There’s something about nature that provides us with a sense of calm and serenity that man-made spaces alone can’t quite deliver. More than ever, with most of us currently being advised to stay at home, we are beginning to appreciate something that we once took for granted — the meditative and tranquil healing properties of nature for our mental wellbeing and how much we all do love being outdoors! Fear not — let’s see how we can bring the best of the outdoors, in.
Many of our hotels inject this biophilic design by incorporating the great outdoors into their interiors, generating a sense of wellness for their guests. Plants, natural light, elements such as wood and stone, or simply earthier tones; whatever their nod to Mother Nature, here’s our pick of the best and may even inspire you to bring the outdoors in to enjoy for yourself.
Voted Belgium’s best concept hotel, Hotel Van Cleef in Bruges, takes decorating with nature to new heights. A former residence of the Dukes and Counts of the Van Cleef dynasty, this 700 year old family-owned mansion is a luxurious haven with a touch of Art Deco and a whole lot of quirkiness. A gold metal palm tree holds pride of place in the lounge, large ‘flower’ lights illuminate the dining room, whilst two ornate lion heads hold back the drapes in the hall. Let there be no mistaking, this is nature meets theatre at its very grandest, adorned with the finest Missoni furnishings. Designed by next door neighbour and Interior Designer, Pascale Vanhaecke, perhaps the room that most embodies this outdoor/indoor theme is the library — originally part of the garden, this oasis of calm perfectly captures the feeling of bringing the outside in with its fun ‘palm’ wallpaper, oversized potted plants and large skylights, inviting an abundance of natural light to flood in. Grab a book, order a drink and while your time away. It is worth noting that this Belgian jewel also boasts the best canal-side terrace on the eastern side of the city.
Even the name of the next hotel conjures up all things earthly. The Moss Boutique Hotel in the district of Basmanny, a super trendy bohemian part of Moscow, just 20 mins walk from Red Square, is based on an eco-philosophy and sensory experience. The entirety of its décor has been inspired by nature — there are living walls of plants; the interiors are made from natural materials (excluding the light installations made from old Soviet car parts, that is!) balancing warm wooden textures and soft textiles with cool hard stone. Don’t be surprised to find large suspended driftwood in the rooms, and super deluxe bathrooms come as standard in either a sexy black slate or veined marble, with sinks carved out of granite. Top tier rooms even have their own double waterfall showers for a truly invigorating experience. What was once a seventeenth century home belonging to a prominent Russian family, today prides itself on exemplary service, with their motto being:
“Come as you are and we will take care of the rest!”
And that’s exactly what they do — no request is too big or small. The bathroom toiletries (by Israeli fragrance makers Zielinski & Rozen), are matched to each guest’s preference, with your room infused with your chosen scent, from sweet lemon and bergamot to patchouli and jasmine. A wonderful breath of fresh air away from the bustle of the city. They even serve green moss-coloured cocktails!
If you’re looking for Arabian Nights in the heart of Copenhagen, look no further than Nimb Hotel. Set in the Tivoli Gardens amusement park this spectacular landmark was originally built in 1909 as an Arab fantasy castle by Knud Arne-Peterson, Tivoli's head architect and director. With its Moorish-style arches, domes, high ceilings and crystal chandeliers, this unique boutique hotel is really something else and should come as no surprise that it made the Condé Nast Traveller 2020 Gold List. Nature is present at every angle, from the lush surroundings of the greenhouse with views to the skies and the herb gardens, to the rooftop terrace and its emerald green pool with built-in tide and outdoor shower. But perhaps the most notable place of all, is the plant-based restaurant, Gemyse. Whilst there are five different restaurants to choose from, Gemyse immerses you in nature. A gorgeous leafy setting in the heart of the Tivoli Gardens, enjoy only the finest organic food, sustainably caught fish, and even pop your own popcorn or roast marshmallows at one of the roaring bonfires in its garden kitchen, which turns into a cocktail bar after dark. Gemyse also makes for the perfect venue to host meetings, garden parties or weddings — in fact, whatever your imagination can conjure up... this is your fairy-tale after all.
Nestled in the South Tyrolean landscape, just 5km from the beautiful spa town of Meran, is the family-run Hotel Muchele. The first site was built back in 1952 by Johann Ganthaler and his wife, Theresia Wolf, and has remained in the family for 3 generations. “Nature and architecture become one”, according to its sustainably-conscious hoteliers. Whether it’s the large floor to ceiling windows that literally invite the outdoors indoors, or the porphyry on the façade (which Grandpa Ganthaler obtained from a former quarry in Burgstall), that blends seamlessly into the panoramic vista — either way, this unique hotel succeeds in providing an atmosphere of nature within its contemporary walls.
