The Hip Hotel Guide

From Turkey to Mexico and South Africa, check out these 'grammable hot spots!
The Hip Hotel Guide
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CosmoBy Cosmo -

They’re boutique and beautiful, with the most ’Grammable breakfasts around. We’ve found the best places to lay your head, wherever you’re jetting off to… Here's our list:

Club Marvy, Izmir, Turkey

What makes it hip?

Basically everything. From the stone-washed Scandi-meets-folksy interiors in every room and the pristine white boulevard of boutique shops in the centre of the resort, to its by-the-sea spa rooms and the exceptional fresh local food served up at every single one of its six restaurants: Marvy is one of the best-looking all-inclusives you will find anywhere in the world. Its cliff-top infinity pool provides instant Insta-collateral. There’s a picturesque and highly romantic restaurant, Degirmen, perched on top of Kesre Bay (the hotel occupies not one but two separate stretches of beach), serving up incredible breakfast and farmhouse-style dinners using products from the local organic farm. There’s bespoke fitness in the open-air, sea-view studio and weekly campfire parties on the adults-only Boho Beach. Need we go on?

Who goes?

Loved-up couples, chic families, old friends, ageing hippies, local artists and TV stars, and influencers in search of the perfect #sunset shot… Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s an all-inclusive. Marvy attracts a boujie, bohemian crowd, all draped in linen kaftans and floppy sun hats. Impossibly good-looking staff will ferry you around in cream golf buggies, while waiters in navy shorts will memorise your order so you don’t even need to worry about lifting your head from your lounger to order. This place isn’t just a hotel – it’s a culture and a way of living, so be prepared to drop

your shoulders the minute you walk through the doors and not stop smiling until you leave.

Don’t miss…

Dinner on the jetty at Iskele Meyhane, where you’ll feast on local fish and wine while a guitarist gently serenades you, accompanied by the lapping of the ocean. During the day, book a sailing lesson with local ex-pro Hakan Güler, who’ll teach you the basics (or just let you lap up the rays and the coastline views) in the hotel’s own boat. Or, try a pre-dinner shopping trip to Munuk’s Workshop, an Istanbul-based jeweller with a dangerously beautiful outpost in this very hotel. Oh, and lastly, stock up on local black mulberry Club Marvy jam and olive oil from the resort shop. You’ll also want to put the hotel’s boho-esque fringed towels in your bag. Don’t. Buy them from the shop, too. PS: There’s also a huge water park, which is free for guests to use. At first, you’ll sneer at this as too unhip to go near, but by day three you’ll be hooked and, yes actually, the sheer nostalgia of it does make it peak hip – thanks for asking. 

Get here
Rates from Dhs670 per night, based on two sharing, full-board;Clubmarvy.com

SALT of Palmar, Mauritius

What makes it hip?

Situated on an impossibly turquoise corner of coastline in the dreamy Belle Mare region, this new, sustainably focused small resort is hot on preserving the environment AND the flourishing Mauritian community. Locals inform every part of the guest experience, from farming the organic produce for the kitchen to providing the musical entertainment in the evenings and guiding snorkelling tours. The unique interiors, designed by artist Camille Walala, feature graphic black and white stripes punctuated by the bright colours of the national flag. Salt is perfectly nestled on the east coast of Mauritius’s main island, with a palm-studded white beach on one side, and idyllic natural pools on the other. Fresh bread is baked daily in the Salt bakery, extraordinary mango turmeric smoothie bowls are served for breakfast and there’s a minibar of local teas and coffees in each room. No detail is forgotten here. 

Who goes?
Musicians, the social-media elite, sun-lovers, globe-trotters and enlightened travellers of all ages. Want to blend in? The gift shop stocks a great selection of ecological swimwear (including Alicia Swim, made with Econyl recycled nylon) and locally made printed cotton clothing by Mauritian brand Ankara. Plus, each room comes equipped with rattan flip-flops and brightly coloured beach bags woven from recycled plastic, so you can instantly look the part.

Don’t miss…
Halotherapy in the glowing spa room made of salt. Also, all the included activities, like stand-up paddle-boarding, weaving with local artisans, and morning sun salutations on the beach. Or take a bike ride to explore the local villages and markets of Belle Mare. Try the Wake Me At 7am drink on the rooftop bar just before sunset and watch the colours of the sky explode. Don’t leave without trying the vegan tacos (or, actually, any of the dishes freshly made using ingredients from Salt’s organic farm). Found a dish you love? The kitchen offers cooking classes for certain recipes. And be sure to fill up your reusable water bottle, provided for guests throughout their stay, with filtered chilled water. Salt discourages the use of single-use plastics, and even uses refillable ceramic jars for its natural bath products.

