Shore thing: The best beach hotels in Europe


Shore thing: The best beach hotels in Europe

Feel like catching a few rays now the crowds have dispersed? Here's where to break your bed-to-beach record on the Continent

Amy Martin

BY Amy Martin1 September 2023

Set your out-of-office message to ‘gone surfing’ and step away from the laptop. It’s still – just about – the summer of Barbie and your job, for now at least, is just beach. As luck would have it, we’ve cut down your commute with our pick of the continent’s luxury hotels a stone’s throw from the sea. From Greece’s too-cool resorts to cosy Cornish boltholes, find your next beachfront stay here.


Domes Noruz Kassandra, Halkidiki

Sun loungers and parasols looking out to sea on the sandy shore

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the party’s over or just getting started in Halkidiki, but whichever end of the day sees you crashing back bedwards, Domes Noruz Kassandra is your luxury landing pad. Super-soft duvets and a spoiling spa ward off any symptoms of a no-holds-barred night out, and the hotel’s all-white design goes easy on worse-for-wear eyes.

If moving is absolutely not on your agenda, bed down on Chaniotis beach – from your parasol-shaded lounger, drinks are only ever a button-press away.

But when the pull of the party scene gets the better of you, it’s the out-size pool you want to head to. By day, settle there for sea-gazing swing chairs and straight-to-your-sunlounger cocktails. Stay after hours, and things rev up with live DJ sets and till-sunrise parties.

Dexamenes Seaside Hotel, Western Peloponnese

Hotel exterior looking out the sandy beach with sun loungers and parasols

Many a Greek hotel has made claims to the approval of the gods, but it’s hard to imagine a stay more up Dionysus’ street than Dexamenes Seaside Hotel. Set in a former winery, this oenophile’s dream makes ingenious use of the original structures. Wine tanks have been transformed into stylishly industrial suites – a repurposed stone slab here, an upcycled water pipe there.

You’ll find an elegant Greek restaurant in the engine room, and concrete grape-crushing silos are now the setting for art exhibitions, private dinners and (what else?) wine tastings. Speaking of which, swirl and sniff your way through the 100-strong wine list at the bar, which spills out onto Kourouta beach’s golden sands. And just as intoxicating is the Western Peloponnese wilderness, where there’s an abundance of ancient forest and antiquities to explore.

Meraviglia Slow Living, Epirus Coast

Aerial hotel exterior with the beach and the sea

If you’re into the Greek classics, Epirus will appeal. Sure, this northwestern corner of Greece is home to the door to Hades and shores that star in Homer’s Odyssey, but we’re more talking golden beaches, sun-warmed sea and straight-from-the-surf seafood.

And these are the Hellenic staples that Meraviglia Slow Living has in spades. If you ever needed evidence that patience is a virtue, it took local constructor Aris Tzimas two decades to perfect his vision. The payoff? Seven striking suites, each with a private pool, garden and eye-popping Ionian views.

Life here moves at a languid pace. Post lie-in, start your day with an alfresco treatment at the sea-gazing spa. Mooch down to Monolithi beach to work on that tan, then it’s back to your suite for a locally sourced supper delivered straight to your door.

Numo Ierapetra Beach Resort, Crete

Sun loungers and parasols looking out to sea

Ready to pull an Irish goodbye on the Greek island party scene? Numo Ierapetra Beach Resort has you covered. At this adults-only stay on Crete’s quieter southern coast, soothing interiors fall in step with the scenery – influences include the volcanic grey of the beach, the tamarisk trees’ earthy greens and the honey tones of the mountains beyond.

Don’t hang up your dancing shoes just yet – down at the pool and beach bar, mixologists are hard at work and DJs spin deep house beats. But when a gentler rhythm calls your name, abscond to the spa or slip away to the secluded second pool.

After all, you’ll want to be full of beans come morning to flit about the pretty neighbouring villages, full of traditional tavernas and coffee houses. That said, there are three restaurants at the hotel, each showcasing fresh Cretan produce – snag yourself a candlelit spot on the fine-dining terrace right by the waves, and you might find staying put seems the sensible decision.


Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay

Bedroom looking out to a balcony overlooking the ocean with sailing boats bobbing in the background
You’d think the namesake restaurant would be the headline act at Nobu Hotel, but top billing is hotly contested at this luxury Ibiza resort. Chef Matsuhisa’s miso black cod has competition in the form of a Six Senses spa and the scene-y white sands of Talamanca Bay beach. Here, sun-drenched days are dawdled away on plush double daybeds, supplemented, perhaps, by a frankincense-scented treatment at the spa or some beats-a-tea-towel souvenir hunting in the artisanal boutique.

