A good hotel provides travelers with access to nearby attractions. A great hotel makes travelers want to skip the attractions altogether. When visitors check into these 20 hotels, which ran the gamut from luxurious to anarchic, they never want to leave. The reasons range from glorious views to glorious linens, but there are a few universals. Each of the hotels is a self-contained world entirely apart from reality defined by a set of unwritten laws that maids, bellboys, and, yes, guests, seem to innately understand. These hotels are someone else's fantasies, but they seem, on second glance, as though they might be your own.
Morgan's Rock Eco-Lodge, Nicaragua
At the end of a white curve of sand 15 miles north of the Costa Rica border sits what may be the finest wilderness resort in the Western Hemisphere. From the beach you can barely see the place – the 15 bungalows of Morgan's Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge are perched on stilts and hidden by the rain forest. But once you reach the lodge, you'll find accommodations normally reserved for resorts with Club Med–size carbon footprints. Waiters pour cocktails mixed with homemade rum and fruit grown on the adjacent farm. King-size beds and private decks look out on the Pacific. On the beach, surfers scout offshore breaks kicked up by southwestern winds.
The property started in 1998 as a 4,500-acre reforestation project; then three years ago, the lodge was built with abundant local wood – never the mahogany favored by clear-cutters. "We wanted to excite people about sustainable timber," says architect Matthew Falkiner. Indeed, Falkiner built many of the bungalows around trees. You'll also have a solar-heated outdoor shower. But you'll come for the chest-high barrel waves, the massage table, and the mangrove-shaded estuary where you'll kayak into the ocean as the sun sets.
More information: Room rates start at $200 in the off-season and $280 during the winter high season. To get to Morgan's Rock, fly into Liberia in Costa Rica on JetBlue. The eco-lodge is a 35-minute ride north.
Credit: Courtesy Morgan's Rock