Europe is Calling
Find your ideal plaza or perfect piazza. Get lost on a rambling rue or a vivacious via. Pick your drink – champagne, prosecco or cava – or have them all. When it comes to Europe, we know exactly where to stay, what to do and how to have a real adventure, if you catch our (continental) drift…
Lie back and dream of the Adriatic at this Croatian cliffside beauty The Adriatic views are something of a theme here: whether you’re in your bedroom, the excellent restaurant, the rooftop bar or out on one of the terraces, the glittering seascapes will be there to drink in. The ceiling-to-floor windows in Villa Dubrovnik’s Suite 418 serves up views that stretch along the coast to the small neighbouring island of Lokrum. And if you’d rather lounge amid bubbles than crisp white sheets, a Jacuzzi awaits on your private terrace.
This restored 13th-century villa in the hearet of Tuscany is all flagstone floors, huge stone fireplaces and ornate chandeliers; beds are draped in tasselled silks and brocade, and light bounces from gilded baroque mirrors in marble-enhanced bathrooms. Every detail is exquisite;every piece of furniture murmurs classic luxury. All 15 rooms are pretty darn sexy, but we’re especially smitten with the Maggiorana Garden Suite and it’s ‘super super king-size’ four-poster bed, exposed beams, freestanding copper tub and prvate garden. It’s the perfect couples’ retreat.
It takes one look at Cardinal Bontadosi’s former home in Montefalco to see that men of the cloth had a good time in mediaeval Italy. All domed ceilings and ancient art, this 15th-century palace has been restored to full Renaissance glory – stone staircases, iron chains in frames and mounted mediaeval artefacts – with a contemporary frisson, thanks to the modern art gallery attached. Junior Suite 4 is certainly a room with a view: gaze at the colonnaded square below from the window, admire the frescoed, chandeliered ceiling from the comfort of the huge bed, or spy on your roommate in the freestanding egg-shaped bath tub in the corner…
We’ve have to admit it: whenever we need a picture of a bedroom that radiates sensuousness, we reach for this photo of the Orangerie at Château de Saint Paterne in Normandy. But we make no apologies – this light-infused suite is as sexy as they come. Set apart from the main château building, among the 25-acre grounds, this beguiling boudoir is fantasy incarnate, in part thanks to the 19th-century theatrical backdrop that adorns the wall behind the bed.
A backcountry oasis in northeast Ibiza, Atzaró is set blissfully apart from the more tourist-trodden paths of the island. This spa-enhanced, family-run finca is filled with scents of orange blossom, rosemary and lavender, that follow you from the outdoor lounge area all the way back to the Suite Deluze Lavanda. With beautiful mod-Moroccan and Asian-inspired interiors, a fireplace, and a beautiful terrace, it’s no wonder hedonistic A-listers head here for some together-time.
With an utterly idyllic setting – rolling fields of sunflowers, cotton, olive trees, waving wheat – this stately countryside retreat between Seville and Jerez is the ideal spot for couples seeking Spanish seduction. A gleaming-white, cortijo-style country house, with foot-thick walls and huge shuttered windows, the Hacienda offers grandeur without a whiff of ostentation. The separate casitas offer real privacy: they're hidden from the main house and share a private pool and garden. And don’t worry about lingering in the linens the morning after – staff will serve breakfast on your verandah no matter what time you emerge…
Seductive and unforgettable, set high in the hills above Florence, Il Salviatino has all the atmosphere you’d expect from a lavish 15th-century palazzo turned boutique hotel. None of its rooms disappoint, but the spectactular Affresco Suite is the kind of place you can imagine silver-screen villains and vixens padding around in silken robes, admiring the 19th-century Bruschi frescoes from the vast chesterfield, and luxuriating in the remarkable carved sarcophagus bath tub.
Cap Estel could easily be mistaken for an elegant wedding cake, with its cream and white tiers, candy-stick balconies and curved contours. This hotel boasts the unabashed, in-your-face glamour of a big-screen siren; it’s a Riviera retreat fit for the likes of Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe – apt really, given Èze’s proximity to filmstar-fabulous Cannes and Monaco. Built as a summer residence in 1898, the Cap has a private beach, and those lucky enough to land the Junior Suite 210 will enjoy uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean from their beautiful balustraded balcony.
Having removed bed-facing plasma TVs, formal service and the ubiquitous minibar from the menu, Areias do Seixo has set about redefining luxury, giving nature a starring role: fresh fruit in rooms and furnishings carved from wood. Inside Nha Cretcheu, the futuristic grey stone walls and floors create an austere space, yet the more natural touches – an elevated four-poster bed with a frame hewn from slender wooden boughs, a neatly stacked log pile next to the cosy fireplace, a collection of floor cushions, a private Jacuzzi and an astonishing view of the ocean – all result in a surprisingly relaxing environment.
Peek under the bed in Cervarolo’s Junior Suite 9 and you find a cisternina (literally ‘a grape-stomping place’); this 16th-century farmhouse once produced its own wine (and today, mixes some knockout liqueurs). The owners have gone to incredible lengths to incorporate the Puglian residence’s 400-year history (antique doors for headboards, traditionally Puglian trulli architecture and the ilk) with modern comforts (Malin + Goetz products; simply enormous swimming pool, modern cookery school) . Every bedroom is individual, thanks to all the original features of the architecture – the alcoves, fireplaces and vaulted ceilings are all unique.