Top 10 Hotels to book ahead
01 – L’Andana
Where is it? In the heart of the Maremma area of Tuscany, Italy – a region that’s every bit as beautiful as you’ve heard.
Why book? A relaxed former hunting lodge, L’Andana is one of the most peaceful settings in the already-pretty-tranquil Tuscan Hills. Relax in the spa or either of the two pools, and work up an appetite for dinner in the Alain Ducasse-overseen restaurant. Aperitifs should be taken alfresco, on the grassed terrace.
Rates: €332–€1,323, including breakfast Click here for more information
02 -Corral del Rey
Where is it? In the narrow, atmospheric streets of Seville’s old town. This Spanish city is one of contrasts, an orange-scented place of peaceful piazzas and foot-stamping flamenco.
Why book? A luxuriously restored, 17th-century house with just six bedrooms, Corral del Rey blends comfort and chic effortlessly. From its cool and airy vaulted cellars, in which you can dine, to its lush rooftop gardens, with their own plunge pool, the property is an all-white masterclass in boutique style. The in situ bar and restaurant are among the finest in the city, too.
Rates: €280–€350, including breakfast. Click here for more information
03 -La Fuente de la Higuera
Where is it? In Ronda, Spain, a sleepy Andalucian town of whitewashed houses and winding streets, in the shadow of dramatic sierras.
Why book? The 11 rooms in this 18th-century olive mill get booked up months ahead, which is testament to a glorious hillside setting overlooking Ronda and the surrounding mountains. There’s no need to leave the hotel – though with Seville, Granada and Jerez nearby, there’s temptations aplenty – so why not read a book on your private terrace, swim in the outdoor pool and then amble to the walled garden for a candlelit alfresco dinner of fine local cuisine?
Rates: €135–€260, including breakfast. Click here for more information
04 -La Minervetta
Where is it? In Sorrento, southern Italy, where villas cling to the rock face like mussels, and sun-baked piazzas are cooled by breezes from the Bay of Naples.
Why book? It’s the ultimate cliffhanger – sitting over that gilded stretch of the Amalfi Coast popularised in The Talented Mr Ripley. Look down on rocking fishing boats and turquoise waters through the floor-to-ceiling windows in every room, or whilst attacking a Campari and soda on any one of the three terraces.
Rates: €180–€400, including breakfast. Click here for more information
05 -Mykonos Grace
Where is it? On the party-perfect Greek island of Mykonos, where whitewashed sugarcube-shaped houses vie with windmills in the picturesque stakes. Its main town, Chora, is undoubtedly the hippest harbour in the Cyclades.
Why book? This intimate, whiter-than-white boutique bolthole has thought of everything you could possibly desire – fluffy in-room day beds for sultry siestas, double-sized loungers for sunbathing à deux, telescopes for stargazing… And the whole places oozes designer chic at its most high-end. Needless to say, with its clifftop location, the views of the Aegean are stunning.
Rates: €150–€820, including champagne breakfast and transfers. Click here for more information
06 – L’Oustau de Baumanière
Where is it? In Provence, France, where purple lavender fields and yellow carpets of sunflowers sit among lush, green vineyards and olive groves.
Why book? It’s home to a world-renowned, two Michelin-starred restaurant. Many guests come here purely for the exquisite haute cuisine but, though this deservedly takes top billing, the stunning grounds, 1920s-style pool and understated décor of the 10 rooms make this the perfect rural retreat, too.
Rates: €225–€490. Click here for more information
07 -La Sacristía
Where is it? In Tarifa, on Spain’s wild and windy Costa de la Luz. This chic port offers views of Morocco, on the other side of the water.
Why book? Reflecting its proximity to Africa, the intimate, 10-room La Sacristía has a distinct Moorish vibe that’s unique to the area, and its tiled floors, colonnaded courtyard and mosaic-lined wetroom are the ideal backdrop to a laid-back break in this surf mecca. There’s live music – of the Brazilian/jazz/flamenco variety – in the bar each night during the summer.
Rates: €135–€150, including breakfast. Click here for more information
08 – Son Brull
Where is it? On the stunning Spanish island of Mallorca. Relax in its tranquil countryside or on its beautiful beaches, then go boho in the stylish urban centres.
Why book? Situated in a converted 12th-century monastery, Son Brull offers as much peace as you can get without actually taking a vow of silence. Take a swim in one of its connected pools, then round things off with a doze in the warm Balearic sun or a massage in its sumptuous spa. Drinks in the candlelit bar and fresh Mallorquín cuisine at the 365 restaurant are the perfect end to an idyllic day.
Rates: €254–€800, including breakfast.
09 – Sun Rocks
Where is it? On Santorini, arguably the most dramatic of all the Greek islands. The famous caldera here, formed by a volcanic eruption in 1450 BC, is one of the most awe-inspiring sights on the planet.
Why book? Sun Rocks is all about the view. All of its 17 whitewashed, cave-style rooms overlook the caldera – which looks like arms encircling the azure waters of the Aegean – and its two restaurants and taverna are positioned so you don’t miss a single moment of boat-bobbing action. Its couples-only policy means that there’ll be no tantrum-throwing toddlers to spoil those balmy evenings.
Rates: €200–€780, including breakfast. Click here for more information
Where is it? On the Côte d’Azur; that fabled stretch of French Mediterranean coastline that’s become synonymous with glitz and glamour.
Why book? With just six rooms, this coastal chambre d’hôte has to be one of the most intimate, ultra-relaxed places to stay in southern France. There’s a solar-powered outdoor pool, a restaurant serving delicious and inventive French dishes, and even a wolf-whistling parrot living in the garden. Its combination of rustic design and bold, striking artwork dotted around the house and grounds tick all the ‘cool’ boxes, too.
Rates: €145–€250. Click here for more information