Get here
From Dhs8,845, including accommodation for seven nights in a garden room for two adults and return flights with Emirates airlines; Saltresorts.com

HOTEL DE RUSSIE, Rome

What makes it hip?

Location, location, location. This iconic building, in the heart of Rome, is the briefest stroll from the Spanish Steps and two of the city’s most buzzing squares. If atmosphere, a plush place to lay your head (and feet) after a hard day treading the cobbled streets in search of pasta and gelato, and a subterranean spa complete with a giant low-lit Jacuzzi is your thing (and why wouldn’t it be?), there is no better place to stay. The rooms are decadent, most with unparalleled views over the terracotta rooftops of the Eternal City. It also serves probably the best breakfast in town. Crisp, white tablecloths laden with, local cheese, bread and oh… the pastries.

Don’t miss…

The courtyard. In the centre of the horseshoe-shaped building sits a beautiful sheltered space that elevates aperativo hour (or morning coffee) to a thing of beauty. Grab a spritz and people-watch until night falls, when you can hit the town, knowing you’re never more than a stone’s throw from that luxury bed…

Get here
From Dhs2,713 (+VAT) per room per night based on two sharing with breakfast; Roccofortehotels.com

Public Hotel, New York

What makes it hip?

The question should be what isn’t hip about this place? It’s in the Lower East Side (hip), was designed by NYC hotel god Ian Schrager (hip) and has a rooftop bar with 360˚ views (SO hip). Public’s mantra is “luxury for all”, which is apparent in Every. Single. Detail – from the staff who greet you like a long-lost friend and the Insta-worthy arrival escalators to the minimally cool interiors. Floor-to-ceiling windows turn your room into a massive lightbox and are vast enough to satisfy even the most ardent exhibitionist. Beds are built into a kind of floating box, which gives the feeling of being suspended above Manhattan, while blackout blinds that descend at the touch of a button are guaranteed to provide a great night’s sleep (or afternoon’s, depending on the jetlag). A downstairs café (that’s also a bar) gives the place a home-from-home feel, with an amazing selection of healthy ready-made food and snacks that you can pop down and help yourself to. More cash to splash? Treat yourself to a meal at Public Kitchen, legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s shiny restaurant, where things like soy-garlic-marinated steak are on the menu.

Don’t miss…

The shop. This isn’t any hotel shop. It stocks Le Labo and DS & Durga perfume and candles – classy gifts so you can bypass the Toblerones at the airport. The hotel is also famous for its brunch, so if you’ve got friends in town, or have just made some new ones, invite them round to yours.

Get here
Rooms from Dhs706 per night; Publichotels.com. Flights from Dhs1,595; Norwegian.com

The Saxon, Johannesburg, South Africa

What makes it hip?

Well, for starters it’s where celebrities make a beeline for when they’re in Johannesburg – and we’re talking A+ rather than D-list: Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber and Bill Clinton. But more impressive is that this is where Nelson Mandela used to check in when he wanted some solitude (it’s set in acres of sprawling gardens), and where he finished his worldwide best-selling memoir Long Walk To Freedom. You can even stay in the Nelson Mandela suite, which has a king-size bed, guest room and butler’s kitchen. The rest of the rooms make your average five-star look shoddy, particularly the villas linked to the main hotel by a futuristic skywalk. Also pushing Saxon into the hip zone are its dining options: Qunu is a relaxed, inventive restaurant with living walls and a terrace for alfresco dining. As well as African-inspired dishes, such as springbok and oxtail, beans and samp (dried corn), there’s also a tempting vegan menu.

Who goes?

This place is made for people-watching. Put on your Céline shades (or, er, Zara) and take lunch at The Terrace (overlooking the hotel’s swimming pool), so you can gawk freely at loved-up holiday couples, groups of stylish Jo’burgers catching up over a bottle of wine, African businessmen in suits and shades clinching a deal, and the occasional politician or movie star, too. 

Don’t miss…

Visiting its sister hotel, the Shambala Private Game Reserve. Just a two-and-a-half-hour transfer from the city (or 45-minute helicopter flight) and you’re in 10,000 hectares of savannah in Limpopo, with the Waterberg mountains as a backdrop, a glass of bubbly in hand and giraffes munching on trees. Stay for the night (there are eight luxe-yet-rustic cottages with thatched roofs and circular bedrooms) and you’ll be woken super-early, just as the sun turns the sky pink, for a safari drive where, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot lions, leopards and elephants. Take a sunset cruise on the Douw Steyn Dam to see hippos and crocodiles and have a go at fishing, too. Back at base, there’s just time for a dip in the pool and a massage in the enchanting spa (you can hear birdsong from your bed) before dining on sizzling game served straight from the grill in a traditional wood-fenced, open-air circular “boma”, lit by candles and a bonfire. Combined, the Saxon and Shambala = trip of a lifetime.

