Everyone needs some beach time in their life. Fact. But where to go? The possibilities are, quite literally, endless; the pristine white sands of the Maldives, the picturesque coastlines of Europe or perhaps the laid back vibes of the Caribbean. Well, after much debate (and maybe just a little argy bargy) the Original Travel team have come up with their top ten beach hotels on the planet.
Madagascar is something of a wonder-country with its truly unique blend of European, African, Arabian and Asian cultural influences and more endemic wildlife than you can shake a baobab branch at. And then there are the beaches. So pristine and unspoilt they could be photo-shopped; you'll feel like you're treading onto virgin sands. Tsarabanjina is located on a tiny islet just off the north coast and guests stay in thatched bungalows spread across the island, offering uninterrupted views of the ocean. If getting away from it all is the order of the day, this is the hotel for you.
Song Saa, Cambodia
When it comes to beaches and, more specifically, beach-side luxury hotels, Cambodia has long been thought of as the poor relation of Thailand and Vietnam. But the opening of Song Saa on the Koh Rong Archipelago has firmly put paid to that assumption. Surrounded by untouched rainforest, protected reefs and, of course, beautiful beaches, guests stay in overwater, rainforest or beach villas, all complete with private pools. There's a heavy emphasis on conservation at Song Saa too, which only adds to the warm fuzzy feeling that steals over every guest lucky enough to stay here.
The word 'cool' about hits the nail on the head when it comes to describing Geejam in Jamaica... achingly cool. Think East London hipster meets tropical paradise with just the merest hint of celebrity chic thrown in for good measure. Not only does Geejam have its own private beach but it is ideally located for several others, which the hotel will transport guests to. So sit back, soak up some reggae beats, enjoy a classic mojito and let the waft of jerk everything take over. Heaven.
Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, Turkey
Another new kid on the block and one that we can't help but feel a little bit giddy about - the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum is the brand's first non-city venture in Europe, and it does not disappoint. Located on a beautiful stretch of Turkey's Aegean coastline the hotel boasts not one but two private beaches (obvs), both lined with olive trees overlooking the cobalt blue sea. Add to the mix a cracking selection of eateries and watering holes, as well as a spa that will make you never want to leave and you've got a recipe for success. What's more, this is a hotel that caters brilliantly to both couples and families, so everyone's a winner.
Pousada Maravilha, Brazil
The award for the most remote beach hotel on the list must surely go to Pousada Maravilha. Located on the island of Fernando (not the Take Me Out kind) do Noronha, it is 345km from the Brazilian mainland. This tiny island is home to 26 perfect beaches, each ideal for a different activity, from snorkelling to surfing to good old sunbathing. The hotel itself is another that places serious emphasis on the environment and, as such, it blends seamlessly with its surroundings. This doesn't mean you'll sacrifice on luxury though, with 46 staff to just 22 guests you'll leave feeling thoroughly pampered in every way.
Coral Lodge, Mozambique
Those looking for that perfect bush and beach combination should look to the bush of Tanzania and South Africa, followed by some serious relaxation on the unspoilt and relatively under-explored beaches of Mozambique. Coral Lodge manages to seamlessly blend authentic African style with contemporary luxury which, combined with its location along a particularly stunning stretch of coastline, makes this a very hard property to beat. The lodge is also located just a short distance from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ilha de Mozambique, with its beautiful crumbling buildings and rich cultural history, so you won't feel the beach holiday guilt.
We say camping, you say... absolutely not. But what if we said glamping? Oh yes, that little 'g' makes all the difference. It's the difference, in fact, between a dank, dark, cold, flimsy piece of fabric and a luxurious, hard-wood floor, en-suite, waterproof canvas tent with surrounding verandah, such as those found at Amanwana in Indonesia. Need I go on? Okay then, these uber-tents are located just yards from the beach, overlooking the sparkling waters of the Flores Sea. Behind lies tropical rainforest ripe for exploration and if that isn't enough to keep you busy, how about a picnic voyage to a deserted island? Three words: where's my passport?
Beach bums with a penchant for history and mythology will no doubt have the Peloponnese peninsula on their radar but what will really tip you over the edge is the sensational Kyrimai hotel. It may not be on the beach, per se, but it's surrounded by some pretty spectacular examples. Let's paint a picture: you wake up to the sound of the sea lapping against the walls of the hotel and bask in the warm morning sun as you enjoy breakfast al fresco. Spend the morning wandering idly around the nearby villages, admiring the medieval towers and churches, before whiling away the afternoon on one of the island's picture-perfect beaches. Round off the day with some classic Greek food in the Kyrimai's wonderful restaurant. Living. The. Dream.
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
No list of luxury beach hotels would be complete without an entry from the Maldives with its quintessential white sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters and some of the most impressive luxury hotels in the world. And the pick of the bunch has got to be Soneva Fushi. The resort's concept of 'no news, no shoes' has set the tone for laid-back and understated luxury in the Maldives. With its exceptional accommodation, huge array of activities (everything from wakeboarding to boules) and rejuvenating spa, Soneva Fushi is the ultimate barefoot luxury paradise.
Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa, Mexico
Another hotel for those who don't want to compromise between culture and beach: the Riviera Maya on Mexico's Yucatàn Peninsula has both by the bucket load. Explore the many nearby Mayan ruins and Mexican markets safe in the knowledge that the beach is never far away. Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa makes for the perfect place to rest your head after all that adventure; with its lush gardens and idyllic beach-side location you'll feel like you've stepped into your own little slice of tropical heaven.