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Lihim Resorts – A unique tropical getaway located in El Nido, Palawan

Lihim Resorts is situated within a pristine forest and can be described as a secret hideaway. From the outside you can barely make out that it is a 28-hectare resort, as the villas are tucked away into the natural lush greenery.

Lihim is reached by a short five-minute boat trip from El Nido Port and has breathtaking views of Bacuit Bay.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the entire Lihim team including my personal butlers, Emman and Jessica. I instantly felt at home and was offered a fruity local welcome drink and a cold towel. My butler assisted me to my villa which had stunning views of Bacuit Bay. Lihim offers a convenient express check in service, allowing guests to proceed straight to their villas instead of having to wait in the reception area. Instead of a room key, I was given a wristband which electronically opens the door. This small innovation removes the stress of having to worry about a room key/card for the duration of your stay.

The room was perfect. The high ceiling made the room feel extremely spacious. There were sliding doors on either side of the king-sized bed leading out onto the terrace. This allowed for a lot of natural light to come into the room as well as spectacular ocean views whilst lying in bed. The bathroom was huge and boasted a view of the ocean. It had a freestanding bathtub in the middle as well as an indoor and outdoor shower.

The rooms at Lihim Resorts are all villas and each villa includes a personal butler. The villas are named after the islands in El Nido. Many of the villas are perched high up in the forest and can be reached by the funicular or the buggy. The funicular is a unique feature that is much like a cable car and makes every villa easily accessible without having to climb numerous flights of stairs.

After a full day of island hopping, I returned to my villa and the staff had run a bubble bath for me with a bottle of wine next to the bath. It was such a special surprise. The butlers really go above and beyond their duties for their guests and help create lasting memories.

What makes the Lihim experience truly special is the butler service they offer, which is a designated staff member who looks after your every need. The butlers are reachable via instant message and are available 24/7. The butler service really makes your stay so relaxing and carefree. They prepare an itinerary for you before arrival and ensure all your allergies and preferences are noted. This itinerary can be changed throughout your stay.

A truly memorable touch was the personalized bamboo water bottle given to me by Lihim which had my name engraved on it. This was such a unique gift, one that I can take with me wherever I go, and it will always remind me of my stay.

Secluded and intimate are two words that best describe this resort. You really feel in touch with nature. The resort has multiple viewing points and nature walks around the property. Wherever you go, there is natural beauty surrounding you, whether it be the sights, sounds, or smells.

The housekeeping was impeccable, as soon as I left the room, a staff member was in to clean. Whenever I entered the room, it was tidy and re-stocked.

Lihim Resorts have the luxury of three secluded and scenic spots on Cadlao island. These spots include private beaches and a private lounge nestled in the Cadlao lagoon. The lounge is reached by a short, picturesque boat ride and is the perfect day activity. Cadlao lagoon has the clearest water and age-old limestone cliffs which makes for a spectacular setting.

Lihim offers day trips to the lagoon which includes a delectable Filipino style lunch and a knowledgeable tour guide who, incidentally, is also a great photographer. There are multiple activities available at the lagoon, such as kayaking, snorkeling, and stand-up paddling.

Gana is Lihim’s main restaurant and offers a culinary adventure with fresh ingredients from Lihim’s very own farm. All meals served at Gana are a la carte, including breakfast. Alternatively, you can have your meal served in the comfort of your own villa. My butler set up the outside table at my villa with a delicious breakfast spread. The view of the ocean and sounds of the birds made the breakfast experience even more extraordinary.

Lihim offers exclusive private dinners in multiple beautiful and secluded spots around the resort. These dinners will be offered to you by your butler in a set menu format which can be tailored to suit your specific wants and needs. I opted for a candlelit dinner next to the pool, affording me uninterrupted views of the ocean. It was the most fairytale-like, romantic evening under the stars.

There are numerous lounges spread throughout the property, each has its own striking view and atmosphere. Each lounge’s ambience is created through the rare ornaments, statues, and art pieces collected by the owner from various trips around the world. One can spend hours exploring the grounds.  

