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Where to stay in Amsterdam

Waldorf Astoria and Sir Albert - two unusual luxury Dutch hotels.

Waldorf Astoria

What's so special?

Amsterdam's newest big-name hotel (it opened in May this year) is situated in six canal-side mansions that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Guests wake up to beautiful views of the waterways that have made the city famous.

How they rate it

Don't be put off by the fact that this is part of a global chain this isn't simply another anonymous, identikit luxury hotel. Each of the 93 rooms offers "distinctive, historic quirks; a good balance of very grand and the more cosy, slipped under the eaves", says Aoife O'Riordain in The Independent.

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The building "retains a boutique feel and a unique sense of place". It's an impressive and "somewhat rare achievement for a corporate hospitality chain".

The menu

The hotel restaurant, Librije's Zusje Amsterdam, "has fast become one of the city's most talked about restaurants". It is the little sister of De Librije in Zwolle, which has three Michelin stars and is "one of the most influential restaurants in the Netherlands".

The cost

Rooms cost from €655, room only. For more information visit www.waldorfastoria3.hilton.com, or call 00 31 20 7184600.

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Sir Albert

What's so special?

This hotel in the De Pijp district of Amsterdam has an unusual history up until 2005, it used to be the Van Moppes diamond factory. However, this luxury hotel still attracts the kind of clientele who would have frequented the building in its previous incarnation.

How they rate it

Sir Albert has "all the accoutrements of a boutique hotel served up with more personality and less hipper-than-thou attitude than many", says The New York Times, as is evident from the dcor.

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In the bedroom, "wide-planked wooden floors, painted black, were accented by a well-worn Oriental rug in mustard shades, and a cow-hide patterned throw was folded at the foot of the queen bed". You can rent bicycles from the reception but if you don't manage to reserve one, don't worry, most of Amsterdam's art galleries are a ten-minute stroll away.

The menu

Former Nobu chef Hariprasad Shetty serves Japanese cuisine in the hotel restaurant, which is "well designed and wildly popular". It is also worth having a mid-afternoon snack at the restaurant's bar ,"which has liquors from around the world and inventive small plates".

The cost

Prices start from €222, room only. For more, see www.siralberthotel.com, or call 00 31 20305 3020.

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Stay by the best beaches in Mexico

Escape the crowds at Villa del Faro in Cabo Este. "Solitude is the name of the game at this beachside property on the quiet East Cape of Baja California Sur," says The Independent.

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There are four villas Casa Alberca has a "canopied bed and living room that opens on to Villa del Faro's main pool", while Casa Azul has its own hammock. "Explore the grounds to spot hummingbirds, iguanas and see whales surfacing offshore." Doubles cost from $167 (Villadelfaro.net).

CasaSandra on the island of Holbox, north of Cancun, is owned by an artist "who has lavished the space with her own creations" and works by contemporary Cuban artists. There are 19 rooms, all "classically Mexican, with open-fronted decks, bright hammocks and traditional woven fabrics".

The restaurant has been praised by Noma chef Ren Redzepi. The island itself is home to hawksbill turtles, flamingos, pelicans and whale sharks. Doubles cost from $277 (Casasandra.com).

Villa Las Estrellas (pictured) the house of stars' is situated in Tulum. It has nine airy suites, each with "a linen-draped, four-poster bed". This is the place to go for "barefoot luxury, but not if you're after an all-singing, all-dancing resort the remoteness of this jungle-backed region means there are no phones or TVs".

Enjoy "fresh octopus and chilled margaritas" at the restaurant, or explore the nearby cliff-top Mayan ruins. Doubles cost from $200 (Villalasestrellas.com).

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