In my opinion, hotel experiences should relax, inspire and transform you, and all of the properties mentioned here tick all three boxes.
There are a lot of good hotels out there, but this year is all about hotels that are worth getting the Nasal Swab for.
The ultimate in 'luxury' is in essence having the freedom to 'choose'. Don't want to be bound by those horrid things called 'shoes'? At Soneva Kiri, it's perfectly fine; in fact, they encourage you and provide you with a tote bag to keep your shoes in on arrival should you be that way inclined and you won't have to see them again until you leave. Let's face it, there is no better way to travel to a resort than on your own private plane - and yes, despite having thrown up in chorus with my daughter on the flight back, we both did it in the comfort of our own Cessna that we had all to ourselves. Totally cool!
Being embedded in nature with your own butler and creature comforts is a luxury life experience that everyone needs to try at least once if they have the opportunity. We all embrace nature differently; while some people like to do 'nature' in a tent, others prefer to do it with a touch of opulence and less ants. I love nature and want to be close to it and Soneva Kiri offers me the ability to experience it any which way I desire.
It is both soothing and intriguing to be amongst pretty things. The Slate offers what I would call an art museum experience. Apart from the interesting designs throughout the resort, The Slate offers a restaurant experience to guests that could only be described as 'dramatic'. You feel like you've been teleported into an ethereal, ancient world as you're pulled across a mist-laden pond on a raft into what feels like a mysterious 'forbidden city'. Yes, the food is worthy of having been pulled across the water through the jungle.
Despite not being 'right on' the beach, there is a gate that leads directly onto the beach. Honestly, I didn't need to wake up and see the ocean; waking up and seeing the gorgeous pool and surroundings of our pool-villa was even more breathtaking. The Slate Pool Villa touts a very large pool, big living room and even a private spa complete with steam room and sauna within your own villa compound. Sure, there are a lot of hotels that offer sea views but there aren't many that offer an in-villa spa experience and art experience to boot.
Bonus tip - their Sunday brunch is worth having a nose swab for.
Getting to Pimalai is an experience in itself - a plane ride, a car ride, and finally a boat ride makes it all worth it when you arrive. The experience I loved most about Pimalai is that you feel 'tiny' compared to the sheer size of the resort, trees and nature around you. Pimalai is more like a small community or a coastal village rather than a resort. While you can enjoy your privacy in your own villa, when you are out for breakfast or dinner at one of the resort's restaurants you will see other people that are a lot like you and you might even be surprised to find that on any given trip you may bump into people that you know. It's definitely 'that place' to get away to.
Pimalai Spa is amongst one of the best spa experiences you can have in SE Asia and it has awards to prove it. There's no music, rather the sound of birds and the rest of nature in all its glory. If you visit Pimalai during Thailand's 'cool season', I suggest staying in one of the hilltop villas as you won't need air-conditioning. You will be sleeping to the sounds of animals, a light wind and the sound of the ocean in the distance. It's a kind of experience that a lot of us don't get to enjoy everyday.
The Siam Hotel
The Siam Hotel is well-known amongst A-listers and that in itself is an experience.
"Can I book that room that David Beckham stayed in please?"
The Siam Hotel could be located anywhere on the planet and the experience wouldn't really change as it's such a fascinating property in itself. The owners are big collectors of art and antiques and as such, they have transformed The Siam into a mini-museum in itself. There are some pieces there that date back to the Ming Dynasty.
The design is one of the biggest highlights of the hotel; no room is designed the same. While The Siam is located in Bangkok, once you're in there, you wouldn't know that you are in the bustling city of Bangkok. How many times can you say that you are in Bangkok ... But not really? You're not bombarded with all things 'Thainess' as travellers in other parts of the city may experience. This is the ultimate private boutique hotel experience right in the heart of the big city.
These are our list of places that we have been to recently and feel that are worthy of revisiting even if it comes with a compulsory nasal swab requirement of which I'm definitely not a big fan. In my opinion, hotel experiences should relax, inspire and transform you, and all of the properties mentioned here tick all three boxes.