Featuring inspirational architecture, plush interiors and to-die-for settings, Europe’s newest boutique hotels are pushing the boundaries of design-led destinations – and with an average end-of-season temperature of around 25°C, our locations offer the perfect blend of sun-kissed pleasure with top-end pampering.
For a divine coastal vibe, Principe di Salina on the Aeolian isle of Salina is hard to beat, drawing together the region’s cultural influences in a laid-back mix of neo-Cubist buildings and epic views. Moving east in the Med, the Abaton Island Resort & Spa in Crete is also elegantly minimalist, its crisp white spaces dotted with unusual artefacts and raw wood details.
On Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula, the Il Riccio Beach House opens out to a stunning Aegean setting, creatingan indoor/outdoor feel, while the Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay is barefoot chic gone large – a beachfront playground for adultsand children alike, it’s a Balearic experience not to be missed. Finally, Gillham Vineyard in North Cyprus, a hotel set within carefully cultivated vines, is a wine-lover's dream...
The lowdown a beautiful bolt-hole set within a vineyard
Best for wine buffs who want to explore less-obvious regions
Oenophiles rejoice, for this is a hotel that takes the boozy vineyard holiday to the next level. Surrounded by acres of cultivated vines deep in North Cyprus’s wine country, this pared-back resort is all about the grapes.
There’s a state-of-the-art wine centre offeringguided tours of the grounds and free tastings, a gourmet restaurant that pairs the estate’s own vintages with Israeli-influenced Cypriot cooking, and even a ‘wine spa’ offering grape-infused treatments, such as the alluringly indulgent vino-therapy wine bath and a pip-and-pulp facial.
Once fed, watered and suitably pampered, crash out in the linen-draped, pale-white bedrooms or down by the sunny outdoor pool and gaze over the hilly Cypriot landscape beyond.
IBIZA BAY, TALAMANCA, IBIZA
The lowdown An über-luxurious Balearic beach resort.
Best for Family frolics in a stylish refuge with plenty of indulgence.
Is one of your pet holiday hates having to drag yourself down for breakfast before you’ve wiped the (sangria-inspired) sleep from your eyes? Then the Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay is the place for you. Not only is it a coastal paradise on the sandy shore of Talamanca Bay with every mod con you could wish for, but it has a ‘no-agenda’ policy, meaning that meals are served at your leisure – whatever the time of day.
And we’re not talking tasteless buffets, either – the food is first class, as are the amenities. You can luxuriate in…. a Six Senses spa, fitness centre, yoga pavilion, manicure/pedicure studio and a John Frieda hair salon. Even better, you can book some of the treatments, for example, the Kiatsu and Bamboo massages,to take place in the hotel’s beach cabanas.
And there’s no need to worry where Junior has got to while you’re pampering yourself – besides the two pools, the Kids’ Club has some great activities, from DJ lessons to jewellery making, plus it will feed the youngsters at lunch and during the evening while the nightly film is shown.
Not that we wanted our brood to miss out on Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa’s Japanese/Peruvian fusion, nor the freshly baked homemade delights at Bay Café, or the fresh-off-the-boat gambas at the Chambao ‘beach shack’. Oh, and the rooms, shops and bars are pretty cool too…
Book itDouble rooms from £660
PRINCIPE DI SALINA
The lowdown A coastal enclave set among soaring cliff-tops.
Best for Romantic getaways in intimate, secluded surroundings.
Renovated last year, Principe di Salina is a family-run bolthole nestling within the dormant volcanic peaks of Salina, the most verdant and beautiful of Italy’s Aeolian Isles. In keeping with its status as a Unesco World Heritage Centre, building on the islands is restricted, so this novel hotel is a rare, contemporary jewel that nevertheless takes its cue from the local vernacular – cubular in shape and constructed from indigenous materials stone, lava and pumice.
The 12 rooms, each with a private terrace, are set on four levels running down the hillside and all enjoy vistas across the sea to the neighbouring islands of Panarea and Stromboli. Inside, the furnishings have been reimagined in modern, rough-luxe style, so iMacs rest on artisanal tables in the study areas, hammocks and loungers offer respite from the sun along the shaded terraces and sink-into seating makes loitering by the bar an effortlessly extended affair.
The infinity pool is large enough for plenty of laps, while the Jacuzzi is fed from local geothermal springs, injecting a health-inducing shot of sulphur to your skin. The restaurant is overseen by the hotel owner’s mother, so local fare, such as caponata, melanzane parmigiana and caper pesto spaghetti are given a homespun twist, with wines from neighbouring vineyards as the perfect accompaniment. Salina may not be the easiest place to get to (a boat trip is required), but you’ll be in no hurry to leave…
Book itDouble rooms from £123.
ABATON ISLAND RESORT & SPA
The lowdown An ultra-modern beachfront hotel with ocean views.
Best for Bon viveurs and sun worshippers who enjoy fine service.
Opened earlier this year, the Abaton Island Resort & Spa is the latest addition to Crete’s growing collection of five-star accommodation. But if you’re worried about builder’s materials still on site and amenities not yet fully functioning, fret not – the Abaton has hit the (fully marbled) ground running.
From the awesomely styled lobby and well-appointed gym to the numerous swimming pools and Elemis spa, it caters to your every whim, with friendly staff on hand to ensure you needn’t lift a finger.
The 152 rooms range from less pricey sea-view options (all still gorgeously furnished with pristine white fittings edged with raw wood textures) to blow-the-budget Loft rooms, and are all complete with a mezzanine, lounge and Jacuzzi. There’s even two villas if you fancy sharing with friends.
And when it comes to dinner, you’re spoilt for choice with five restaurants to enjoy – offering everything from seafood and Cretan specialities to sushi and steaks. And leave time for the spa, where a massage, facial and manicure will leave you feeling as sparkling as the sun-dappled waves lapping at the shore. The lively resort of Hersonissos is a short stroll away, but we preferred to spend the evenings in our terrace pool, gazing up at the sky. The Abaton left us star-struck, in more ways than one.
Book itDouble rooms from £405.
IL RICCIO BEACH HOUSE
The lowdown An exclusive retreat in a pretty spot on the Aegean.
Best for Pan-Europeans who prefer the best of both east and west.
Inspired by its Michelin-starred sister venue at Anacapri’s sumptuous Capri Palace, Il Riccio Beach House is a slice of Italian splendour reimagined on the Aegean coast. With only four bedrooms and six suites, each beautifully furnished with designer pieces – many from Milan – the mood here is more laid-back than at its blingtastic sibling, but the attention to detail is just as complete.
Overlooking the shoreline on Bodrum’s Paradise Bay, Il Riccio’s pure-white facade is set against the lush greenery rising up the hillside, offering a dazzling counterpoint to the crystal blue sea and cloudless sky. Cruising on the clear waters is one of the main attractions here, so a jetty is handily located at the hotel’s base for embarking on pleasure trips.
Or if your voyages of discovery are more inclined towards the culinary arts, Il Riccio’s chefs conjure up a heavenly take on Italian fare, notably seafood, with freshly caught turbot, sea bass and swordfish given a flavoursome hit of local herbs and spices. There’s even a separate room devoted entirely to desserts.
Wellness regimes are catered for too, with a sleekly minimalist in-house spa, plus a Kneipp hydrotherapy pool, two Turkish baths and a state-of-the-art gym. And if the infinity pool isn’t sufficient enough for your strokes, there’s that whole enticing bay to plunge into…
Book itDouble rooms from £366.