Travel & Leisure

Getting Away From It All: Five Unforgettable Hotel Experiences

Have you ever tried deep sea fishing in Jamaica, clay pigeon shooting in Ireland, visited a floating spa in England, or taken a coastal road trip in Montenegro? Luxury Defined presents five hotel resorts with ultra-unique amenities

Varied in location and style, but united in delivering something extra special, these five hotels offer guests unforgettable experiences. Read on to try and decide which hotel to stay at first.

Waterside shot of Fleming Villa in Jamaica
All lagoon cottages at GoldenEye resort have king-size beds, which face the lagoon and Santa Maria Island, the uninhabited land at the lagoon’s center. There’s a kayak with each cottage, and Low Cay Beach is a few steps away. Image: Brie Williams.

Jamaica: License to Chill

No ordinary hotel stay, Jamaica’s GoldenEye is a collection of private beach villas, “huts,” and lagoon cottages set amid the lush tropical gardens that made James Bond creator and erstwhile owner Ian Fleming fall in love with the island.

Located on Jamaica’s northeast coast, and occupying 52 acres (21 ha), GoldenEye also features four restaurants and bars, and offers visitors a range of activities including watersports, deep sea fishing, and snorkeling. There is a spa, too.

For the ultimate GoldenEye Bond experience, book yourself into the beachfront bungalow—now known as Fleming Villa—where the author is believed to have written all 14 spy novels. Perhaps literary inspiration will strike when you sit at Fleming’s original desk? You’ll be well looked after by a dedicated staff, including a butler, housekeeper, and cook.

Hotel bar with opening onto the water
Located in a UNESCO World Heritage region, Portonovi offers guests many experiences including sailing, hiking, watersports, cycling, and winter skiing. The ancient walled towns of Perast and Kotor, famed for their Medieval charm, are close by too.

Portonovi, Montenegro: Balkan Beauty

Perched at the entrance of Boka Bay on Montenegro’s Adriatic coast, One&Only Portonovi is the first European opening by the hotel brand. Modeled on the architecture of Venice, the complex has its own private beach, a spa that combines Chinese medicine with the latest Western wellness technology, and six pools. There’s a range of masterclasses to choose from, or sit back and enjoy a chauffeured coastal road trip in a 55-year-old Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, culminating in a wine tasting at sunset.

Dining options include Asian-inspired tapas at Tapasake Club, and an Italian menu with lots of fresh fish and seafood at the alfresco beach restaurant, Sabia. As well as stylish rooms, there are two private villas, each with a garden and a pool. Longer-term guests are welcome to stay too—check in for 21 days or more and the team will create a bespoke experience just for you.

Ornate tea room in Ashford Castle, Ireland
Guests at Ashford Castle can of course relax with afternoon tea, but they can also try different activities including horse riding, fishing, falconry, golf, cycling, and kayaking. There are even two dedicated activities coordinators on hand to help.

County Mayo, Ireland: World of Adventures

If you’ve ever wondered what life in a castle is like, and perhaps even considered buying one yourself, Ashford Castle, built in 1228, offers the perfect way to find out.

Public spaces are grand, and decorated exactly as you would hope: the double-aspect Oak Room, for example, has a carved ceiling and balustrades, suits of armor keeping an eye on things, and a mezzanine library that is home to 800 antiquarian books. The Connaught Room, meanwhile, is illuminated by a vast, sparkling chandelier, has an ornate carved fireplace, and is the perfect spot for afternoon tea.

You can join morning walks with the resident wolfhounds, try clay pigeon shooting, and some of the finest salmon fishing in Ireland. Other options include zip lining, tree climbing and falconry. If you’re struggling to choose, Michael and Fiona, dedicated activities coordinators, are on hand to advise. There’s also a spa and award-winning dining options—Ashford Castle is a grown-up playground of a hotel waiting to be explored. Treat yourself to a stay.

Beach front accommodation set within palm trees, Maldives
Fishing, yachting, diving, yoga, and meditation are all on offer on Naladhu Private Island. You can also hire a yacht for day and overnight cruises.

Naladhu, Maldives: Tropical Paradise

The secret to hospitality is to evolve and continually find new ways of delighting guests. It’s something the team at Naladhu Private Island understands very well.

Following a six-month renovation and redesign, the resort has launched new experiences for 2022, including a snorkeling tour with its marine biologist to see some of the 2,000 species of fish and sea mammals that call the island home, and to learn about coral conservation. There’s also a private yacht, which can be hired for overnight cruises.

Spa located on a canal boat on the water, Bray, England
Bray Lock became home to a group of Monks in the 12th century, and the island became known as ‘Monks Eyot’ or Monks Island, which is perhaps where the name Monkey Island developed from. Today, you can visit the floating spa.

Bray, Berkshire, England: Fantasy Island

A mere 30-minute drive from London’s Heathrow Airport, Monkey Island has long been a retreat for monarchs, aristocrats, and artists. Today, it is home to the Monkey Island Estate, where guests can choose from two Grade I listed pavilions with 40 superb rooms and suites.

In Bray itself, there are six private residences including Lavender House—its façade is believed to date back to the early 1700s. You can dine at the Monkey Island Brasserie and enjoy a dram in the Whisky Snug, hidden beneath the Monkey Room via a secret staircase. Moored nearby is The Floating Spa, offering the Monks’ Elixir treatment inspired by friars who settled at Bray Lock in the 12th century.

Banner image: One&Only Portonovi, Montenegro