Where to stay: our autumn/winter edit

Places

Where to stay: our autumn/winter edit

Motown touring, ape-spotting, Grecian skiing, Swiss spa-ing… What we'll be up to and where we'll be staying before the year is out

Team Smith

BY Team Smith9 September 2022

Autumn, fall, back-to-school, spooky season, the time when everyone’s mental moodboard is basically just stills from When Harry Met Sally – however you refer to this time of year, it’s one that serves as an idyllic backdrop to all kinds of travel.

So this seasonal selection of brand new, just launched, and coming-soon hotels covers all bases: cosy-as-a-cardigan countryside escapes, wildlife-rich jungle perches, cultured city crashpads, snowy ski lodges with a twist, and plenty of rays of sunshine in places where spring is just springing. It’s an autumn/winter collection worth bookmarking if we say so ourselves…

RWANDA

Jungle view from bedroom at One&Only Gorilla's Nest, Rwanda | Mr & Mrs Smith

If you’ve been pondering your bucket list of late, you’re going to need to revisit it to make sure it includes Rwanda. This tiny landlocked east African state is one of the only places on the planet where you can spot mountain gorillas, and there are plenty of those in the mists of One&One Only Gorilla’s Nest, a primate-seekers’ paradise near the northern city of Ruhengeri.

Your great-ape adventure can continue at sister site One&Only Nyungwe House – a four-and-a-half-hour drive south, near the shores of Lake Kivu – where shy and retiring chimpanzees can be sought out on treks into one of the oldest forests in Africa.

GREECE

Alpine view from Grand Forest Metsovo, Greece | Mr & Mrs Smith

Skiing? In Greece? Certainly, thanks to Grand Forest Metsovo, a high-altitude lodge on the slopes of the Pindus mountains. The amphitheatrical design blends seamlessly with the tumbledown mountain setting, and allows for uninterrupted views of the mountainscape.

Spend the day parallel turning in a pine-strewn, pin-drop-quiet winter wonderland, before retiring to the restaurant for handmade gnocchi cooked with local gruyere, mushrooms and truffles. There’s plenty of native wildlife to spot too – soaring golden eagles, brown bears, Balkan chamois – plus glassy lakes, rushing waterfalls and deep canyons, if you visit before the first snowfall.

OMAN

Sunset by the pool at Alila Hinu Bay, Oman | Mr & Mrs Smith

For all those seeking empty expanses of Earth, Oman is the desert state for you and after a whole lot of nothing (genuinely known as ‘the Empty Quarter’), you’ll eventually get to Hinu Bay and its Alila outpost. Autumn arrivals will have just missed the Khareef monsoons, but that’s probably a good thing for residents of rainier climes. The hotel has a bumper-size beach, a lagoon and two saltwater pools (that are definitely not a mirage).

Head north into said Empty Quarter to channel Wilfred Thesiger or Lawrence of Arabia; to the south is the Arabian Sea, on which you can set sail on a dhow in search of dolphins. You’ll also be able to give yourself an early present of some frankincense, harvested from one of the region’s hundreds of resin-giving trees.

ICELAND

Hafrahlið from above, Iceland | Mr & Mrs Smith

Everyone knows Iceland is a must in winter and, this year, our compasses are pointing us a little further north to the lesser-known Westfjörds region. Hidden among the blustery hills of Kroksfjardharnes, you’ll find Hafrahlið – a contemporary Scandi-style villa juxtaposed by the fjörds’ flourishing fields and craggy coastlines. While the cold-blooded among us may be happier admiring the scenes from this homely hideaway’s signature fire-side spot, there is plenty of nature to get up close and personal with just yards from your sea-facing timbered terrace.

COLOMBIA

Terrace at Click Clack Hotel Medellin, Colombia | Mr & Mrs Smith

Known as the City of Eternal Spring, Medellín – Colombia’s up-and-coming creative core – is therefore just the place to leave the winter winds behind. Based in the vibrant Provenza neighbourhood, Click Clack Hotel Medellín is certainly no exception to the artistic rejuvenation of this once notoriously risky city.

With its black-steeled structure and patented biophilic design, Click Clack offers a casually cool blend of upmarket minimalism and humble hospitality without compromising on the city’s colourful culture and Boterismo roots. Don’t miss out on the Alumbrados Navideños, Medellín’s kaleidoscopic Christmas lights that illuminate the city throughout December.

DORDOGNE AND ÎLE DE RÉ

Swimming pool at Le Domaine de Sirius, Dordogne, France | Mr & Mrs Smith

Anyone who has questioned their order of ‘cow milk’ lately can flirt with a vegan lifestyle at Le Domaine de Sirius in the Dordogne, a holistic B&B with an owner who is all about passion, not preaching. She’ll give you a plant-based taster that may just inspire you to change some of your ways back home – but also point you in the direction of good old-fashioned French meat and cheese at the Purple Périgord’s fanciest restaurants.

