18 morning routines from the world’s most unique hotels

Anna Brech

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We’re told morning routines set the tone for the rest of the day, drawing a line between focused and productive, or sluggish and slow. But what if, instead of rising early to jog five miles and journal mindfully, you did something that you truly enjoyed instead?

Around the world, a rising class of unique hotels are laying down a new standard of sunrise ritual. From dawn walking safaris to air balloon rides and breakfast abroad the Orient Express, these morning experiences will leave you feeling truly alive.

This isn’t all about luxury, either. Whether it’s a jungle lodge or a desert eco-retreat, some of these destinations are actually quite basic. But where they win is in curating a morning experience that stands heads and shoulders above the rest. So, put that meditation app aside and join us around the world, as you find out how to *really* make your morning go with a swing…

Salute the mountains over a high-altitude breakfast in Nepal

Where: Yeti Mountain Home, Kongde

This unique Himalayan lodge lies in the shadow of five of the world’s highest peaks: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho-Oyo and Gyajung Khang. Waking up here promises not only extraordinary views of these snow-capped giants, but also the chance to savour them in style with a champagne breakfast at altitude. Some guests are flown in for the occasion (above), but Flash Pack’s itinerary sees us meander up from Yeti Mountain Home to a scenic spot, for a feast at 4,250 metres. Tuck into a banquet of croissants, eggs, coffee and, of course, a glass of the bubbly stuff, with Everest herself looming nearby. 

Rev up for a dawn walking safari in Zimbabwe

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Where: Robins Camp, Hwange National Park

Everything about Robins Camp in the heart of Hwange National Park is designed to delight, from chalets featuring hand-painted Matabele designs to cosy cocktails under a canvas of glittering stars. The magic turns up a notch around sunrise, when guests are invited on an early morning walking safari across the surrounding grasslands to spot elephants, lions, buffalo and more in their natural habitat. This is a one-off opportunity to experience the Savannah as early humans once did. You’ll get a feel for the landscape as the vast sky comes alight, with the chance to see some of Africa’s greatest animals in an intimate setting. A late brunch follows back at camp.

Take a sunrise hike in the Jordanian desert

Where: Feynan Ecolodge, Dana Nature Reserve

The lovely Feynan is an off-grid retreat tucked away in Dana Nature Reserve; a remote area of biodiversity that sits near Jordan’s border with Jerusalem. The best way to admire this tapestry of sand dunes, pink-tinted valleys and open plains is with a pre-dawn trek to the top of a nearby mountain. It’s a magical time of day in this region, before the heat has fully set in and with the sun creeping up around the bronzed contours of the desert that stretches for miles onto the horizon. At the top, you can celebrate in true local style with a sweet mint tea cooked up on a summit campfire (see our Jordan itinerary here). 

Have breakfast with giraffes in Kenya

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good morning, this is insane ?

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Where: Giraffe Manor, Nairobi

Giraffes are naturally sociable creatures, something you’ll reap the full benefits of at this extraordinary hotel right by Nairobi’s Giraffe Centre – a sanctuary for the highly endangered Rothschild’s breed. Breakfast in this beautiful 1930s estate comes with the surreal sight of resident giraffes grazing on the lawns outside; or more likely, swooping in for a friendly hello and a snack or two (should you choose to oblige). If there’s a finer, more moving start to the day than this, we’d like to hear it.

Enjoy your breakfast platter on-board the Orient-Express

Where: Venice-Simplon Orient Express to Verona

A trip on the feted Orient Express from London to Verona will whisk you back in time to a golden age of travel. Soak up the grandeur of the Agatha Christie-style setting, complete with gilded carriages (restored from the 1920s), cabins filled with ornate trimmings and a piano bar that’ll stay open to whenever the last guest leaves. The best moment on this experience, however, is when you wake up in the morning and draw back the velvet curtains to reveal the astonishing landscape of Alps. A breakfast of pastries and chocolat chaud delivered by tray by your porter completes the feeling of decadence.

