The Gold List 2017 / 20 Best hotels in the world
We are delighted to announce that two of our favourite properties in Australia and New Zealand were voted as two of the worlds most exceptional hotels, reaching the top 20 in the Conde Nast Traveller Gold List 2017.
BERKELEY RIVER LODGE
THE KIMBERLEY, IN THE FAR north-west of Australia, is one of the emptiest places on Earth. It is possible to drive for days without seeing any sign of human habitation. Yet here, on a sensational stretch of dramatic coastline, stands this unique wilderness lodge. It is so sequestered that the only way to get here is by helicopter or air taxi (or perhaps private yacht). People come for the isolation - in few places can the nights appear darker or starrier - but also for the deep, tranquil comfort of the 20 smart villas which seem to float like a lovely little armada on the coastal dunes. All the bathrooms at the Berkeley River Lodge are outdoors for long showers beneath a yellow tropical sun in the clear Australian sky. Some of the cabins look out on the snaking Berkeley River, others have views of the Timor Sea. And this sea is for looking at, not for swimming in, because the glittering water teems with bull sharks and saltwater crocodiles. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. Go fishing off the two islands called, mysteriously, Aunt and Uncle. Or take a guided boat tour down the river - the best way to see the wild Kimberley and all that lives here: ghost gums and bottle-shaped boab trees, brahminy kites, jabiru birds with beaks like screwdrivers. The hotel chef can make up a fabulous lunch box filled with salads and focaccia to take along and enjoy with a cold beer beneath the Casuarina Falls. And if you are desperate for a dip, there is a beautiful swimming hole (without crocs) at the far end of the first creek on the right.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers – Hawkes Bay - New Zealand.
SET ON A 2,400-HECTARE working sheep and cattle station, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers isn't yet 10 years old, but it feels like it's been here forever. Perhaps the most beautiful of Julian Robertson's stable of super-smart New Zealand lodges, it has 22 rustic-chic bedrooms and a wonderfully stylish private house, the Owner's Cottage. All are dramatically positioned on a grassy ridge overlooking its superb 18-hole championship golf course and surrounding farmlands, with the orchards and celebrated winelands of Hawke's Bay in the distance. On a clear day it's possible to make out snow-capped Mount Ruapehu on the horizon. The main structures resemble a cluster of farm buildings, with a domed silo that houses a wine cellar in its basement and an intimate snug on the ground floor. Throughout the property, wonderful farm-related objects - old tractor seats, metal cartwheels, wooden grain boxes - are deployed as artworks and the Colorado-based interior designer Linda Bedell has used plenty of tweed and leather to keep the rural dream topped up. Chef James Honore sources the best produce from this bountiful region - cheese from Havelock North, mushrooms from Napier, Hawke's Bay lamb - and supplements them with his own home-grown sweetcorn, fennel, lettuce and tomatoes. From fresh laid eggs with crispy New Zealand bacon for breakfast in the farmhouse kitchen to pre-supper canapés by the open fire, The Farm really does deliver the whole New Zealand package - and on a wonderfully grand scale.