Upscale hotels continue to make a concerted effort to blend into their natural environment with minimal disruption, whether it’s a bustling city or a small surfing town. This strong sense of place is welcomed. There’s also an increased wave of conscious luxury—properties are being transparent with guests on their current and future efforts to minimize their carbon footprint, as well as projects that guests can engage in to protect the environment or benefit the surrounding community.
From a glamorous refurbished 19th century hotel in the heart of historic Edinburgh to a lavish hacienda-style boutique escape in the Galápagos, these eight hotels balance comfort and seclusion with an invitation to get close with the outdoors and get social again with locals and fellow guests.
Borealis Basecamp, Fairbanks, Alaska
Borealis Basecamp was a trendsetter with its glass-ceiling igloos, but the latest glass cube additions take it up a notch. Lie in your queen-size bed and watch an epic aurora borealis light show through 10-feet-high floor-to-ceiling windows in tiny homes tucked in Alaska’s wild forests. The cubes are spaced out so you’ll feel like you’re the only guest around. Add a hot shower with heated towels, flushable toilet and a steaming cup of cocoa and it’s easy to imagine not wanting to be anywhere but here. Two-night packages start at $1,793 per person
Immerso, Ericeira, Portugal
Immerso is a 37-room boutique property 45 minutes north of the capital. Tucked inside a green valley, Immerso puts sustainability at its core, creating an escape even nonsurfers can appreciate. Locally sourced and produced interior decor and furnishings, an organic fruit and vegetable garden to help supply the restaurant, and the use of electric service cars, as well as electric bikes for guests, are all part of the vision. Horseback riding, wine tasting and stand-up paddleboarding are among other activities you can enjoy, or you could simply spend the day at the spa for a steam bath or massage treatments. Rooms from $212
Nobu, Santorini, Greece
Nobu’s clifftop property in Imerovigli, a 20-minute drive from Santorini International Airport, is a visual stunner that looks like the ideal private getaway for couples and for doing little else but getting pampered by the seaside. Its white-exterior Mediterranean buildings are wrapped up around clifftop Aegean Sea views, from the rooms, the dual-level infinity pool and the open-air Nobu restaurant terrace. All 25 suites offer minimalist earth-toned decor and outdoor terraces, while five villas enjoy spacious outdoor lounges and pools. There’s a “Daycation” pass available if you’re in the area and want to bask in the luxury for just a few hours. Suites from $600
Gleneagles Townhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland
This is the first urban outpost of the five-star Gleneagles Hotel and golf resort in the Perthshire countryside. Housed in an 1846 Georgian building on St. Andrew Square that was once home to the Bank of Scotland, the 33-room townhouse’s decor is ultra-glamorous, from ornate ceilings to the floor tiling, glass-dome ceiling and marble touches. The room furnishings give off a quintessentially Scottish vibe, ideal for those work-from-hotel days when you don’t want to feel like you’re missing out. There’s a modern brasserie on site, a wellness center, a rooftop bar and a three-tiered membership club “for social souls” to meet and exchange ideas, starting at $3,123 annually, with a 50% discount for the young and entrepreneurial under 33 years of age. Rooms from $404
Coulibri Ridge, Dominica
It took 14 years for the owners to build this property, so it runs completely off-grid, using solar energy, with wind power as a backup. Merging luxurious design with sustainability, it’s no eyesore, either: Sitting on top of a ridge, it boasts spacious, furnished studios and sky-penthouse suites offering kitchenettes and sea views, and three suites have an additional private pool. Up to 400 acres of gardens and forests also surround Coulibri Ridge. Suites from $850
The Village, Moskito Island, British Virgin Islands
This latest addition to Richard Branson’s private Moskito Island estate is one of the most stunning properties to open in the Caribbean this past year. Part of the appeal for me is its remote location in the British Virgin Islands. The multilevel, village-like design translates into sweeping Caribbean sea views from any of the seven standalone guesthouses. The infinity pool makes you feel like you’re over the edge of the archipelago, or you could easily hide out in the spacious verandas, watch a movie in the cinema room, hike the grounds or kayak to the caves underneath the resort. Bookings start in January. Estate buyout $34,000 per night
A-Frame Club, Winter Park, Colorado
The new A-Frame Club’s peaked-roof cabins tucked inside a pine forest near the steep slopes of Winter Park feel like an intimate winter wellness retreat, with adventure waiting on the outside. The cabins were built to be elevated off the ground to lower their environmental impact, and the style of the property is all vintage, a throwback to Colorado’s golden 1970s. Take in the Rocky Mountain nature through tall cabin windows, soak in an onsen tub or socialize in the saloon by fire pits. From $500 a night