Independent luxury boutique hotels often provide a charm that is not present in big hotel chain. In a way, independent hotel offers a more intimate and privacy, mainly due to its small number of rooms. Bonus point if the hotel is set in a secluded and exclusive location.

In this list, you can pick from the caplets in Méribel Valley, eco-friendly hotel in Donostia, top of the hill private villa in Bali, Zen lodge in wetland of China, a palace in the heart of Malaga, and historic landscaped garden near London.

Le Coucou Méribel, France

Rates start from US$713/Eur644/ £548 per night, breakfast included. Total of 55 rooms. Open: December 3, 2019.

From the outside, Le Coucou looks like an unassuming traditional chalet accommodation in Méribel, a famous ski resort in Eastern France. It blends so well with the surrounding snow- capped summits of the French Alps. You wouldn’t realize that this five-star hotel actually has 10 levels of floors, stretching over an area of 12,000 square meters.

The magic starts at the entrance, with its circular reception area and its magnificent skylight. The furniture is custom-made, specially designed by renowned artists to give you the best authentic experience of Méribel. Le Coucou has two restaurants (Bianca Neve that serves Italian dishes and Beefbar that offers prime cuts of meat). It also has a bar with an open view to the valley, Tata Harper Spa, a kid’s club, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a ski room. Owned by the Pariente Family, this hotel gets its name from the cuckoo bird. You can see lots of cuckoo- inspired art and decoration throughout the hotel.

Tip: If you truly want to indulge in the absolute luxury that Le Coucou Méribel have to offer, you should book one of the Chalets. You’ll get private butler, chambermaid, and cooking chef. The chalet also has a private indoor pool, steam room, private ski-in/ski-out, private spa treatment room, and the best view over the Méribel Valley.

Palacio Solecio Malaga, Spain

Rates start from US$131/Eur118/£100 per night, breakfast is optional at US$24. Total of 68 rooms.

Open: December 3, 2019.

Located at the heart of the Malaga’s Old Town, Palacio Solecio has a classic architectural façade, perfectly in tune with its rich and ancient surroundings. The building was originally an Andalusian palace built in the 18th century. It was restored and renovated by Antonio Obrador’s Architecture Studio to make it into a modern hotel, offering the best of both the classic and modern world.

The general atmosphere you will get from this hotel is warm and relaxing. The overall décor of the hotel does fuse classical elegance with modern comfort. The hotel has one restaurant, led by Jose Carlos Garcia who holds one Michelin star for his restaurant at the quayside of Málaga’s port. Some of the charms lie outside the hotel, though. Palacio Solecio is strategically located near the best points of interest in Malaga. La Caleta Beach, Picasso Museum, La Malagueta Beach are just a few minutes’ walk away from the hotel. If you’re interested in the culture, tapas, and restaurants, you can visit Malaga Centro nearby.

Tip: Palacio Solecio is one of the best hotels to enjoy the best of Malaga. However, you can entirely enjoy yourself within the hotel should you wish to. Soaking the sun under the glass- roofed patio during the day, and enjoy cocktail and tapas underneath the intricate ornate cloisters during the night.

Le Refuge de la Traye Méribel, France

Rates start from US$174/Eur157/£133 per night, with continental breakfast included. Total 8 rooms.

Open: December 14, 2019.

Created in 1982, Le Refuge de la Traye will reopen this mid-December after undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion. The lodge aims to be the first high-end refuge in the French Alps. At a glance, this lodge seems to come out of fairy tale, bringing you back to the old times with its miniature hamlet design. The chalets at Le Refuge de la Traye display a rustic stone and wooden exterior, making them blend perfectly with the landscape.

This refuge is designed for skiers. You can get a shuttle to the most famous slopes in France, including Les 3 Vallées. It is also accessible by off-piste skiing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, and snowshoeing. When the snow melts, Le Refuge de la Traye is a perfect sanctuary for hikers, mountain bikers, and outdoor sports enthusiasts. You can even enjoy the panorama on a hot air balloon. As for restaurant, La Table de la Traye serves French and Italian dishes. You can also enjoy a spa, hammam, hot tub, sauna, and massage at this refuge.

Tip: As a miniature hamlet, Le Refuge de la Traye also has its own chapel. You can, in fact, get married in the Saint-Bernard’s Chapel which has a wonderful view of the valley. The chapel itself is dedicated to the patron saint of climbers and mountain people.

Hidden Hills Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

Rates start from US$303/Eur273/£233 per night, with continental breakfast included. Total of 7 villas.

