i-escape

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11th March 2008

i-escape.com is the brainchild of Laila Ram and Nicky Tinto, passionate hotel-groupies who are dedicated to helping discerning independent travellers find and book exciting and unusual places to stay in some of the world's most beautiful and fascinating locations. Their website features a growing collection of our favourite small hotels, guesthouses, retreats, eco-lodges, private rental properties and unforgettable travel experiences, all of them personally visited by them or one of their team and honestly reviewed in detail, with photos to match.

They choose places to stay which are unique in some way, whether in by design, natural setting, the owners or the activities on offer. From jungle treehouses to historic palaces, Laila and Nicky have put together a genuinely charming and eclectic range. They won't insist on a certain number of stars (you won't find any bland chain hotels or large resorts on i-escape), rather, all their places offer a memorable experience. Nor do they choose according to cost (which ranges from £10 to £500 a night), but they do try to ensure that they are sensitive to local nature and culture, so that the environment does not have to pay.

I-escape is not a travel agent or tour operator, but an independent, highly researched interactive travel guide and free on-line booking service. They can connect you directly with the accommodation owners and holiday providers as well as offering free unbiased advice - helping you escape the traditional package holiday!

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i-escape's activity

  1. May 2009
  2. i-escape reviewed Otter Creek Tents in Maharashtra, India

    Romantic tents on a beach, with muslin draped four poster beds and views over the creek If you are looking to get away from the crowds in Goa, Otter Creek Tents in North Goa is the ultimate romantic bolthole – you have to walk the last 500m between a c…"

  3. June 2008
  4. i-escape reviewed Oltre il Giardino in Venice, Italy

    An intimate, art-filled, family-run hotel in off-beat San Polo, with spacious bedrooms and a secret garden If you’ve ever wondered what it's like to live in Venice – in a family home, in comfort and in style – then here is your answer. Oltre Il Giardin…"

  5. May 2008
  6. i-escape reviewed Ca' Maria Adele in Venice, Italy

    Grand design in an intimate hotel - an exciting and sexy new addition to one of the world's most romantic cities Ca Maria Adele is a hotel for luxury-lovers; lovers of plush, decadent rooms and oversized jacuzzi baths; lovers of gold leaf, ornate kings…"

  7. April 2008
  8. i-escape reviewed Palazzo Abadessa in Venice, Italy

    Live like a Doge in a beautifully-restored Baroque palace with a peaceful walled garden and private jetty Staying in the Palazzo Abadessa feels like stepping back into the 18th century. Surrounded by gorgeous antiques, paintings, damask walls and flex…"

  9. i-escape reviewed Misafir Suites in Istanbul, Turkey

    A restored Ottoman apartment block in the throbbing heart of down-town Beyoglu, with 7 giant suites and a hip café-bar The so-called ‘Paris of the Orient’, Beyoglu was the city’s cosmopolitan epicentre; a wealthy community of neo-classical embassie…"

  10. i-escape reviewed Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa in Vietnam

    Part of a French-run 4-star chain in Vietnam, the Victoria is far and away the most comfortable hotel in the mountain town of Sapa High in Vietnam's northwest highlands at 1650m altitude, the former French hill station of Sapa lies in a spectacular …"

  11. i-escape reviewed Atzaro in Ibiza, Spain

    A seriously hip rural retreat where the A-list ladies lunch, this 21-room hotel is the perfect place to join the party First impressions matter – and at Atzaro our first impression was excellent. We arrived at night, driving along rough tracks to …"

  12. i-escape reviewed Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi, Vietnam

    Grand, gracious and graceful – Hanoi’s favourite hotel tickles the pleasure receptors and draws an eclectic crowd If you love big hotels, you’ll fall head over heels for this grand dame of French colonialism. It's one of Asia’s finest – as good as t…"

  13. i-escape reviewed Paradise Bay Eco Escape in Queensland, Australia

    A fabulous all-inclusive eco-lodge on a private bay in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands Only reachable by helicopter from neighbouring Hamilton Island, this lodge enjoys an awesome setting in the privately owned Paradise Bay on the Whitsunday islands, p…"

  14. i-escape reviewed Quercia Rossa in Tuscany, Italy

    Rustic meets Rococo in this stylish but affordable agriturismo in Tuscany’s (relatively) unexplored Maremma region, between Manciano and the coast Don’t be put off by the house's exterior. Beneath a 1970s coat of concrete render (a previous owner ha…"

  15. i-escape reviewed The Apsara in Laos

    Colourful interiors and super-stylish rooms make this easy-going hotel on the Nam Khan river the hottest ticket in town This is a cool little restaurant-with-rooms that stands on the banks of the Nam Khan river, one block down from main street. First an…"