Further south, the August crowds will soon have dissipated from idyllic Île de Ré, but the last of the summer sun is still there to be caught by any willing bivalve and bicycle fans who should chart a course for private, peaceful Villa Clarisse in Saint-Martin-de Ré, or Hôtel de Toiras, right by the port.

COSTA RICA AND GUATEMALA

Full disclosure: at this time of year the weather does move from just-right sun to dampening rains as you shift from Caribbean to Pacific coasts; but there’s much to boost moods. Hotel Aguas Claras sizzles with colour and lets you indulge your inner sloth by the jungly pool (there’s, curiously, a Wes Anderson-inspired eatery too). Hinterland stay Hacienda AltaGracia might be in all-action terrain, but its collaboration with NYC lifestyle group the Well means you’ll rigorously restore every aspect of your being – praise be to Pachamama, who you can see in full flow at Puntarenas’ Lapa Rios Lodge, an eco escape whose Earth-kind credentials transcend over those expected in this clued-in country. While Ocio Villas’ two lavish private properties are what you’d get if The Jungle Book’s Mowgli made it rain.

And, while you’re in the Americas’ cinched waist, why not stop by Guatemala to explore the city of Antigua’s heritage wonders from grand colonial Villa Bokéh or bunker down in Casa Palopó by Lake Atitlán, which in native Nahuatl means ‘the place where the rainbow gets its colours’ and where you’ll certainly feel more vivid.

EDINBURGH

Aye, Edinburgh, how you delight in autumn – even when it’s dreich. Rest up on the hem of the Old Town at Market Street Hotel, a design-led take on a Scottish baronial fort that blends Scandi interiors with the ‘brutal beauty’ (their words, not ours) of Scotland’s cobble-stoned city. An obligatory smattering of tartan is set against angular windows, weathered walls and traditional sliding shutters. Head to the seventh-floor bar for a view of the city – and if the weather isn’t playing ball? Well, frankly my dears, they give good drams.

SOUTH AFRICA

Table Mountain view from the pool at One&Only Cape Town, South Africa | Mr & Mrs Smith

If the only Zoom you’ve experienced recently is that of a dour video call, then it’s time to fix that; and where better to get back on the road than South Africa. Kick off at One&Only Cape Town set by the V&A Waterfront on two private islands; here you’ll want for nothing, with a ridiculously large spa, wine loft with 5,000 bottles, kids’ club, Nobu outpost and even an art gallery. Then, round Table Mountain – or climb if you wish – to Future Found Sanctuary, in biodiverse terrain amid peach trees and pines, with both hi-tech and high-spec rooms (contained in two stilted villas), wellbeing coaches and leafy pools, harvest tables and yet more wonderful wines.

Onwards to Franschoek, where, in an Edenic spot of koppies (hills), fynbos, peaks and gardens, you’ll come to 7 Koppies Farm. Owned by a couple with a cache of design cred between them, it’s homey and cosy, yet ready for its close-up, within orbit of some of SA’s most Michelin-recognised restaurants. And, then retreat to Sterrekopje Farm, a holistic hideout where your time is spent looking inwards – and also grooming horses, baking breads, foraging, shaping pottery and generally shedding an old skin. Giving the end of your trip a fresh start.

CORNWALL

Exterior, Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall | Mr & Mrs Smith

Oh, we do love Cornwall in the summer. It’s just that, annoyingly, so does everyone else – sometimes you can’t find a quiet spot to eat a pasty without a literal bunfight. But blissful autumnal isolation can be found if you’re willing to head inland a bit to the idyllic Coombeshead Farm, a rural retreat in ancient woodland.

There might be a bit less call for sunscreen and a bit more call for the farm’s wellies and wax jackets, but you’ll get the winsome West Country landscape all to yourself, with maybe a few cows and chickens for company. After your exertions, there’s a cosy reading room to curl up in, an impressive zero-kilometre menu in the restaurant and homemade spirits in the honesty bar.

IRELAND

Bedroom at Cashel Palace, Ireland | Mr & Mrs Smith

Come autumn, the Golden Vale – a stretch of fertile farmland which part lies in County Tipperary – becomes a vale of many colours; a whole spice rack’s worth of reds and yellows, deepening greens and, yes, flashes of gold. Of course, having winsome mediaeval castles and heritage villages with thatched roofs and fêtes doesn’t hurt, and the Cashel Palace hotel is uniquely positioned to show you the best of all: specifically, at the foot of the Rock of Cashel, the county’s most iconic monument.

