Sharing is caring – sage words they may be, but who wants to be sage when you could snag a prime sunbathing spot instead? We’ve played private investigator and compiled an all-star line-up of Europe’s best stays with exclusive beaches, from bucolic borgos to Greek island grottos.
So if you’re feeling a little shellfish (sorry, stick with us) when it comes to your summer hols, dive into our best hotels with private beaches in Europe…
Amalfi coast, Italy
Paparazzi chase you out of Positano? Look, we get it. It’s tough going being this glamorous. Luckily for you, cliffside pad Borgo Santandrea delivers star quality without skimping on the seclusion. Sophisticated blue and white interiors make a valiant attempt at stealing the spotlight, but floor-to-ceiling French windows keep the cinematic sea views firmly centre-frame.
In fact, between the library-cum-bar, patio restaurant and balconies looking out over Sophia Loren’s former villa (of course), you can’t move for close up-worthy backdrops. And if you must be papped, let it be mid-Negroni on the Med-facing pool terrace.
Down at the shore, the hotel’s sandy beach is strictly VIP – very important paddler, obviously – but absolute solitude seekers can always jet off on a boat tour of Amalfi’s film-star coast from the private jetty.
PUENTE ROMANO BEACH RESORT
Stand down, veterans of the Costa del Sol sunlounger wars, your days of parasols at dawn are over. At Puente Romano Beach Resort you’re guaranteed a spot on Marbella’s exclusive Golden Mile. Days at the Fendi-designed beach club are best spent mainlining cocktails and the catch of the day – delivered straight to your sunbed – and maybe, eventually, stirring yourself for a little snorkelling or stand-up paddle boarding.
All going swimmingly so far, but there’s more to this Andalusian A-lister. Tear yourself from your tanning spot of choice – truly, there’s no need to bagsy it with a beach towel – and get exploring.
Breaking step with the outsize resorts next door, Puente Romano rocks a breezy seaside village vibe – we’re talking whitewashed buildings, wave-to-your-neighbours atmosphere and a wealth of Mediterranean views. But there’s nothing small-town about the clay tennis courts, long beloved by the likes of McEnroe and Djokovic (no pressure), nor the tally of 20 restaurants and bars, which range from Nobu to an NYC loft-inspired nightclub.
After a night of excess, exorcise your woes at the Six Senses spa, then take a sunny turn about the sub-tropical gardens and – oh, but you’re back on the beach already… Fair enough.
DANAI BEACH RESORT
You could hit the Hamptons one year and Halkidiki the next, but why not have your honey cake and eat it, too? Once a private family holiday home with a preppy pep in its step, Danai Beach Resort & Villas has laidback luxury baked into its bricks and mortar.
Greek and French fine dining set the cosmopolitan tone, as do suites suited out with classical artwork, chandeliers and antique objets d’art, but friendly staff and a chilled-out atmosphere stop things from leaning stuffy – though the champagne at breakfast and a sommelier-guided rummage in the wine cellar will help with that, too.
Shoreside, butter-soft sands, palatial cabanas and the breezy beachfront bar beckon. Resist the siren song of the cocktail shaker on your way to the water and you’ll be rewarded with gentle waves and a full roster of watersports. Little Smiths can chart their own odyssey, too – kids’ club quests range from snorkelling to ice cream-sampling. Better yet, commandeer the hotel’s private yacht to see Sithonia en famille.
Good news! You’ve just been granted three holiday wishes. First up? A private beach in Puglia – great choice. Second? Go on, then, make it two. But save your final wish for fine weather, because Borgo Egnazia has all the fairytale trappings covered. Here, a mock-mediaeval village carved from cool tufa rock makes up your 40-acre realm – think castle towers, cobblestones and candlelit alcoves.
Royal privileges include a Roman-inspired spa, four pools and a Michelin-starred restaurant that makes majestic use of the hotel’s home-grown produce; golf fans can follow the breadcrumbs to the championship course next door. But happily ever after hours, the fairest of them all flock to the olive-shaded pool for a signature Apulian sundowner.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and the question of which beach to colonise first is quite the poser – sandy lounger-lined shores or sleek hangout atop a rocky outcrop? Hop on the beach club shuttle to make your choice, but be warned – once you have an aperitivo in hand and the Adriatic at your feet, you might find it doesn’t really matter after all…
METT HOTEL & BEACH RESORT
Over on the Aegean, your reign as king of the castle continues – well, king of the cove with views of the castle, anyway, and turns out that’s possibly even better.