Hang with the meerkats in South Africa

Where: De Zeekoe Guest House,  Klein Karoo

Part of the so-called “Shy 5” of species in this arid semi-desert region of South Africa, meerkats are naturally elusive. Your best chance of seeing them is in the very early morning, when they pop out of their burrows to frolic and forage in the light dawn sunshine. The folks at De Zeekoe guest house (also home to a beautiful pool overlooking the golden veld) will serve you coffee on a dawn camp-out, as you get set for the great privilege of seeing meerkat families in the wild.

See the sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Where: The Shinta Mani Shack, Siem Reap

Nothing in the world beats the sight of Cambodia’s ancient temple kingdom coming alive in the morning light. Mosey around this once-thriving Khmer Dynasty empire to see intricately carved structures from the 12th and 13th centuries reveal themselves between jungle tendrils and low-hanging vines. As the sun comes up over the long-lost city, the temple silhouettes are illuminated. It’s a poignant moment, and afterwards you can retreat to the nearby Shinta Mani Shack for breakfast and complimentary ice-cream beside the hotel’s palm-fringed pool. 

Tuck into the ultimate room service feast in Turkey

Turkey has form when it comes to breakfast, with epic spreads that stretch from bowlfuls of olives to feta cheese, bagels, eggs and an endless stream of potent Turkish coffee. This lesson in hospitality is taken to a whole new level at Raffles Istanbul, where room service breakfast punches way above your typical lukewarm omelette. A banquet of jams, dips and other local delicacies are laid out alongside more mainstream treats, such as hot toasted waffles and pastries. The presentation is near-architectural in its precision, too. Come armed with a gladiator appetite and save the bulk of it for that cheese platter with your name on…

Where: Raffles Istanbul

Hit the morning surf in Morocco

Where: Paradis Plage Hotel, Taghazout

The fishing village of Taghazout on Morocco’s Atlantic coast is home to some of the best waves in the region, and Paradis Plage is right on its doorstep. Even if you have zero experience of skimming the surf, the experienced coaches here will have you up and wobbling in no time – even if it is just for one hot minute. That giddy sensation of gliding across the waves is addictive. It comes into its own in the early morning, when the sea is crowd-free, the vibe is high and wind conditions are prime for fast-breaking waves. Top off with a yoga session in the hotel’s ocean-facing pavilion (see more on Flash Pack’s Morocco adventures).

Gaze upon geysers in Chile

Where: Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama

A dawn visit to the erupting geysers of San Pedro de Atacama, northeastern Chile, is not to be missed. This other-worldly plateau is dotted with strange geological formations and hot springs that send great plumes of water and steam into the cold morning air. Wrap up warm to ward off the pre-sunshine chill as you soak in the drama of the moment, amid a jaw-dropping scene that feels a bit like you’ve just walked onto the set of a sci-fi film. With Flash Pack, your base for this jaunt is the lovely Hotel Altiplanico, a hideaway that’s modelled on a traditional Altiplano village with rose-coloured chalets, thatched roofs and wide sandy terraces.

Ride camels at sunrise in Oman

Where: Nomadic Desert Camp, Wahiba Sands desert

This family-run Bedouin camp in the heart of Oman’s Wahiba Sands desert is basic but beautiful, with palm-frond tents surrounded by miles of golden dunes. With zero wi-fi or electricity, a stay here offers the rare chance to step back in time to a bygone age of exploring. Wake at dawn to channel your nomad within, on a sunrise camel trek across the shimmering drifts. As the sky lights up in streaks of golden pink, you’ll be granted a rare window onto a timeless Arabian Peninsula landscape aboard your trusty “ship of the desert”.

Take a breakfast boat ride in Costa Rica

Where: El Mangroove, Gulf of Papagayo

There’s so many things to love about El Mangroove, a luxury bolthole on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline – but its signature morning boat ride outstrips ’em all. As the sun rises over the thickets of brazilwood, sarno and mesquite trees that line the hotel shoreline, hop on-board your vessel for a morning mosey around the Gulf of Papagayo. This experience is very much about a laid-back, Pura Vida way of life, so relax and see where the vibe takes you; be that a quiet cove for a spot of paddle-boarding or a nearby beach for a spot of breakfast. If you’re lucky, you may even see a pod of dolphins flipping their way through the brilliant blue surf. 