Having once hosted the likes of Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor, the hotel has been restored to grandeur. Now, money-no-object opulent and dashingly romantic it’s a rarefied seat from which to try the Vale’s harvest bounties, delve into its equine tradition (after all the owners are immensely successful thoroughbred breeders), and eschew a pot of gold for a whole landscape full.

THE ALPS

Armancette Hotel in the snow, the Alps | Mr & Mrs Smith

Where else can you ‘winter’ quite as quintessentially as in the Alps? And whether your idea of a holiday is pointing your skis down eye-wateringly angular pistes or sipping vin chaud under a blanket, we’ve a smattering of elevated new stays to pique your interest. First is the Armancette Hotel, Chalets and Spa which you’ll find in a former bakery in a quiet hamlet in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Storybook adorable, yes, but there’s nothing provincial about the facilities on offer: a spa with an indoor-outdoor heated pool, balconied bedrooms and a timbered restaurant that puts the ‘haute’ in Haute-Savoie.

There’s also a new-ish name to know in St Moritz, the unspeakably glamorous Swiss resort beloved by James Bond and Brigitte Bardot. The La Margna hotel has been a lakeside landmark since 1906 but languished in recent decades – now, thanks to a gazillion-dollar glow-up (don’t quote us on the number), the Art Nouveau address will reign again as the Grace La Margna St Moritz. And, if you like your hotels as fresh as your powder, then the Six Senses Crans-Montana, opening this December, is the spa-toting, valley-viewing, ski-in, ski-out Swiss wellness haven for you.

SOUTHERN ITALY

Bedroom key detail, Palazzo Presta, Italy | Mr & Mrs Smith

While the northern plains of Italia’s fair land freeze over, you can be sure that those in the south will be donning their speedos way into November. And while we’re not suggesting you rush out to stock up on tight-fitting togs, we are suggesting you join them – albeit in something a little more, ahem, comfortable. We’ve got two Puglian palazzos on our winter wishlist; first up, Gallipoli’s Palazzo Presta, a 17th-century pied-à-terre at the foot of Purità beach where the owner’s maximalist antique collection trots guests giddily round the globe, and you know what? It works.

Next, Salento’s adults-only sanctuary, I Tre Bacilli, has everything you need for a ravishingly rustic autumnal stay, including a charming courtyard pool where you’ll find lemon trees peeking over dry stone walls to say ciao. Finally, we’re hopping over to the boot’s volcanic southern belle where not even the rowdiest of Etna’s rumbles succeeds in spoiling Zash Country’s old-school romance and citrus-fenced zen.

UPSTATE NEW YORK

Bathtub view from Urban Cowboy Catskills, Upstate New York | Mr & Mrs Smith

Upstate and sweater weather go together like marshmallow and graham crackers – and we’ve plenty of places perfect for s’mores and explores. The Inns of Aurora for one, which, despite the fantastical name, is rooted in the pursuit of facts: it was once the home of the founder of The New York Times. Its five storied Cayuga Lake-side houses come with a supplement of three restaurants working wonders with local produce.

If you’d prefer no news at all on your escape, Urban Cowboy Lodge Catskills is proudly reception-free. Cellphone, that is; you’ll get a welcome as warm as a wood-burner at this upscaled mountain lodge. For other natural highs, a mere 90 minutes outside the city, there’s Auberge’s Wildflower Farms: 140 acres of organic-as-it-gets indulgence with forest trails galore and and an awing spa dedicated to ‘rewilding the human spirit’.

MIAMI

Outdoor terrace at Life House South of Fifth, Miami | Mr & Mrs Smith

We’re going to Miami and there’s a frenzy brewing in Coconut Grove’s historic hamlet, where the iconic Mayfair House is enjoying a new groove; its bodacious Gaudi-inspired facade is firmly intact, but it’s swapped out its rooms for perky, colour-popping suites. And it doesn’t stop there; they’ve added a tropical garden grill dishing out Sonoran snacks, a rooftop pool and an accompanying Calypso bar where that cane-sugar rush will help you forget that winter’s coming at all.

Meanwhile, the surf’s still up along SoFi’s storied shores where Life House South of Fifth is the latest in the group’s line-up of ‘contextual’ hotels. Inside this tropical Tudor cottage you’ll find the hood’s most stylish spindrifters lounging on mix-n-match mid-century pieces, grazing on plant-forward fare or kicking back in the lush laneway where mellow beats and two-top tables bring a hint of Aussie café culture to the edge of the Atlantic.

DETROIT

Lounge table at the Siren hotel, Detroit, US | Mr & Mrs Smith

Alert: the Siren is our first hotel in Detroit – and it’s on Broadway Street, which is fitting, because it’s nothing if not theatrical. It took up residence in the 1923 Wurlitzer Building, a towering Renaissance Revival building where pianos, organs and jukeboxes were once made.

