“After a five-hour flight to Tanzania and a wonderfully exhilarating (yet slightly hair-raising) private plane to Songo Songo, we found ourselves in a speedboat, cutting through the turquoise waters. A deserted island gradually emerged into view – our next honeymoon home. Apart from the very discreet staff, we were the only people on this peaceful outpost – there are just six bandas, or lodges, and five of those were unoccupied at the time. The lodges themselves are open-air, with an eco-chic design – an abundance of shells in the bathroom with fishing nets hung as shelves. By day, we luxuriated in the sun and explored our kingdom. It’s teeming with colourful exotic birds and shoals of fish that swim right up to the shore. And by night, we lay on the sand and watched the stars come out as we drank boozy cocktails. The food is fresh and all bespoke – don’t be shy, ask for exactly what you fancy, and they’ll prepare it. We enjoyed the succulent fish dishes, all cooked with a Tanzanian flair using plenty of intriguing African spices.”
Top 2. Nihiwatu, Sumba, Indonesia
Bali may be known as the Island of the gods, but just a short flight away lies a hidden sparkling gem as close to an other-worldly paradise as it gets. Sumba is the kind of island that you didn’t think still existed; in fact, you’ll feel like you’ve dropped off the map. Snuggled deep into its heart is the unspoilt haven of Nihiwatu, which was built originally as a surf mecca in the ’80s and has evolved into an exclusive eco-resort. Each of its 21 villas is blissfully isolated and hand-built by local craftsmen in Sumbanese style, but we know what you’re thinking: show us the luxe factor!
Top 3. Omni Hotel, Dallas
If you’re planning a US road trip for your holiday-of-a-lifetime, make a pit stop in this funky city. Slap-bang in the middle of all the action, the giant Omni Hotel is the best base you could ask for: vast rooms with stunning skyline views, a fab rooftop pool area and a vibrant American sports bar.For dinner, don’t go anywhere else but the famous Gas Monkey Bar ‘N’ Grill – the ribs will be the size of your head – before catching a movie at the local drive-in. Then it’s back to Omni for another raucous rooftop party…
Top 4. Sofitel Singapore
Perhaps best described as Chanel chic relocated to 21st-century south-east Asia, the world’s first hotel by the hand of Karl Lagerfeld (with help from French interior designer Isabelle Miaja) opened at the end of 2014, mixing high fashion with a daring dose of fun. The delicate, musky aroma of the hotel’s signature scent transports you to a world away from this city-centre setting. Its interiors blend French opulence and Singaporean touches – the octagonal amenities boxes in the marble bathrooms (containing complimentary vials of eau de Urban Forest) are a nod to feng shui, while Napoleon’s portrait graces the 134 guest rooms.
Top 5. Maafushivau, Maldives
Just setting foot on this heavenly island, with its pure sand and blue, blue waters, brings a immediate sense of calm. Everything you need for a hot honeymoon is here. You’ll find one of the most stunning natural reefs that you’re ever likely to see, great for whiling away hours snorkelling among brightly coloured fish, turtles and (harmless!) sharks. If you ever tire of the sea, lounge by the fibre-optic-lit infinity pool (below left) while sipping on a tropical cocktail. For some inner peace, visit the spa – a wooden haven on its own jetty.
Top 6. Anantara, Phuket, Thailand
Far enough from the sequined slipper shops and ping-pong party pads of Phuket town to feel tranquil and tucked-away, this space has oodles of spots to chill out and flop. The private beach is a real joy – in fact, it’s probably one of the last beaches on the island that is still splendidly quiet – and there’s also the infinity pool to laze by, the day beds to doze on, or silk cushions to relax on.
Top 7. Como Maalifushi, Maldives
Como’s stripped-back decor adds to the castaway feel – think swathes of bleached wood, wafting linens and white pebbles. With Como Shambhala menus available in both restaurants, dishes are low-fat, low-sugar, low-carb and packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Best of all, thanks to Maalifushi’s far-flung location in the southernmost Thaa Atoll, there’s none of the visual pollution (barges, cranes, cruise ships) found at resorts closer to the capital. It’s just you, the ocean and the sky…
Top 8. Dormy House, Cotswolds, England
It came as no surprise to us that mere minutes after we left this rural retreat, it was voted Best Spa Hotel at the Mr & Mrs Smith Awards in 2014. From the outside, though, Dormy House doesn’t give anything away – there’s no in-your-face wow factor here. This is understated luxury, from its unassuming position on a quiet country lane to the incredibly laidback staff, the charm creeps up on you in a spectacularly subtle way. The spa itself is a conundrum; yes, it is large and sprawled over several floors, but it still cunningly manages to retain a cocoon-like feeling.
Top 9. Kichwa Tembo, Masai Mara, South Africa
Even in a country known for its super-swish safaris, Kichwa Tembo takes things up a level. This isolated camp on the edge of the north-western Masai Mara has 40 permanent ‘tents’, each with an en suite bathroom, private veranda, and a double bed covered in the softest cotton. Morning hot chocolate is delivered by your butler, followed by a cooked breakfast on the Mara plains, then hours of wildlife-spotting: rhino, lions, cheetahs – you’ll see them all. Come between July and October and you’ll witness the spectacular Great Migration. The sight of millions of wildebeest and zebra picking their way across this vast space is awe-inspiring.
Top 10. Jamtara Wilderness Camp, India
If tigers are on your honeymoon must-see list, you’ll need to head to Asia, and this camp in India’s Pench National Park is the perfect base. Tiger sightings are frequent on its game drives – but it’s what Jamtara does in-between that put it on the 2015 Condé Nast Traveller Hot List. Take nature walks (chirpy guide Avijit Dutta is excellent), cook local dishes under a 200-year-old banyan tree, sample village life, or chill out in one of a dozen tents. And this is the only safari lodge in India with ‘star beds’. Cosy-up beneath a duvet on a raised platform to a soundtrack of crickets, with monkeys signalling the presence of leopards below.
Top 11. Museum Hotel, Cappadocia, Turkey
What could be more romantic than sleeping in a fairy chimney? No idea what it is, but like the sound of it? Turkey’s otherworldly region of Cappadocia is covered with ancient rock formations, hollowed out as far back as Roman times and made into stunning houses and temples.
Top 12. Schloss Elmau, Germany
It’s not every day that you can say you slept in the same bed as Barack Obama, but if you book into the newly opened five-star Schloss Elmau Retreat, 60 miles south of Munich, there’s every chance you’ll be cosying up in the same suite used by Mr Pres during this year’s G7.
Top 13. The Edition Hotel, London
With the grown-up pleasures of Berners Tavern, the Punch Room bar and Basement nightclub to hand at this super-slick London hotel, you might ask why on earth you’d want the kids in tow. But that would be to underestimate the five-star fun they can have. For starters, you’ll be checked into an extra-spacious loft suite with a complimentary connecting room, so there’s no sitting on the bed in silence as you wait for tired eyes to drop shut. Of course, getting them into bed is much easier when it’s a tent in the shape of a Tube station with its very own tunnel to crawl through! (They do get a proper bed, too, but we’re guessing the tent will win every time.) Then there are the extra treats waiting for you all: warm milk and freshly baked cookies for them, juices and posh crisps for you. The rooms are sumptuous, and the hotel is full of unusual artworks and oddities to keep little minds occupied while you relax after a day exploring the buzzing capital. The icing on the cake? The Cereal Killer cocktail at Berners Street Tavern – it’s made with Coco Pops chocolate milk.