  16. i-escape reviewed Six Senses Hideaway Ninh Van Bay in Nha Trang, Vietnam

    Eden on the shores of the South China Sea, where your very own villa has a private pool and personal butlers are on-hand to help You arrive by boat to find a 2km crescent beach with forested mountains rising behind; you step ashore to discover your very…"

  17. i-escape rated Sumahan on the Water

  18. i-escape rated Ajia Hotel

  19. i-escape rated Misafir Suites

  20. i-escape rated Gaia Retreat & Spa

  21. i-escape rated Paradise Bay Eco Escape

  22. i-escape rated Sofitel Metropole

  23. i-escape reviewed Masseria Torre Maizza in Puglia, Italy

    Contemporary chic meets rustic idyll: a hip, glamorous masseria conversion among orchards and olive groves Against the intense blue sky and rich green land, these white buildings dazzle, silhouetting twisted tree trunks. You don’t expect to find this ki…"

  24. i-escape rated Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

  25. i-escape rated Patagonia Camp

  26. i-escape reviewed Patagonia Camp in Magallanes, Chile

    Luxurious 'camping' in designer yurts by a stunning lake, with perfect views of the Cuernos del Paine Imagine all the wonderful things about camping – the views, close contact with nature, and that feeling of isolation – but with central heating in yo…"

  27. i-escape reviewed Hotel Signum in Aeolian Islands, Italy

    Pretty country-house hotel in the languid village of Malfa, with big pool, fragrant gardens and inspiring sea views If you thought the Aeolian Islands were all about summer crowds, noisy parties and arid landscapes, then think again. Tucked away on the …"

  28. i-escape reviewed Sumahan on the Water in Istanbul, Turkey

    Converted Ottoman distillery on the Bosphorus with industrial-chic loft suites, excellent fish restaurant and a magical waterfront location This was once an alcohol factory which, from the 1870s, had produced suma, the fig-syrup spirit used to make …"

  29. i-escape reviewed Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany, Italy

    Magical castle with 6 romantic suites, 2 stunning pools and outstanding views across unspoilt Maremma valleys towards the Argentario coast This is the stuff of film sets and fairy tales: half a medieval castle (the other stone tower burnt to a cinde…"

  30. i-escape reviewed Ajia Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey

    A historic waterside mansion transformed into a contemporary boutique hotel offering fab rooms, a terrace restaurant and cool bar On the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, this uber cool hotel is a slick conversion of a 19th century yali – the palatia…"

  31. i-escape reviewed Gaia Retreat & Spa in New South Wales, Australia

    A stylish and holistic health retreat with fantastic countryside views and fabulous food Gaia Retreat is a 15-minute drive inland from the popular seaside resort of Byron Bay. Stylish and luxurious without being pretentious, it’s co-owned by Olivia Newt…"

  32. i-escape reviewed Domaine de la Baronnie in La Rochelle, France

    The grande dame in town, this mansion hotel oozes history, along with style and comfort in a park-like setting Enter through heavy iron gates and step into some French history. La Baronnie is a stone mansion with 18th century French baronial pedigre…"

  33. i-escape reviewed Mykonos Grace in Cyclades Islands, Greece

    A seriously sexy new hotel for the Mykonos party set seeking a glamorous pad just minutes out of town This boutique beachside hotel is aptly named, for it simply oozes style. Reopening after a complete facelift in May 2007, the crisp design lines have b…"

  34. i-escape reviewed Chateau de Massillan in Provence-Cote d'Azur, France

    Parkland, peace and a courtyard pool at this 1555 chateau with sublime 21st-century interiors, north of Avignon The Chateau was built in 1555 for Diane de Poitiers, a mistress of Henry II. Perhaps he wanted her discreetly hidden away, perhaps she loved …"

  35. i-escape reviewed The Medusa in Sydney, Australia

    Striking architect-designed townhouse in the midst of trendy Darlinghurst, well placed for the city sights and the vibrant Eastern Suburbs Likened to New York's Soho, Darlinghurst is Sydney's most fashionable urban village. Colonial terraces vie with ar…"

  36. i-escape reviewed Mandalai Hotel in Thailand

    A new boutique hotel in northern Koh Phangan, offering 12 stylish rooms, a quiet beach, fab food and luxurious boat trips At last! A stylish little beach hotel - just 12 rooms; that's minuscule for Asia - in a sleepy bay ringed by wooded hills on on…"

  37. i-escape reviewed Le Sirenuse in Naples, Italy

    The prima donna of Positano is as classy and comfortable as ever, and still the only outstanding hotel in town Positano is the most photogenic - and the most photographed - village in Italy. Its pastel facades soar up from sea-washed crags, which once t…"

