Looking for a special stay or a hip hideaway for your summer break? Well it’s not too late to find somewhere exciting and spoiling. We’ve picked our top 10 summery getaways from idyllic cabins in Turkey to fortified farmhouses in Italy, and they’ve all got good availability in June, July and August.
My Little Place on the Hill, Kefalonia, Greece
Why we love it: These great-value suites (sleeping 2-4) all have private terraces that enjoy miles of incredible mountain views, and they share a large, inviting pool (complete with kids section). You’re also only a 20-minute stroll from the beautiful Avithos beach, via a track lined with wild herbs, eucalyptus trees, olive groves and vineyards. Heavenly.
What to do: Hire a boat for the day or catch the ferry to Ithaca, where you’ll be close to Stavros Town’s wonderful seafood restaurants. Afterwards, stroll around the pretty fishing village of Kioni, before returning home in time for sundown. Alternatively, stay local and snooze beneath towering eucalyptus trees in the hammocks beside the alfresco poolside bar.
Hotel Du Clos, Côte d’Azur, France
Why we love it: This converted 17th-century farmhouse offers the quintessential French experience, with welcoming French owners, relaxed French styling and even a Michelin-starred French restaurant just down the road. Hidden high in the hills of the Côte d’Azur, it makes a bucolic (and great-value) alternative to the bustling hubbub of nearby Cannes, Nice and Antibes.
What to do: You’re near the Côte d’Azur’s numerous fabulous beaches and charming small villages, but we suggest making time to enjoy the hotel and its grounds, too – lounge by the pool and start a tournament on the boules pitch.
Borgo San Marco, Fasano, Puglia, Italy
Why we love it: This farmhouse hotel has all the ingredients of a great masseria – a 500-year-old tower, vaulted rooms, olive groves, sea horizons – minus the pretentions (and prices) of its more publicised neighbours. Eighteen comfortably furnished, colourful rooms infuse the hotel with the chilled out joie de vivre of its owners, and many are wonderfully family friendly.
What to do: Get over to the museum and archaeological park of Egnazia (8km away). This 2,500-year-old Messapian port has over 2km of walls, plus there are later ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, temples and halls. Failing that, you’re also near Italy’s Adriatic coastline, which has some of the country’s best beaches.
Hotel del Teatre, Catalonia, Spain
Why we love it: Just a short drive from the beautiful beaches of Begur and Girona, this romantic 18th-century converted rectory showcases minimalist interiors while celebrating the rough and rugged palette of the surrounding village. Everything has been designed to make you feel special so expect soft bathrobes, a large DVD library, free mountain bikes and handy beach towels, to name but a few.
What to do: It may be a 20-minute drive away, but we suggest an evening of cocktails in the lounge at Hotel Vintage, where views extend over Aiguaclara beach to the sea beyond. And, don’t forget to tour the Dali Triangle, encompassing the museum in Figueres, the castle in Púbol and Dalí’s house in Port Lligat.
Pedrera Boutique Apartment, Barcelona, Spain
Why we love it: Owned by interior designer Alex, this Barcelona pad is rented out on demand to visitors seeking a chic city base. As a result, guests get a delightfully authentic home-from-home and quickly feel part of the city’s vibrant atmosphere. The location is superb too: minutes from Passeig de Gràcia’s designer shops, round the corner from Gaudí’s La Pedrera, and within walking distance of all the sights. With Alex’s insider tips you’ll be able to take full advantage of the area and eat at restaurants that locals love.
What to do: Take a night-time tour of La Pedrera (aka Casa Milà), when it’s quieter and more atmospheric. You’ll see an apartment that recreates bourgeois life in the early 20th century and hear stories of residents who lived here 100 years ago.
Notos Hotel, Peloponnese, Greece
Why we love it: Notos Hotel and the surrounding village of Kardamyli remain i-escape favourites thanks to the breath-taking local scenery – from the pristine sea up to the snow-capped Mt. Taygetus, with ancient villages and frescoed churches in between. The foothills are unexpectedly verdant here and provide a compelling backdrop for hiking and exploring.
What to do: Here, at the southernmost point of Europe, the sea is where it’s at. Swim at the pebbly beach below the hotel or the sandy ones at Stoupa, 10km away; there’s also a dramatic, cliff-ringed cove at Fonissa, 5km away. Alternatively, hire a fishing boat and sail down the coast in search of an isolated cove or village, or across to the pretty town of Koroni on the western peninsula.
Relais Casamassima, Umbria, Italy
Why we love it: We’re yet to visit this idyllic Umbrian retreat, but we’ve heard great things and can’t wait to see it for ourselves. With a meticulous mix of antique and contemporary décor, the 3 suites offer a welcoming base from which to observe this charming agriturismo. We’re particularly keen to sample the delicious food – fruits, vegetables, eggs, wine and olive oil – all produced within the grounds and often served at dinner. You can even take some home thanks to the little on-site shop – plenty of excuses to try a taste of Italy.
What to do: With all that hearty food on offer, it would be a shame not to give yourself at least one day to relax in the garden: breathe the pure air, listen to the bells (they keep sheep), and idle by the pool. Find a romantic wrought-iron table under the gazebo or by the clambering wisteria and pluck a juicy fig from the trees.
Soncna Hisa, Slovenia
Why we love it: There’s plenty of new territory to explore in relatively undiscovered eastern Slovenia, but Soncna Hisa’s spoiling little spa will have you tempted to stay put. We loved starting the day with an early morning Jacuzzi and a healthy breakfast served in the sunny dining room, before embarking on a foray into the verdant countryside surrounding Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. You can also try a thermal spa in the local village’s hot springs – indulgence has never been so good for you.
What to do: Whatever you choose to do, we’d suggest spending at least one day taking advantage of the hotel spa. For non-spa days, staff can organise bespoke day trips such as wine-tastings at local vineyards, hot-air balloon rides, and fishing excursions.
Azur Hotel, Antalya, Turkey
Why we love it: Set in beautiful gardens fringed by blood-red hibiscus, orange lilies and rampant dogrose, these 20 wooden cabins may be simple, but the smiley, generous welcome of the hosts and staff is both comforting and contagious. Oh, and the pool is a godsend during the scorching summer, particularly for energetic children!
What to do: The beaches are fantastic, but for a different kind of swim, seek out some of the secret river pools nearby. One of our favourites is a crystal-clear stream shaded by pines, with only the frogs, terrapins and butterflies for company. Full directions are on our review!
Bolonia Beach Houses, Tarifa, Spain
Why we love it: This trio of ocean-facing hideaways sits in the beautiful little hamlet of Bolonia, high above the pristine Atlantic in southern Spain. Foodies will be in heaven; there are good kitchens, barbecues on the private terraces, and you can stock up on fresh seafood at Tarifa’s market. Alternatively, take advantage of Bolonia’s great oceanside restaurants and beach bars. Delicious!
What to do: By day, try windsurfing or kitesurfing, take a whale- and dolphin-watching trip out from Tarifa, or even pop across to Tangiers for a day of souk shopping and mint tea drinking. By night, climb the sandstone bluff behind the houses to see the twinkling lights of Tangier beckoning from across the water.