Get here
The Saxon Hotel Villas & Spa, from Dhs2,017 per night; Saxon.co.za Shambala Private Game Reserve, from Dhs3,205 per night; Shambalaprivategamereserve.co.za Flights from Dhs2,930; Britishairways.com

CASA MALCA, Tulum, Mexico

What makes it hip?

Feel like so far you’ve spent your summer looking at sun-drenched photos of chintzy sofas artily placed on white sand, or velvet-covered chairs suspended in mid-air, or antique faded rugs against stone so bleached it looks filtered? Well, you were probably looking at the Instagram travel phenomenon that is Casa Malca. Located at one of the furthest points on Tulum’s buzzing beach strip, this hotel was famously drug baron Pablo Escobar’s private residence – and you can see why. Gorgeous and secluded, with a unique atmosphere of calm and mischief, it’s the perfect fusion of stark, industrial-style buildings with period furniture and classic Mexican hospitality. Recline on a day bed facing the aquamarine sea, or pose on the rooftop bar and eat breakfast as pelicans swoop for fish in front of your eyes.

Who Goes?

Pink-chino-wearing, sun-hat-sporting, string-bikini-flashing, moneyed jet-setters from across the globe. This part of Tulum can feel like everyone in the Hamptons got on a plane and set up camp, but really, just embrace it. These people like to party – and this is the perfect place for it. If you’re lucky, you might even get to crash a wedding, as Casa Malca plays host to a lot of them. Watch as the atrium is transformed with flowers and the beach fills with young, beautiful people in various shades of pastel linen. Yoga and wellness is also big in this part of the world (there are loads of places to drop in and take a class all along the beachside strip that Casa Malca is at the top of), so get in touch with your “spiritual” side and get involved.

Don’t Miss…

The opportunity to drink margaritas whenever it’s socially permissible (which, it turns out, is actually quite a lot of the time). Breakfast at Casa Malca is also something to behold. Forget everything you think you know about Mexican food back home, and relish the punch and colour of real huevos rancheros, eggs nestled in green and red salsa, home-made bitesize banana muffins and pancakes laden with tropical fruit. The sushi at the beach restaurant might set you back a month’s rent but… we reckon it’s worth it. Oh, and do not be ashamed about posing on the iconic pink sofa in the atrium. Everyone does. And it’s 100 per cent worth it to get that shot.

Get here
From around Dhs2,260 per night per room, plus tax, including breakfast; Casamalca.com

HECKFIELD PLACE, Hampshire

What makes it hip?

There are few hipper places on the planet right now than this Georgian pile, cosseted in 400 acres of Hampshire bucolia. (This is, after all, where Meghan and Harry spent their babymoon.) With only 45 rooms it feels more like staying with a very grand family friend than in a hotel, with beaming staff and flowers from the garden bursting out of china jugs. The food here is overseen by the fashion crowd’s favourite chef, Skye Gyngell, who has taken great pains to ensure as many ingredients as possible come from Heckfield’s vast biodynamic farm. In fact, “thinking local” is a mantra here, with beauty products inspired by the estate’s arboretum in the bedrooms and locally produced glassware on the table at dinner. What local doesn’t mean, however, is bypassing luxury. From the crisp linen on the beds (not to mention home-baked cookies at bedtime) to the opulent surrounds of the private screening room, Heckfield has raised the bar as to what “luxury” truly means. Earthy yet refined, and socially conscious without skimping on creature comforts, Heckfield is a new classic in the making.

Don’t miss...

Dinner at the Marle restaurant and a tour of the farm. And while the Little Bothy spa is still small – an infinity pool is scheduled for later this year – it’s perfectly formed with five treatment rooms delivering sublime massages. 

Get here
From Dhs1,604 per room, per night, including breakfast; Heckfieldplace.com

SWEETS HOTEL, Amsterdam

What makes it hip?

This place is entirely different from anywhere you’ve ever stayed in. Forget lobbies, staff, reception desks… this “hotel” is a set of converted canal-side bridge-controllers’ houses spread across Amsterdam – you pick the one you want, let yourself in with the help of an app and then have the run of it all to yourself. Historically they’re where workers would raise and lower bridges with the touch of a button, but they became redundant last year when the system digitised. The houses have been modernised with the help of some of the city’s hottest architects, retaining original features (like the old bridge-control desk) but adding comforts like huge beds and sound systems.

Don’t miss…

There may not be room service, but you can get breakfast delivered, which you can tuck into in bed while enjoying the panoramic views (most of the bridge houses have floor-to-ceiling windows). Feeling fancy? Book to stay at Amstelschutsluis, which is only reachable by boat. A captain will sail you back and forth to the shore, recommending the best places to go while they’re at it.

Get here
From around Dhs642 per night; Sweetshotel.amsterdam