  38. i-escape reviewed Ku' Damm 101 Hotel in Berlin, Germany

    A former office block? You’d never guess. Playful, spacious, well-priced und sehr cool It’s always good to have expectations surpassed. From the outside, Ku’damm 101 (at one end of the Kurfürstendamm, West Berlin’s main shopping street) looks nonde…"

  39. i-escape reviewed La Residence d'Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia

    Soft elegance abounds at this colonial-style hotel, which offers peace in the city, a great pool, super rooms and excellent service La Résidence hits all the right notes: lush tropical gardens, delightful airy rooms, loungers encircling a cool blue …"

  40. i-escape reviewed Can Curreu in Ibiza, Spain

    A tranquil and decadent 10-room finca with beautiful gardens and an excellent restaurant, perfect for chilling out with your partner The northeast of Ibiza is so much more civilised than the rest of the island, and this hotel - our favourite in Ibiz…"

  41. i-escape reviewed Choupana Hills Resort and Spa in Funchal, Portugal

    Chic, award-winning spa hotel with jaw-dropping views in the Madeiran mountains Choupana Hills is nothing like it ought to be. It’s cool, stylish, gutsy and, frankly, exotic: the essence of Malaysian luxe, magically transported to genteel Madeira. The f…"

  42. i-escape reviewed La Villa Mauresque in Fréjus, France

    Laid-back luxury on the Côte d'Azur - 2 magnificent villas available for romantic B&B, family hols by the sea, or weekly rental for groups of up to 20 Fancy the romance of the Riviera but find the glitz and glamour exhausting? Then head to Villa Mauresq…"

  43. i-escape reviewed Fasano Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    50s style meets Noughties chic: this 92-room addition to the Fasano dynasty is set to shake up Rio's hotel scene Elegant, understated and fabulous: three words that sum up the brand-new Fasano hotel, which has just opened in Rio's stylish Ipanema distri…"

  44. i-escape reviewed The Lyall Hotel and Spa in Melbourne, Australia

    A faultlessly stylish hotel and spa in glamorous South Yarra, which has perfected the boutique formula The Lyall is a hotel that lets you imagine just for a moment that you are part of the in-crowd. Fashionistas, designers and creative business types mi…"

  45. i-escape reviewed The Ambassador Hotel in Delhi, India

    A colonial classic in the heart of Delhi – relaxed, friendly, charismatic and recently refurbished Old fashioned charm and understated luxury combine in this spaciously cool retreat from the heat and bustle of India’s capital. Built in 1945 and rece…"

  46. i-escape reviewed The Prince in Melbourne, Australia

    With its glam bars, iconic restaurant, sleek rooms and constant people parade, this is the hippest place to be - and be seen - in Melbourne The neighbourhood of St. Kilda started as a seaside refuge for down-at-heel bohemian types. Now it's the trendies…"

  47. i-escape reviewed Paperbark Camp in New South Wales, Australia

    Comfortable tented eco-camp and excellent restaurant, perched amid paperbark forest near stunning Jervis Bay, 3 hours south of SydneyAfter a 3-hour journey down the Pacific Highway from Sydney, a brilliant flash of parrots in the canopy of gum trees wel…"

  48. i-escape reviewed Casas da Lapa in Portugal

    Stylishly renovated country hotel amidst Portugal's highest mountains, offering warm hospitality, great food and stunning hiking You could be forgiven for wondering where the Serra de Estrela is – it's not a region explored by many tourists, not eve…"

  49. i-escape reviewed Bon Ton Resort in Malaysia

    Seven antique Malay houses rebuilt in an old coconut plantation on the island of Langkawi Atmospheric, laid back and thoroughly unique, Bon Ton is a careful blend of conservation principles and design savvy. The small resort (or 'Coconut Village' as it …"

  50. i-escape reviewed Uma Ubud in Denpasar, Indonesia

    Chic boutique hotel and spa set on hillside on the edge of Ubud, Bali's cultural hub Uma Ubud is one from the stable of Christina Ong, revered for her landmark design hotels from London to Bhutan. Her magic touch strikes again here in Ubud, Bali's cultu…"

  51. i-escape reviewed Hi Hotel in Nice, France

    Out-and-out design hotel bang in the heart of Nice, with rainbow rooms and a rooftop pool Hi-Hotel is a hotbed of colour: pink glass at reception, purple and green resin floors and, up by the pool, orange leather cushions on designer white sun loungers.…"

  52. i-escape reviewed Hotel Lindrum in Melbourne, Australia

    A stiletto hop to Federation Square, this new-generation boutique hotel keeps fashionistas, media types, sports lovers and gastronomes smiling Boutique Hotel is sooo early Millennium. If you really want style and flavour from your rest stop, come here, …"

