Travel Story Top hotels: Five of Asia's most interesting places to stay

Australians have long been seduced by Asia's distinctiveness, so it's no surprise that the continent is home to some truly unique hotels. 

Here are five of the continent’s most interesting places to stay.

The Oberoi Grand (Kolkata, India)

The best-preserved of all of India’s mega cities, Kolkata has the country’s best collection of stately British colonial architecture. 

The Oberoi Grand is housed in a gorgeous neoclassical building, which was built as a mammoth private residence for a colonel and then converted into the city’s most extravagant hotel in the 1880s. It has been an icon of Kolkata since.

From the antique grand piano and enormous chandelier in its lobby to its mammoth ballroom, which has hosted countless gala events, the Oberoi Grand epitomises colonial grandeur.

 Arguably the best asset of this hotel, though, is the peace and seclusion it provides despite being in the centre of this teeming city. It’s also close to its key tourist attractions.

Wanderlust Hotel (Singapore)

Playful is the best word to describe Singapore’s quirkiest boutique hotel in Little India. Wanderlust’s owner hired four different design firms to envisage each of its four floors, encouraging them to let their imaginations run wild. 

The result is a truly quirky renovation of this 1920s building.

The Art Noveau mosaic of its exterior gives way to a lobby decorated in what the hotel calls “glam industrial”, a style which includes recycled road signs fashioned into furniture.

Meanwhile, Wanderlust’s 29 rooms vary wildly in appearance, some saturated in neon colours and others sporting minimalist black-and- white designs, or unusual duplex-style digs where the bed is elevated above the sitting area and accessed by stairs.

It’s safe to say you’ve never stayed anywhere like this.

Shanghai Mansion (Bangkok, Thailand)

Bangkok boasts one of the world’s best Chinatowns, an area called Yaowarat. 

In the heart of this fascinating neighbourhood is a boutique hotel designed to replicate the glamour of 1930s Shanghai, an era when that Chinese metropolis was Asia’s coolest city.

This historic building was Bangkok’s first Chinese Opera House in the early 1900s before recently being rebirthed by Burasiri Hotels Group as a 76- room hotel featuring a long list of period design details.

Its chic Art Deco design is complemented by a mix of new and antique Chinese furnishings. 

While the hotel evokes a feeling of being transported back in time, it seamlessly incorporates modern comforts into each room such as flat- screen TVs, free wi-fi, luxury toiletries and big king  beds.

The Strand Hotel (Yangon, Myanmar)

Founded by Armenian merchants in 1901, the Strand is Yangon’s oldest and most opulent hotel, and one of the city’s finest examples of grand Victorian architecture. 

It wasn’t always this glamorous. During the Japanese occupation of the city in World War II it housed troops and subsequently fell into disrepair.

Two years ago it was renovated painstakingly restoring it to full splendour. 

Draped in marble, with rattan furniture, teak floors and soaring ceilings, the Strand is a major tourist attraction, drawing a steady stream of travellers who pose for photos in front of its elegant facade.

Those lucky enough to stay in one of its 32 suites will have a private butler, while their rooms are decorated with Burmese antiques and equipped with every modern convenience.

Anantara Layan Phuket Resort (Phuket, Thailand)

Flanked on one side by a jungle-cloaked hill and on the other by the most pristine section of beach in Phuket, this resort (pictured at top) seems extremely secluded despite being on one of the world’s busiest tourist islands.

What sets it apart from so many of the cookie-cutter resorts in Phuket is the generous use of traditional Thai architectural elements in its design, which is a calling card for the Thai-based Anantara hotel group.

This ensures that throughout a guest’s stay they never mistake their surroundings for another part of Asia — their environment is unmistakably Thai.

With the Andaman Sea stretching to the distance, the views are incredible from each of the hotel’s 77 plush villas, rooms and suites. 

But guests won’t want to spend too much time in their room given the allure of the hotel’s massive beachside pool as well as its cooking school, boxing stadium, water-sport facilities and five-star spa.

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