The allure of the hermetically sealed hotel—that reliably consistent bastion of sterilized luxury we all once swore by—has practically become a taboo among modern travelers. But lately, even a place that successfully brings the local culture inside its curated walls isn’t enough. We’re greedy; we want more. We want to stretch out across a block, a row, even an entire village.
That’s the idea behind Enso Ango, a new hotel in Kyoto that’s spread over five buildings and more than a dozen blocks. There’s an art gallery here, a tearoom there, a Zen garden in one building, a restaurant and bar in another, and scattered throughout, a collection of rooms, some simple hotel accommodations, others more spacious apartments, and all designed in that classic Japanese minimalist style of neutral colors and clean lines.
Enso Ango isn’t just a means to cast guests out into the real world (as it were); it’s a better way to bring the outside in, with dashi-making classes, meditation workshops, and tea ceremonies replacing the usual spa-gym lineup. The property calls itself the world’s first “dispersed hotel”—a new term maybe, but the concept actually dates back several decades to the 1980s, when Italian hoteliers began building alberghi diffusi that transformed old villages into sprawling, modern resorts. It was an attempt to tap into history and architecture (two things Italy has plenty of ) but, most of all, daily life. And finally, the notion appears to be catching, with Enso Ango emerging as the latest of several to join in. Around the world, hotels are moving in and spreading out, possessing rows of old canal houses in Amsterdam, clusters of mansions in Mexico, and even a fisherman’s village in Montenegro. Check into one of them and you might feel a bit spoiled for choice at first, too. But trust us, you’ll be swearing by dispersed hotels soon enough.
Here are three more dispersed hotels where more is more.
Aman Sveti Stefan
A 15th-century fortified village and a 1930s royal villa separated by a stretch of Adriatic Sea make this Aman resort in Montenegro feel like a town unto itself. The walk from your room (in the former fishermen’s quarters) to the spa takes you through beach, forest and city.
Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada
In Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende, six colonial mansions—including a 17th-century fort and the archbishop’s 16th-century home—were merged to create this enclave of 37 rooms patched together via courtyards and cloisters.
A labyrinthine maze of 25 canal houses along Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht Canal serves as the historic backdrop for this hotel, where hidden gardens and an old apothecary shop give way to 225 guest rooms.