Platinum List 2018: Best Inns

La Bastide de Moustiers, Fogo Island Inn, Hotel Saint Cecilia

September / October 2018
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The rustic charm of these inns reflects the distinctive personality of their locations, from a Canadian island to the French countryside. 

La Bastide de Moustiers

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France

Located near one of Europe's deepest canyons, Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse’s secluded 17th-century inn features a signature menu glorifying seasonal produce from the property’s five gardens. 

Fogo Island Inn

Joe Batt's Arm, Canada

In the middle of the bone-chilling North Atlantic waters, Fogo Island Inn rises out of a rock outcropping like a stack of sleek shoeboxes on stilts. Designed by Newfoundland-born architect Todd Saunders, this modernist hotel is a curious sight on this remote island (population 2,200), where fishing is the primary trade and accommodation is quaint, gable-roofed and not typically built by a renowned architect. 

“People were shocked,” says Zita Cobb, the inn’s founder and arguably the most famous resident of Fogo, a small island off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. “The concept was imaginative, to be so contemporary and yet capture the region’s traditions.”

When it opened in 2013, the 29-suite luxury inn more than doubled accommodation on the island. Conditions can be harsh and bleak, and the weathered wood furniture, diversity of textures and pot-bellied stove feel especially warm. There’s a 37-seat cinema, library, art gallery, rooftop hot tubs and wood-fired sauna. But perhaps the best features are the floor-to-ceiling windows, which put the region’s stark wilderness on display.

Cobb “grew up feral” on the island without running water, electricity or much contact with the mainland. She comes from a long line of fishermen, and childhood chores consisted of picking berries and watching for rain clouds as the family’s salted cod dried in the sun. But dwindling fisheries threatened the region’s prosperity and Cobb moved away for college, a common trajectory for local youngsters who don’t partake in the family business. 

Of course, most leave and never come back. Cobb became CFO of a major fiber-optic company, amassed $69 million, and returned with the far-fetched vision of jump-starting the local economy. “It started with a love of home,” Cobb says. “They say you can spot a Newfoundlander in heaven because she’s the one moaning and groaning to go back home.” In 2006, she created the Shorefast foundation, a nonprofit aimed at turning Fogo into an international destination. 

The idea to open an inn was obvious. “Fogo Islanders are predisposed to profound hospitality,” she says, “and profound hospitality means love of strangers.” 

In many ways, the inn is an emblem of Fogo Island pride: The staff is predominately local and the furniture is constructed by area boatbuilders. The cuisine is simple and uses locally sourced ingredients: caribou, cod and berries. But Cobb is a founder, not an owner, a crucial distinction since all money raised from the inn is reinvested into projects such as the Fogo Island Arts initiative, a residency program for contemporary artists. “At the root of the project is a deep belief in people and place and culture,” Cobb says. —Jess Swanson

Hotel Saint Cecilia

Austin, Texas, United States

In keeping with its town’s eccentic nature, this iconoclastic property celebrates the greats who changed 20th-century culture, from Anne Sexton to the Rolling Stones. Rooms feature Rega turntables and Geneva sound systems, and guests are encouraged to borrow records from the hotel’s comprehensive collection of vintage vinyl.  

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