European grande dames and lesser-known bohemian beauties – with none of the jet lag
Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine Spain
A wine-lover’s fantasy, this converted 12th-century abbey two hours north of Madrid comes with its own award-winning vineyard, cellars crammed with Grand Cru plus a top-notch Michelin-starred restaurant. There’s actually a sommelier installed in the spa – “I’ll have the Sauvignon with my deep-tissue massage please…”
Rooms are the essence of religious cool, hung with century-old Christian tableaux and zingy Miro prints, and because there are only 30 of them, the hotel never feels busy. The surrounding pine-scented terrain is ripe for hiking, biking and helicopter rides, or if your idea of a good time is stretching out by the pool. LeDomaine’s is hard to beat. ledomaine.es
Soho House, Barcelona
The latest ‘House’ to fling open its doors, Soho House Barcelona is located in the city’s Gothic quarter and has 57 rooms, two restaurants, a Cowshed spa, cinema, and best of all, a pose-tastic rooftop pool. Featuring all the usual Soho House trimmings: vintage Chesterfields, burnished brass lighting and staff who wouldn’t look out of place on a catwalk, this seductive Spanish bolthole has all the qualities for a sizzling speedy city moon. Be the first to check it out…
Room key: One of the corner suites with a balcony overlooking the marina at Port Veil.
Beldi, Marrakech, Morocco
A mass of 15.000 sweet-scented rose bushes surround this rustic country club turned hotel. Rooms are stripped back and simple, fitted out with stripy Berber bedcovers, giant terracotta urns and antique Moroccan chests. No minibars, nothing whirrs or blinks. Everything, from the mud-based pisé walls to the polished concrete floors, is inspired by the ancient Berbers. Dining is a highlight. Plates, tablecloths, glasses, even the bread and the olive oil, is hand-made on the premises: Beldi has its own recycled glass factory, pottery and embroidery atelier plus a hefty veggie garden. Arrange a private candlelit dinner in the greenhouse (jazz pianist optional) or dinner a deux among the roses. Nothing quite compares.
Honeymoon high: Beldi’s sister hotel Kasbah Beldi is surrounded by 15 hectares of grapefruit trees on the banks of Lake Takerkoust (45 minutes away). Head over for a picnic with wondrous views of the Atlas Mountains.
Room key: Number 38 is larger than most and comes with a private terrace and outdoor bathtub.
Park Hyatt Vienna
Occupying a former banking HQ a stone’s throw from Vienna’s oldest cafes and boutiques, this statuesque hotel is one of the grandest in the city. Soaring marble columns in the former cashiers hall spell real wow factor, and rooms are perfectly polished with parquet floors, gilded bathrooms and views of the baroque buildings lining Am Hof square. At teatime, the hotel’s Art Deco cafe comes to life with some of the prettiest patisserie in the city (raspberry eclairs and pistachio-nougat gateaux), and after 6pm, oysters and Champagne are rolled out.
After exploring Vienna’s boulevards, museums and art galleries, the spa beckons. And what a spa. With a wink to its former incarnation, what was once the bank’s vault is now a glittering swimming pool lined with real gold tiles.
Honeymoon high: Riding a fiaker (horse-drawn carriage) through the streets of Vienna.
Royal Monceau, Paris
In a city known for romance, there’s no shortage of seductive hotels but the Royal Monceau, walking distance from the Champs Elysees, is a cut above. First opened in 1928, it’s since been spruced up by Philippe Starck and become the go-to for well-heeled Europeans. Home to Matsuhisa Paris and Il Carpaccio, two of the city’s top restaurants – and with pastry legend Pierre Hermé installed in the kitchen – this is one place you’ll need to loosen your belt.
For design aficionados, it’s hard to fault the quirky opulence and sheer vibrant wonder of the place. Boudoir-like suites come with fawn leather sofas, ceiling-to-floor mirrored walls and trademark Starck lighting.
Elsewhere, you’ll find an impressive modern art collection, private cinema and cocoon-like Clarins spa. For those with a spirit of adventure, the Royal Monceau is the most exciting address in Paris.
Room key: The pink and grey Presidential Suite (designed by Philippe Starck).
Villa San Tommaso, Sicily
Want to steer clear of other honeymooners? Hole up in this rustic private villa and you won’t have to deal with anyone else – except that is for your private chef, oh, and the maid (who comes daily). With a huge pool all to yourselves, terraced gardens, a sprinkling of palm trees and a hot tub, this bijou villa close to the Sicilian city of Syracuse has “do not disturb” written all over it.
Honeymoon high: Climbing Mount Etna for a sunset aperitif.