Sophie Lam

Sophie Lam is deputy travel editor at The Independent. She joined the travel desk in 2004, having gained a taste for travel during a spell in Central America.

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Hotel Consolación Spain

The Big Six: Cool cubes

Hotel Consolacion, Teruel, Spain

Anderton House’s sitting room frames valley views

Stay the night: Anderton House, North Devon

Amid traditional thatched West Country cottages, Sophie Lam discovers an elegant Modernist homage to space and light

Natural selection: Areias do Seixo's modern exterior sits comfortably in its wild surroundings

24-hour Room Service: Areias do Seixo, Portugal

The name Areias do Seixo roughly translates as "pebble beach", and the property plays to its rugged, coastal location with a motif of purity and nature. But Areias do Seixo's curveball is that it is a modernist glass and concrete construction on a protected patch of Portugal's Costa de Prata ("silver coast"), between Lisbon and Porto.

The sky's the limit: Falaknuma Palace's grand façade

24-hour Room Service: Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad's heavenly palace shines again.

Verdant in Vietnam: Ana Mandara's spa

24-hour room service: Ana Mandara Hue, Vietnam

A vision of beauty on the coast of Vietnam

A star of stripes: A tiger in Madhya Pradesh

Welcome to the jungle: On the trail of India's tigers

Tiger tourism could soon be banned in the reserves of central India, but there's a fine line between leaving the animals in peace and safeguarding their survival

Mr and Mrs Smith's gift cards are redeemable against any of the collection's hotels, which start at £70 per night

Travel gifts: Upgrade your Christmas list

Globetrotting friends? Sophie Lam has the perfect presents

Concept Hotel Brussels
<p>The Concept Hotel challenges the idea that style and affordability rarely meet on a central city square. Poised on the edge of the Grand-Place, it impresses with elegant, vintage-inspired décor. Antique mirrors, distressed wood, muted colours, period detailing and curios combine for a refined but homely setting, all a short stroll from museums, shops and restaurants. The owners can also suggest the best places to visit.</p>
<p>Concept Hotel, 39 Grand-Place, Brussels (00 32 474 03 2470; www.concepthotel.be). Doubles start at €120, including breakfast.</p>

The Big Six: Belgian boutique hotels

Concept Hotel, Brussels

Sorrisniva Igloo, Norway: This vast single-structure igloo in Finnmark is constructed each winter. Inside, you’ll find an ice bar, ice chapel, intricate ice sculptures (tables, chairs, fireplaces), plus bedrooms where the temperature is a steady -4C to -7C. Snowmobiling and husky safaris are offered during the twilit winter days, while a heated restaurant and sauna are close by when the cold gets too much.
<p>Sorrisniva Igloo, Sorrisniva, Alta, Norway (00 47 784 33378; sorrisniva.no). Rates start at Nkr1,995 (£225) per person, including breakfast and transfers from Alta.</p>

The Big Six: Igloo stays

Sorrisniva Igloo, Norway

Pure poetry: The luxurious Dylan Thomas suite

24-Hour Room Service: The Dylan, Keizersgracht 384, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam isn't a shy and retiring type of city. The neon-lit windows of the red-light district are so in-your-face that you wander by with scarcely a second glance; the omnipresent tang from the coffee shops soon fades into familiarity. Even the elegant 17th-century merchant's houses that line the canals are so numerous that they start to look homogenous; you become blasé about their handsome good looks.

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