Smith Exclusive: 4 nights for the price of 3 for L600 Premier and up
We've hand-picked the very best boutique and luxury hotels in Asia to bring you our collection of stylish romantic retreats. Find your perfect hotel and get the low-down on holidays in Asia – just choose your destination from the list below…
Escape in eco-luxe style to Song Saa Private Island, an effortless rustic-chic spread of private-pool villas dotting pristine Koh Rong islands. Feast on spanking-fresh seafood, loll in the blissful spa; a cheeky dip in the secluded outdoor bath tub is an absolute must.
Knai Bang Chatt’s modernist villas are set on Kep’s simple but stylish seafront, boasting driftwood day-beds, a gulf-view pool and art deco styling. Lazy lunches and greedy dinners are taken at the Sailing Club, but for a castaway treat staff can organise a beachfront barbecue at nearby Rabbit Island.
Start in spick-and-span Singapore, a city known as much for its designer shops and scintillating street food as its superlative airport (yes, Changi really does have a rooftop pool, giant slide and butterfly garden). Hop across the Straits to Malacca, a little gem of shaded alleys, Portuguese ruins and inspired Nonya cuisine. The Petronas Towers dominate Kuala Lumpur (or KL as it’s affectionately known), a pulsing but laid-back metropolis with a pleasing café culture and serious shopping habit. Stock up on tea stops and cool air in the undulating Cameron Highlands, lose yourself in foodie-heaven Penang or relax in sultry Sabah, where you can climb majestic mountains, dive Sipadan’s turtle-rich waters or play with orang-utans.
Vietnam’s hinterland cradles ruins of old empires, captivating Unesco-listed sites and fertile terraces of verdant paddy-fields. River-straddling Hoi An charms with an intoxicating mix of 19th-century merchant houses, ancient temples and alluring stretches of sand. Ho Chi Min City is the South’s pulsing metropolis, replete with labyrinthine streets, boutique-lined boulevards and unbeatable eats. Slow the pace down on serene white sands – untouched and authentic Phan Thiet gets our vote – or commune with nature on out-of-the-way Con Dao; secluded beaches, lush green mountains and rare wildlife make this archipelago one of the country’s best kept secrets.
Hidden in the heart of beachside Seminyak, The Amala’s a holistic retreat of sleek thatched-roof pads, plunge pools and herb-infused showers. Balis’ finest wellness gurus are at hand to soothe and restore with yoga and water Pilates.
Ubud Hanging Gardens’ villas, spectacular infinity pool and Balinese spa hug the steep hillsides of the Ayung River. Thankfully, there’s a funicular for those after a truly languid retreat.
Ringed by eight cloud-shrouded volcanoes and lush jungle foliage, MesaStila’s antique-filled villas are set in hectares of lovingly tended gardens. Watch the sunrise at Borobudur before indulging in an authentic hammam and coffee-infused spa therapies.
Tucked away in an upscale corner of Kuala Lumpur, Villa Samadhi’s Thai-styled rooms are set around an inviting lagoon-shaped pool; ladders from ground-floor terraces allow guests to swim out from their rooms.
Tiny Tioman Island can only be reached by boat. Perched over the South China Sea, Japamala Resort’s luxury tree houses and cliff-clinging chalets are the ultimate back-to-nature retreat, with courtyard Jacuzzis, secluded sun decks and overwater day-beds.
Set on a peaceful lagoon, romantic Gayana Eco Resort in Sabah even has its own marine research centre. It’s just the place for overwater plunge-pool petal-strewn baths à deux, if you’re into that sort of thing. And, let’s face it, who isn’t?
Weird and whimsical, Wanderlust is a vivid dreamscape of a boutique hotel set in the heart of Singapore’s Little India. No two rooms are the same – expect 29 flights of fancy inspired by pop art, origami and childhood fantasies.
Beachfront Fusion Maia Resort has stylish lodgings and smart dining down pat. Set within tropical gardens, its day spa is the largest in Hoi An and, irresistibly, all pampering sessions are included in the rate.
An Lam Saigon River is a quiet sanctuary of leafy gardens, river-watching rooms and zingy Vietnamese food. Make your lantern-lit entrance at dusk; the boat can whoosh you back to central Ho Chi Minh City in just 15 minutes.
Rustic but undeniably luxurious, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay’s boulder-perched villas are set in a secluded crescent-shaped bay; dive, spa or simply laze at this dreamy eco-friendly Nha Trang getaway.
Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa spawls across three heavenly seafront hectares; expect angelic masseuses, vanilla-infused cocktails and endless white sands at beachy, off the radar Mui Ne.
You’ll never be far from sustenance in snack-loving Cambodia. Street food is king: on Phnom Penh’s rue Pasteur, try crispy nom pain pâté sandwiches or ansam (grilled sticky rice parcels stuffed with bananas or jackfruit). Kep’s cove-perched market shacks pack a culinary punch; Kimly's coconut-laced green-pepper crab, fresh from the sea, is the stuff of foodie daydreams. In Siem Reap, make like the locals and order plates of sticky lemongrass ribs in Nouveau Pho de Paris, or sample Cuisine Wat Damnak’s delectable Khmer tasting menu – Raymond Blanc is a fan. Whatever you do, don’t leave without getting a taste of The Blue Pumpkin’s salty-sweet caramel cashew nut ice-cream.
Fried, grilled, boiled or steamed: Indonesia’s food is rich, subtly spiced and delicately fragranced. Food carts gather at street corners, peddling moreish crispy chicken, hearty bakso meatball soup and all manners of nasi (rice) and mie (noodles). Bali’s a tempeh-and-tofu haven for detox junkies, but also offers star-worthy dining and masterful fusion dishes. Métis’ foie gras and sweet soufflé menus bookend memorable meals; call ahead for a paddy-field perch and a taste of Bebek Bengil’s smoked duck (+62 (0)361 975489). Don’t leave the island without sampling its two meatiest finger-licking roadside eats: Ibu Oka’s lemongrass-stuffed suckling pig (+62 (0)361 976435) and Naughty Nuri’s coal-grilled ribs, washed down with as many dirty martinis as required (+62 (0)361 977547).
Borrow a sarong and sash to gawp at sea-perched temple Pura Tanah Lot, or climb Borobudur’s nine platforms to its majestic crown of stupas. Uluwatu’s clifftop temple is an atmospheric sunset setting for the percussive kecak monkey dance; for a closer encounter with scrabbly-pawed macaques, stroll through Ubud’s Monkey Forest and keep a sharp eye on your belongings. The islands are peppered with active volcanoes, surfing waves, trekking jungles and diving sites teeming with everything from whale sharks to pygmy seahorses. When you tire of all the adrenalin-seeking, surrender to the siren call of Indonesia’s divine spas, where you’ll be poulticed and pampered to a blissful state.
Shopping is Singapore’s national pastime; savvy visitors avoid the glitz and glamour of Orchard Road in favour of its quirkier designer boutiques. Tucked in a Chinatown nook, World Savage stocks repurposed vintage togs and hand-made jewellery; Haji Lane is home to a string of fashion-forward boutiques and scandi-furniture store cum bespoke cocktail den Bar Stories. When you’ve had your fill of plastic-flashing, turn to the spiritual at intriguing Tamil festivals; in KL’s Batu Caves, Thaipusam is a colourful display of faith, endurance and penance. Singapore’s verdant new ‘supertrees’ dominate the skyline at Gardens by the Bay, but for the real thing head to Sepilok’s pocket of rainforest, home to an orang-utan sanctuary and rehabilitation centre.