A hidden gem on the Lihim property is ‘The Cellar’. A small room that houses their collection of fine wines and luxury cigars. The Cellar is also a romantic and intimate dinner location. Not to mention the resort has its own exclusive collaboration with Moët & Chandon.

The resort boasts a tennis court as well as a basketball court with a stunning backdrop. The tennis court coincidentally is the only one in El Nido. The resort also has a fully equipped gym, perfect for the traveler wanting to maintain their exercise routine. In the resorts efforts to cater for all your needs, they can bring certain gym equipment to your villa for you to complete a home workout if you wish. These include the ergo (rowing) machine, watt bike, and freestanding weights.

The swimming pool is the perfect sunset location. Relax in the pool with a cocktail in hand, watching the picture perfect El Nido sunset. The sunsets are like something you only see on postcards.

The resorts’ Panari Spa, which appropriately means ‘rest’, has one of the most diverse and extensive treatment selections on offer. Not only does the spa offer massage and beauty treatments, but they also offer widespread health and wellness treatments. These include IV drips, hangover cures, immune boosters, and a whole lot more. The spa itself includes a couples treatment room and male and female changing areas, each with their own saunas. The spa is situated in a serene space amongst the resort’s grounds, and leaves you at peace. I opted for their signature massage which is a must-do while at Lihim.

I completely understand why it is called Lihim because it is the ‘secret’ paradise of El Nido. Their slogan is ‘Luxury in Simplicity’, and it is so fitting.

I would like to mention the staff members who took care of me. Firstly, my personal butlers Jessica and Emman; then, in the restaurant, Angel; the general managers Armand and Jen; and lastly, Sed, Toto, and Arnold. Thank you for making my stay so unforgettable.

Excellent hospitality and top-notch service guarantees an extraordinary holiday experience. For a luxurious relaxing getaway surrounded by nature, Lihim Resorts is the perfect destination.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Kayla Lourens

To book your stay at Lihim Resorts, visit their website: www.lihim.com

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Cauayan Island Resort – Picturesque “laid back luxury” private island resort in El Nido, Palawan

I had the pleasure of staying at Cauayan Island Resort for two nights and what a magical two nights it was. The resort is breathtaking in every aspect; it is the perfect island holiday destination. You cannot really put my stay into words as it truly was one of the best places I have ever been to.

After a scenic 20-minute boat ride from the El Nido Port, I arrived at the most beautiful setting – a private cove nestled in between towering limestone cliffs with over-water villas, white sand, lush palm trees and the most vibrant blue water that I have laid my eyes on.

What an idyllic setting, it is rare to find so much beauty in one place.

I received one of the warmest greetings from the staff when I arrived at the resort. This continued throughout my stay as every staff member greeted me by name. This was a small gesture but a very touching one, as it made me feel at ease wherever I went on the island.

I checked in to one of their water villas which overlooked the cove. The views of the cove being immersed by the limestone cliffs as you sit on the edge of the bed, could pass as one of the 7 wonders of the world. The villa itself offered me privacy which made me feel as though I was the only person on the island. All rooms on the island are villas that each have their own unique feel and features. These include beach villas, lagoon villas, as well as sunrise and sunset villas with their own private pools.

The water villa offers two loungers on the deck which was without a doubt the highlight of the room; allowing me to relax outside and listen to the sounds of the ocean. Included on the deck floor is a glass panel, so you can admire the sea creatures below. The sliding doors leading out onto the deck, as well as the window beside the bed, are tinted, allowing guests comfort and privacy in their own villa.

There was a large tub in the bathroom, that included a rain shower. It is not your typical shower bath. There is also an outdoor shower which is accessible from the bathroom as well as the main entrance, allowing you to rinse off before entering your villa. The amenities in the bathroom were all from L’Occitane, another small touch that really amplifies the luxury of the resort.  

I had one of the best nights’ sleep in the extra king bed. The sounds of the ocean beneath evoking a sense of calm. The cabinet at the base of the bed has a television that can be brought up through remote control if you want to watch one of your favorite Netflix shows, or you can leave it down and admire the view of the cove.

