Germany has trademarked the cool and slightly raw, urban style. Who are the people and what are the styles and brands that marked the creative landscape of our eastern neighbours?
And Beyond, South Africa
If you’re really, really dreaming of visiting the most beautiful places on earth (and you’ve really, really saved up) then go to andbeyond.com, one of the loveliest go-to websites for luxury safaris. Watching lions from an open jeep, sleeping in a tree house, bathing in a copper claw-footed bath with a view of the jungle – that kind of thing. Unforgettable. The club organises tailor-made holidays in fifteen different countries. It’s at its best in South Africa, but if you’re going to Asia or South America, the group also has a foothold in those areas.
El Cosmico, Texas, North America
Take a stunning natural region, make sure that phones, laptops and TV are out of reach and hang up some hammocks. The owners of El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas, understand the art of Total Relaxation. Anyone who has been to Marfa also understands: in this one-traffic-light-town, you can only downshift. The owners have installed trailers, tipis and safari tents on their massive terrain, and decorated them in a chic nomadic style using found and recycled things. El Cosmico is – luckily – not to everyone’s taste: again, there is no TV, your mobile phone rarely works, being sociable in the communal laundry room is highly appreciated (chatting alone in your tipi is not) and you cook your own food on the campfire.
A well-known but not-to-be-missed hotel in the away from it all tree house category: the Swedish Treehotel. In a forest behind the little village of Harads, close to the Arctic Circle, you find this collection of unique hanging hotel rooms. Truly hanging, between the sky and the earth. How about sleeping in the Mirror Cube, whose mirror walls make it almost invisible amongst the trees? And it’s bird-friendly: an ultraviolet layer in the glass ensures that they don’t crash into it.
Following his time as a creative director for various fashion labels, the Dutchman Wilbert Das settled in Trancoso, Brazil, where he opened the Uxua Casa hotel & spa, voted the best hotel in the world on several occasions. Its location right on the Quadrado (a dream square with a white church, in front of the ocean) doesn’t hurt. Uxua comprises cottages on the square, rooms – including tree houses – around the swimming pool in the back garden, a gym and a spa. An afternoon at the pool with a caipicoco at hand (Das’ version of a caipirinha, with fresh coconut milk from the garden instead of lime) is paradise. The singer Solange Knowles certainly thought so: she had her honeymoon here. Well, if it’s good enough for Solange…
If the sight of the word “Thailand” instantly puts you in mind of overcrowded beaches, drunken teenagers at full moon parties and the stink of Bangkok’s streets, think again. The Bird’s Nest tree houses of Keemala hotel, a forty-minute drive from Phuket, are the very definition of peace, quiet and cleanliness (and just about the most Instagram-worthy place on earth). A dream, check out that swimming pool.
Stone Desert Camp by Scarabeo Camp, Morocco
High class unplugging starts with one or two nights of beautiful Stone Desert glamping by Scarabeo Camp. After arrival at Marrakech airport, you drive into Agafay’s Stone Desert for about forty-five minutes until a white tent camp emerges as if from nowhere. It looks like a film set: so chic and timeless that you expect to see a young Ingrid Bergman appear at any moment dressed in white. Serene Scandinavian class blends with the traditional Morocco of the nomadic Berbers and the colonial Africa of David Livingstone. Look forward to neutral colours, Beni Ouarain rugs, Moroccan accessories and vintage finds, such as atlases, globes, binoculars and travel-format board games. Bring a book and nestle into one of the many comfortable seating areas, with the flapping tent cloth in the background, until it’s time to walk up the candlelit path to the fairy-tale restaurant tent. You can stay at the Stone Desert Camp by Scarabeo Camp from mid September to mid June – after that it gets too hot.
Brother Island, El Nido, Philippines
This small private island in the Sulu Sea near Palawan, part of the Philippines, has the whitest beaches and the most turquoise waters you will ever see, with rows of palm trees to guard your private house. Sex on the beach becomes a real option. The entire island is for rent for 260 euro per night, hardly pricey for paradise. But be warned: Brother Island is an eco project, so don’t expect fine dining. Instead, look forward to local produce (fresh and delicious) cooked according to tradition.
But what to wear in the wild? Check the collection for inspiration.