Escape society: that's been the motivating dream of books from Henry David Thoreau's Walden
to Alex Garland's The Beach
but in Herbert Ypma's Hip Hotels: Escape
it's not just a dream. Interior design expert (and author of Hip Hotels: City
) Ypma tracks down photographs and meticulously records over 40 hotels around the world that will, in his opinion, provide a real escape from the pressures of modern life.
For some, escape means roughing it in nature--climbing a mountain, trekking with a backpack. Ypma's idea of escape is more sophisticated. The best escape locations, he writes, "amplify the attractions of their setting" and enable us to recognise "man's ability to enhance the beauty of a beautiful place." It's no surprise, then, that the hotels Ypma chooses don't have the conventional feel of a Hilton or Sheraton; many are family-run and all are unique. At Amandari, on Bali, guests don't get a room, they get a house positioned along walkways that echo the arrangement of a traditional Balinese village. At the Ice Hotel in Sweden, glasses and beds are literally made out of ice. It's important to the author that the hotels he describes have been constructed with ecological sensitivity: most, like the log cabins of Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado, are built from local materials and their food and design reflect local culture.
The hotels are listed in alphabetical order by country. Addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and room rates (in local currencies) are provided. Despite their relatively small sizes, France, Great Britain, and Italy get the most attention; combined they have 13 hotels to North America's five, South America's two and Australia's one. Ympa's luscious, detailed photographs accompany equally descriptive text that's rich in cultural detail and literary reference (Carey on Australia, Chatwin on Chile). The author has a habit of mentioning the stars, actors, media and entertainment types who have vacationed at each hotel. This may grate some nerves but it also points to a shift in travel patterns; as travel becomes less exclusive, it's not only the stars who get the chance to combine luxury with environmental awareness in their choice of escape destinations. --Tamsin Todd
"Hotels so stunning, so individual, so undeniably designer destinations in their own right."