Tassia Lodge, Kenya
What's so special
This is the only safari lodge to be awarded Cond Nast Traveller's Gold Standard in 2013, and it's not hard to see why. "There are few lodges in Africa more wonderfully embedded in the community and landscape than Tassia," says the magazine. The lodge is built "as high as eagles fly" on conservation land owned and managed by the Mukogodo Maasai tribe.
How they rate it
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"To stay here is to disconnect from any semblance of life as you know it; to allow yourself to be absorbed into the wilderness while being caressed by the hot thermals that rise from the plains to this isolated eyrie of extraordinary, open-sided structures built of mud and timber and thatch." Paragliding expeditions, overnight camel safaris and walks to cultural spots are all available.
The food is "exceptional", with dishes such as lamb with spinach, spices and chickpeas or chicken in ginger and almond sauce.
Doubles cost from $1,020, full-board. For more information, visit the website at www.tassiasafaris.com or call 00 254 727 049 489.
Sabi Sabi's Earth Lodge, South Africa
What's so special
When it opened 12 years ago, Sabi Sabi's Earth Lodge won numerous awards for its ground-breaking architecture and minimalist interiors, which ushered in a new era of chic game lodges and attracted cool new guests. Now, following a re-design two years ago, the lodge has reinvented safari accommodation once again.
How they rate it
Stylist magazine "loved the homely tribal feel" in the Amber Lodge although the "tribal feel" must be something of a strange one as there is also an on-call butler. The remarkable Burning Bush', sculpted by a local artist, is the Lodge's "magically extravagant centrepiece". As for the safari, there are no fences between the reserve and the Kruger National Park, so large game roams free. There are safari outings twice a day and the area is known for its leopard sightings as well as elephants and hippos.
The chef greets you before dinner to discuss what he has in mind before serving up dishes such as venison with hummus mashed potato followed by olive oil ice cream.
Prices start from £435 per person per night, on an all-inclusive basis. Find out more at the website at www.sabisabi.com or call 020-8487 9881.
Stay in a castle
For a secure night's sleep, try a stay behind the thick stone walls of these former strongholds, which have been transformed into comfortable hotels.
The Chateau de Chissay (pictured) in the Loire Valley in France is "a splendid chateau that could be an illustration from Puss in Boots". The walls are "built of the palest stone and turrets topped with witch's hat slate roofs". Inside there are a wide range of guest rooms, including a troglodyte' option with rough-hewn stone walls, and a double-level turret room up in the donjon (keep). Evening meals are a particular highlight, served in the "period-perfect dining room".
Prices start from £135; Chateaudechissay.com.
Hellifield Peel Castle is a fortified home favoured by Lonely Planet Traveller magazine. Situated on the southern boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the castle was a "roofless ruin" until Francis and Karen Shaw renovated it in a project covered on the Grand Designs TV show. Now it is "not just habitable, but positively comfortable". There are five bedrooms, each of which has a four-poster bed.
Rooms start from £165; Peelcastle.co.uk.
Castle of Park in Scotland is "wonderfully evocative". It was built in 1590 and is now a self-catering holiday home. It can sleep up to seven people in four bedrooms, making it "a great place to gather your own clan and hole up in baronial style".
Prices start from £389 for three nights; Landmarktrust.org.uk.
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