Amazing Places to Stay
Bunny’s Favourite Off the Beaten Path Hotels in the World
Bunny loves to stay in unusual, amazing places around the world. On her extensive travels, Bunny has experienced everything from an overwater villa in the Maldives to a cave hotel in Italy to a temple stay in Japan.
Although most of Bunny’s stays have been luxurious, it is not always the accommodation itself that is luxurious. It is rather the special environment in which the hotel is located. Bunny’s favourite properties are often found in off-beat, gorgeous locations, but with an overarching feeling of exclusivity and tranquility.
Read below about Bunny’s Top 10 amazing off the beaten path hotel stays around the world.
Igloo under the Northern Lights: Arctic Snow Hotel and Glass Igloos (Finland)
Bunny hates the cold but has always wanted to stay in an ice hotel. That’s Bunny logic for you.
Luckily for Bunny, she was able to overnight in a real ice hotel but stay perfectly warm during her stay in the Arctic Snow Hotel & Glass Igloos, near Rovaniemi, Finland.
Bunny chose to stay in the snuggly glass igloos, instead of the glacial ice suites, and still enjoy all the wonderful facilities of the complex: ice restaurant, ice bar, ice chapel, ice sauna, ice sculptors etc. You get the gist.
The best part of Bunny’s wonderful stay was the appearance of the Northern Lights, as if on cue, in the starry sky above her igloo in the middle of the night. Thanks to the special Aurora alarm, Bunny was outside in seconds, photographing and marvelling at this amazing phenomenon.
Once she had had enough, it was easy to climb back into her warm bed and continue admiring the sky directly from her igloo thanks to its glass ceiling and walls. What a treat!
Buddhist Temple on a Sacred Mountain: Shojoshin-in (Japan)
Ever stayed in a Buddhist temple on a sacred mountain in Japan? You totally should, Bunny says!
Bunny’s chosen temple, Shojoshin-in, was located in Koyasan, an ancient village, brimming with temples and sacred sights. It is not an easy place to get to, trains, cable cars and busses will all need to be employed, but you will be handsomely rewarded for your trouble once there.
Right next to Bunny’s temple was the mystical Okunoin Cemetery. The cemetery is encircled by a sacred 1,200-year-old misty forest and is known for its unique, moss-covered gravestones. You can spend hours wandering the pathways of this other-worldly place.
The temple itself offered Japanese style guest rooms that were modest and quite chilly in winter. But Bunny happily slept on her tatami, enjoying the tranquility of the place, as well as the delicious vegetarian food prepared by the monks. Then there was the early morning service, a mesmerising scene with chanting monks and perplexed visitors trying to grasp what was going on.
The temple stay was very much a spiritual retreat, but thankfully not too much so: cold beer was readily available at dinner for those whom spirituality alone doesn’t quite cut it.
Over-Water Villa: Cocoa Island (Maldives)
If staying in an over-water villa is on your bucket list, the Maldives is the place to indulge your fantasy.
Cocoa Island is one of the few Maldivian islands where all of the accommodation is over water. There are only 33 suites in total with a handful of them modelled to look like traditional Maldives fishing boats. Every suite has an inviting terrace that leads directly to the turquoise water.
You’ll come to appreciate this direct access to the clear waters as the snorkeling is fantastic. There is a fabulous undersea drop-off which you can swim to from your terrace and follow for dozens of metres. You’ll feel like you’re snorkelling inside a National Geographic documentary.
Bunny thinks that Cocoa Island perfectly captures the best of the Maldives. It is small, intimate and luxurious but not in a flashy way. You have the feeling that you are on your own gorgeous, private island.
Everything is beautiful and effortlessly so. The island itself, the beaches, the facilities, the suites… It is all well-designed, uncomplicated and harmonious.
And to top it all, Cocoa Island has fantastic food! It is difficult to grasp that such sophisticated, fresh and healthy cuisine can exist on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Geodesic Dome: EcoCamp Patagonia (Chile)
Patagonia is a true wilderness destination with striking landscapes: jagged mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, endless plains with expansive skies, azure glaciers, raging rivers… Patagonia has it all.
Exploring this magnificent region in comfort was a challenge Bunny faced when she visited last year. She is not one to camp and suffer the elements, no matter how much she enjoys hiking. Luckily, she found Eco Camp Patagonia inside Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.
This Eco Camp provides accommodation in the world's first geodesic hotel room domes. It is environmentally-friendly and luxurious at the same time! Bunny had a great view of the famous Torres directly from her bed. How’s that for a great Patagonian experience?
Eco Camp Patagonia is located deep inside the National Park so embarking on some of the iconic hikes, such as the Base of the Towers trek, is easy as they start directly from the camp. And you’ll be back in your comfortable, warm dome by dusk, enjoying hot showers, great dinners and delicious Chilean red wine after your hiking efforts.
Cloud Forrest Hideaway: El Silencio (Costa Rica)
Bunny is a great advocate of the concept of silence. There is no better sound than no sound at all. And the best silence is definitely found in gorgeous, remote and exotic locations.
The aptly-named El Silencio is one of those places. It is a secluded eco lodge located in a pristine cloud forest reserve in Costa Rica. It is flanked by two national parks and has gorgeous views of the misty mountains all around it. The tranquility, excellent organic cuisine and fresh air are the main draws here.
Nature has the starring role but the all-suite hotel is not exactly modest either. The beautiful rooms have lovely patios with rocking chairs, outdoor private jacuzzis and super comfortable beds. The views of the mountains and the rivers from the patio are beautiful.
For the more active, there’s zip-lining, rappelling, horseback riding, waterfall hiking and cooking lessons on offer. As for Bunny, she was mostly just happy to sit on the patio, admiring the view with a cup of excellent Costa Rican coffee in her paw.