One of the main features of the resort is the infinity pool. It encapsulates everything a resort pool should be. It has unobstructed views of the ocean and is a stone’s throw away from the beach.

The resort offers complimentary water sports and activities. All motorized water sports are unauthorized due to El Nido islands’ regulations. The activities on offer include, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. I opted to go snorkeling in the cove. This presented me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with the numerous baby sharks that are residents of the cove (they are ‘vegetarian’ as the guide put it, and not harmful in any way). All the gear is provided free-of-charge, including swimming shoes to protect you from the sea urchins and coral reefs.

The resort offers numerous activities on the island. These include sunrise and sunset hikes, yoga, volleyball, board games, and many more. I opted to do both hikes. The sunrise hike is a challenging one that includes rock climbing. It is worth it for one of the most breathtaking sunrises over the El Nido mainland, as well as memorable views of the Cauayan Island Resort. The guides are fantastic, you are provided with a helmet with a light as well as gloves for the sharp limestone cliffs you must climb. There are ropes all the way along the path for you to hold onto to make the climb easier, and to feel safe all the way. The sunset hike is on the opposite side of the island and is a lot less strenuous. It is a lot quicker and can be done in open shoes. It also delivered spectacular views and the perfect way to unwind before dinner.

In addition to the island-based activities the resort also offers full and half-day island hopping tours, as well as a sunset cruise. These tours can either be done on their speedboat or on the local group boat. There are numerous different packages on offer, all allowing you to take in the incredible different islands in and around El Nido.

I chose to do the half-day island hopping tour with the resort’s private speedboat, which was a fantastic experience. We visited some of the most picturesque lagoons and snorkeling spots, some of which have been featured in world-renowned films. The tour guide, Alan, was so friendly and gave me all the information regarding the sights and assisted me with all of the equipment.

The resort has one main dining area, which is located right next to the swimming pool, looking out over the cove. The tables are well positioned, allowing you to get the best view of the beach, as well as a real tropical feel from the surrounding palm trees. They offer a full buffet breakfast, with the option to order from the kitchen. My favourite was the eggs benedict, which I ordered every morning together with an orange juice. The orange juice was freshly squeezed, and the staff ensured that your glass was always full.

Lunch and dinner are served à la carte. You will not be short on variety as the menu is extensive. It includes over 100 different dishes bringing together flavours from all over the world. The portion sizes are generous, so you will not leave feeling hungry or short-changed. Lunch around the pool was relaxed. I had a fresh coconut which is the perfect hydrating drink on holiday. The dinner ambience was complimented by the pool lighting and ocean sounds. Fresh seafood is also available every evening, displaying the catch of the day that you can choose from. My favourite was the mango meringue roll for dessert, which was freshly made by their talented pastry chef.

On top of the à la carte menu there is also a bar menu that includes bar snacks as well as sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. Not to mention the numerous cocktails, wines, spirits, and beer on offer that any bar around the world would envy. This menu is also available at lunch and dinner, you can relax on one of the pool loungers, or sit in the bar located across the swimming pool from the main dining area, and order from there. It really is the ideal dining setup: informal and relaxed, the perfect combination for a holidaymaker seeking to unwind.

The spa treatment room was one-of-a-kind. Each treatment room is tranquil and private. Each massage table includes a glass panel beneath it, allowing you to spot your favorite fish or take in the resident baby sharks. If you really want to get into a sense of Zen, there is no better feeling than doing it to the calming sound of the ocean. I opted for the signature massage. It did not disappoint, the pressure from the therapist was perfect and the setting could not have been better. I can honestly say it was one of the best massages I have ever experienced, and 90 minutes that I wish had never ended. To bring me back to reality, I was given a homemade ginger tea whilst sitting out on the deck overlooking the cove and El Nido mainland.

The resort has a romantic ambience and is a place you can call ‘a home away from home’. They offer honeymoon and special occasion packages which makes it the perfect romantic destination. They have private dinner locations and, of course, top-class service and hospitality. I would rate this property as one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world.

There were so many small touches that contributed to making my stay so perfect, many of which I cannot explain as it has to be experienced personally.

