Heading into the last month of the year, this is the time to start reflecting of this year’s hotel experiences, if they have exceeded, lived up or have been below my expectations, and why.
It’s a great way to help planning my travels for the year head, as it helps to better understand what exactly to look for to achieve the experiences I am most looking for. Because meeting or even exceeding your expectations largely depends on how you manage your expectations.
Below is a list of my top ten hotel experiences in 2019 and what made them so special.
Kanonkop House, Knysna, South Africa
I’ve been lucky enough to stay in many beautiful hotel rooms in the past. But the drop dead gorgeous Selwyn Suite at Kanonkop Guest House in Knysna is easily one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen, and definitely one to remember forever.
Shaped like an L and designed in hues of blue, beige, light brown and white it features elegant furniture and lovely pieces of art.
The icing on the cake however was the huge window front offering breathtaking views over the beautiful Knysna Lagoon.
Robertson Small, Robertson, South Africa
Though I did not get to stay in the suite I’d originally booked, one directly bordering the small pool which looked so inviting on the website and would have made for a great early morning dip or evening sundowner with the feet in the water, I could not have asked for a cuter room than the Pool View Suite at the Robertson Small.
Though the name is misleading (there’s no way you can see one of the two pools from the inside of this room), it’s been easily one of the most enticing rooms I’ve ever stayed.
Couple that with the most attentive and friendly service and a lot of other little perks like the little tour guide cards pointing out places to visit in the area, and the Robertson Small is a real bliss to stay in.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, South Africa
It’s all about the animals, off course. Game drives leading you through the incredible South African landscape and being able to observe some of the most amazing wild animals like lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras, giraffes and so many more at close range means an adventure you will cherish forever.
But these days wildlife reserves are so much more. The many lodges spread across the county are a lesson in beautiful minimalistic architecture and design.
Our suite at Tilney Manor was pure African bliss surrounded by noting than nature. And as much as I loved the room and impeccable service, it was the magnificent view from the shaded terrace putting Sanbonainto my top 10 hotel experiences.
Malhadinha Nova, Alentejo, Portugal
What’s not to love about a small, cosy winery hotel nestled in the midst of vineyards, olive groves and large sweeping fields, offering all the perks of a luxury retreat, a large range of wine-themed experiences and a restaurant overlooked by a Michelin-star chef.
Malhadinha Nova Country House was a dream come true, one that remains on my list for repeat visits!
Torre de Palma Wine Hotel, Alentejo, Portugal
A beautiful old manor house dating back to the 14th century and surrounding stables turned into a magnificent design hotel, a winery and award-winning cuisine. Torre de Palma Wine Hotel not only lived up to my high expectations, my beautiful double room with its lovely design and antique furnishings along with a spacious bathroom definitely made it onto the list of most beautiful hotel rooms ever.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec, Canada
One of my favourite hotel brands, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts rarely (if ever) has led me down when it comes to magnificent hotel experiences. The iconic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Old Quebec was no exception.
From the prominent location along Dufferin Terrace within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec, overlooking the historic Petit-Champlain quarter and St. Lawrence River below to the beautifully styles public areas featuring many of the original elements like the beautifully panelled lobby, various excellent dining options and the typical flawless and friendly service, staying at this hotel icon was indeed a very special experience.
Merrill House, Picton, Canada
Small and cosy and full of the cutest art and design. Merrill House is a place that makes you feel like stepping into your friend’s living room.
Each single room in this carefully restored Gothic revival mansion underlines the owners own ambition to travel the world with beautiful pieces of art collected during numerous journeys.
If I ever would consider remodelling my own place, it’s safe to say Merrill House would be the blueprint to create my dream home.
Hotel Hohenhaus, Herleshausen, Germany
Hotel Hohenhaus is one of my old favourites and always a great destination when I need an escape from the busy city. Located in the countryside in northern Hesse close to the border to Thuringia, there’s nothing here than green rolling hills, large fields, thick forests and seemingly thousands of sheep.
The reason the hotel made it into my top ten list this year however was their new annual culinary programme, offering a range of various themed dining experiences. It’s safe to say, the wonderful game and whisky tasting dinner has really made me embrace the world of whisky; which has never been one I’ve been keen to try before.
Hotel Laurentius, Weikersheim, Germany
Beautifully designed wine-themed rooms and suites, a small bistro and a Michelin-starred restaurant. That’s it. No large public spaces, no spa or pool area. Indeed, Hotel Laurentius is here to offer you a no-frills refuge after a day out exploring the many historic towns and lovely countryside along the famous Romanic Road in Germany.
Out of all hotels I’ve visited throughout the year, Hotel Laurentius was one of the most minimalist yet with two fabulous perks that make the hotel a real country gem:
First, the little town square right in front of the hotel centred on the playful fountain dating back to 1768 and lined with historic buildings from around the same time that leads towards the towns impressive castle transports you right back into medieval times.
And second, whether you decent into the cosy Michelin-star restaurant located in the old cellar vault, sit down at the breakfast table or explore the little grocery shop; anything food related at Hotel Laurentius is based on a concept of local seasonal produce off which large parts are produced directly by the hotel.
Rüssels Landhaus, Mosel, Germany
The ultimate culinary hideaway this year. This cute country hotel centres around owner-chef Harald Rüssel’s magnificent cuisine from the down-to-earth country cooking in the casual Hasenpfeffer restaurant to the fine dining Rüssels Restaurant.
Read more about Rüssels Landhaus.
What have been your most memorable hotel moments in 2019? Let me know.