Real Intercontinental MetroCentro Managua
What's so special
Known as the "land of lakes and volcanoes", Nicaragua is one of Latin America's best-kept secrets, writes James McKeigue. Straddling the Central American isthmus, it offers swathes of untouched jungle, Mayan ruins and miles of Caribbean and Pacific coastline. The capital, Managua, on the shores of the eponymous lake, is one of the safest cities in the region, and is well worth exploring. This five-star hotel in the new financial district is a convenient base.
How they rate it
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Accommodation ranges from standard rooms to the huge Presidential Suite, "which comes with its own butler", notes Latin Finance. It is good for "business or leisure" sipping on a glass of Nicaragua's renowned Flor de Caa rum, while looking out over some of the best views of Managua, is an experience not to be missed.
Restaurante Voltes serves up Nicaraguan cuisine, such as grilled beef with chimichurri, a traditional parsley sauce. Its theme nights cover a range of cuisines from around the world.
Rooms start from $200 per night; the Presidential Suite costs $600 per night. For more information, visit www.intercontinental.com, or call 00 (505) 2276 8989.
What's so special
Situated in Managua's leafy suburbs, the Contempo is Managua's only boutique hotel. Built from a collection of converted villas, the maze of rooms and walkways feels more like a visit to a millionaire friend than to a hotel.
How they rate it
"Hotel Contempo, on the outskirts of bustling Managua, embodies chic," says Costa Rica's The Tico Times. The "stylish interior of gleaming white tiles, opaque pillars, high ceilings and plush dcor" mean it's "the type of place you don't forget". Each room has its own design and evokes "a different traditional Nicaraguan city, landscape or slice of folklore". For example, the Ruben Dario suite pays homage to the Nicaraguan playwright, known as the Shakespeare of the Spanish language. The four-poster bed, mahogany panelling and bust of the great man creates a historic atmosphere, yet the room contains modern creature comforts, including a Jacuzzi.
The hotel houses acclaimed local eatery Restaurante Azul, where Parisian chef David Dafonte "mixes French recipes with Nicaraguan and Latin flavours".
The most basic double room starts at $84 per night, while the most expensive will set you back $200. For more information visit the website at www.contempohb.com, or call 00 505 2264 9160.
What the travel writers are saying
Do you find hotels stuffy, impersonal and overpriced? Then Britain's new wave of B&Bs is for you, says Vincent Crump in The Sunday Times.
Located in Moretonhampstead in Devon, Higher Wescott Farm (pictured) is a 300-year-old Dartmoor longhouse that has been redesigned by owners Sam and Jo. By keeping things simple and using lots of white, they "show off the beamy beauty of the building". Doubles start from £110 (01647-441205; www.higherwestcottfarm.com).
For a unique experience, visit Belvidere Place, in Broadstairs, Kent, which is a "genuine one-off". Thanks to "the super-chilled attitude" of its owner, Jilly Sharpe, it feels more like a "never-ending house party" than a traditional B&B. Sharpe used to be a photographer and her eye for design has created knockout interiors. If you're after a "bracing" walk, the Broadstairs promenade is nearby. Doubles from £120 (01843 579850; www.belvidereplace.co.uk).
Dillons of Whitby, in North Yorkshire, looks at first glance like it suffers from an "identity crisis". Each of the five rooms is "disguised as somewhere else altogether", from the Shaker-style furniture in the Manhattan room to the leopard-print lamp shades in the Masai Mara room. But the flamboyant dcor is backed up by a good supply of B&B basics, such as a tasty breakfast of local kippers. Doubles from £75 (01947-600290; www.dillonsofwhitby.co.uk).
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