For the ultimate seaside escape, look no further than these chic European retreats
We often equate luxury with long-haul, but really there is nowhere better than Europe if you’re looking for a sun-drenched summer break. And from the Balearics to the Balkans, the islands offer chic retreats that rival even the most outstanding exotic destination. Leave the clubs and craziness in the rear-view mirror and venture into the lush Ibizan countryside to get back to nature at members-only farmstead La Granja. Sun salutations couldn’t be more apt at holistic manor house hotel Cal Reiet in Mallorca, with daily yoga practice surrounded by lush Mediterranean gardens. Discover a secluded paradise in Hvar’s newcomer Little Green Bay, where life really is a beach. When it comes to design, Italy never disappoints, and Sicilian hot spot Verdura Resort is a modernist’s dream, with a wicked kids’ club to boot. Time to set sail…
The lowdown A period mansion reimagined as a holistic retreat.
Best for Urbanites keen to recharge their spiritual batteries.
Bypass busy beach resorts on this ever-popular Balearic island, opting instead for the tranquillity offered by Cal Reiet, a 15-room hotel with health and wellbeing firmly in its inner eye. It delivers on both levels – the calm interior of classic Mallorcan manor house has all the comfort you need to rest and rejuvenate and that’s before you’ve even got your ‘Om’ on at the daily yoga classes in the hotel’s shala or joined the Zen vitality, meditation or healthy cooking workshops.
The main building evokes the classical elegance of a traditional manor house, pared-back for a clean, modern look. Tiled floors, dark wood beams and smart linen headboards channel a sophisticated vibe and no two rooms are identical, with original pieces of furniture from the house used to add character and a sense of the building’s history. The two guest houses cater for a more rustic taste by ramping up the textural elements, but the stone walls, distressed wood and natural fibre rugs don’t overpower thanks to white walls and limestone floors. Peace for body, mind and soul is the mantra here. Namaste…
Book it Double rooms from approx £170
LITTLE GREEN BAY
The lowdown A blissful retreat nestling in a pine-scented bay.
Best for Beach-lovers who don’t want to fight for a sun lounger.
On a secluded inlet on the chic island of Hvar sits an old guest house, beautifully transformed by Parisian designer Julie and her brother Mathieu into a contemporary boutique hotel with more than a little je ne sais quoi. This hidden getaway offers 15 rooms and suites, all with private balconies overlooking the shimmering waters of the Adriatic or the lush, aromatic gardens that surround the hotel.
Natural materials such as stone, wood and wicker are teamed with crisp white walls and polished-concrete floors and Julie commissions local artisans to craft the wood and stone pieces by hand. Life naturally revolves around the tranquil bay, with its pebble beach and backdrop of pine and tamarisk trees, where you can take in the views from one of the small pontoons or from the deck of the private speedboat – ready and waiting to whisk you off if the mood takes you.
Book it Suites from approx £330
The lowdown A super-chic, family-friendly resort with epic views.
Best for High-end pampering for adults and children alike.
Soak up the cool, contemporary design of this exclusive five-star hotel on Sicily’s southwest coat, with what those-in-the-know credit as perhaps the best spa in Italy. With interiors designed by Olga Polizzi (sister of resort owner Sir Rocco Forte), there’s the unmistakable look of trad Sicilian architecture – wood four-posters and stone bathroom fittings – but adeptly updated to suit a more modernist aesthetic.
While there may not be a classic maiolica tile in sight, the warm yellows and burnt ochres so synonymous with its design have been seamlessly worked into the sleek and stylish Polizzi interior. If your youngsters aren’t yet ready to be impressed by the stunning décor, they’ll still be dazzled by the fun activities on offer at the new Verdùland kids’ club. Split into babies, kids and teens groups, the top-notch venue includes its own pool, kitchen for cooking classes and indoor play area. The programme for ‘RKids’ (four- to 12-year-olds) features everything from pottery and astrology to football and watersports, leaving parents plenty of time to enjoy the sumptuous surroundings in serene style.
Book it Rooms from £175
The lowdown A rustic Iberian farmhouse reworked in luxe fashion.
Best for Veteran clubbers who prefer chilling out to giving it large.
This laid-back Ibizan retreat harks to the days before the island was best known for its epic nightlife – the vibe channels Fifties hippy haven rather than all-night rave. La Granja (‘the farm’ if your Spanish is rusty) is Design Hotels’ first members-only venture in collaboration with creative international community Friends of a Farmer, dedicated to sustainable living and the farm-to-table movement. Designed by Armin Fischer of Dreimeta, the farmstead retreat offers nine guest rooms in the centuries-old stone farmhouse, plus a separate two-room guest house.
The design draws on the finca’s rural location in the rolling hills above San Antonio to hone a pared-back, rustic aesthetic. A suitably earthy palette of muted greys, charcoal and brown showcases the natural textures of burnt wood, brushed and oiled ash, stone and slate. Connect with your fellow guests through communal activities such as slow-food workshops, meditation and yoga, before gathering at the bar, built around a carob tree, from early evening to sample artisanal spirits, natural wines and craft beer and enjoy a live DJ set poolside as the sun goes down.
Book it Double rooms from approx £295