The lap of luxury: 10 top hotels in south-east Asia
It may be on the backpackers' trail, but there are plenty of plush stopovers for discerning travellers. Ian McCurrach picks the best
Sunday 20 June 2004
1 The Datai, Langkawi Island, Malaysia
1 The Datai, Langkawi Island, Malaysia
This natural resort is located within the depths of a centuries-old rainforest and set above a secluded cove. The state-of-the-art deluxe rooms and suites have views of either jungle or sea. A private white-sand beach is a five-minute walk away and features excellent watersports including scuba diving and reef fishing. There are several restaurants, lounge bars and a Mandara Spa.
2 Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Cambodia
This is a Raffles International Resort in Siem Reap, the cultural capital of Cambodia. It's set in vast tropical gardens just five miles from the famous temples of Angkor Wat. Recently refurbished, all rooms and suites feature Art Deco inspired furnishings and Cambodian objets d'art. The Amrita Spa offers a wide variety of treatments and services, and there are eight restaurants and bars to suit every taste.
3 Uma Ubud Bali
When Christina Ong opens a new Uma boutique property you know it's going to be hot. The doors open on 1 July, providing guests with what has been described as "a holistic cultural adventure in a sanctuary of style and elegance". Everything will be possible here from white-water rafting and volcano climbing through to temple visiting, open-air yoga and meditation. Terrace rooms, villas and suites have views across the lush Tjampuhan valley. Australian chef Chris Millar cooks contemporary fusion cuisine.
Getting there: Uma Ubud (00 62 361 972 448; www.uma.como.bz). Steppes East (01285 651010; www.steppeseast.co.uk) offers breaks from £1,070. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office still advises against travel to Indonesia, so check with your travel insurer that your policy will be valid.
4 Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand
Opened back in 1988, Amanpuri translates as "a place of peace" and shows no sign of losing its cachet. There are 40 pavilions scattered within a coconut plantation above Pansea beach. The stylised Thai temple complex has two restaurants and a bar for discerning diners, and torchlit barbecues at sundown are a feature between November and April. A freshwater swimming pool, private beach and fleet of sailing craft complete the picture.
5 The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
Housed in one of Singapore's most impressive colonial landmark buildings at the mouth of the Singapore River, the Fullerton was built in 1928 at the height of Palladian architecture in the city. It has at various times housed the General Post Office, The Exchange and The Singapore Club, but today it is home to 400 luxury rooms and suites, all offering Philippe Starck fittings and cutting-edge technology.
6 Ana Mandara, Vietnam
Set on a long expanse of white sandy beach in acres of tropical gardens in Nha Trang on the south-east coast, Ana Mandara blends rustic Vietnamese architecture with contemporary design. All rooms are furnished with native wood and rattan, and all benefit from private covered terraces. Continental and Vietnamese cuisine is by Jim Tawa; the watersports facilities are extensive and there's plenty of culture right on the doorstep.
7 The Empire, Brunei
Opulent in the extreme. Recognised as Brunei's best beachside property, The Empire is grand, spacious and luxurious. Even the bathrooms are hung with Swarkovski-designed crystal chandeliers. The leisure facilities are extensive. Tee off at the floodlit 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf course with views over the South China Sea or eat yourself silly in the five award-winning restaurants.
8 Amanpulo, The Philippines
Amanpulo sits on its own reef-encircled island amid the brilliant turquoise waters of the Sulu Sea. Forty luxury villas are set on a hillside, hidden in the trees or close to the beach. Each is a stylish blend of teak floors, pebble-washed walls and marble bathrooms. The clubhouse is the social centre with a terrace overlooking the expansive pool. Great for watersports. Fine dining is guaranteed.
9 Pansea, Luang Prabang, Laos
The Pansea is a Lao colonial-style resort with a peaceful atmosphere and breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, the Mekong River and the ancient royal city of Luang Prabang, with its dozens of temples and religious sites. Rooms have Lao furnishings and are set among lush gardens with palms, frangipani and bougainvillea. There's a great infinity pool and a restaurant serving European and Lao dishes.
10 The Metropolitan, Bangkok
A cool, contemporary boutique property combining modern Oriental style with award-winning cuisine, a holistic spa and Bangkok's chicest hotspot, The Met Bar. Guest rooms have both Eastern and Western influences, are hung with cutting-edge art, and each has its own yoga mat. Cy'an, the hotel's signature restaurant, leads the way in Bangkok gourmet cuisine and The Met Bar features "mixologists" creating bespoke martinis, while DJs spin sounds from around the world.
Getting there: The Metropolitan (00 66 2 625 3322; www.metropolitan.como.bz). Travelbag (0870 890 1458; www.travel bag.co.uk) offers breaks from £789.
All prices are per person, based on two sharing, for a seven-night b&b break, including return flights and transfers
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