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World boutique hotel awards: World's sexiest bedroom and best pool with a view

The Independent logo The Independent 13-01-2017 Sarah Jappy, Mr & Mrs Smith

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Hotels: just for sleeping in? Not quite. The fourth annual Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards proved that, at the world’s best hotels, sleep is often furthest from guests’ minds. This time, the 12 award categories included four new contenders (Hottest Hotel Soundtrack, Coolest Creative Hub, Best Date-Night Bar and Local Hotel Hero). Expert judges including Lauren Laverne, Henry Holland and cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro assisted the boutique hotel experts in their decision-making.

Loosen your collar for the World’s Sexiest Bedroom, work up a hunger for Best Gourmet Getaway and unwind with help from the Most Spoiling Spa. When it came to the big one – Best Smith Hotel 2016 – we let Joe Public decide. Here's a full list of the winners. 

1. Best Smith Hotel 2016
Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach, Australia

Tip: time your poolside sunbathing right, and Halcyon House’s chef might serve you gelato from a vintage ice-cream truck while you’re lounging. Halcyon House – a bohemian beachfront hangout born from a faded surf motel – left a sweet taste in the mouth of the 25,000 voters who voted it Best Smith Hotel 2016 (not bad, given it opened in 2015). Wheel around Cabarita Beach on Halcyon’s retro bikes (or go full throttle in an on-loan Audi).

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2. Best-Dressed Hotel

Palazzo Margherita, Basilicata, Italy

Francis Ford Coppola: good at moving pictures; good at dressing hotels, too. His Baroque bolthole in Basilicata is as dapper as Vito Corleone on his wedding day, thanks to ravishing salvaged furnishings – including the Palazzo’s original, 19th-century chandelier and a vintage bar from Turin – and walls dressed in retro Le Manach fabric. Suite 4, designed by Francis’s daughter Sofia, is particularly come-hither: picture pastel-shaded frescoes, chevron floor tiles, lacy wall friezes and a small garden-spying terrace.

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3. World’s Sexiest Bedroom
Keemala, Phuket, Thailand

Is that the sound of knickers dropping and buttons popping? Keemala induces swift disrobing via its lofty pool villas, which come in various madcap guises: birds’ nests, seedpods, thatched hobbit holes… Each one is a cocoon of woven wood, with a glass wall overlooking lush rainforest, rugged mountains and the glittering Andaman Sea. Pulse-quickening extras include the four-poster bed, al fresco bath tub and private lap pool. Feathers, optional.

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4. Best Date-Night Bar
The London Edition, London, United Kingdom

Pleased as punch? You will be at Punch Room, the London Edition’s bookings-only bar: an oak-panelled space that riffs on 19th-century gentlemen’s clubs and aristocratic uncle’s libraries. There are 10 punches to pick from, including a gin-infused number with jasmine tea and oak moss; your host will ladle up your chosen poison with suitable theatrics. 

5. Best Gourmet Getaway
The Old Clare, Sydney, Australia

Clare is a clever old thing, having lassoed not one but two world-class chefs to add sparkle to her kitchens: Brit talent Jason Atherton (of Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social) and home-grown star Clayton Wells (ex-sous-chef at Momofuku Seiōbo). At Automata, Wells’ five-course tasting menus star dishes that over-deliver on their concise billing: a starter of “fermented cherry, black garlic and capers”, for example. At Kensington St Social, Atherton rustles up typically accomplished Med sharing plates in an industrial-style setting.

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6. Most Spoiling Spa
Amanemu, Ise-Shima National Park, Japan

A hotel that has hot-springs water coursing through its veins is bound to leave you feeling squeaky clean; Amanemu doesn’t disappoint. Built around onsen (hot springs) in the emerald-and-azure Ise-Shima National Park, Amanemu’s vast (2,000 sq m and counting) water-inspired spa boasts two private onsen pavilions, a watsu pool and four suites. Treatments champion the nutrient-rich, salt-infused water – renowned for fixing joint and muscle pain and healing cuts – and salt from Ago Bay.

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7. Hottest Hotel Soundtrack
Fazenda Nova Country House, Algarve, Portugal

It’s pretty hard to improve on rural Portuguese perfection – orchards, herb gardens, olive trees, saltwater pool and a 19th-century farmhouse, say – but Fazenda Nova has an additional weapon up its linen sleeve. Playlists come courtesy of co-owner Hallie’s cooler-than-thou dad, who founded Smash Hits, The Face and Arena, and edited NME. He has helpfully endowed the hotel with a heaving, genre-spanning vinyl collection for guests to play; the hotel also operates a liberal “Hey, this would be cool” policy during the day.

8. Pool with a View
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy

Walking on water is a reality, not a biblical miracle, at Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s Water-on-Water pool – set on a lake, with a beach just a trident’s throw away. Eye-wateringly beautiful Lake Como views are par for the course here: behold Bellagio’s green-and-blue splendour. 

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9. Above & Beyond
Awasi, Patagonia, Chile

Outside Awasi, all is wild and untamed; inside, it’s all sheepskin, wool and wood-burning stoves. You can even look forward to arriving at the local airport, since obliging hotel staff will meet you and whisk you away in a chauffeur-driven vehicle to a luxury secluded cabin. Forget guidebooks – you’ll get a private guide to show you the less-known side of Chile’s breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park, Lake Sarmiento and the lush lowlands. Fact: Awasi is the only hotel in South America that includes a 4WD and guide with each room.

10. Best Family Hotel

Treehotel, Norrbotten County, Sweden

Treehotel could provide proof of an extraterrestrial encounter: its sleeping quarters are six intergalactic treehouses, including a UFO (yes, really). Then there’s the bonkers Bird’s Nest, covered in fallen branches and twigs, as if a bald eagle noticed a gap in the market for avian luxury dwellings and took matters into their own wings. 

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11. Coolest Creative Hub
Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Broaden horizons (geographical and intellectual) at remote Fogo Island Inn, which occupies a stark-to-the-point-of-apocalyptic landscape that would suit a Georgia O’Keeffe canvas. Fogo has channelled the dynamism of its setting for its minimalist white-and-glass interiors; the perfect foil to those awe-inspiring views (best enjoyed with your in-room binoculars). The island’s culture has been shaped by local fishermen, boat builders and artists; soak it up in the contemporary art gallery and the library stocked with tomes on Newfoundland.

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12. Local Hotel Hero

11 Howard, New York, United States

It takes a generosity of spirit to hand your hotel’s façade over to a bunch of art students – albeit art students acting under the guidance of Jeffrey ‘Jeff’ Koons. 11 Howard did exactly that, persuading Koons to commandeer a squad of local students into designing the hotel’s swirling, blue-and-white south-wall mural. The art trip continues inside: admire Alexander Calder’s 1976 Untitled mobile in the lobby; Hiroshi Sugimoto’s prints in co-working space the Library. Go exploring, New Yoik-style, on Howard’s Boosted electric skateboards.

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