Hoteliers Ash NYC (they of Hôtel Peter and Paul prowess) saved it from decay, restored it to its boom-days glory and then just kept on glamourising. The final result is a bold and bright riot of velvet, tassels, chandeliers and Motown antiques. It’s got soul too, with community-minded locals involved with the hotel’s record store, barbershop and restaurant.

URUGUAY

Pool at Luz Culinary Wine Lodge, Uruguay | Mr & Mrs Smith

Understated Uruguay is just the place for a sun-soaked road-trip – South America’s second-smallest country has excellent roads, little traffic and the likes of Luz Culinary Wine Lodge as a pit-stop – a nature-first hotel among the pines and vines of bohemian José Ignacio.

‘Rustic’ and ‘charming’ are true of both the town (butter-soft sand dunes, eccentric cafés and ocean-side seafood shacks) and the lodge, with its single-storey vermilion-red posada sitting pretty among 35 acres of vineyards, olive groves and lagunas. Also in town is family-run Posada Ayana, open November through March every year. Uruguayan design, art and natural light take centre stage (James Turrell’s sky-spying permanent installation, Ta Khut, is worth the trip alone), with much of the restored vintage furniture sourced from nearby Montevideo and Punta del Este.

THE CARIBBEAN

‘Tis the season all year round in St Barts – just ask Mr and Mrs Carter, who count themselves among a veritable litany of migrating celebs regularly making the pilgrimage to the Caribbean Côte d’Azur to see the year out. If a glimpse of Leo Di Caprio getting all Wolf of Wall Street on his private yacht isn’t enough to tempt you, let us put forward another reason.

Rosewood Le Guanahani is an 18-acre idyll of pastel clapboard cottages, private beaches, lush tropical gardens and splash-happy poolsides from which to top up your tan while the northern hemisphere freezes over. Get a head start on January’s reinvigorated self-care routine at Senses spa while the kids are kept busy with cooking lessons, crafts and guided treasure hunts. Speaking of which, though the island may have a reputation for glitzy hedonism and frivolous frills, Le Guanahani, with its focus on earthier luxuries – taking a dip among a dole of baby turtles, say, or watching the sun set over a glistening lagoon – knows that the real treasure of this handsome holm is precisely the island itself.

INDONESIA

Suite with plunge pool at Desa Hay, Indonesia | Mr & Mrs Smith

Ok, so, perhaps the Eat, Pray, Love hordes made seeking spiritual succour in Indonesia seem a touch gauche, but we’re here to make it cool again. Even the most modern of tropical-island retreats has an authentic soul. Take Canggu’s Desa Hay, which serves slick eco cabins tucked into jungle where all rooms are blessed by local priests and dignitaries. Or the Asa Maia, a little further south in Uluwatu, which reclaimed traditional wooden Javanese homes to use as suites. Laser-focused on wellness, it doesn’t just have a tricked-out spa, but also serves an exclusively vegan and pescatarian menu.

And, if you hop along the string of isles from Bali to lesser-trodden Sumba, you’ll find Cap Karoso on its wilder east coast, which went the extra mile in cultural immersion. Before a stone could be laid, the owners had to seek benediction from the native Marapu’s ancestral spirits in a riotous ceremony. Not just lip service, native crafts are heavily integrated into the building, alongside work by contemporary makers throughout Indonesia; shamans informed spa treatments (carried out in replica uma mbatangu dwellings); and they hire underprivileged locals as staff and train them on their onsite farm too.

QUEENSLAND

Treetop dining at Silky Oaks Lodge, Queensland, Australia | Mr & Mrs Smith

Just as Europeans don their knitwear, Queenslanders start stripping down to their board shorts and bikinis. But, before you pack that snorkel, this isn’t a day at the beach – in fact, we’re averting our eyes from the Sunshine Coast to look inland at the sultry heat of the Daintree Rainforest and the mighty behemoths of the Blackall Range (and the dinky creative hub Maleny it shelters). Silky Oaks Lodge sits amid primeval trees and shaded billabongs, with all the ASMR the jungle’s creatures and daily motions provide. There’s tropical dining and native spa treatments, with some very groomed wooden lodges to snooze in.

And just northwest of Brisbane, Maleny Lodge (a grand turn-of-the-century house restored to its vintage glamour) opens up adventures to the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Glasshouse Mountains, and Maleny and Noosa national parks, as well as the local artsy community. So, say ‘goodbye Sunshine’ and choose Queensland’s equally clement yet much wilder interior.

Now explore all our new arrivals (although there’s plenty to keep you going here) 

Compiled by Hannah Dace, Martin Dickie, Stephanie Gavan, Emilie Hall, Caroline Lewis, Richard MacKichan, Ellie Nelson, Hamish Roy and Kate Weir