The world’s best hotel isn’t in London or New York but on a little known island in Indonesia, known as the lost world island. Remote and completely off the grid, Nihiwatu was formerly a surf lodge until it was bought by self-made fashion billionaire Chris Burch in partnership with hotelier James McBride and transformed into a culturally immersive enclave of active adventure and serious indulgence.
Three hundred kilometres east of Bali in the Lesser Sundra Islands, Nihiwatu is the only resort on Sumba Island where the population of 650,000 still live a traditional life and practice their own distinct tribal rituals.
Few people have heard of Sumba Island before visiting Nihiwatu, aside from surfers, whose eyes instantly widen in recognition.
Sumba’s pristine coastline is home to one of the world’s best left-hand breaks, with swells of up to four metres. “It’s unbelievable,” my neighbour told me, recalling a surfing trip he took to Sumba by boat. “We spent entire days surfing these long waves, with no one else around.”
Which makes Nihiwatu’s coveted win as the world’s best hotel as voted by Travel + Leisure readers globally, just that much more staggering. Because most guests, including ourselves, are not surfers. In fact, when we visited earlier this year there were only three guests that were actually there to surf, including a lawyer from Sydney and his family on their second visit.
Where you stay on vacation is more than just a hotel room. It is an experience. A new way of living. Every detail – crisp white bed linens on our signature canopy beds, handmade chocolate in the mini bar, sweeping panoramic views of the Indian ocean – is designed to make you feel both at home yet completely transported.
Menus are crafted to recall local flavors and far flung tastes, using fresh produce from the on site organic garden. Local fish is caught and brought up daily from the shores to be prepared in a new way every night. Toast is always cooked over an open fire, never in a toaster. These are the details that make Nihi Sumba Island a singular culinary experience.
Restautants include: Ombak, Nio Beach Club and Pool, Boat House, Menara, *Also- “Destination Dining”