Occupying a prime spot on Bodrum’s balmy coast, Mett Hotel and Beach Resort counts a traditional Turkish hammam, modern art gallery and a sea-facing infinity pool among its hoard of treasures. Three restaurants offer a tempting triptych of views – Italian overlooking the castle, pan-Asian plates high above Haremtan Cove or fresh-caught fish right on the shore. Fittingly for a hotel that makes so much of its surroundings, things are kept sustainable with solar power, local produce and Turkish-grown timber.
The jewel in the crown, of course, is the white-sand beach – private, naturally, so there’ll be no Game of Thrones-style skirmish for your sunlounger. Front-row seat secured, cosy up on the deck for a sunset tipple, soundtracked by laidback Balearic beats.
ANGSANA RESORT & SPA
Figure of speech? Sorry, never heard of it. When we say Angsana Corfu is a superlative stay, we mean it literally. First stop, Corfu’s biggest spa – complete with super-size pool, floor-to-ceiling sea views and a mighty menu of treatments. Next up, the island’s largest infinity pool.
By this point, we can almost hear the refrains of ‘size isn’t everything’ to which we say, sure. But take a glance at the sleek deck and breath-snatching views and tell us that, when you know how to use it, it isn’t just a little seductive. Come dusk, saunter up to – you guessed it – Corfu’s highest rooftop bar for a sundowner and a spot of panoramic sightseeing.
And now, down to Corfu’s largest beach! No, only kidding. But spend a day here swimming and sun-soaking, rounded off with lazy beats and a lingering seafood supper at the beach club, and you might just declare it the island’s best.
Goethe reckoned that Sicily is the clue to everything, but if the maximalist MO of Verdura Resort is anything to go by, everything might be the clue to Sicily. First things first, rockstar hotelier Rocco Forte presents the ultimate seaside best of both worlds – a beach that’s part stony, part sandy. Finally, pebble-skimmers and sandcastle-sculptors may exist in sunny harmony.
This everyone-pleasing approach is par for the course here – and we’re not just referring to the two championship 18-hole golf courses, plus a nine-hole course to boot. If you draw a line in the sand at sports on your summer hols, head to the holistic spa.
There, the hammam alone could house a whole family – but if you’d rather soak and steam solo, we won’t blame you. The huge kids’ club can’t stop picking up accolades, so little Smiths won’t want for their own adventures anyway.
Bells and whistles abound however you slice it here, but book a villa for the full works – we’re talking one-to-one concierge, private beach cabana, and personal golf carts to carry you off into the Sicilian sunset.
If you fancy a fling with Mother Nature, there are worse places to be wooed than Puglia. Spend some alone time on Masseria Calderisi’s private stretch of golden, Adriatic-lapped sand and tell us you’re not lovestruck.
The swoons keep coming back at this 17th-century former farmhouse, surrounded by olive and almond groves pretty enough to charm the most reluctant treehugger. In the spa, treatments are laced with homegrown herbs, and a dalliance with the farm’s finest produce beckons at the restaurant.
Want to make things exclusive? Take dinner à deux in the citrus orchard and you’ll be so loved up with the lemons, you’ll risk making a gooseberry of your actual date. And just in case you thought this couldn’t be any more of a feel-good affair, allow us to introduce the estate’s pair of rescue donkeys. Oh, and – serious smug points incoming – the whole hotel is plastic-free and furnished by local artisans.
Herceg Novi, Montenegro
It seems possible that Montenegro‘s One&Only Portonovi is playing a game of one-upmanship with itself – if so, we’re all the winners. The private beach has sugary sand and crystalline sea, sure, and for the most dedicated do-not-disturbers, some villas even have their own private beaches and butler service. But throw in a beach club with floating cabanas, a sultry sake bar and speedboats ready to take out for a spin and the ante is well and truly upped.
Things escalate further in the Chenot Espace spa, where two labyrinthine storeys hide a hammam, hydrotherapy pools and a host of promisingly high-tech treatments. Heady it may be, but here, luxury doesn’t mean diluting the local flavour. The two waterside restaurants offer Italian and pan-Asian treats, but out on the palm-studded veranda, you’ll find a menu of finely-spun Montenegrin fare.
For the final flourish, take your pick of eyebrow-raising excursions. A wine-tasting tour in Tito’s Rolls Royce Silver Shadow would set you up for lifelong success in fun-fact icebreakers, but if you ask us, it’s all aboard the hotel’s superyacht for a spot of Adriatic island-hopping.
Want to get even more secluded? Explore our guide to the world’s best hidden beaches
Amy Martin is a writer, actor, and travel buff, based between London and Cornwall. When she’s not lurking around a theatre or scribbling in a notebook on the Penzance to Paddington line, you’ll find her at the cinema, on a long coastal walk, or watching Pride and Prejudice (1995 or 2005 is fine).