  53. i-escape reviewed Hacienda Xcanatun in Mérida, Mexico

    18th century hacienda transformed into a small luxury hotel with Old World colonial style, fine dining and a holistic spa Hacienda Xcanatun (ssh-kana-toon) translates as Tall Stone House in Maya and offers luxury, attention to detail and gracious hospit…"

  54. i-escape reviewed 101 Hotel in Reykjavík, Iceland

    Hip design hotel with minimalist style in the heart of Reykjavik Reykjavik’s only boutique hotel, named after the city’s 101 nightlife district, will provide you with a slick infusion of style of the minimalist variety. Cut throughout in volcanic black,…"

  55. i-escape reviewed Hotel Mas de Peint in Arles, France

    An ancient farmhouse in deepest Camargue, with smart bedrooms, white horses and superb dinners cooked in front of your eyes White horses, black bulls: the Camargue is a wild chunk of floodlands and huge lagoons which attract millions of birds each year.…"

  56. i-escape reviewed Fasano Hotel in São Paulo, Brazil

    Sao Paulo's best hotel and restaurant: elegant, discreetly stylish, set in the leafiest and trendiest shopping district Sao Paulo may not share the visual splendour of Rio de Janeiro, but Brazil's financial hub and South America's largest city is full o…"

  57. i-escape reviewed Perantzada 1811 Art Hotel in Ionian Islands, Greece

    A breathtakingly sleek boutique hotel on the turquoise-and-green isle of Ithaca, Odysseus' mythical homeland Ithaca is a dream, Vathi is gorgeous, and the Perantzada is the jewel in the crown. The town itself was rebuilt after the 1956 earthquake, but …"

  58. i-escape reviewed Hotel Omm in Barcelona, Spain

    Super-cool interiors and ambrosial food make Barcelona’s latest design hotel a treat for the senses The fundamentals here are ‘grand hotel’ – cavernous rooms, battalions of staff, the very best food – but the interiors are sublimely contemporary, giving…"

  59. i-escape reviewed Hotel Sezz in Paris, France

    Super-cool design hotel on the quiet side of town with luxury and privacy assured Some hotels have it, others don’t, Hotel Sezz has it in spades. We trawled through the contemporary design hotels of Paris, and unanimously crowned the Sezz la belle demoi…"

  60. i-escape reviewed Hotel Palacio Marques de la Gomera in Andalucia, Spain

    Curl up for a night or two at this comfortable nobleman’s palace in the ancient town of Osuna You get a bit of aristocratic splendour at this 18th-century baroque palace on the best street in town. Step though ancient wood doors and you find a classical…"

  61. i-escape reviewed Txai Resort in Bahia North East, Brazil

    Exceptionally beautiful eco-friendly estate where rustic simplicity meets style and luxury on a vast stretch of Bahia's undeveloped Cacoa Coast Picture those endless beaches of Bahia. Frame them within 100 hectares of coconut groves and rare preserved A…"

  62. i-escape reviewed The Elysian in Denpasar, Indonesia

    New, cubist oasis in fashionable Seminyak, with private pools, a sensory spa and a sharp eye for style Upmarket Seminyak is the home of the all-day, all-night party, with hip beachside venues turning insomnia into an art form. And when you've just rocke…"

  63. i-escape reviewed Emelisse Art Hotel in Ionian Islands, Greece

    Luxury on a sublime stretch of coast with exquisite sea views and rooms that spoil you rotten This place has the lot: exquisite views over turquoise seas, unyielding luxury in super-cool rooms, smartly-cushioned loungers flanking the pool, and a path do…"

  64. i-escape reviewed Jardins Secrets in Nîmes, France

    Grand 18th-century townhouse with succulent gardens, shimmering pool and sparkling rooms Step off a city street and enter an enchanted garden. There’s a banana tree in the corner, oranges and lemons grow in another. Bougainvillea streaks across the wall…"

  65. i-escape reviewed La Maison in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Stylish French-owned B&B in Gavea, a smart hillside neighbourhood with great views of Rio and the statue of Christ Located in the upmarket residential district of Gavea, a 10-minute taxi ride from Ipanema beach, this pretty boutique bed and breakfast is…"

  66. i-escape reviewed Prestige Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, Spain

    Contemporary design hotel with friendly, knowledgable staff on Barcelona's smartest shopping boulevard This was a grand old Barcelona town house. The high ceilings, the big rooms and the marble staircase have all stayed, but a warm contemporary design a…"

  67. i-escape reviewed Escondrijo in Andalucia, Spain

    Stunningly cool, designer B&B in the old town of gorgeous Vejer, with the beach at El Palmar only ten kilometres away Boutique B&Bs, or micro hotels, are beginning to mushroom across Europe. Escondrijo almost defines the type. Its cool interiors, easy…"