And when big names band together in Ibiza, a bells-and-whistles night out is all but guaranteed. First stop, the John Frieda salon to fine-tune your look, followed by the Nobu bar for some see-and-be-seen sake sipping. From there, the hotel can sort club tickets, but DJ-spun beats keep the cool kids at the pool bar till late.

El Vicenç de la Mar, Mallorca

Terrace with sun loungers overlooking the sea and craggy Cliffside

Sculptural ridges and the electric-blue Balearic form the backdrop for El Vicenç de la Mar, a boutique stay on Mallorca’s dramatic north coast, where the Serra de Tramuntana plunges into the sea. Between the pool with heart-pattering views and the resident master mixologists, there’s a persuasive case to be made for indefinite rooftop lounging. But really, this is scenery best seen on two wheels – and the hotel has bikes to rent and a repair shop onsite, so you’re all set to hop in the saddle.

The rewards for returning cyclists are plenty. The spa is your recovery pitstop, where a Turkish bath and cramp-banishing treatments beckon. Aches averted, restorative treats await in the two restaurants, where the Mediterranean menus are overseen by a Michelin-starred chef.

Puente Romano Beach Resort, Marbella

Sun loungers by the sea

If ever a hotel called for a massive floppy hat and your most outrageous sunnies, it’s Puente Romano. On Marbella’s Golden Mile, this sprawling resort is the biggest name in town – or rather, a collection of the biggest names. Nobu and Coya number among the 20 restaurants and bars, and there’s an award-winning spa by Smith favourite Six Senses. Plus, Fendi have taken stylish charge of the beach club for the summer.

But there’s no need to be starstruck. Despite its size and celeb-luring credentials (Djokovic is a regular at the tennis club), the resort’s whitewashed buildings and strollable sub-tropical gardens lend it a laidback village feel. Active sorts can try their hand at surfing, stand-up paddle boarding or skippering one of the hotel’s private sailing boats, but really, it’s the super-luxe slow life where Puente Romano’s star quality shines.


Verdura Resort, Sicily

Sandy beach with sun loungers and parasols from the golf course

A family affair in all senses, Verdura Resort is the joint effort of hotelier Rocco Forte and his designer sister Olga Polizzi. Interiors are, of course, supremely stylish – dark wood and daring patterns are paired with lashings of natural light. But Eleanor Pritchard prints don’t mean much to Little Smiths, so swing by the award-winning kids’ club – antics include art classes, beach trips and training sessions at the Juventus academy.

Juniors off your hands, head for the super-size spa, where soothing treatments are infused with Sicilian herbs and the hammam is spacious enough to hole up in for as long as your nerves need. Otherwise, hide out on one of the two championship golf courses, or go awol under the orange trees in the balmy gardens.

Bringing the extended clan? Book a villa for ample acreage plus a bevy of VIP bonuses, including a private beach cabana, outings planned by the resident Sicily expert, and – perhaps most crucially – a bottle of bubbly on arrival.

Capo La Gala and Wellness, Amalfi Coast

Sun loungers and private swimming pool on private terrace looking over the ocean

Amore can’t help but flourish on the Amalfi Coast – those swoon-inducing views make sure of that – but Capo La Gala and Wellness, five miles from Sorrento, makes a more than worthy wingman.

The hotel’s design is an ode to its seaside setting, full of navy stripes and nautical flourishes, but even so, the real star here is your plus one. Date nights follow a heart-fluttering formula: Mediterranean fine dining, followed by a Tyrrhenian-gazing tipple at the bar and a hand-in-hand stroll along the rocky beach – the scene, local legend has it, of a star-crossed love story.

The seafoam-green spa woos with wildflower-infused treatments, and down by the beach, the osteria is open for lingering love-is-in-the-air lunches. There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but if it’s a boutique love nest by the beach that your heart desires, Capo La Gala is The One.


Three Mile Beach, Cornwall

View of the beach with the lighthouse in the distance

Three Mile Beach on Cornwall’s north coast delivers the classic Great British seaside holiday with a glamorous twist – packing list: bucket, spade and Bulgari shades. In each of the 15 beach houses, cheery-coloured clapboard (and a rainy day board game collection) deliver a dose of seaside nostalgia; out on your private terrace, a cedar-hewn sunken hot tub and barrel sauna nudge things into diva territory.

Every house has a kitchen, too, but if you’re tied up with a sea salt-scented soak on the deck, call on the private chef. Even better, pop out for an Atlantic-facing feast, courtesy of the tuk-tuk turned bar and food truck dishing out globetrotting tapas.

And steps away, the nominative miles of golden sand await on Gwithian beach, where surfing, cycling and seal-spotting are all the rage.

Want to get off the beaten track? Seek out our pick of the world’s best hidden beaches