Holidays for Couples Holidays for Couples Apr-Sep 2017 - Page 25

cool hotels // wanderlust AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT… Quirky accommodation from around the world Hotel Marqués De Riscal, Elciego, Spain The architect who turned around the fortunes of the city of Bilbao with his spectacular Guggenheim Museum has designed only one hotel, and this unorthodox beauty is it. A shining titanium- roofed creation set amongst the vineyards of Rioja, the Hotel Marqués de Riscal simultaneously stands out and meshes with the landscape, its sinuous silver and pink ribbon shapes reminiscent of the flow of wine from a bottle. Wake up in lush countryside to a view of vines stretching into the distance, wine and dine in the excellent Michelin-starred restaurant or take time out in the spa, where treatments include vinotherapy, using the essence of grapes to soothe and nourish the skin. If you want to discover European wines, there’s no better place to start than here in Rioja. The Hobbit Motel, Woodlyn Park, Waitomo, New Zealand You don ‘ t have to have giant hairy feet to stay here, but it helps. Come sleep in the Shire, less than an hour from the ‘real‘ Hobbiton movie set, where Peter Jackson filmed the domestic scenes with Bilbo Baggins. Here, just two minutes from the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, these cosy Hobbit-inspired rooms are built into the earth, with little round windows, and everything has been created from recycled and natural materials just like Bilbo‘s joint. The Beermoth, Inverness- shire, Scotland
 Perched on a hillside on the Inshriach Estate on the fringes of Cairngorm National Park, this ruggedly handsome old 1950s fire truck has been fashioned with love into a cosy little love-nest for two. In a previous incarnation it served as a booze truck at music festivals, hence the name, but these days the canvas-sided vehicle has a log-burning stove, oak parquet flooring rescued from a Tudor mansion, and a big vintage brass bed. With fine views and fresh Highland air by the lungful, this is a genuinely oddball weekend stay for nature lovers looking for something a little bit different. And as a happy bonus, there‘s a gin distillery nearby, too. Cheers. Palacio de Sal, Uyuni, Bolivia Set on the vast salt flats of Salar de Uyuni, the Palacio de Sal (the Salt Palace) is constructed entirely from blocks of salt, bound and sealed with salt water. That goes for the interiors too, where all the furniture is also created from solid salt. Sound a tad uncomfortable? You couldn’t be more wrong, the rooms are very comfortable and well appointed. This is a mystical, otherworldly landscape that looks like a frozen waste, but in actual fact is a desert of salt crystals interrupted by the occasional rump of island covered in cactus. The legacy of a prehistoric lake, once a year it is covered in a thin layer of water, turning it into a large surreal mirror where land and sky are joined unbroken. Best of all, Palacio de Sal is remote and devoid of light pollution, so at night there are clear views of a thousand stars flung across the inky sky. And apparently, there are pink flamingos, too. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Palacio de Sal is the first salt hotel in the world. Udang House, Bali, Indonesia
 A stay at the Udang (meaning shrimp) House, near Ubud, is your chance to sleep in a unique room built above a natural pond with a glass floor. Part of the impressive eco-luxe Bambu Indah Estate, the tempered glass-bottomed suite reveals an underwater tableau of pond life that is spectacularly illuminated at night. The private verandah has views over the Sayan Valley and is the perfect spot to spend languid afternoons enjoying the cool breeze and the sounds of tumbling water. At night, guests can gather under a magical Bali moon and marvel at myriad stars twinkling above. Old shrimp pots converted into lamps are a nice Balinese touch, adding to the old-world fishing village atmosphere. 23