We’ve rounded up some of our favourite off-the-beaten track escapes where getting there is half the thrill. Sometimes, a trip is about the journey rather the destination but with these hotels, it’s both.
North Island, Seychelles
Barefoot luxury doesn’t get much better than this. Once unloved and overgrown, remote eco-chic paradise North Island is now the star of the Seychelles, with 11 vast villas set on white sands and framed by lush green palms. Getting here is part of the A-list experience: the island is only accessible by helicopter, a 20-minute journey from nearby Mahé. Once you’ve arrived, the whole island is yours – you can sip champagne on a sunset cruise and dine beneath the stars on your own private beach. Of course, an experience like this doesn’t come cheap – but North Island is a once-in-a-lifetime stay.
The Fisherman’s House, Croatia
Surrounded by the sapphire-blue waters of the Adriatic, just south of the hip island of Hvar, is the tiny pine-scented islet of Sveti Klement. From Hvar’s glamourous quayside, take an exhilarating speedboat ride across the water, and just 20 minutes later you’re at peaceful Vlaka Bay. Walk through a glade of towering Aleppo pines and you’ve arrived at The Fisherman’s House. The island is car-free, making it the perfect place for kids to run wild, and adults to switch off and relax. Take a morning dip, explore the paths that criss-cross the island or hire a sea kayak to discover hidden beaches. You won’t find Hvar’s glitzy nightlife here, but with few distractions you’re free to really reconnect with nature.
The Jalakara, Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India
The Andaman Islands are India’s secret paradise: stunning beaches flanked by virgin rainforest, active volcanoes and colourful reefs. Because of its remoteness, coral-fringed Havelock is tricky to get to, but that’s the price you pay to stay on an undeveloped tropical island. Government ferries and catamarans run regular transfers from the capital of the Andamans, Port Blair, but for the truly intrepid, you can hire a private long-tail boat (a dunghi) to make the crossing. Expect big waves, no-frills seating and a noisy engine, but this is a truly thrilling way to make the journey. The Jalakara, a stunning hideaway with a laid-back bohemian vibe carved into the rainforest canopy, has 5 stylish suites and a private villa. Bask in the sun and enjoy magnificent views from the gorgeous pool deck or book the ‘beach butler’ service: hammocks, loungers, music and a cooler with drinks and snacks can be set up in your chosen location on the island.
vigilius mountain resort, Italy
For jaw-dropping summit views without the gruelling climb, book a stay at the vigilius mountain resort. Perched on a mountaintop in the Italian Alps, this hotel is only accessible by an exhilarating 7-minute cable car journey from the Ultimo Valley below. Architect Matteo Thun set out to create a ‘luxury playground for adults’ here, with a mountain-view infinity pool, indoor-outdoor vapour room and a selection of luxury spa treatments. If relaxing in the spa isn’t your thing, the hotel also offers mountain bike tours, Nordic walking, supercar hire and even paragliding. For some, this tranquil elevated location could be isolating, but we love its remote feel. And, if the peace and quiet does get too much, zip back down the mountain as often as you please with unlimited cable-car and chairlift use included in your stay.
Mukan Resort, The Yucatan, Mexico
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is one of Mexico’s largest protected areas and only a handful of exclusive eco-lodges have been permitted to open here. Mukan Resort is one of the few, with 5 luxurious suites and 4 beachfront villas on a private white sand beach, shared by just a handful of guests. To get there, take a boat through the lagoon – a thrilling adventure in itself, with squadrons of pelicans skimming the water and eagles soaring overhead. If you’re lucky, you might even spot crocodiles or manatees lurking in the mangroves. Given the remoteness of this resort, it’s not worth visiting for less than 3 nights, but we would happily have stayed for a week. There’s plenty to do – borrow a hotel bike and pedal to Punta Allen on the southernmost tip of the reserve, take a canoe or paddleboard out to the reef 150m from Mukan’s beach, or embark on a half-day trip to explore the amazing wildlife in the lagoon.