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Best Hotels For Culture

From ancient tribal monuments to 20th-century history, some of our top hotels offer fascinating cultural experiences to discover in five-star comfort. Here are some of our favourites:

11 - CASA DE SIERRA NEVADA - Mexico, San Miguel de Allende

The very building of Casa de Sierra Nevada is a cultural experience, with each of the Spanish colonial mansions that house the hotel dating back to between the 16th and 18th centuries. The hotel also features its Sazon cooking school and there’s Mexican cuisine served at the Andanza restaurant – and that’s before you’ve even started exploring the charming, historic city in which the boutique hotel is located.

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10 - CAMERON HIGHLANDS RESORT - Malaysia, Cameron Highlands

In the verdant tea plantations of Malaysia, just a few hours outside Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands Resort is a classic, grand colonial resort that acts as a throwback to the times of the British Empire – especially in the very English Jim Thompson Tea Room.

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9 - CANDELARIA DEL MONTE - Argentina, The Pampas

Dating back to the 1850s, this estancia retains its cultural heritage, whilst being wonderfully comfortable and exclusive, with only six rooms. The gaucho experience is a great way for guests to get involved in the history of Argentina and learn about a traditional way of life, with horse riding and ranch activities.

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8 - NIHIWATU LUXURY RETREAT - Indonesia, Sumba

Tucked away in Indonesia’s West Sumba, Nihiwatu provides a romantic escape on an untouched beach, but also allows guests to visit the local villages, usually too remote for travellers to reach, to learn about the rural Indonesian lifestyle.

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7 - ELLERMAN HOUSE - South Africa, Cape Town

One of our favourite hotels in Africa, Ellerman House is a dream for art-lovers. The private art collection that furnishes the Cape Town hotel ranges from work by the African Masters to contemporary pieces, and is noted as one of the best collections in South Africa.

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6 - RAFFLES HOTEL LE ROYAL - Cambodia, Phnom Penh

Raffles blends traditional Khmer and colonial French Art Deco styling in its elegant hotel that harks back to the European expansion of Phnom Penh from the late 19th century. From here, guests can visit the various sites of the capital – a city with a long, often heartbreaking, history – or simply soak up the atmosphere of the hotel by the pool, or at the restaurant, which serves some of the city’s best food, with a menu of Khmer and French cuisine.

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5 - LA RESIDENCE HUE - Vietnam, Hue

In the Imperial City of Hue, La Residence is housed in what was once the colonial French Governor’s home, so you can expect to be staying in one of the grandest buildings in the city. Dating from the 1930s, the hotel itself is an masterclass in imperial architecture, but head out into the UNESCO-protected Imperial Citadel and you’ll discover the ancient roots of Hue, too.

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4 - EXPLORA RAPA NUI - Chile, Easter Island

The setting of Explora Rapa Nui is about as unique as it gets: Easter Island is a place of legend. Up on a grassy hill, Explora overlooks the sea and is sleeky designed, but in keeping with the natural surroundings. From the hotel, guests can learn about the ancient moai and hike or cycle around the island, before returning to unwind in the hotel’s Jacuzzi and spa.

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3 - JACK'S CAMP - Botswana, The Makgadikgadi Pans

Jack’s Camp is one of the most unique accommodation options in Africa. Its speciality is affording guests the opportunity to discover the secrets of the stark landscape with the help of the local bushman trackers, learning first-hand about their traditions, skills and culture. Set in Botswana’s arid pans, with ten individually-styled tents along with a tea tent, lounge and pool, Jack’s Camp is still run by the family that originally set it up and remains a very special stand-out camp.

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2 - AMANJIWO - Indonesia, Java

With an enviable outlook across to Borobudur, a 9th-century Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amanjiwo has one of the best settings in Indonesia. Along with Aman levels of hospitality – their hotels set the bar for luxury – guests can explore this ancient site, tucked amid the towering volcanoes of inland Java, surrounding villages and nearby cities of Yogakarta and Solo, for several different angles of Indonesian culture.

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1 - HUAORANI ECOLODGE - Ecuador, The Amazon

An incredible lodge in the Amazon rainforest, Huaorani Ecolodge is run by the Huaorani tribe and offers guests a responsible, truly privileged experience amongst one of the most isolated ethnic groups in the world. It’s not an easy trip to get there, but it’s definitely worth it. From here, you can learn about this amazing culture – only exposed to the outside world 55 years ago – in jungle treks, blowgun lessons, story telling, and tree climbing. There are only five cabins, which is as exclusive as a place like this should be.

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