Cocoon in an Indian biosphere

THE hill station of Madikeri, about 120 kilometres from Mysore, in south-west India, is the site of the newest Vivanta by Taj. Opened this month, the hotel sits at an altitude of 1158 metres in subtropical rainforest within the Coorg district, an area described as the "Scotland of India" during the time of the British Raj.

The hotel's 63 rooms and villas, each with an open fireplace, look to the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hot spot. The hotel's Jiva Grande Spa is set across three levels, with views from every treatment room. Rooms cost from $295 a night.

See vivantabytaj.com.

Small is beautiful

What would be on your wish list for a hotel stay? A new collection of boutique hotels in Asia, Secret Retreats, has come up with its own list. Of the 30-plus hotels in the group, accommodation of fewer than 50 rooms, food with a local flavour and bespoke service are among the credentials.

In Beijing, 3+1 Bedrooms fits the bill. The hotel is set in a traditional hutong, or alley, has three uber-modern white-walled rooms and one suite, each with a courtyard. Also in China, modern art is the feature at the Homa Moon Lake Hotel in the Baoshan district, about 34 kilometres from Shanghai.

And while Jeeva Beloam, on Bali's Lombok, is set in rugged bush, its berugas, or bamboo huts, are airconditioned and have a sound dock and in-room ice box.

Rooms at the hotels cost from $US150 ($147) to $US700 a night.

See secret-retreats.com.

Royal reopening

Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf and Cary Grant passed through the doors of Cafe Royal on London's Regent Street during its 150 years of operation. Now the hotel is planning to reopen in December.

Cafe Royal is well placed, with Soho to the east and Mayfair to the west. It will have 159 rooms and suites (with a butler for each). The redesign has retained the building's oak floors and copper doors, the new spa and gym includes an 18-metre lap pool and there's a private members club.

The hotel's Cafe 1865 serves strudel and butter cake, the Louis XIV-style Grill Room has mirrored walls, gold-leaf

ceiling and a champagne bar. In the Domino Room, guests eat under a canopy of cartouches surrounding still-life canvases. Rooms cost from £450 ($712) a night. See lhw.com.

The story Cocoon in an Indian biosphere first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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