The Cool Hotel List

The Cool Hotel List

There's more to travel than seeing the sights and meeting the locals – the best hotels in the world make staying in a worthwhile venture. For a unique (if sometimes costly) experience, Siân Hickson presents our definitive list of the world's five coolest hotels, from Egypt’s eco-friendly Adrère Amellal to New York boho hangout The Jane.

Adrère Amellal

Siwa, Egypt

Built on the shores of the Dead Sea in the style of an ancient Berber village, and using only mud, sea salt and palm logs in its construction, a venture to this remote ecolodge in the wilds of the Siwan desert is like a voyage to another planet. The hotel is run entirely without electricity – food is prepared over fires and served outdoors by the side of the oasis, and guests sleep in simple white rooms lit by oil lamps and candles. Explorers adore it, Prince Charles gave it the royal thumbs-up; this is the place for phenomenal stargazing and a glorious escape from the modern world.

From £345 per night, food included
Contact 18 Mansour Mohamed St, Zamalek 11211, Cairo, 00 02 2736 787

The Portobello Hotel

Perched right on the doorstep of Notting Hill is this temple to the soul of swinging London. The Georgian doll’s house front opens to reveal a boutique treasure trove of quintessentially English style, with escritoires, four-posters and William Morris wallpaper taking their place alongside extravagantly-tented Moroccan-inspired decadence and the superbly quirky Victorian bathing machine. The Portobello has played host to the cream of London’s lotus-eaters, including Johnny Depp and Kate Moss, who apparently took their champagne bath in one of the enormous antique tubs. The kind of place where half-written novels lie strewn under the velvet chaise-longue.

Rooms from £150–£500 per night, breakfast included.
The Portobello Hotel, 22 Stanley Gardens, London, W11 2NG, 020 7727 2777

Neemrana Fort-Palace

Rajasthan, India
Cut into the hillside of the Aravalli mountains, the Neemrana is built on the ruins of a forgotten kingdom, in this case that of a 15th century warrior prince. The rambling complex combines the ornate splendour of the Raj with the fairytale glitz of Bollywood, with fairy lights adorning its pink stone walls and candlelit turquoise pools appearing under archways. The rock amphitheatre gives breathtaking views across the lush valley setting, and visitors can choose between a broad range of accommodation, from the Milkmaid’s Palace at a modest £26 per night right up to the six-sleeper Place of the Gods at £236. The hotel boasts free yoga, a flying fox ride and organised games of musical chairs among its attractions, and there’s no arguing with that.

Rooms from £26 per night, breakfast included
Neemrana Fort-Palace, Neemrana, District Alwar 301705, Rajasthan, 01494 246006

Rocking J’s

Puerto Vieijo, Costa Rica
Describing itself as ‘the only pimp hammock hotel in Costa Rica’, Rocking J’s is one dude’s dream made flesh. They don’t come more laid-back than this beachside hangout – decked out in bright fabrics, bamboo, driftwood and coloured glass, this hipster’s paradise is an organically-evolving construction, with guests invited to contribute their own mosaics to the expanding design. Accommodation ranges from a simple hammock slung between the palms to a bijou spot in J’s Palace, with its brilliant showers hand-fashioned from conch shells and panoramic views over the Caribbean to be had with your breakfast as you sample some of Costa Rica’s finest coffees.

Hammocks £3 per night, J’s Palace £210 (sleeps six)
Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo de Limon, Costa Rica, 00 506 2 750 0657

The Jane

New York
This bohemian harbourside haunt is done out in the style of a 1940s railway train, and has provided a unique berth for many a weary traveller. A visit to the Jane is a foray into a world of bell-hops, bedbugs and the strange creatures of the night that make up the hotel’s coterie of permanent residents. It’s designed for the single traveller, with the lack of individual cabin space intended to encourage hallway hangouts, and one of the city’s more popular nightspots is directly underneath in the lobby. A spicy slice of New York kitsch for way under top dollar.

From $99 (£62) per night
113 Jane St, New York, NY 10014. 001 212 924 6700


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