Book your hotel for the Easter break now if you want to escape for the bank-holiday-buffered long weekend (from 19 to 22 April). There’s still time, but chocolate eggs are rolling onto shelves, croci are stirring and roosters are getting glints in their eyes, so get some spring-break inspiration with our pick of 10 boutique stays in Europe and beyond…
THE LASLETT, LONDON
Community-fostering founder of the Notting Hill Carnival, Rhaune Laslett, gets her due in this namesake hotel. Hidden away in the boho ‘hood’s Easter-bonnet-hued streets, the Laslett fittingly reps its locality with a bar and signature cocktail named after co-founder, jazz musician Russ Henderson, outré objets from Golborne Road curiosity shop Les Couilles des Chiens (some available to buy) and illustrations by fashion magnate Barbara Hulanicki (who opened her first Biba store in nearby Kensington). When you’re not reposing in your elegant dove-grey room, you can mingle with West Londoners in the lounge.
THE FISH, COTSWOLDS
Historians have found cave paintings that depict a couple planning a minibreak in the Cotswolds. Fact. Well, no, but England’s green and pleasant bits have timeless appeal, especially when the weather takes an optimistic turn. These hamlets and rural stretches are best served with a side of whimsy, and picturesque country estate the Fish obliges, with shepherd’s huts, treehouses and even a little private island for picnicking. Come Easter, the hotel’s 400-acre grounds will be cheered by sunny daffodil clusters, clouds of blossom, and budding flowers. And if you’re caught in spring showers, the hotel has wellies to hand, a fire to get cosy by and Sunday roast with all the trimmings.
HOTEL NATIONAL DES ARTS & MÉTIERS, PARIS
Cliché, schmiché: Paris is loveable in the springtime, so hop on the Eurostar and pound those boulevards, manger une baguette while wearing a beret, propose under the Eiffel Tower… Or, book a pied-à-terre at Hotel National des Arts & Métiers, which – like the conservatoire it takes its name from – is expertly engineered. Designer Raphael Navot (who dressed David Lynch’s Parisian club Silencio) has used oxidised copper, raw linen, and Japanese ink to magical effect in twin Haussmannian houses. Admire the rabble of rooftops from the terrace, accumulate cicchetti in the Italian restaurant and nose around l’Herbarium bar, where mixologist Oscar Quaglioni prescribes scent-inspired cocktails.
CHATEAU LES MERLES, DORDOGNE
The Périgord is France’s backyard, where artisanal foodstuffs flourish in a riotously green landscape. Fertile terroir makes its cup overflow with vin, too. Especially at Château les Merles, which has its very own vineyards, for robust reds and chilled whites on tap. The honey-hued château harks back to the 17th century; however, the hotel’s suites and villas have an unfussy modern look, where judiciously chosen antiques and statement pieces stand out against black floorboards and white walls. Arrive at Easter and the lavender bushes will be flowering, the weather clement enough for swimming and the menu ripe with spring’s bounty.
VERDURA RESORT, SICILY
Teach kids the true meaning of Easter by leaving them to decorate eggs, make garlands and draw chicks with a giant hedgehog called Verdù. Unorthodox perhaps, but the seasonal programmes at Verdura Resort’s kids’ clubs (overseen by Verdù) is a nifty way to occupy your children until the sugar high has worn off. Both Verdùland (for wee ones) and Touclub (for tweens and teens) have themed fun alongside talks, dances, film nights, sports, arts, cookery lessons and more. Meanwhile, parents can enjoy some downtime in their Olga Polizzi-styled suite, indulge in some fore-play on the golf courses, learn how to DJ or boggle their minds in the on-site escape room, or simmer down in the spa.
GRAN HOTEL INGLÉS
Spain does Easter in flamboyant fashion. Semana Santa (Holy Week) sees penitents parade flower-adorned saintly icons through the streets; concerts are held in cobbled squares; and women don lace veils, while religious brotherhoods wear dramatic robes (FYI, the pointy nazareno hoods predate and are unrelated to the KKK’s). Wailing and symbolic beatings are part of the fun, so it’s an eye-opening affair for novices, but sweet Easter treat torrijos (Spanish French toast) takes the edge off. Watch the spectacle unfold from Gran Hotel Inglés in the bookworm-y Barrio de las Letras. This art deco fancy has been a swinging spot since 1886 and it has the sort of bar Jay Gatsby would prop up – perfect for Pascua after-parties.
MISS CLARA, STOCKHOLM
At this time of year, Stockholm is decorated with colourful feathers tied to birch twigs. No, the Swedes aren’t huge Ken Dodd fans, this is how the city pays homage to Easter (or Påsk). Spring marks a brighter outlook for the city – literally, as the dark winter days lengthen; but, if you happen to see tiny witches, fear not: children dress in the guise to collect eggs, a hangover from pagan times. Get to grips with Sweden’s unique brand of Easter fun at Miss Clara, a serene sophisticate with art deco and industrial flourishes, dark woods and white linens in rooms and a buzzy bar, all in an egg-yolk-hued shell refined by native starchitect Gert Wingårdh.
FAZENDA NOVA COUNTRY HOUSE, ALGARVE
Portugal goes in for more religious frenzy at Easter time. In rural areas you might see be-robed groups lugging a cross around in Passion of the Christ processions. Icons of Judas are sometimes set aflame, too. Besides the pomp and circumstance, there are folar de Páscoa breads flavoured with cinnamon and star anise, with hard-boiled eggs baked into them (we advise eating around those). Country house Fazenda Nova sits on a 10-acre plot, where vegetable and herb gardens and fruit groves start to stir in spring, ensuring fresh home-cooked Iberian dishes throughout the year. Wander among the wildflowers, take a food or wine tour, or spend some quality time with the owner’s impressive vinyl collection.
MAGIC CAMPS, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Rather than fasting for 40 days in the desert over Lent, enjoy a slightly more luxurious experience in Oman, Abu Dhabi or Dubai over Easter. Magic Camps’ caravan of off-road vehicles chauffeur you over dunes to a picturesque desert backdrop of your choosing: an untrodden beach, mountain clearing, classic sandpit set-up… Once there, your entourage will erect luxury tents, alfresco dining and lounging areas and the all-important solar-powered bathroom. Pass the time riding camels, sandboarding or dune-buggying before your private chef preps mezze and grilled meats in time for sundown. And, you can bring and chill your own champagne. 40 days and 40 nights? We’d happily stay for good…
ARLO SOHO, NEW YORK
For Easter, get cosy with the current hottest hotel trend, a micro nest in New York. Arlo SoHo has modulated dens that feel larger than their square footage, thanks to city views and clever design hacks: pegboard closets, under-bed storage, a flip-down desk… But, Arlo’s all about being an ‘urban explorer’ so you’ll want to get out and hit their rooftop bar, catch a movie on site or chill with a craft beer in the courtyard. New York does Easter in typically bold and brassy fashion, with Easter-bonnet parades, Macy’s flower show, egg painting, alcohol-fuelled treasure hunts and themed brunches. Plus, the hotel has their own free-range dishes to tuck into and wash down with a Bloody Mary.