Urban escapes that deliver serious style
The lowdown A former convent that’s now a cool bolt-hole.
Best for Fashionistas seeking Belgium’s hip labels.
Monastery-turned-hotel conversions are having a moment. We’ve covered two this year – The Jaffa in Israel and France’s Fontevraud L’Hôtel – and now we’re onto our third.
This former Augustinian convent in Belgium is the first hotel project by esteemed architect Vincent Van Duysen, and it took four years to restructure the property into a haven of considered understatement and serenity.
The property is anchored by a bar occupying the former nun’s chapel, where arched windows flood the space with light and a contemporary monochrome palette contrasts with the building’s historic features.
An equally elegant aesthetic can be found in the bedrooms, library and superb on-site restaurant, which serves seasonal delicacies such as pigeon and white asparagus.
THE HOXTON HOTEL
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHELANDS
The lowdown Five canal houses converted into a buzzing hot spot.
Best for Hipsters out to discover a local take on the Dutch capital.
The trump card for this place has to be its location in chic street Herengracht. The Hoxton group’s first non-London property is bang on the canal and in spitting distance of the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum, with Central Station a brisk 10-minute walk away.
Anyone familiar with the Shoreditch or Holborn Hoxtons will instantly see the same design DNA at work in these interiors: industrial edge, a hint of modernism and oodles of contemporary glamour.
The lobby and bar are clearly cool-kid hang-outs, complete with bare floorboards, ‘worn’ leather sofas, salvaged lighting and Fifties furniture. You’re sure to be rubbing shoulders with locals, who come for the espresso martinis (divine) and good (albeit loud) music. Lotti’s, the on-site modern Italian run by the Soho House lot, is also a big hit in the hood. Indeed, stay here to feel like an Amsterdammer yourself, particularly if you take advantage of the perks of nearby gym access and push-bikes.
Book it Double rooms from £110
The lowdown A small, family-run hotel that places an emphasis on style.
Best for Urbanites keen on slickly designed interiors.
Milan has never been short on sophistication, but since Il Senato opened last year, the boutique hotel scene has definitely stepped up a notch. It’s run by the Ranza family and located in a five-storey, neoclassical building that was once their private residence. They enlisted architect Alessandro Bianchi to do the renovation, who, in turn, commissioned local craftsmen to create one-off fittings – every single piece in the place is unique.
Most show stopping is the installation of handmade leaf-shaped wall lamps in the reception, along with the graphic monochrome lobby floor. Throughout it’s all marble, brass, parquet and velvet. The 43 rooms are simple but stylish and the junior suites have private terraces with a view of the Duomo. Head to the 24-hour Senato Caffè for everything from a fierce espresso to one too many Aperol spritzes. Other facilities are limited to a small gym and roof terrace, but this is no worry as terrific shops and restaurants are just a stroll from the front door – perfetto.
Book it Double rooms from approx £185
The lowdown An opulent former palace where you can live like a king.
Best for Glamazons with a taste for life’s finer things.
Carved cedar wood, intricate mosaics, stained glass, inlaid marquetry, silk, velvet, suede and crystal… The Royal Mansour offers extravagance on a new level. And it really is royal, as it was commissioned by King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Guests stay in private multistorey riads, which are situated in almost four hectares of fragrant Moorish gardens.
Privacy is paramount and the staff manage to be both incredibly attentive and unobtrusive.
You could easily spend an entire weekend without leaving the utopian villa (hello, in-room dining!), but you’d be mad not to also take advantage of the four bars, three restaurants, library and art gallery. The kitchen is run by Michelin-starred Yannick Alléno, whose inventive dishes will astonish anyone who thinks they know what to expect from Moroccan cuisine. Then there’s the two outdoor pools and the insanely beautiful spa, where you’ll be scrubbed, rubbed and pummelled like never before.
The lowdown An immaculately decorated find in the 1st arrondissement.
Best for Tastemakers keen to culture up then chill out.
Paris’s coolest new opening might have an incredibly prime postcode, but it’s what’s behind the front door that makes it really worth the visit. Almost every corner of Le Roch is worthy of an Instagram post, #nofilter. Its colour palette is gorgeous (combinations of sage, chartreuse and milky green), the materials luxurious (velvet, marble and walnut) and the furniture is by Italian brand Cassina.
The hotel’s facilities are equally special, in particular the swimming pool (very rare in central Paris) and top-notch spa, with cosmetics by contemporary brand Codage.
The restaurant is creative too, with a sharing-style, modern menu – Livingetc’s highlight was the sea bream sashimi. And, of course, having the Louvre, Opéra Garnier and everything in-between on your doorstep is pretty good too. Be sure to do some style hunting in the boutiques on Rue St-Honoré – concept store Colette is a must.
Book it Double rooms from approx £380