniture, woven textiles and carved artefacts all highlight the natural wonders of the hotel’s setting. But it’s the creative touches that really make it. Painted wooden carts by the pools, stocked with local spirits, to serve as makeshift bars; while Chao Pescao, the hippest of the hotel’s three restaurants, serves seasonal gourmet creations that transport you to an authentic neighbourhood haunt.

The levels of imagination required to create this classy and cool seaside sanctuary; the chance to spend your days paddle-boarding, lazing by the pool and indulging in personalised spa treatments; and the picturesque setting combine to stimulate the senses like nowhere else; making Andaz Peninsula Papagayo our favourite for an exotic beach break.

Which hotels do you feel should make the list? Submit your suggestions here.

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