Open: December 3, 2019.

Bali, the Island of the Gods, is an irresistible magnet to whoever calls themselves a traveler. This resort island is mesmerizing not only because of its natural wonders, but also the cultural aspect of the people there. White sandy beach, open blue ocean, verdant forest, ancient temples… the list goes on. Hidden Hills Villas lets you enjoy a luxurious stay without cramping up with other tourists.

As the name implies. Hidden Hills Villas is located on a stunning hill in Uluwatu, on the southern coast of Bali. Being at the top, you will get an unobstructed view of your surroundings, all the way to the ocean and the far horizon. Each villa has one to five bedrooms and they show different characteristics, it is as if they have their own personalities. The Villa can arrange barbecue, day trips, spa, and laundry for you. As for the food, you can enjoy personalized butler service. Access to Bali’s most popular destination are also really good an easy.

Tip: Uluwatu is famous for its ancient temple. The sunset view is stunning on its own, but you can experience something more amazing. Get a ticket to the Uluwatu Kecak Fire Dance that is usually performed at the sunset. The combination of the show and the natural beauty is simply unforgettable.

Arima Hotel, San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

Rates start from US$118/Eur106/£90, breakfast not included. Total of 69 rooms. Open: 3 December 2019.

Arima Hotel can boast as the greenest lodging on the city thanks to its ultra-low energy consumption. This is the perfect choice for the eco-friendly people who visit Donostia, the other name of San Sebastian. The hotel architecture features Scandinavian sensibility with a functional design and great social responsibility. It allows the hotel to use very low energy to operate, gaining it a Passivhaus qualification.

Located in the middle of Miramon Forest of Gipuzkoa Technology Park, you’d be forgiven to think that Arima Hotel is destined to be a business traveler hotel. After all, it is only hundreds of meters away from EITB television. Donostia and Oncologico Hospitals are also roughly one kilometer away. However, Arima is only 4.8 kilometers away from the city center and the beach with abundant access. Snacks and meals are available at Tilia Deli & Café while Misura Restaurant serves ecological and veggie-based fine dining.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to explore the beautiful city. From the hotel, you can enjoy hiking and cycling on the nearby treks. San Sebastian also has lots of Michelin-starred restaurants, you can try them all. If you want to know how it feels to be local, come to pintxos bars, they usually serve the local white wine; txakoli.

Muh Shoou Xixi Hotel, Hangzhou, China

Rates start at US$331/Eur298/£254, buffet or a la carte breakfast included. Total of 43 rooms. Open: December 3, 2019.


Located on the southwestern part of Xixi National Wetland Park, this hotel successfully unifies the modern building with its surroundings. In fact, the initial inspiration for the design is to combine the wetland landscape with Chinese artistic paintings harmoniously. The result is simply incredible. The open architectural design allows the hotel and everyone in it to be one with nature.

The natural feeling is strengthened by hundreds of native trees that naturally grow in the area, including a century-old persimmon tree. The restaurant also heavily encourages organic food, especially those that are cultivated locally. Everywhere you see is panoramic wetland with healthy native trees. This is the perfect place to disconnect yourself from the daily hustle of the city and its noise.

Tip: To enjoy a full body and mind relaxation, you can request a professional teacher from the local Taiji Temple. It is an exercise to let you fully relax and blend with nature.

Great Fosters, Berkshire, United Kingdom

Rates start from US$213/Eur192/£131, breakfast is optional at US$25. Total of 42 rooms. Open: December 3, 2019.

This is a historic country hotel, located on 50 acres of beautiful parkland and landscaped gardens. The guest list of this hotel is simply remarkable, filled with many important figures from history. You can find King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, Charlie Chaplin, and Orson Welles in there. This hotel has a rich 400-year history and it is preserved very well.

There are a number of activities you can do all year round in Great Fosters, including festivities in the heated outdoor pool. You can even try traditional croquet if you fancy it. Overall, the summer here is picturesque and the winter is crisp. Combine that with the luxurious Elizabethan architecture, this hotel is an ideal setting for any occasion. Great Fosters has two restaurants; the Estate Grill that offers simple, ingredient-based food and the Tudor Room that serves fine dining. Tudor Room is also Michelin-starred.

Tip: If you wish to enjoy a special night with your loved one, book one of the historic rooms like Tapestry Suite, the one that is bedecked with 17th century Flemish Tapestry. Furthermore, dogs are welcome here.


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