If you’re looking for a hotel stay that’s a touch more out-of-the-ordinary than the standard big-name chains, these days you’re spoilt for choice– Asia is stuffed full of captivatingly one-off boutique properties that offer so much more than just a bed for the night. Delivering the utmost in exclusivity, unique design and impressive attention to detail, it’s time to bed down with this new breed of boutique luxury via six of our top picks from around the region.
The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai
Bringing a welcome dose of understated class to Shanghai’s often-glitzy hotel scene, The Waterhouse’s design team have repurposed a disused 1930s warehouse (formerly a Japanese army barracks) into an achingly stylish destination that draws a hip and in-the-know crowd. With just 19 sophisticated rooms and suites, many with views over the Huangpu River and beyond to Lujiazui’s iconic neon skyline, The Waterhouse offers a prime position from which to explore this city of two halves. Although Shanghai’s dining scene is legendary, save at least one evening for a meal at Table No.1, the hotel’s destination dining room, which was also Jason Atherton’s first post-Gordon Ramsay restaurant.
Vue Hotel Hou Hai, Beijing
Housed in a beautifully upgraded 1950s Beijing hutong, Vue has reinvented itself as a sleek elegant space, where numerous architectural styles combine to create an experience far greater than the sum of its parts. There are pops of colour and humour throughout the hotel – think yellow bent-wood chairs, plush purple love seats and gargoyles peeking at you from their lofty perches – while comfort is also key, with spacious rooms, cloud-soft beds and luxurious bathrooms as standard. Many of the rooms feature private terraces or balconies that overlook Hou Hai Lake or the hotel’s charming courtyard, while the rooftop Moon Bar offers a glamorous spot to watch the sun set over this most historic of cities.
The Alcove Library Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
The Alcove Library Hotel is the perfect base for book-lovers – and it executes its elegant literary-theme in truly charming style. Located in the quiet but still convenient Phu Nhuan District, the main draw of this elegant 29-room property is its stunning library in the hotel’s lobby; filled with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, it’s a lovingly put together paean to the printed word. The bibliophile theme continues onto the rooms, where framed literary quotes hang on the wall and the nightly turndown service includes a bedtime story and complimentary snack for the evening. All room rates include breakfast at the Alcove’s lovely rooftop restaurant too, where a delicious range of both Vietnamese and international dishes awaits.
Combining old-school colonial charm with the ultimate in contemporary comfort, the Cabochon is a standout for all the right reasons. This beautiful Bangkok bolthole on Sukhumvit Road feels like something straight out a vintage Hollywood movie, with an iconic ivory-white façade studded with antique French windows and gloriously romantic balustrades, plus a palm tree-fringed courtyard, super-swanky rooftop pool and antique-stuffed drinking den to sweeten the deal even further. With only eight ultra-spacious rooms in total, hotel havens don’t come much more exclusive than this.
Humble House, Taipei
A study in pared-back aesthetics and natural materials, Humble House’s rooms and suites whisper, rather than shout their luxury credentials, with down-filled bedding, silk velvet robes and soothing neutral décor as standard. The hotel features its own on-site art gallery, displaying works from a wide range of local and international artists throughout the building; the result is reminiscent of a private collector’s home – warm, welcoming and accessible. With excellent dining options, a spa and a heated rooftop pool with stunning views over Taipei 101, your only struggle will be leaving this tranquil city centre retreat.
Wanderlust’s owner said that he wanted it to be “a playground for grown-ups” – and with an adventurous spirit in spades, this quirky 29-room hotel most definitely delivers. Housed in a historic 1920s building (formerly a school) in the heart of Little India, each of Wanderlust’s four floors is the creation of a different design agency, giving the space an eclectic and dynamic vibe; take your pick from neon colour pop rooms on level two, origami-inspired minimalism on level three or whimsical fairy tale-esque interiors on level four, whilst the ground-floor lobby boasts a groovy industrial-glam aesthetic that’ll have you whipping your phone out for photos quicker than you can say #designgoals.