Grab morning tea by the backwaters of Kerala

Where: Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

Coconut Lagoon is a lovely old Keralan home on Vembanad Lake, right by Alleppey, India’s “Venice of the East”. Rise early to get your first taste of the backwaters, a vast maze of canals and rivers that zig-zag their way through paddy fields and wetland farming villages. Then, while the temperatures are still cool, pop by the hotel’s Floating Tea Shop run by a tea lady from a nearby community. With coconut trees arching gracefully overhead, and the waterways stretching out as far as the eye can see, it’s an experience that will leave your average morning cuppa in the shade (check out Flash Pack’s Kerala escape here).

Take a dawn air balloon ride in Myanmar

Where: Bagan Lodge, Bagan

Bagan Lodge stands at the gateway to Bagan, an ancient city filled with Buddhist temples, stupas and pagodas that date back to the 9th Century. The hotel itself is a beauty, with an elegant pool to while away many happy hours in. But also nearby is the chance to take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the gilded landscape, and watch a raft of archaeological wonders unfold below you in the hazy morning sunshine. One for the bucket list…

Wake above the cloud forest in Thailand

Where: Lanjia Lodge, the Golden Triangle

Lanjia Lodge is a community-run retreat set high above the Mekong River in north Thailand‘s Golden Triangle region. It’s run in partnership with the surrounding Hmong and Lahu hill tribes, and villagers take care of all guests. The rooms here are basic, but come with stirring views over the jungle terrain, complete with giant puffballs of cloud. Rise at dawn to see the cloud forest in its element, as birdsong erupts across the valley all around. A banana smoothie goes nicely with the experience, too. 

Take a morning dip in Brazil

Where: Pousada Do Ouro, Paraty

Endlessly friendly staff, a pool fringed by tropical foliage and an enchanting garden bar count as reasons to stay in this boutique hotel in the Brazilian coastal town of Paraty. When you’re not busy fawning over the whitewash architecture and cobbled streets here, head to the harbour to explore the glorious coastline all around. A boat ride first thing means you beat the crowds and get Paraty’s crystal-clear waters and hidden islands all to yourself – snorkelling is practically mandatory.

Tuck into a breakfast feast overlooking Sydney, Australia

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Wow, heavenly! ∙ ∙ ∙ ∙ Luscious brunch? Tick. Free flowing Bellini’s? Tick. Spectacular views? Oh yes. Altitude weekend brunch awaits your arrival… ?: @ashtarmoshy . . . . #sydneyharbourbridge #goodmorning #sydneybreakfast #hotellife #luxurytraveller #sydneyeats #sydneyfoodies #breakfastgram #brunch #ilovesydney #luxuryhotel #sydneyfood #breakfastclub #sydneyfoodie #sydneylocal #sydney_insta #sydney #sydneybrunch #pastrydelights #breakfastinsydney #sydneylife #breakfastwithaview #sydneyharbour #pancakes #hotelbreakfast #sydneybrunchcrawler #seeaustralia ∙ ∙ ? by @shangrilasydney ∙ ∙ Follow @sydney.cleaneats for more sydney food spots! #sydneycatering #sydneyitalianfood

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Where: Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

There’s breakfast with a view, and then there’s breakfast at Shangri-La Hotel in one of the world’s greatest cities. Floor-to-ceiling windows at the hotel’s Altitude Restaurant offer up a chorus line of world-class landmarks, from Sydney Opera House to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s a view that becomes all the more sweet in the company of fresh pancakes and Bellinis on tap.

Revel in an island sunrise, the Philippines 

Where: a secret beach somewhere on the Bacuit Archipelago

If it’s seclusion you’re after, look no further than Flash Pack’s very own dreamy morning routine on a secret island in the Philippines. Located somewhere on the Bacuit Archipelago – a  labyrinth of limestone karsts, caves and hidden lagoons off Palawan in the western Philippines – the beaches here lie miles off the tourist trail. When you wake in the morning in your one-man luxury tent, to a serene seascape bathed in pinks and purples (not to mention a private chef on-hand to cook up breakfast), you’ll be a convert for life.

Main image: Deb Ashby/ Flash Pack



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