Ultimate “Sofa Safari": Jamala Madikwe (South Africa)
Jamala Madikwe is a stunning safari lodge located in the lesser known Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. It is small and intimate, limited to five perfect villas.
The villas offer all imaginable luxury ranging from private plunge pools to beautiful free-standing bathtubs (Bunny’s weakness) and inviting four poster beds. Each villa’s expansive wooden deck has an outdoor shower and a direct view to the savannah. One time, a herd of elephants marched by while Bunny was doing yoga on her patio…
There is a waterhole right next to Jamala Madikwe so you can experience something they call a “sofa safari”. There is a constant procession of wildlife, from zebras to elephants - even the occasional rhino - you can observe from the comfort of a number of soft, cushy padded chairs on the deck, complete with a cocktail in hand should you wish.
The twice-a-day full-fledged safari outings bring you the chance of spotting the famous big five. And Jamala rangers are professional and friendly, always ready to answer your wildlife questions.
The evenings are filled with romantic dinners under the stars, with exquisite food, excellent wines and impeccable service. Once you get back to your villa, you just might have a hot bath waiting for you, with rose pedals strewn around to complete the perfect ambience.
No detail is too small for the excellent staff at Jamala Madikwe to overlook, Bunny says.
Cave Hotel in Matera: Sextantio le Grotte Della Civita (Italy)
Sextantio le Grotte Della Civita is cave-dwelling taken to another level. It is a restored ancient cave complex, transformed into a stunning boutique hotel in the middle of the atmospheric cave town of Matera in southern Italy.
It is a small hotel, with 18 unique cave rooms, a reception and a rock church that serves as the breakfast room. The complex’s stone walls are meticulously preserved and the stone floors have luxurious under-floor heating. The furniture is lovely with a rustic flare, and the rooms are lit by handmade candles. An indulgent freestanding bathtub in the middle of the room crowns the setting.
When Bunny first opened the door to her cave room, she had one of those wow moments that she always yearns for on her travels. It is amazing enough to be able to stay in a real cave room, but to do so in the luxury and comfort offered by Sextantio le Grotte Della Civita, is a real treat indeed.
It certainly does not hurt that the cave is located in Italy, one of Bunny’s all-time favourite countries in the world!
Exclusivity Among Waterfalls: Belmond Hotel das Cataratas (Brazil)
As a guest of this remarkable hotel, you have exclusive access to the Iguazu Falls before and after the park’s official opening times. It is a wonderful perk. You can go on early morning walks to the falls, with the rising sun and colourful butterflies as your only companions.
Afterwards you can enjoy a sumptuous al fresco breakfast and spend the hottest time of the day lazing by the hotel’s gorgeous pool, with a cocktail in one paw and a book in the other. In the afternoon, once the crowds at the falls start to disperse, you can venture back out.
After closing time for the general public, the falls are even better. The hordes of tourists are gone and it is just you (and a handful of other hotel guests) on the trail where you can linger until the sun goes down. You don’t want to stay out after dark though, as jaguars occasionally make an appearance.
Back at the hotel, refreshing pre-dinner drinks, the fragrant garden, a lovely spa and excellent dinners await you after a memorable day.
Open-Air Villa to the Sea: Villa Paraiso (Dominican Republic)
Bunny was totally blown away by the beauty, hospitality and tranquility of Villa Paraiso in Las Galeras, Dominican Republic. Some places just ooze peace and harmony, and Villa Paraiso is such a place.
The natural setting of the villa is stunning, affording breathtaking views to Samana Bay. The rooms and common spaces alike are beautifully decorated with exquisite pieces of furniture, gathered from all over the world, and adorned with nature-inspired artwork.
There are only six rooms; Bunny’s was the amazing Africa room. It is almost completely open to the sea, with 120 degrees of its walls replaced with retractable canvas shades. You can lie in the comfy bed and stare out over the sea during the day and gaze up at the stars at night.
In addition, the villa has a lovely common area with an infinity pool, a small jacuzzi and a manmade “beach area” with a hammock and a bar. Breakfasts are served in the common area and are absolutely delicious (and abundant).
On request, the resident Italian chef is also happy to prepare tasty, indulgent Italian dinners. If you’re lucky, the setting for your al fresco candle-light dinner will be a private corner in the lovely garden…
Glamping in the Sahara: Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp (Morocco)
Bunny loved glamping among imposing dunes at the magnificent Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp in Morocco. The camp is located literally in the middle of nowhere in the vast and mysterious Saharan desert.
It has all the trappings of a lovely oasis in the middle of the desert. There is the soothing silence and the beauty of the endlessly shifting sand, lavish tents, excellent food, tasty local wine and amazing star-gazing by the outdoor fire.
Your tent is opulent, with plush carpets, traditional furniture, a comfortable double bed and a bathroom complete with flush toilet. Hot water bottles and heaters inside the tent help you ward off the chilly winter nights while the days are filled with gorgeous, warm sunshine.
You can sit atop of the sand dunes for ages, admiring the endless desert and absorbing the profound silence around you. Afterwards, comfy cushions by the open pit fire in the middle of the camp beckon, so that you can take in the seemingly endless number of stars in the clear night sky.
It is a marvellous feeling to experience the authentic remoteness of the Sahara in such luxury and comfort, Bunny says.
Bunny’s Bucket List
Bunny is lucky to have experienced some of the most remarkable hotels in the world but she hasn’t quite done it all yet. There are a couple of bucket list travel items she intends to cross off in the near future.
One of them is staying in an open-air treehouse on the African savannah. She has set her eyes on a couple of incredible tree house options in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve next to the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
If you’d like to read about Bunny experiencing a safari tree house adventure, please feel free to send her about 10,000 USD. That should be just enough for a couple of nights there. Any currency will do. Thanks in advance!