The 13 best exotic hotels in the world

MADELINE STONE
Last updated 05:00 24/10/2013

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Fodor's 2013 Hotel Awards  honour hotels in a variety of categories.

The travel guide's senior editorial team selects winning hotels from more than 4,000 nominations sent by contributors around the world.

The 13 resorts recognised as top Exotic Hideaways - defined as "destination hotels for a trip of a lifetime" - provide unparalleled service in incredible settings, giving their guests an unforgettable experience.

From Caribbean cliff-top dwellings to a lodge that puts a spin on the safari experience, this year's list offers a huge variety of options for travellers willing to splurge on their next luxurious getaway.

1. Aman Sveti Stefan

Location: Budva, Montenegro

This island complex is essentially its own medieval village. Nestled within defensive walls from the 15th century, its 50 rooms, suites, and cottages -- some of which served as a summer residence for Montenegrins in the 1930s -- are perfect for those looking for an escape back in time.

Spas, private pools, and a fine pebble beach sweeten the deal.

2. Ayana Resort and Spa

Location: Jimbaran, Bali

This cliff-top resort in the island's upscale Jimbaran Bay offers unforgettable views and a traditional Balinese experience. Rooms are decorated with local textiles and handicrafts, and the indoor/outdoor accommodations mirror those found in traditional homes.

With an award-winning spa, private beach, Kids Club, several swimming pools, and seven restaurants to choose from, you may never have to leave the property.

3. Casa San Agustin

Location: Cartagena, Colombia

Situated smack-dab in the middle of Cartagena's UNESCO-protected Old Town, this hotel is an ideal home base for exploring the white-washed, flower-filled streets for which the town is known.

Each of the 31 rooms has its own layout and view, some with private gardens or pools and others with exposed wooden beams, frescoes, and other original architectural details.

4. Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

Location: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

A five-star resort complete with gourmet dining options, flatscreen TVs, air conditioning, and an infinity pool, this safari lodge is a far cry from your typical tented safari experience. The lodge's 77 rooms combine features of the old Colonial style with local textiles. In addition to standard safari fare, guests can take part in atypical activities like hot air balloon rides and bush picnics.

Don't miss the breathtaking views of Serengeti National Park and wildlife gathering at the watering hole nearby.

5. The Governor's Residence

Location: Yangon, Myanmar

Hidden on a quiet backstreet in the Embassy Quarter of Yangon, the Governor's Residence offers a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

The peaceful pool and gardens and exceptional service at this colonial-style mansion make for a truly relaxing respite from sightseeing.

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6. Heure Bleue Palais

Location: Essaouira, Morocco

Though the decor in this guest house-turned luxury hotel may seem more Colonial than Moroccan, the amenities offered here are unparalleled. Guests can take a break from the sights to enjoy a movie in the in-house cinema or take a dip in the heated rooftop pool.

Moroccan-French cuisine cooked by an expert chef completes the experience.

7. Hotel Benesse House

Location: Naoshima, Japan

Located on an island where art blends seamlessly with nature, this minimalist hotel is almost a work of art in itself. Each of its four sections -- Museum, Oval, Park, and Beach -- has its own themed decor and stunning view of the Seto Inland Sea.

Rates include exclusive access to the Benesse Museum and its galleries.

8. Ladera

Location: Soufriere, St. Lucia

Spectacular views abound at Ladera, which is perched 1,100 feet above the Caribbean in between two volcanic outcroppings called the Pitons. Each unit has an open fourth wall, making it easy for guests to enjoy one-of-a-kind vistas from the privacy of their room.

Locally inspired furnishings and cuisine give the resort an air of sophistication and fun.

9. Palais Namaskar

Location: Marrakech, Morocco

The Palais Namaskar is an assortment of private rooms, suites, and villas set among 12 acres of lush gardens and ponds. The Feng Shui-inspired spa is a highlight.

For those adventurous enough to leave the palace-style property, the hotel's 'experience book' offers packages for treks in the Atlas Mountains and overnight camping trips in the desert.

10. Pirgos Mavromichali

Location: Limeni, Greece

This seaside fortified tower has belonged to the notable Mavromichalis family for centuries. Its 13 charming rooms, set within the tower and several clustered terraces, have stone walls, vaulted floors, and other original architectural details.

The location is ideal for exploring the rugged landscape of the Mani peninsula.

11. Refugia Lodge

Location: Chiloe, Chile

This 12-room lodge will make guests feel like they're at the edge of the world. Located where the forest meets the Pacific Ocean in southern Chile's Rilan Peninsula, Refugia Lodge combines cutting-edge design with elements taken from nature. Indigenous woodwork and wool are prominent features of the lodge's decor.

Guests can relax in the lodge's fireplace lounge or take part in the many active and cultural excursions offered.

12. Tongabezi Lodge

Location: Livingstone, Zambia

Located just upstream from Victoria Falls, Tongabezi Lodge is a collection of cottages and houses each with their own unique setting. While some houses are built into a cliff and incorporate the forest into their design, others hug the river and feature their own private decks.

Guests can take advantage of personal guides and a wide variety of dining options, which include a candlelight float with courses delivered by canoe.

13. Uma by COMO

Location: Punakha Valley, Bhutan

Breathtaking views are the highlight of this remote, 11-room hotel. The streamlined, simple design allows the views to take center stage, and it's a prime location for trekking the pristine Punakha Valley landscape.

Locally inspired dishes can either be eaten at the hotel's restaurant or at a more memorable location, like on a private terrace or on the banks of the Mo Chu River.

- Business Insider

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