Everyone I encountered made me feel so well taken care of, especially Jolery and Kath who looked after me in the restaurant, Jen and the front office team, and Alan the tour guide. I had the pleasure of meeting the owners of Cauayan and what a lovely couple, so down to earth and they look after their staff well.

Cauayan Island Resort really is a paradise of tranquility and a haven of comfort. Their slogan is “the art of laid back luxury” and that is exactly what you will experience.

The photos online do not do this resort justice. There are also small details and personal touches that really elevate your stay that you won’t get from their advertising or website. The staff really focus on giving you a personalized experience and creating lasting memories. I cannot sum up my stay any better than to say the resort is truly out of this world and the most beautiful place I have ever stayed at.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Kayla Lourens

To book your stay at Cauayan Island Resort, visit their website: cauayanresort.com

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Five-star serviced residence, perfect for business travellers.

Joy~Nostalg Hotel & Suites Manila is located in Ortigas, Pasig which is a popular business district and has multiple shopping malls within walking distance.

I enjoyed two nights in a one-bedroom suite which was spacious and comfortable. The kitchen is fully stocked and the room had high speed internet. The shower also has a steam option and there was a TV in the bathroom which was convenient.

The hotel has a rooftop bar on the 43rd floor with panoramic views of Manila Bay, it is the perfect spot for sundowners. They also serve food from the grill to accompany your cocktails.

The hotel’s main restaurant, Nostalgia Lounge & Bar, offers buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast was delicious, the buffet included, pastries, hot dishes, cold meats, cereals and more, the chef will cook your eggs while you wait. 

The indoor heated pool is the perfect place to relax after a long day and be sure to take a dip in the jacuzzi. The pool even has underwater music playing! The fitness center has all the necessary equipment for a good workout.

This hotel is perfect for long stays, or a short staycation when you are in Manila. The suites are pet friendly and spacious for families.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Kayla Lourens

Visit their website to make a booking: www.joynostalgmanila.com

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Perfect oasis in the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg.

We had the pleasure of staying at Hyde Park Guest House on a recent short visit to Johannesburg.

As a family of four, with 2 young children, it was ideal for us since we were able to have adjoining rooms which gave us plenty of privacy and space. 

We were offered the choice of a cooked breakfast, made to order, there was also a full breakfast buffet with a variety of items to choose from.

Thank you, Elfreda, for a lovely stay. The hospitality from the friendly staff was wonderful, the accommodation was very comfortable and the breakfast was delicious.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Adele Hamman.

To book your stay at Hyde Park Guest House visit their website: www.hydeparkguesthouse.co.za

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Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel – Relaxed luxury and the perfect location on Boracay Island’s White Beach.

Villa Caemilla is located on Station 3 of Boracay’s White Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world. Station 3 is the quieter side of the beach, away from the hustle and bustle, so it’s perfect for a relaxing stay.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the friendly reception staff and were given a handmade garland, fresh coconut water and a cold towel.

The receptionist assisted us with booking an excursion to one of the nearby islands, it was booked within minutes and the guide arrived shortly after. We had an amazing day trip to Magic Island.

Beach Bar

We were given a complimentary beach bag and reusable water bottles and there was a water jug in restaurant where we could fill up anytime. The hotel also has an ATM which was really helpful.

The room had the most perfect view of the ocean and surrounding palm trees. It was the perfect place to relax and watch the sunset. The bedroom was comfortable and the jacuzzi bathtub was amazing.

The restaurant served an à la carte breakfast, I had fresh orange juice and a delicious omelette with a view of the beach. For dinner, I enjoyed the Bitterballen and the crispy chicken wrap, both well-presented and full of flavour. At night the restaurant has the most romantic and beautiful ambience.

If you are looking for a carefree and relaxing beach holiday, this unique boutique hotel is perfect for you, it is great value for money, presenting affordable luxury.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Kayla Lourens

To book your stay at Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel, visit their website: www.villacaemilla.com

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Hilton London Bankside – A luxury modern hotel in London City Centre.

We recently had the privilege of staying at Hilton London Bankside for three nights in a king deluxe room.

