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Home | Elegant Traveller | Reconnect With... Culture

Elegant Traveller

Reconnect With... Culture

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Amy Henderson

culĀ·ture | noun | the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time

While stunning surroundings and ultra-luxe accommodation remain a vital part of any luxury holiday, we also believe it's super important to embrace the destination's local way of living. Now more than ever, we're itching to away from the same old routine and experience something out of our ordinary. So below, we've rounded up a selection of glorious hotels and resorts across the globe that invite you to discover the captivating culture on their doorstep - whether that means joining a meditation ritual with a Buddhist monk, cooking up authentic Moroccan cuisine using traditional methods, or exploring the UNESCO-listed walls of charming Dubrovnik.

For: Caribbean Culture

Jamaica is renowned for its vibrant culture, flavoursome cuisine and world-loved music, and Jamaica Inn invites you to embrace the glory of Jamaica throughout your stay - whether by feasting on authentic local dishes, sipping the best rum punch you've ever tasted, or indulging in a spa treatment that uses island plants sourced from local organic farmers and gathered using sustainable methods. Of course, you can also step outside of the property to discover more of the island's rich heritage. You may choose to visit a bustling farmer's market with the hotel's Executive Chef, before returning to the hotel for an interactive cooking demo, or explore the Bob Marley Mausoleum located in the same parish, home to a range of historical artefacts including guitars, awards and photographs.
Boasting its own star-studded history, the legendary hotel was the 1950s jetsetter destination for many Hollywood starlets and British nobles. Sir Winston Churchill was a frequent resident of the hotel's White Suite, Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, sipped martinis at the hotel's very bar, while Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller celebrated their honeymoon at Jamaica Inn.

For: Authentic Morocco

Located in the charming village and marketplace of Asni in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Tamadot promises a captivating combination of authentic Moroccan living and superlative luxury. Choose from rooms and suites complete with terracotta tiled floors, carved chests and mosaic ceilings, or opt for a stay in an authentic Berber Tent for a little more adventure but the same level of luxury.
Any stay here is all about embracing and learning more about Moroccan culture. Designed to do just this, the aptly named 'Authentically Berber Experience' invites you to immerse yourself in the local way of living and includes a traditional mule trek, tea in a local Berber house, and an authentic Berber cooking lesson, on which you can create delicious Moroccan cuisine using age-old methods. If you wish to give back to the area's lovely local communities, head to the Eve Branson Foundation, a small charity that aims to preserve traditional Berber crafts, provide young people with valuable skills-training through dedicated centres and enrich the lives of families living in the Atlas Mountains.
Mules at Kasbah Tamador
Mules at Kasbah Tamador

For: Balinese Blessings

Geographically and figuratively the heart of the island, Ubud is an enchanting upland town that showcases the very best of authentic Bali. Nestled within the region's lush Ayung River Valley, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan takes you to closer to the culture of the island through a seemingly endless list of enriching experiences. Visit a local market to pick up ultra-fresh ingredients, before returning to cook up authentic Indonesian cuisine at the Sokasi Cooking School. Try your hand at traditional Balinese dancing, or head off the beaten track with an in-the-know guide, visiting a local village or participating in a melukat bathing ritual at a secluded water temple. Little ones can also embrace local living with a programme of activities at the Pici Pici kids' club - including walks through the rice fields, temple visits, Balinese language lessons and local dance classes.
Head over to the coast to discover the delights of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, designed in the style of an authentic Balinese village. Stroll through the lush resort gardens and learn more about the 300 shrines that adorn it, or visit the Ganesha Cultural Centre to embrace an array of eye-opening activities - including ceramic making, woodcarving, songket weaving, sokasi basket making, locally inspired painting and traditional dance. You may choose to cycle around local villages, join the resident Pemangku (Balinese priest) for daily offerings at the resort temple, or venture to the nearby Goa Gon temple, believed to have supernatural powers and dating back to the 9th century!
Daily Offering at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Daily Offering at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Rindik Performance at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
Rindik Performance at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan

For: Madeiran Marvels

The timeless Belmond Reid's Palace has welcomed guests for over a century. If you can tear yourself away from the panoramic views of Funchal Harbour and the hotel's fabulous facilities - including superb restaurants, the world-famous afternoon tea and a serene spa offering regionally inspired treatments - then get set to enjoy a wealth of wonderful activities that embrace the Madeiran way of living.
Hop in a 1970s classic car and head down mountain roads to the pretty village of Ponta Do Sol, enjoying views of the spellbinding sunset along with refreshing cocktails and creative canapes, or explore the captivating capital of Funchal by Tukxi, discovering the city's centuries-old cathedral, 17th century harbour fortress and many marvellous museums. Madeira wine is a huge part of the island's culture and Belmond Reid's Palace offers several tipple-related excursions. These include a visit to several sun-dappled vineyards or a guided tour of the over-200-year-old Blandy's Wine Lodge. Of course, all these experience end with a tasting of the good stuff!

For: Medieval Discovery

Nowhere is better located for exploring the ancient delights of dreamy Dubrovnik than Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik. Located in a former royal villa originally built in the early 20th century, this elegant hideaway is just moments from the UNESCO-listed ancient Old Town and medieval fortress walls of one of the world's most perfectly preserved medieval cities. Stroll along the picturesque streets, past buildings with terracotta-tiled rooftops, and spot the seemingly countless charming churches, striking Gothic-Renaissance palaces, bustling squares, and variety of museums and galleries.
Along with its proximity to the delights of Dubrovnik's Old Town, the iconic Hotel Excelsior flaunts a glamorous past of its own, having long welcomed famous guests - from Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey to Elizabeth Taylor and even Queen Elizabeth II. Head to the ultra-elegant Abakus Piano Bar and, while you sip signature cocktails, see who you recognise from the 70 (or more) photo portraits of past guests in the Gallery of Fame.
Views of the Old Town from Prora Restaurant at Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik
Views of the Old Town from Prora Restaurant at Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik

Amy Henderson

Content Team Leader

From driving along the sun-kissed California coast and whale watching in Canada, to swimming with turtles in Barbados, cookery classes in Oman and touring temples in Thailand, I've enjoyed some amazing experiences around the world. With a genuine love for all things travel, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than research, experience and share incredible destinations, luxury hotels and bespoke adventures.