The dining area, quite simply referred to as “our eating room” by the owners, is an informal area that follows the ‘indoors-outdoors’ concept, especially as the terrace and dining area literally become one during the summer months. There are hanging plants cascading from the ceiling, and at night all of the balconies are illuminated green. One thing’s for certain, there’s no shortage of natural magic at the 40-suite Muchele, recognised in 2017, when the prestigious international Future Prize was bestowed upon them, as Trendsetter in architecture, ecology and gastronomy.
On the edge of Taormina, overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, sits the spectacular Villa Carlotta. Originally built in 1860 for a local aristocratic family, this luxury boutique hotel is the equivalent of a modern day Eden, surrounded by lush green botanical gardens, fragrant with lemon and rosemary. The palette inside is one of warm, earthy colours, reminiscent of its Moorish history, whilst the basement bar showcases ancient Byzantine catacombs exposed via the excavated wall.
Il Miraggio, the rooftop restaurant, could easily pass for a Sicilian citrus grove with its shades of green, paintings of fruit and towering lemon arrangements. Natural light illuminates the room, whilst the menu offers the best in Sicilian and Italian cuisine, using only the finest organic produce. Take your pick from fresh fish specialities, a wide variety of pasta and Nebrodi meat. Pastry chef, Nardina, is also on site to satisfy the sweetest of teeth as she prepares the most scrumptious treats daily. The knowledgeable sommelier is always on hand to recommend the best wine to pair with your meal and dessert. And should you be in the mood for a little romance, take things outside and enjoy a candlelit meal on the terrace, under the stars, as you savour the glimmering panoramic views before you.
The Siam is currently closed. Click here to view the latest foreign travel advice for Thailand.
If rock n’ roll is more your style, then The Siam is going to be right up your alley, or in the case of this establishment, Bangkok’s royal district, Dusit (home to the Chitralada Palace, with the crown prince just a few doors down the street). Let there be no mistaking, this is a very unique hotel belonging to a very unique family. Owned by Kamala Sukosol, Thailand’s first lady of Jazz; her son, Krissada Sukosol Clapp, is Creative Director. Lead vocalist of Indie-rock band PRU, Krissada is also the recipient of Thailand’s most prestigious acting award for his work in the movie 13 Beloved, and the hotel showcases various vintage instruments throughout, along with an incredible variety of other antiques from his personal collection. But aside from its musical pedigree, The Siam also honours all things nature. In the Atrium, birds-of-paradise rise 15 feet from the long narrow pool, beneath a glass and steel ceiling, whilst 8 large banana palms tower 3 stories high. Every one of the 39 rooms are unique, and styled using a monochromatic palette with a touch of neutral. Some are adorned with all things military (think hats, swords and maps) whilst others include culinary relics such as vintage menus, recipe books and restaurant signs. And with rooms starting at 900 sq. ft. for an entry level, they feel more like small apartments. Also set on this 3 acre site is the Opium Spa, a haven of bliss and serenity, with all treatments and therapies 100% chemical free. The Siam also boasts its own pier and private boat and every guest is assigned their very own personal butler upon arrival. If you’re in the market for a new tattoo, Arjan Boo (former monk who once inked Angelina Jolie), creates sacred Yak Sant tattoos in the altar-like room, bestowing magical powers and good fortune onto their wearer.
Bask & Stow is currently closed. Click here to view the latest foreign travel advice for Australia.
Byron Bay has always attracted the Bohemian crowd, and its laid back yet stylish guest house, Bask & Stow, will appease the freest of spirits. Created by award-winning local architects, Harley Graham, this family-owned hideaway is easy breezy in every way possible. With only 4 suites, each named after the elements of coastal living; Sun, Sea, Sand and Salt, this place is somewhat of an oasis. Whilst every room shares that mid-century look, they’ve each been decorated differently using a combination of beachy blues and crisp white interiors, with the odd burst of yellow. Bright tropical scatter cushions and potted plants help bring the outdoors indoors, alongside cosy fringed rugs and paintings of desert scenes. And with your own kitchenette and deep soaker tub to boot, you could easily be tempted to stay, for quite some time. Enjoy your very own cane swing chair on your private verandah or take a dip in the inviting turquoise waters of the palm-lined pool — nature is ever present. But should you feel tempted to leave, some of the best beaches in the world are literally on your doorstep — as is the uber-trendy Top Shop Café. And did we mention there’s a bottle of bubbly ready and waiting for you when you arrive? No rush. You’re on ‘The Bay’ time now…
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