The Big Six: Luxury lakeside retreats

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Lake Placid Lodge, New York State

Built in 1882 by a wealthy German family, this lodge in the Adirondack Mountains became a hotel in 1946. After a fire in 2005, it was painstakingly restored, and now boasts 13 rustic-chic rooms in the main lodge, with 17 log cabins around the shores of Lake Placid. In winter, guests can ski terrain that has twice hosted the Winter Olympics (in 1932 and 1980); summer brings the chance to kayak, hike and swim.

Lake Placid Lodge, 144 Lodge Way, Lake Placid, New York, US (001 518 523 2700; lakeplacidlodge.com). Doubles start at US$434 (£289), including breakfast.

Blanket Bay, New Zealand

The sapphire-blue waters of Lake Wakatipu meet the majestic peaks of the Humboldt Mountains at Blanket Bay. Inside, the look is all soaring ceilings, exposed stone walls, polished wooden floors and floor-to-ceiling windows. But the main draw here is the great outdoors. Guests can stay local to hike, bike and horse-ride amid stunning scenery; or drive further afield to reach New Zealand's adventure capital, Queensland, in 45 minutes.

Blanket Bay, Queenstown Road, Glenorchy, Otago, New Zealand (00 64 3441 0115; blanketbay.com). Doubles start at NZ1,150 (£606), half board.

Ard na Sidhe, Ireland

Few views are as enchanting as those found at Ard na Sidhe, which means "hill of fairies" in Gaelic. Built in 1913 as a country retreat for the Irish aristocrat Lady Edith Gordon, it was completely renovated and reopened as a luxury lodge last year. Today, it remains one of the country's finest examples of the Arts and Crafts style. The handsome limestone mansion sits on the thickly wooded shores of Lake Caragh. Inside, the 18 bedrooms are a cosy fusion of old and new; some feature antiques that date back to Lady Gordon's era, alongside contemporary comforts for today's visitor.

Ard na Sidhe, Lake Caragh, Killorglin, Co Kerry, Ireland (00 353 66 976 9105; ardnasidhe.com). Doubles start at €160, including breakfast.

Las Balsas, Argentina

Sweeping views of Patagonia form the backdrop to Las Balsas. It has 12 rooms and three suites with a jetty that pierces the chilly waters of Nahuel Huapi Lake. There's a spa, gym and pool, plus a gourmet restaurant.

Las Balsas, Bahia Las Balsas, Villa La Angostura, Neuquén, Argentina (00 54 2944 49 4308; lasbalsas.com.ar). Doubles from US$479 (£320), including breakfast.

Villa d'Este, Italy

This landmark retreat on Lake Como has 152 opulent rooms spread between a 16th-century mansion and the adjoining Queen's Pavilion. It's set among celebrated gardens, planted with jasmine, oleander and magnolia trees. There's also an outdoor pool that appears to float on the lake.

Villa d'Este, via Regina 40, Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy (00 39 031 3481; villadeste.it). Doubles start at €430, including breakfast.

Nkwichi Lodge, Mozambique

This lodge overlooks the white sands and sparkling waters of Lake Niassa, with six chalets and two houses hand-built from local materials. Guests can explore the lake aboard Miss Nkwichi (the lodge's private dhow), or explore the surrounding wildlife reserve.

Nkwichi Lodge, Lake Niassa, Mozambique (020-3239 6253; mandawilderness.org). Doubles start at US$640 (£427), full board.

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