Drop out in style at these remote getaways
Once, only the holy (or the insane) voluntarily sought out a life in the wilds. These pressure cooker days, the urge to evade the madding crowds has become a necessity, but thanks to a proliferation of elegant escapes created with the aesthete in mind, that have popped up on every continent, it’s never been easier to drop out in style.
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The Hen House
If Hen House looks familiar, that’s probably because you watched it being built on Grand Designs. Standing splendidly alone on Skye’s magnificent west coast, the crisp, contemporary two-level retreat boasts views across Loch Bracadale to the rugged uplands beyond. Angled against the elements and perched on small piloti to minimise impact, it’s the work of local architects, Rural Design, whose deft use of wood and MDF creates warm, welcoming interiors, perfect for shaking off the chill of a coastal walk.
15 Fiscavaig, Isle of Skye; 15fiscavaig.co.uk (opens in new tab); Rates from: £695
High on a bush-swathed bluff in the Serra do Mar, the Catuçaba Hideaway revels in its rural isolation. Designed by Studio MK27, the sleek, four-bedroom property is an elongated floating platform of endless decks with limitless views, behind which cosy clay-tiled spaces are furnished with local accents and textiles. Naturally cross-ventilated in the summer, ceramic wood burners and copper bathtubs warm chillier nights. Horse and biking trails, long walks, nearby beaches and abseiling down waterfalls provide reasons to linger longer.
São Luiz do Paraitinga; Tel: 41 41 520 60 46; offgridhideaways.com (opens in new tab); Rates from: $750
Commissioned to design a getaway amidst the tidal mudflats of Alentejo’s Sado Estuary, architect Manuel Aires Mateus had a restrictive brief. The deceptively simple beach huts that resulted are a sumptuous juxtaposition of rough-hewn reclaimed wood and sophisticated furnishings. One serves as the kitchen/living space, the other as the bedroom, complete with shower that can be opened to the view. Totally disconnected, stays are all about the outdoors, whether that’s kayaking, bird-watching, biking or tranquil sunsets, vinho verde in hand.
Comporta, Alentejo, Portugal; Tel: 41-41 520 6046; offgridhideaways.com (opens in new tab); Rates from: €200 (min. stay 3 nights)
Plunge pool and wooden deck aside, this understated house set in farmland overlooking the Tasman Sea could almost be a stylish barn, albeit one pierced by generous windows. Designed by Atelier-Andy Carson, the open floorplan is deftly divided into a living/dining space and a bedroom by a kitchen and bathroom pod and the Minimalist interiors are lined in French oak. Sliding side windows and a louvered western façade pull in the views, making this a place to escape in style.
Gerringong, New South Wales; dovecote.com.au/escarpment (opens in new tab); Rates from: AUS$1,550
Fogo Island Inn
An island off another island in the icy waters of the Atlantic, Fogo could be the definition of remote. Dying until an innovative artist-in-residence programme started 10 years ago, the island’s tempestuous north coast boasts a striking 29-suite inn. Designed by Newfoundland-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders, the series of stacked boxes, lantern-like by night, reaches seaward on a cluster of dramatic pilotis. Owned and run by the islanders, it combines contemporary flair with a celebration of local culture and landscapes.
210 Main Road, Joe Batt’s Arm, NL, A0G 2X0, Canada; Tel: +1 709 6583444; www.fogoislandinn.ca (opens in new tab); Rates from: CAD$1,875
Harriniva Aurora Domes
Whether you see the Northern Lights or not, a night (you can only book one) high above Finland’s Arctic Circle will be memorable. The snugly-insulated padded igloo has a north-facing reinforced glass wall for Aurora gazing and meditating on the frozen expanse of Lake Torassieppijarvi. Designed by geodesic specialists, Freedomes, the Scandi-chic interiors are given Lappish love with antler accents and fur throws. Supplement stays with cross-country skiing, snowmobile or husky safaris, and Harriniva is the perfect short winter escape.
