Beyond the lobby: 6 of the world's most amazing hotels

From underground tunnels to breakfast with giraffes - these are the most astonishing retreats across the globe.

Most of us don't have the budget to stay in five-star luxury on our holidays.

So on new Lifestyle show Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti take us inside some of the most luxurious and exclusive retreats.

They travel the globe to seek out accommodation most of us could only dream of staying in, revealing some majorly impressive numbers along the way.

Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby starts August 3 at 8:30pm on Lifestyle.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

One of the world's biggest hotels, Singapore's Marina Bay Sands cost over $6 billion to build. This epic property caters for one million guests every year, and was created as part of a government plan to triple tourist income to Singapore within ten years.

The jewel in its crown is the longest elevated infinity pool in the world, the size of three Olympic swimming pools, with a team of butlers led by an ex-Singapore special forces officer looking after every guest's needs.

Hotel by numbers: 

  • There's a 9,500-strong workforce.
  • Tens of thousands of towels cleaned per day.
  • 600-strong catering team servicing 60 restaurants, ranging from Brazilian, Chinese and French to Japanese.
  • 20-square-kilometre car park.
  • Eight-course tasting menu offered for 1,400 dinner guests each night.

Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador 

Head to the Andean Cloud Forest of Ecuador and you'll find Mashpi Lodge, a $12 million modernist hotel featuring an extraordinary gondola cable car that transports guests one mile through the jungle canopy at a dizzying height.

The hotel was built by a former mayor of capital Quito on the site of what was once a logging station; 70 per cent of its staff are locals who used to be loggers or hunters but are now proud conservationists.

Guests staying in this gloriously remote accommodation are surrounded by one of the last remaining biodiversity hotspots on the planet. They can also try a unique local delicacy - guinea pig.

Hotel by numbers: 

  • The hotel is perched 900m above sea level.
  • Mould is the hotel's main 'enemy' thanks to 90 per cent humidity in the area.
  • The hotel's resident biologist has captured species the area has not seen for 30 years on camera.
  • This pioneering eco-tourism is saving thousands of species.

Giraffe Manor, Kenya

The clue is in the name - Giraffe Manor is a unique hotel where giraffes, staff and guests all coexist in a 1930s Scottish-style hunting lodge on the edge of Nairobi National Park.

It is the operational headquarters of Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley, fourth-generation Kenyans who also own three satellite luxury lodges and camps throughout Kenya and east Africa's wilderness.

At Giraffe Manor they serve an awe-inspiring breakfast like no other, as giraffes join guests in the hotel dining room.

Hotel by numbers

  • Sasaan Lodge, a remote but luxurious outpost of the hotel, sits on a six-acre plot set within 82,000 acres of land owned by Samburu tribespeople.
  • The Samburu are the hotel's landlords, receiving a fee for every guest that stays, and the hotel offers local people employment - up to 75 per cent of the hotel's staff are Samburu.

Royal Mansour, Morocco

This is one of the world's most discreet hotels, hidden deep in the heart of Marrakech's ancient Medina.

In stark contrast to the developing country it inhabits, the 'jewel of the city' was built with a limitless budget by royal decree to showcase the kingdom to world leaders and to billionaire and celebrity guests.

Its network of luxurious riads, built by the nation's finest artisans, are kitted out with suede and silk carpets, extravagant chandeliers and open fireplaces lit by personal butlers.

The hotel prides itself on its incredible attention to detail, creating an absolutely flawless guest experience.

Hotel by numbers:

  • There are 350 pairs of curtains at Royal Mansour, and each set must be caressed by hand to create the most perfect pleats.
  • The hotel has 1km of underground tunnels, which ensure absolute discretion and allow every whim to be fulfilled as if by magic.
  • The hotel has a fleet of ten luxury cars, including a custom-built Bentley worth 60 times more than a year's wages for many Moroccans.

Fogo Island Inn, Canada 

The warm embrace of the Fogo Island Inn sits on a rocky, sea-sprayed outpost of remote Fogo Island in Newfoundland.

White, angular and perched atop zig-zagged stilts like the local fishermen's houses, it pays homage to the European settlers that arrived from Ireland and Devon to fish cod - most islanders still have Irish or West Country accents.

Hotel by numbers:

  • Founder Zita Cobb realised her dream to build the hotel on her home island after becoming a multimillionaire tech exec.
  • Her family has lovingly folded its rich heritage into a unique retreat for guests, including celebrities, from all over the world.
  • Eighth-generation Newfoundlanders, sisters Cynthia and Lori, are the inn's housekeepers.

Icehotel, Sweden

The Icehotel sits in a magical world of snow, ice and inky blue and pink skies. A regular feature of bucket lists, the property is now in its 27th year.

Everything from drinking glasses to the hotel's reception desk is carved from ice, and the property is now open 365 days a year.

Hotel by numbers:

  • Icehotel is 200km north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden's Lapland.
  • The hotel serves delicacy reindeer meat supplied by Manne, an 82-year-old Sami whose family have been herding reindeer since the 17th century.
  • Temperatures can drop to as low as a minus 35 degrees outdoors and minus 5 degrees in guest bedroom.

Image by Asaf Kliger

Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby starts August 3 at 8:30pm on Lifestyle.


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