The ambience of the hotel is warm and welcoming. We were delighted to enter our room and find a complimentary drink accompanied by delectable macaroons – my sweet tooth is still dreaming of them.

We immediately felt at home, especially since the bed was extremely comfortable and plush, we had such a good night’s sleep. The bathroom was every inch of modern perfection, with interesting colours and lighting to help one relax after a day of exploring the extensive sights of London.

We were also fortunate to have access to the Executive Lounge which was very organized and had amazing food and drinks available. With their super-fast Wi-Fi this was a great place to catch up on some work.

Hilton London Bankside has a perfect location in London with many cultural and historical sites within walking distance. The Concierge surprised us with his tips on how best to navigate the area, as well as assistance in finding some interesting nearby attractions.

With a fitness centre and beautiful indoor pool, this modern contemporary hotel has everything to offer. Our time at Hilton London Bankside was such perfection, we can only say that we highly recommend you choose this hotel for all round comfort and good memories from start to finish.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Shannon Langeveldt.

Book a stay at Hilton London Bankside: www.hilton.com/en/hotels/lonsbhi-hilton-london-bankside

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Pan Pacific London – a modern urban retreat in the heart of the City of London.

When in London we had the pleasure of spending a night at Pan Pacific London. We arrived to immediately feel embraced by the ambience and were impressed with the décor which was matched by the friendly and attentive staff who welcomed us.

My partner and I enjoyed the comfort of a beautiful en-suite deluxe room with a stunning view of the city. The room was super-modern with all the amenities at hand to make one feel at home. 

We chose to dine at the in-house restaurant, Straits Kitchen, which proved to be an experience we will never forget. The restaurant serves South East Asian food with dishes from Singapore. Our favourite was the variety of small plates, which included spring rolls, prawns and vegetables, to top it all off, we indulged in the Mandarin dessert which was absolutely delicious. 

My partner and I are both very keen on keeping up with our gym routines when travelling and this was undoubtedly the best gym I have ever seen in a hotel. The gym is fully equipped with the latest technologies and is clean and organized. We also took the opportunity to have an afternoon dip in the pool at the spa, it was extremely relaxing and the setting was amazing with an incredible view of the city. 

We will definitely return to Pan Pacific London on our next visit to London.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Shannon Langeveldt

Book a stay at Pan Pacific London: www.panpacific.com/en/booking/search.html?propertyCode=pplon

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Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa – an experience in luxurious African hospitality…

My husband and I visited Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa in September of this year, in a time where COVID-19 was, and still is, a big problem to all working in the hospitality industry.

We arrived on the Friday and had a welcome drink before checking in. Once checked in they gave us time options for when we would like to go on safari and then showed us to our room.

We were booked into one of the Premier Lodges. The room had a balcony with amazing views of the Game Reserve, we could even see some elephants roaming around from time to time. The room also had an en-suite bathroom, coffee and tea facilities, an in-room safe, a mini fridge and complimentary water.

The first night we watched the sunset on our balcony and then went to have dinner at the restaurant. The food throughout the weekend was amazing and the Aquila team took great precaution to keep guests safe and healthy during this time.

Our Saturday was spent relaxing by the swimming pool with some sparkling wine, thereafter we went on a sunset game drive. Our guide had the best stories and so much knowledge about the animals, he made our safari experience even better. We had a sundowner in the mountains before heading back.

We woke up early on Sunday morning to go on a sunrise game drive, it was very cold but so worth it. We had the best time at Aquila, it was very relaxing, and the safaris was an amazing experience.

Aquila is more than just an unforgettable wildlife experience, it is an experience in luxurious African hospitality, traditional culinary delights, service excellence and the restoration of pride to the indigenous people and the land.

Reviewed by World Luxury Hotel Awards Representative: Jana Stoman

To book a stay at Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa: https://www.aquilasafari.com/

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O’Two Hotel – the perfect city escape…

O’Two is a new luxury boutique hotel situated in Cape Town, South Africa. The hotel offers breathtaking views of Cape Town’s Mouille Point area and offers panoramic views of Table Mountain and surrounds.

