Soft powdery sand between our toes. The damp, mossy smell of a rainforest teeming with life. Sunset cocktails next to the shimmering ocean. Snow-covered mountains and wild, untamed landscapes. We’re yearning for all of it right now.
Staying indoors for the foreseeable has got us reminiscing about past trips, and meticulously planning future travels. If we’ve got to stay indoors and self-isolate then we’d much rather be doing it on a far-flung tropical island, a luxury farm in Northern Iceland, or even a rainforest lodge in Ecuador.
We’ve rounded up the world’s best private hotels, remote islands and secluded lodges which would make self-isolating a whole lot more fun. We hope this gives you some inspiration when planning your next trip, whenever that may be.
THE PACKING EDIT
Bawah Reserve, Indonesia
Located in Indonesia’s remote Anambas archipelago, the Bawah reserve is a collection of six tropical islands with gloriously quiet beaches. The main island features 36 suites and bungalows, each swathed in forest greenery, and built with sustainable bamboo. Plus, there’s no TV and limited Wi-Fi which makes going off-grid a breeze. For the full Robinson Crusoe experience, the Bawah team will cast you off to an uninhabited island, where you can enjoy total isolation. No need to hunt for your food though, you’ll be marooned with a luxury breakfast hamper, and picked up after a few hours – this is a five-star castaway experience after all.
Islas Secas, Panama
A privately-owned archipelago of 14 islands make up Islas Secas, located off Panama’s Pacific Coast. Just one of the 14 islands are inhabited which houses the private island hotel, the rest are untamed and undeveloped. The eco-focused hotel is powered on 100% natural energy and hosts just 18 guests at a time. The island has four casitas (villas) which range from one-four bedrooms, each has breath-taking ocean views and a plunge pool. Spend your days on nature hikes exploring the Jurassic-Park scenery or discover the Pacific Ocean right on your doorstep.
Bushmans Kloof, South Africa
Deep in the craggy and sandstone rich Cederberg Mountains you’ll find Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve. With over 17,000 acres of untamed South African landscape to explore (don’t fear the area is free from predators), seclusion is guaranteed. The main reserve has just 16 rooms, but for the ultimate privacy stay at one of the villas – Koro Lodge or Cederberg House. Both come with a personal guide, chef and a swimming pool. The reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its abundance of ancient rock art which dates back nearly 3,000 years.
Deplar Farm, Iceland
Grab your thermals for this one. Deplar Farm in North Iceland’s Troll Peninsula is surrounded by 3,000 ft of snow-covered mountains, and not much else. Light pollution is non-existent, so there’s a good chance of seeing the extraordinary Northern Lights if you visit between October and March. This property might be secluded, but activities are abundant. Skiers can ski right down to the sea (a novelty for those of us used to the landlocked alps), and there’s also heli-skiing. An extensive wellness area includes an outdoor swimming pool with a built-in sound system and bar for late-night cocktails under a blanket of stars.
Six Senses Krabey Island, Cambodia
Cambodia’s exotic islands aren’t just for backpackers in search of cheap dorm rooms, new luxury hotels like the Six Senses Krabey Island are injecting some much-needed luxury into the country’s hospitality sector. Each villa in the 30-acre private island is nestled among lush greenery which ensures the ultimate privacy when taking a dip in your pool. Wellness is the focus here and activities include aerial yoga, mindfulness (in the meditation cave) and alchemy immersion. If you need more sleep or a holistic detox, the resort also offers a range of tailored wellness programmes.
Necker Island, BVI
Richard Branson’s island hideaway in the British Virgin Islands is a big hitter with celebrities who want guaranteed privacy – Mariah Carey and Harry Styles have been ashore. The island is remote, but an extensive list of activities (overseen by an energetic staff team), ensure you’ll never be bored. Scuba diving, yoga and sailing are all on the menu, but it’s the night-time activities which are legendary. What happens on Necker stays on Necker…apparently.
Off the coast of Belize lies the Gladden Private Island, a small clump of land which has brilliant white sand, palm trees, one luxury villa and absolutely nothing else. The 3,000 ft2 villa has been designed with couples in mind, but there are two master bedrooms just in case you want the extra space. The villa comes with a team of attentive island hosts, but they reside on the islet next door, ensuring complete privacy and tranquillity at all times. True isolation doesn’t mean compromising on luxury though, a range of spa treatments and exclusive activities can all be arranged at Gladden.
Thanda Island and Thanda Safari, Tanzania
A private helicopter will drop you onto this small island off the coast of Tanzania – the height of sophisticated isolation. Thanda Island is an exclusive getaway surrounded by the shimmering blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The entire place is yours alone, but it sleeps 8 if you fancy bringing friends (no judgement if you want to keep this island playground all for yourself though). Swim with whale sharks, snorkel the coral reef around the island, or enjoy a massage on the beach. Thanda also has a game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) near Durban, if you’d rather keep your activities on dry land.
The Brando, French Polynesia
Named after Hollywood ‘bad boy’ Marlon Brando (who lived on the island from 1970), the Brando in French Polynesia has everything one could want for a castaway experience. Think wooden beach villas with thatched roofs and plunge pools, a private atoll with an abundance of marine life to explore, and guaranteed privacy. Barack Obama retreated to Brando (on the recommendation of his good friend Leonardo DiCaprio) to write his White House memoir. If Barack and Leo are guaranteed privacy here, then it’s good enough for us.
COMO Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos
The Caribbean’s sugary white sand and crystal-clear waters make it a perfect fly and flop destination. COMO Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos combines all of the Caribbean’s best bits, with an award-winning spa which offers a blend of Thai, Ayurvedic, Indonesian and hot stone massage. The most exclusive accommodation on the island is the Parrot Cay Estate’s privately-owned villas, which can be rented by couples or families. The island has a mile-long private beach, ideal for those of us craving some rest and relaxation.
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
Submerse yourself in the rainforest at Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador. Nestled among the huge forest this isolated property is for the adventurers among us. Spend your days trekking to waterfalls, swinging through the forest canopy and discovering an abundance of flora and fauna – the natural world is at its most raw here in the jungle. The lodge is a luxurious sanctuary after a day of exploring, but the views don’t stop inside – floor to ceiling windows allow you to enjoy the forest’s natural beauty at all times, even from bed.
One&Only Kea Island, Greece
Greece is filled with ancient myths and legends and Kéa island in the Cyclades is no different (legend has it that water nymphs once lived among the islands natural springs and woodland). Kéa island might be ancient, but the One&Only’s latest opening promises modern luxury. Perched on the hills overlooking a secluded bay, the exclusive private homes and a One&Only island resort are both due to complete in 2021. With all the Greek charm, but with none of the crowds, Kea island is already on our list of 2021 hot-spots.