Harrinivantie 35, 99300, Muonio, Finland; Tel: 358 400 155100; www.harriniva.fi (opens in new tab); Rates from €160
Ion Adventure Hotel
As a boutique hotel, the Ion may not be exclusive but it is isolated. Beginning life as workers accommodation, it was reimagined by Santa Monica’s Minarc Design Studio. Now an essay in chaste luxury, the low-slung box cantilevers above a lava flow on dynamically arranged stilts. From day-hikes in dramatically bleak Thingvellir National Park, to dry-fishing and scuba diving, there’s plenty to do, while at night, the geothermal deck pool make for a delightful place to catch the Northern Lights.
Nesjavellir 801; Tel: 354 428 3415; ionadventure.ioniceland.is (opens in new tab); Rates from: $307
JR’s Eco Hut
This solid, A-frame wooden structure designed by Luke Stanley Architects and located in the rolling hills overlooking the bushlands of southwestern Australia, resembles the top half of a Swiss chalet, emerging from a gravel bed. A celebration of off-grid living, the eco hut is intended as a place for dropping out and forgetting the rest of the world, a feat facilitated by panoramic views and congenial Mid-Century élan, thanks to Anthony Hunt Design’s luxuriously minimal treatment of its airy interior.
Kimo Estate, Gundagai, NSW, Australia; Tel: 61 421 505949; www.kimoestate.com (opens in new tab); Rates from: AUS$350
Scattered along the Banks Peninsula, a rocky Pacific Ocean headland of muscular ridges, private coves and grassy hills, this old-fashioned getaway is comprised of five spacious villas by architect Andrew Patterson. Design-wise, the closest to the ideal of the New Zealand bach, Scrubby Bay is a cedar-clad villa stretched along the beach and features three sea-view suites, a deck with a fire pit, and an outdoor spa. Arrival, naturally, is effected by helicopter or a panoramic (read ‘white-knuckle’) cliff-top drive.
Annandale, Akaroa, New Zealand; Tel: 64.3 304 6841; www.annandale.com/accommodations/scrubby-bay (opens in new tab); Rates from: NZ$3,680
The Dune Pavillion at Longitude 131
With bedrooms angled to look across Australia’s Red Centre towards the most famous sandstone monolith in the world, the Dune Pavillion is an exercise in opulent restraint. A contemporary take on the outback shack, the sleek, two-bedroom property presents a blind façade that opens up, via floor-to-ceiling windows, at the rear. A fresh addition to Longitude 131’s luxury camp, it is the work of Adelaide’s Max Pritchard Gunner, a studio known for its respectful insertion of buildings in delicate environments.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Mutitjulu, NT, Australia; Tel: +61-2-99184355; longitude131.com.au/stay/dune-pavilion (opens in new tab); Rates from: AUS$ 2,900 per person (minimum 2 night stay)
Vega Island Hideaway
From outside, the Hideaway is another simple, if more sharply designed weather-beaten fisherman’s cottage, set on the rocky seafront of the UNESCO-protected Vegaøyan Island. Inside, it’s another beast. The pared-down smorgasbord of pale woods and earthy colours, with contemporary furnishings and a shiny steel kitchen for urban appeal, is the work of Stockholm’s Kolman Boye Architects and makes the perfect base from which to explore the rugged coastline, hikeable mountains and, for the thicker-skinned at least, the crystalline turquoise seas.
Vegaøyan, Norway; Tel: +41 41 520 6046; offgridhideaways.com/hideaway/vega-island-norway (opens in new tab); Rates from: €550 (minimum 5 night stay)
On the edge of a frozen lake at the base of a towering ice cliff in the frigid wastes of Antarctica’s northern coast, the heated fibreglass sleeping pod fantasy that is Whichaway is as close to an off-world experience as you can get without breaking atmosphere. With decor meant to recall the great Age of Exploration, separate dining, lounge and shower pods, a chef, expedition leaders and a runway, it’s more Aman than Amundsen and naturally, it doesn’t come cheap.
Queen Maud Land, Antarctica; Tel: 44-1273 691642; www.white-desert.com (opens in new tab); Rates from: $84,000 / 8-day expedition
Photography: courtesy of Whichaway Camp
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