The Luxe List 2014:Â Gangtey Goenpa Lodge,Â Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan
The six-hour drive from Paroâ€™s airport into an amphitheater of Himalayan mountains is the first sign that youâ€™re truly in a kingdom far, far away. Staff singing an enchanting communal song usher new arrivals through the traditional farmhouse door into a stunning double-height lounge, whose panoramic glass wall overlooks the 17th-century Gangtey Monastery, seemingly floating above the valleyâ€™s mists. And after being greeted with a shoulder massage and mug of mulled cider, youâ€™ll be glad you made the trek. A wood-and-stone facade resembles the valleyâ€™s farmhouses, but inside, rooms are kitted out with polished wood, indigenous woven fabrics, heated floors, and freestanding bathtubs set before picture windows. After a day exploring the surrounding countryside, guests can refuel on slow-roasted pork belly and ema datshi, or recount their hot-air balloon rideâ€”the lodge offers the highest commercial balloon flights in the worldâ€”on the open-air terrace, where a double-sided fireplace keeps cocktail-sipping cozy.
975/0234-0943; easternsafaris.com; doubles from US$650