A master list of the world's most luxurious yet intimate and humble hotels, inns, and guest houses.
River Kwai, Thailand: The Float House River Kwai Resort
The nearby tiger sanctuary, where visitors can pet big cats, and the infamous “Death Railway” bridge are what initially bring people to the floating hotel a three-hour drive from Bangkok, but once they’re here, they rarely budge. Twenty-four teak-and-bamboo villas float on the River Kwai, the fast-flowing waters that wind through the jungle. Double doors open onto verandas that extend to private docks, where a pair of sun beds and a swing chair provide the only entertainment. The staff, many of them Mon people who escaped persecution in their homeland, elevate what’s essentially an ecolodge into a destination. They quietly appear to offer an in-room Thai massage, a ride on a bamboo raft, or an invitation to join others for just-caught-fish curry in the open-air dining room that bobs with the current. For return travelers tired of the usual Thailand circuit, the Float House delivers a new approach to the country. Request a villa on the outer edges of the hotel. Villas start at $140; 55 Moo 5 Tambol Wangkrajae, Amphur Saiyoke; 66-2/642-5497; thefloathouseriverkwai.com.