Best Smith Villa
For those more social stays, you want a home-from-home feeling with hotel-worthy design, just-so styling, effortless arrivals, stunning surrounds and space to entertain.
Winner: Uxua Alma Casa Anderson, Bahia
Our judges say ‘Living in the jungle never felt so good! Every tiny detail of Casa Anderson blew us away. We loved hanging out in the treehouse-style pavillion on stilts, by the pool or in our amazing bungalow room. The best thing is the quadrado – or wide central square – where there are no cars allowed and children play football together after school. At the far end is a church and, beyond, the sea’.
Morukuru Ocean House, De Hoop Nature Reserve
The sand dunes of De Hoop Nature Reserve form a dramatic backdrop to the private four-bedroomed Morukuru Ocean House. Here, all activities are tailormade and included – you’ll have a dedicated guide on hand, chefs wait to whip up extravagant all-inclusive meals and most drinks are on the house. Try a spot of sandboarding down the dunes, look for long-legged antelope leaping through the reserve, take a guided marine walk along the coast, or make like Sir Attenborough and settle back with one of the villa’s telescopes for whale-watching and star-gazing.
Es Bec D'Aguila, Menorca
Throughout Menorca's 11-bedroom Es Bec D’Aguila you’ll find bespoke geometric tiling, custom-made textiles, mid-century furnishings, historic photographs and original artwork. The showpiece of the living spaces? It’s a toss-up between the cinema room and the aquamarine marble bar; the former is built for family film nights and the latter practically begs for cocktail o’clock. The grounds are equally impressive: a yoga studio, terraces around every corner, a kid-friendly play area with a treehouse and pergola-covered daybeds beside the pool.
Castello di Reschio Bell’Aria, Umbria
Part of the expansive, family-run Castello di Reschio estate on the Tuscany-Umbria border, Apennine-view Bell’Aria is most classically Italian. This carefully restored six-bedroom farmhouse has plenty of period features – beamed ceilings, stone-carved fireplaces – along with more modern details – rainfall showers, modern art and a sleek breakfast bar (even the child-friendly bunk room is ludicrously stylish). There’s a lounge-ready loggia by the pool, hammocks and a swing to gently rock on, a sunset-ready spot for aperitivo, a shaded outdoor dining terrace for leisurely meals and an alfresco fireplace for late-night deep-and-meaningfuls.
Dar el Sadaka, Marrakech
Nature seems to have been invited inside this fully staffed villa inthe heart of the Palmeraie. Dar el Sadaka is part luxury villa and part unique artistic project; sculptures of oversized geese, swinging orang utans and curious giraffes are dotted throughout the property – inside and out. The house has nine bedrooms, bright and playful open-plan living areas and imaginative, modern style throughout A sleek heptagonal pool sits in the palm- and olive-tree-shaded lawn; the 25 acres of lush gardens are also home to a wild sculpture park by Jean-François Fourtou, an Alice in Wonderland-like maze, a tennis court, running track, bowls pitch, swings for little Smiths and assorted lounge-ready terraces, rooftops and patios.
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Best Smith villa award criteria
We’re not talking second-thought second homes with second-hand furniture here, what we seek are the unique, the stand-out, the oh-wow… Whether it’s a family-friendly finca, an A-list crash pad, or a hidden hideaway in a hotel’s grounds, we crave private-home perfection with a generous squeeze of Smith-required style.
Whether it’s an extended family escape or a group getaway with friends, communal space is key. Convivial kitchens, lounge areas you can truly lounge in, outdoor space to seek sun or shade, somewhere to sip those sundowners together – we look for people-pleasing properties.
We go above and beyond (quite literally in some cases) to find the very best villas offering that bit of holiday peace. Be it a quiet spot down an unmarked island road, or a lodge tucked into the remotest of coves, a bit of seclusion lets you make what you want of your stay, without the need to worry about that after-dark pool party waking the neighbours.
Sure, you’ll be left to your own devices during your stay but peace of mind is important. Stay at a hotel villa and you’ll have everything they offer on tap in a best-of-both-worlds scenario. Book one of our private villas and that moment you need something – a fridge restock, a chef for the evening, an airport transfer – you can rest assured we’ll be right there to make it happen.