Upon arrival, my partner and I were served with a glass of champagne and received a small gift bag containing masks, sanitizer, and Lindt chocolates.

The friendly porter assisted us to their penthouse suite on the 7th floor and explained all the amenities to us. The suite had two interleading rooms, both offering a bathroom, lounge, terrace, and kitchenette.

Our beautiful suite.

The design of the suite was stunning, such attention to detail, the scented candles, unique décor, and an amazing view from our balcony.

We also received a chilled bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne and strawberries, what a treat!

The smart TV had DSTV Now and Netflix, so we were thoroughly entertained throughout our three-night stay. We also ordered delicious pizzas from the in-room dining menu and enjoyed the fully stocked mini fridge and tea station.

O’ Two Hotel boasts a beautiful rooftop pool with sun loungers which is the perfect place to enjoy a summer’s day in Cape Town! There is a view of the ocean and on the opposite side a view of Table Mountain.

The hotel is located close to the city center offering numerous restaurants and bars. The V&A Waterfront and famous Cape Town attractions are all just a short taxi ride away.

Thank you O’Two for your amazing hospitality, I will always remember this trip.

Reviewed by World Luxury Hotel Award Representative Kayla Lourens

To book your city escape at O’Two Hotel:https://www.otwo.co.za/

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A grand stay at Waldhaus Sils Hotel…

The drive down to Sils was breathtaking as we descended into the verdant Engadin valley. The Waldhaus (“forest house”) is majestically perched in a forest above the delightful village of Sils, overlooking the valley and its many lakes.  As the hotel is at 1800m altitude, the air is crisp and warm, devoid of the coastal mugginess at this time of year.

On arrival, we were received with a friendly welcome from the family management and were presented with a beautiful book chronicling the fascinating history of the hotel and family since 1908.

The décor of the hotel has been purposely preserved as it was many years ago and exudes an old-world charm in the best tradition of luxury hotels of that era.

Our room consisted of a lounge with bathroom on level 1 and a spacious bedroom en-suite accessible via a quaint spiral staircase. Bathroom fittings were of a classic look and of top quality. The accommodation was scrupulously clean and maintained.

Guests can choose a variety of room genre furnishings and decorations eg contemporary, historic, classical etc. Indeed, some returning guests specify the genre of their choice when rebooking at the Waldhaus.

We were treated to a very special fine dining multi course dinner in the original wood paneled a la carte dining room. The enthusiastic sommelier let us experience a few of the excellent wines from the region drawn from their huge cellar selection while guiding us for food matching as a delicate compliment to the fine cuisine that was presented to us. A most enjoyable candle lit evening overlooking the forests stretching out before us.

After a peacefully silent sleep, we awoke at dawn and were greeted by a spectacular view from our windows of the valley and its lakes stretching to the far mountains in the distance.

The spectacular view from our room.

A special tour of the hotel was conducted by the family’s general manager and co-owner, a descendent of the original creator of the hotel, wherein he enlightened us of the rich history of the hotel.

Of great interest was the “live” ghost that lives in a suitcase in the underground museum surrounded by artifacts of a bygone era. The hotel also features one of the first synchronised clocks system to be installed in a hotel at that time. Who knew?!

In contrast to the classic décor of the hotel, the new spa is ultra-modern and has been tastefully designed to complement the hotel. We enjoyed massage treatments by professional therapists who were friendly and extremely knowledgeable about all wellness matters – superb!

Breakfast was a classic affair in the stately high ceiling dining room with a vast variety of tasty items together with the option of a la carte menu. Eggs were perfectly presented and the cappuccino was delicious.

Later in the day we were treated to an exhilarating cable car ride up to the 3300m peak of Corvatsch from where we could see the Waldhaus overlooking Sils valley.

We had an incredibly special and memorable stay. If you are looking for a grand country hotel of days gone by but beautifully preserved, look no further than the Waldhaus Sils hotel.

Reviewed by World Luxury Hotel Awards representative Marianne Cauvin-Vaz.

To book a stay at this spectacular property: https://waldhaus-sils.ch/en/